President Obama's signature legislative achievement--the healthcare law popularly known as Obamacare--is facing a potentially existential fight in the Supreme Court in 2015.
But it's not just the courts that supporters of the program need to worry about. According to a report published Friday in the The Wall Street Journal, health insurers are requesting the right in many states to increase premiums by upwards of 50%. Health Care Service Corp.--the leading health insurer in New Mexico, has asked state regulators to allow it to increase its premiums on average by 51.6%, for instance. Customers of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield in Maryland may face an average premium increase of 30.4%.
Insurers will have to submit their premium-hike proposals to their state regulators, and potentially the federal government. Regulators will review the requests, and may deny the insurers requests if rising costs don't justify premium increases. But big rate hikes could be necessary to prevent insurers from taking a loss. According to the report:
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee . . . said it lost $141 million from exchange-sold plans, stemming largely from a small number of sick enrollees. “Our filing is planned to allow us to operate on at least a break-even basis for these plans, meaning that the rate would cover only medical services and expenses—with no profit margin for 2016,” said spokeswoman Mary Danielson.
It's not all bad news, however. Obamacare insurers in some states--like Indiana, Connecticut and Maine--are asking for minimal or no increases to their premiums.