Republican Health Reform Bill Could Bring Down Premiums 25%

Republican Health Reform Bill Could Bring Down Premiums 25%

Communicating for America (CA) recently called on Congress to provide “stabilization funds” in the recent Republican-introduced American Health Care Act reform legislation. As noted in a study released by the Council for Affordable Health Care (CAHC), an increase of $9 billion in stabilization funding could reduce health insurance premiums by 25% for consumers in the next open enrollment period.

The CAHC report on the Impact of Stabilization Funding on ACA Premiums and Subsidies outlines how added funding could eliminate or greatly reduce the cost of health insurance, bringing the price of premiums back to 2016 levels or lower.

Earlier this year the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced health insurance premiums rose 25% for 2017. But when premiums increase, so do tax credits, also known as subsidies, to help curb the cost of health insurance for those who qualify for income-based cost assistance. For individuals and families that make above the income threshold to qualify for cost-relief, the increases in insurance costs hit nothing but their wallets.

The CAHC report outlines that federal costs of Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax credits are projected to total $38 billion in 2017, $48 billion in 2018, and $56 billion in 2019. The analysis suggests that funding state-based innovation grants at the cost of $9 billion could bring the price of the benchmark silver plan down by nearly 25% and reduce subsidy outlays. This reduction in premiums would correspondingly reduce the outlay for tax credits or subsidies.

“Although the Republican proposal is far from perfect, it is a good start that demonstrates health insurance costs could go down dramatically for individuals if a new law creates the right level of premium stabilization funding,” said Jeff Smedsrud, Chief Executive Officer of Communicating for America.

He noted that if insurance companies are able to reduce rates because of increased stabilization funding, it would mean more consumers would buy health plans, and the insurance companies would return to normal profitability margins.

“Lower premiums reduce the amount of federal subsidies individuals receive, proportionate to their income – nearly a one-to-one offset of the $9 billion that would be spent. For those who do not qualify for premium subsidies, a 25% reduction in premium would lead to real economic savings. A more robust marketplace in the upcoming Open Enrollment Period could create the needed stability for individuals to restore confidence. The most important thing that can happen for consumers and insurance companies in 2017 is for both to regain confidence,” said Smedsrud.

(Source: Communicating for America)