Monday, June 05, 2017

Insurance CEO: I’m raising Obamacare premiums because of Trump

Sarah Kliff · Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 11:40 am

Most health insurance executives will demur when you ask questions about whether the Trump administration is making Obamacare more expensive.

Not Brad Wilson.

He’s the chief executive of Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, a health insurance plan that just filed a 22.9 percent Obamacare rate increase in 2018. Wilson had hoped to have a smaller rate increase this year; he feels like, after years of losing money, the North Carolina marketplace is finally stabilizing.

“2017 is so far, so good,” he says. “It’s still early and our numbers for the year run about 30 to 45 days behind. But the analysis underway so far in 2017 appears to show stability in the market in terms of price, utilization, and the customer base.”

But Wilson is asking for a big increase in 2018 because it does not expect the Trump administration to fund a key Obamacare program, the cost-sharing subsidies. This is a $7 billion program that lowers copays and deductibles for low-income enrollees. The Trump administration has been aggressively ambiguous on whether it will continue to finance that program, which is currently being challenged in a federal lawsuit.

“The May payment has been made,” Health and Human Services spokesperson Alleigh Marré told Vox last week. “Going forward, we are weighing our options and still evaluating the issues.”

Wilson would have filed an 8.8 percent rate hike if he knew those funds would be paid. But he bumped it up to a 22.9 percent increase because he doesn’t think the Trump administration will come through.

  Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina
“The information we’ve seen coming from the administration actually creates more uncertainty rather than creating greater certainty,” he says. “The last thing I saw was the president has said he intends to make available the CSR money through May 2017. That is good news. We’re grateful for that assurance. What is not said is what about June through December. There’s a big void.”

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