For Consumers

Kreidler: Failure to fund cost-sharing subsidies could increase rates up to 20 percent next year

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April 25, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued the following statement urging Congress and the Trump Administration to support financial help for Washington residents buying health insurance policies through the Affordable Care Act:

A cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the financial help it provides people who have long struggled to afford health insurance. President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress now put at risk another form of financial help for those who need it most.

The ACA provides individuals who earned less than $29,700 in 2016 a cost-sharing reduction to help lower their deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. Last year, more than 70,000 people enrolled through our state-based health insurance Exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder (www.wahealthplanfinder.org), had lower medical bills because of the $65 million in cost-sharing payments received by insurers in Washington state.

An analysis by my office projects that failure to approve the payments could cause individual health insurance rates to increase by 6 percent to 20 percent next year in Washington state. And the threat to withhold the payments adds to health insurers’ concerns about the viability of the individual market and their future participation in it.

The federal government pays the funds directly to insurers to help contain expenses for consumers. The law requires insurers to cover people enrolled in the program even if the federal government withholds funding. If insurers determine the costs are too much to absorb, they are likely to pass those on through significantly higher premiums, or they may decide to leave the market altogether. 

It is time to put aside political differences and come together to fix the ACA. Continuing attempts to undermine it only encourage greater uncertainty and risk. President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress should take action to support the ability of millions of Americans across the country to buy health insurance.

They promised Americans better health coverage and lower costs. Now is the time for them to take responsible action to honor those promises.

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