Supreme Court Upholding of ACA Subsidies Will Only Partially Offset Premium Increases Expected to be as High as 65% in Some States
NEW YORK, NY, June 25, 2015 – Consumers breathing a sigh of relief now that the Supreme Court has upheld states’ granting of premium subsidies for health care plans purchased on the federal marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) might want to take another look. The subsidies offered in 37 states will only partially offset premium increases of up to 65% that have been requested by insurers in various states in advance of the next Open Enrollment period, which begins November 1. State marketplace subsidies, which are available in 13 states, were not impacted by the Supreme Court decision.
Differences in premium and out-of-pocket expenses are likely to be sharper than in previous years, making comparison-shopping critical, much like the way travelers shop online for airline tickets. For the upcoming Open Enrollment period, simply letting an existing plan rollover into the new year could result in significant built-in cost increases. Savvy consumers looking for the best value will even want to go one step further than visiting government-sponsored insurance sites, and will check out sites offering a variety of privately offered insurance plans that don’t show up on the government sites.
“We applaud the Supreme Court’s action to uphold the Affordable Care Act and the continuation of health insurance subsidies for qualified individuals and families,” said Jeff Smedsrud, CEO of HealthCare.com, the nation’s leading unbiased search engine and comparison tool for health insurance plans. “However, looking at the larger picture, the financial hurdles for Americans looking to keep their health insurance costs affordable are about to get bigger than the Supreme Court’s action alone can fix. Clearly, the so-called “carrot and stick” need to be adjusted to persuade more healthy consumers to buy their required insurance. For example, Americans buying their own health insurance should receive premium discounts for engaging in health-positive activities, like regular exercise, healthy diets, and preventative checkups – discounts that businesses routinely offer their employees.
“Penalties for not buying insurance should be re-examined and adjusted so that they’re compelling and enforceable across the board, not just for those who get caught in an audit. The current insurance risk pool is overweighed with sick individuals, which is largely why we’re seeing these enormous premium increases in some states. For the Affordable Care Act to work, and premiums to be held in check, there has to be more of a balance in the risk pool between healthy and sick individuals.”
In the meantime, consumers can take actions into their own hands by logging onto the Internet and comparison-shopping their health insurance the same way they do their travel. “As premiums and deductibles rise, and subsidy qualification criteria shifts, the Internet has a powerful ability to level the playing field for insurance-shopping consumers,” said Smedsrud.
Sites like HealthCare.com allow them to anonymously enter some filtering information and then be presented with a broad assortment of government- and privately-offered plans to pick from. They can determine in seconds whether they qualify for a subsidy. They also can see what the penalty would be if they choose not to get a plan during the current Open Enrollment period. Consumers can purchase their insurance online, over the phone with a licensed advisor, or in person with a local agent.
HealthCare.com has been a longtime provider of online healthcare-related services since the company’s founding back in 2006.
HealthCare.com is privately funded by investors who include Internet veterans Jeffery H. Boyd and Robert J. Mylod, Jr. Mr. Boyd is Chairman of the Board of The Priceline Group [NASDAQ:PCLN] and his investment was made through Brothers Brook, LLC, the strategic investment firm where he is the principal. Mr. Boyd also is a member of the HealthCare.com Board of Directors. Mr. Mylod served as Priceline’s Chief Financial Officer from 1998 to 2009 and as its Vice Chairman from 2009 to 2012. Mr. Mylod’s HealthCare.com investment is being made through his Annox Capital strategic investment firm.
Privately-owned HealthCare.com is the nation’s leading unbiased search engine and comparison tool for health insurance plans. The website features over 120,000 plans, including virtually all of the state-based exchange plans, federal exchange plans and many private, off-exchange plans. Using powerful proprietary technology and tools, HealthCare.com continues to grow its technology, interfaces and services to help consumers compare health insurance costs and subsidies for free, and enable them to purchase their health insurance online, over the phone with a licensed advisor, or in person with an expert, local agent. The company’s website offers recommendations and a comparison shopping experience to simplify decision-making, allowing consumers to find the right health insurance plan that fits their lifestyle. It also offers online calculators and shopping tools to make buying health insurance easier and more efficient. With more than one million visitors each month, HealthCare.com partners, and integrates with industry-leading health insurance companies to help consumers enroll into healthcare plans. HealthCare.com has offices in Miami, Minneapolis, New York and Guatemala City. For more information, visit www.healthcare.com.