The Trump administration has approved requests by 12 states to create reinsurance programs, which shield carriers from high-cost patients and help reduce premiums. Officials pointed to this and other measures the administration has taken that have stabilized the individual market.
States that run their own exchanges are also seeing improvements for 2020. In California, for instance, rates are rising by a record low 0.8%. The Golden State restored the individual mandate, requiring residents to have insurance or pay a penalty, and expanded subsidies to middle-income Californians.
Washington will see two new health insurers enter the market and rates will drop an average of 3.25%.
“Despite the Trump administration’s effort over the last two years to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, the record average rate decrease and interest by insurers is evidence that our market is stabilizing,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.
Administration officials were quick to highlight that premiums remain high for those who don’t qualify for federal subsidies. This assistance is not available to individuals who earn more than $49,960 and families of four who earn more than $103,000 a year for 2020. Some 87% of those buying coverage on the federal exchange this year received subsidies.
Administration officials cited an earlier report showing that 2.5 million people who earned too much to receive subsidies left the individual market between 2016 and 2018.
“The ACA simply doesn’t work and it is still unaffordable for far too many,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “But until Congress gets around to replacing it, President Trump will do what he can to fix the problems created by this system for millions of Americans.”
Open enrollment launches Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15 in states using the federal exchange. Some states that run their own marketplaces have longer enrollment timelines.
The landmark health care law has proved remarkably resilient, with sign-ups dropping only 300,000 to 11.4 million for 2019. Still, that’s down from a high point of 12.7 million in 2016.