A new report from CMS has shown that nearly 2 million people who selected an Affordable Care Act (ACA) health plan on the exchanges had not paid their insurance premium to maintain health coverage just 2 months later.
In their Health Insurance Exchanges Trends Report, CMS reported that the average premiums in the 39 states using HealthCare.gov in 2017 were up 105% from 2013. Those individuals enrolled for coverage who canceled or terminated it were less likely to have financial assistance than those who maintained their coverage. Plus, consumers who did not maintain coverage had higher premiums.
“Consumers are sending a clear message that cost and affordability are major factors in their decision to cancel or terminate coverage,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma, said in a statement
Online survey data from people who left the exchanges reported that 46% of consumers who canceled coverage before paying their first month’s premium cited cost as the reason for canceling. However, half (49%) said they canceled because they gained coverage elsewhere, with 58% of those people obtaining employer-sponsored insurance.
In a speech at HHS the day after the report was released, HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD, discussed the changes that the Trump administration has been making to stabilize the market and bring down premiums.
“Healthcare is such a focus for President Trump because the situation right now in many, many areas is unacceptable,” he said. Even with higher prices, insurers are still leaving markets across the country or threatening to do so, he added. “Fixing this situation, as the saying goes, requires an act of Congress, and the president understands and appreciates that.”
Vice President Mike Pence also spoke at HHS following Price. He called the current situation in the ACA exchanges a literal “death spiral.” The Trump administration’s vision for the future of healthcare in the United States includes a dynamic national health insurance marketplace that lowers cost, increases quality, and gives more choices to working families. In addition, the administration wants to provide business with more flexibility to give their employees affordable coverage and also give states more freedom to create a system that works best for them and their most vulnerable individuals.
“This will be the North Star of our administration,” Pence said. And to make it a reality, the president is going to work with Congress to repeal and replace the ACA.