On October 25, 2017, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report on the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017, which is now under consideration within the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The new legislation would offer additional flexibility under the state innovation waiver process, appropriate funding for cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), require some insurers to pay rebates on premiums for 2018, allow more individuals to purchase high-deductible plans, and require Federal support for outreach and enrollment activities.
The CBO report shows that, as compared to current CBO baselines related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the new legislation would reduce the projected federal deficit for 2018-2027 by $3.778 billion, while not substantially changing the projected number of persons with health insurance coverage over that period. CBO expects that the additional flexibility in the state innovation waiver process under the new legislation would increase the number of state waiver applications as well as the likelihood that such waivers would be approved. The CBO report is available here: https://www.cbo.gov/publication/53232
HHS issues report on health insurance premium increases
On October 30, 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), issued a report on qualified health plans (QHPs) and health insurance issuers using the federally operated, Healthcare.gov platform. The HHS/ASPE report shows sharp increases in premiums and decreases in health insurance issuer participation for the November 1 – December 15, 2017 Healthcare.gov open enrollment period, for plans offering coverage for calendar year 2018.
The ASPE report shows that:
- Premiums for “benchmark plans” will increase by 37 percent in 2018, versus 24 percent in 2017, 8 percent in 2016, and 3 percent in 2015.
- Health insurance issuer participation will drop to 132 total state issuers in 2018, versus 167 issuers in 2017 and 232 issuers in 2016, for all states using Healthcare.gov for one or more years.
- Eight states will have only one health insurance issuer on the Healthcare.gov platform in 2018, versus five states in 2017.
- 29 percent of enrollees will have only one health insurance issuer to choose from in 2018, versus 20 percent of enrollees in 2017.
- The average number of “qualified health plans” for enrollees to choose from will be 25 in 2018, versus 30 in 2017 and 46 in 2016.
- The average advance premium tax credit (APTC) for qualified enrollees will increase 45 percent in 2018.
The HHS/ASPE report and data tables are available here: https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/health-plan-choice-and-premiums-2018-federal-health-insurance-exchange