The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — a legislation championed by President Barack Obama — mandates that a minimum set of health insurance benefits be extended to all Americans, regardless of any preexisting conditions, forcing insurers to cover even the sickest applicants. Because of these new requirements, insurers are expecting costs to skyrocket, and as a result, many are preparing to raise premiums to cover these increased expenses.
Maryland’s biggest health insurer, CareFirst, has proposed raising premiums for individual policies by an average of 25 percent next year, according to information received by the Washington Post. However, the CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield plan must still be approved by the state, and regulators will likely give the double-digit increase a close examination. Maryland is among 31 states that have the authority to deny rate increases, giving regulators final authority over whether changes to health coverage required by Obamacare justify the higher premiums.
Health insurance providers across the country are proposing changes to premiums for the plans created for the health insurance exchanges — online marketplaces for individuals to compare and purchase policies — that will open for enrollment on October 1. As CareFirst’s proposal indicates, many companies will not hesitate to increase premiums significantly and the blame will be placed on the new federal regulations. Rates will also increase because the health law requires insurers to provide a wider range of benefits.