Covered California delays rate news

Covered California has postponed its annual rate announcement by at least several weeks as the political chaos surrounding health care policy swirls in the nation’s capital.

health insurance cost caps“This decision (to delay) is based on the ongoing federal uncertainty around the repeal and replacement attempts of the Affordable Care Act and the dramatic potential impacts such uncertainty has on the rates and on California consumers,” the state Obamacare operation said July 18.

Covered California told insurers to submit two sets of premiums for 2018 health-care coverage — one with continued cost-sharing reductions funded by the government and one without.

Those rates will be unveiled Aug. 1, Covered California said. Final premiums may be delayed either further as the political drama plays out.

The move came as the U.S. Senate’s version of a replacement for the Affordable Care Act imploded. Lawmakers could replace Obamacare, simply repeal it or do nothing.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said President Trump’s call to simply repeal Obamacare is “an approach that’s sure to create nationwide chaos” and is “the height of irresponsibility.”

The Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, estimated July 19 that repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement (via the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017) would hike the number of uninsured in the U.S. by 32 million by 2026. Premiums would ruse by about 25 percent in 2018, doubling by 2026, the CBO estimated.

“Activities in Washington are moving quickly, but the reality on the ground is moving even faster,” Covered California chief Peter Lee said. “The need to stabilize the markets in 2018 requires immediate action — before the summer recess.”

The key immediate issue for Obamacare exchanges is the future of about $750 million in federal funding for cost-reduction subsidies, which almost all Covered California customers benefit from.

Increased overall premiums of at least 17 percent are expected in California. That’s about 4 percent more than the average increase for 2017. Covered California serves 1.4 million customers.

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