Despite assurances from the Republican party that their plan to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act will result in lower premiums, there is now evidence to suggest that the exact opposite will happen when and if Obamacare ceases to be law.
In a Washington Post article by writer Greg Sargent, president and chief executive of Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina Brad Wilson said premiums are slated to go up nearly 23 percent next year.
According to Wilson, this rate hike is due almost exclusively to the loss of "cost-sharing reductions" (CSRs), an Obamacare-era incentive for joining the insurance marketplace meant to "subsidize out-of-pocket costs for lower-income people who get insurance on the individual markets".
Notably, neither Trump nor House Republicans have affirmed that they will continue to pay CSRs or create a similar incentive for insurers once the ACA has been repealed, and the lack of affirmation has led to insecurity among insurers like North Carolina's Blue Cross affiliate.
"The failure of the administration and the House to bring certainty and clarity by funding CSRs has caused our company to file a 22.9 percent premium increase, rather than one that is materially lower,” Wilson told the Post. “That will impact hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians.”
Rather than merely staying silent on whether or not they would fund CSRs, the Trump administration reportedly tried to use them as bargaining chips for insurers and as political pressure points to strongarm Democrats into supporting various pieces of legislation.
Though the administration paid the CSRs through the month of May, they are now in limbo, and that uncertainty is reflected in North Carolina's Blue Cross premium hike.
Using CSRs as a negotiation tactic, according to Sargent, is ostensibly to bring Democrats to the Obamacare repeal table -- but in its' current state, the "only conceivable way Democrats could make a deal with Trump is if he were open to fixing, rather than repealing, the law, which he isn’t".
With the future of CSRs still murky, insurers like Blue Cross of North Carolina feel compelled to compensate.
“The effect will be the same across the country,” Wilson told Sargent. “Rates will be materially higher if CSRs aren’t funded.”
Read Sargent's entire piece on this first evidence of Trumpcare failure via the Post.