Even with the Supreme Court’s decision upholding federal subsidies in King v. Burwell—and despite President Obama’s claim to the contrary—Obamacare will remain unaffordable for many Americans. Read here from Stephen T. Parente, a professor of health financial at the Carlson School of Management, why the cost of health-care insurance will become increasingly intolerable “both financially and politically.”
My research shows that the average 2016 family plan could experience premium increases of 11.2%, compared with 8% hikes for individual plans. The relatively cheap bronze plans, which cover 60% of a consumer’s health-care costs, could see the highest jumps—16.6% and 11.5%, respectively. Individual silver plans could see a relatively low increase—3.1%—but families won’t be so lucky, potentially paying 8.4% more.
That won’t stay the same in 2017, however, when individual silver-plan premiums could rise by an average of 12.1%, surpassing a 9.2% increase for families. Across every type of health-care plan—bronze, silver, gold, platinum and catastrophic—families could be looking at average increases of 7.3%, compared with 11% premium hikes for individual plan holders.
To put these numbers in context: For consumers with silver plans, which account for about two-thirds of the ACA market, the average individual could see annual premiums rise to $3,700 over the next year and a half from $3,200. A family could expect an increase to $15,400 from $13,000 over the same period.
After 2017, most ACA-compliant plans will likely fall into a pattern of annual premium increases of between 3%-6%, which will persist for the next decade and likely beyond. By 2023, I estimate that the average family plan could be 61% more expensive than it is in 2015, with individual plans only one or two percentage points behind. These increases are so high that direct taxpayer subsidies to consumers are unlikely to keep up. So the cost, both financially and politically, will become increasingly intolerable.
Policy makers should keep this in mind in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding federal subsidies in King v. Burwell . Despite the court’s decision, and the president’s claims to the contrary, the Affordable Care Act remains unaffordable for too many Americans—and that will only get worse in the coming years.