Healthcare experts say premiums could go up in January

Posted at: 05/02/2013 6:34 PM
By: Ray Levato

Lawmakers are hearing the dire warnings about the possibility of big hikes in your health insurance premiums in January.  

Senator Chuck Schumer was one of those who voted for the Affordable Health Care Act. So was Congresswoman Louis Slaughter. Both were in town Thursday and News10NBC asked them what can be done to protect people from skyrocketing healthcare costs.

Some healthcare experts are warning that  premiums could go up by more than 10% on January 1 when Obamacare kicks in across the country. This is on top of the annual increases we've seen in insurance premiums. It's going to mean less money in your paycheck. Less money for groceries. Less for gas. Less for your family.

Insurance companies in the Rochester area haven't announced their premium increases yet for next year. One local expert says the public is very much in the dark about healthcare and 2014 is fast approaching. He says substantial health insurance pricing increases in 2014 and beyond seems to be more of a reality with each passing day. News10NBC put that to Senator Schumer and Mrs. Slaughter.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, (D) New York, said, “Our insurance department is empowered to protect families and we're going to watch them like a hawk to make sure they do. Because if they don't, these rates could go through the roof. It's in part because of Obamacare but health care costs have been going up by double digits for years and years and years. The good news is in this bill there's a way to stop it.”

Rep. Louise Slaughter, (D)-Perinton, said, “We'll be able to provide health insurance to many many more people at a favorable rate. Once the exchanges are up and going it's going to be better.”
News10NBC Ray Levato said, “Are you saying that's for families?”
Slaughter said, “Secretary Sebelius has the right to take another look at and study rate increases that may be unreasonable. And frankly there may be some.”

Mrs. Slaughter was referring to health secretary Kathleen Sebleius, who has a lot of power to administer this new law. Locally, News10NBC got this from Excellus Blue Cross/Blue Shield. They say just the increase in federal taxes alone on Obamacare could bump up premiums by three and-a-half percent. Again on top of the regular increase.

The Washington Post is reporting that for those who already have insurance, the Affordable Care Act is expected to increase premiums by 14%.

Jeff Welcher a benefits advocate with Bene-Care offered this summary of the changes that are coming in 2014:

The Health Care Reform package is really Health Insurance Reform; there is unfortunately little in the bill that directly addresses rising costs.

Those that do not qualify for subsidized coverage could very likely be paying more than they are accustomed to next year.  The source of a person/family's insurance (small employer, large employer, individual) will dictate how and when potential pricing increases are felt.

The federal government is forcing the re-organization of risk pools. Those paying the most now may pay somewhat less in 2014, while those paying the least now will likely be paying more in 2014.  Kathleen Sebelius referred to this in a March 2013 quote: "I think there's likely to be some shifting in the markets"

Outside of federal changes to our medical insurance system, our region's small employers typically see 10-20%  pricing increases annually, so it is tough isolate Health Care Reform related increases from 'the norm.'