Get ready for Obamacare sticker shock

A bit of foreboding news you might have missed this week: Insurers in Maryland’s individual Obamacare market have proposed an average 32 percent increase in health insurance premiums. The rate hikes range from 18 percent to a whopping 91 percent. This follows a similar announcement in Virginia, where insurers are proposing average rate hikes from 15 to 64 percent.

States across the country, including North Carolina, can expect similar proposed hikes in coming months. Obamacare sticker shock is coming, and it’s going to hit rural areas especially hard.
Hold on. Aren’t insurers mostly profitable in the Affordable Care Act’s individual markets? Yes, they are. So what’s happening? Exactly what insurers and health care experts predicted when Republicans sabotaged the Affordable Care Act last year.
When Republicans repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate, they changed the economic viability of the Affordable Care Act, which counted on healthy people’s premiums defraying some of the cost of insuring the less than healthy. In addition, the Trump administration scrapped subsidies to insurers and gave healthy folks more reason to leave the exchanges by allowing insurers greater room to offer thinner policies that cost less money.

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