Obamacare insurance to jump by double digits in Georgia next year


Georgians with health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace will see their premiums jump by double-digits next year.

On Tuesday, the state insurance department approved a 21.4 percent increase for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Obamcare plans to be sold in 2017. Alliant, Ambetter (Peach State), Harken Health, Humana and Kaiser Permanente also all received the OK to increase the cost of their marketplace plans by double digits.

Blue Cross — the only insurer that sells marketplace plans statewide and has the largest marketshare — had initially requested a 15.1 percent premium hike. But it upped its request in the wake of Aetna’s pullout from marketplaces in Georgia and 10 other states last week.

State insurance officials said that Blue Cross was the only health insurer to request a new rate after Aetna’s move.

Insurers across the country have drastically cut their Obamacare offerings and some have pulled out of marketplaces altogether. The reason, they say, is hundreds of millions of dollars in losses incurred when enrollees turned out to be sicker and more expensive than initially anticipated.

Consumer advocates worry the loss of competition will lead to higher premium costs.

However, Georgians whose incomes don’t change much could see their subsidies, or discounts, on marketplace plans rise significantly, so the impact of higher rates may be softened, experts say.

The proposed rate hikes reflect, in part, the rise in general health care costs of 7 percent to 9 percent annually, caused by factors such as higher use of medical services and increases in inpatient care and pharmaceutical pricing, insurance experts say.

A Blue Cross spokeswoman, Debbie Diamond, said in a statement Tuesday that the company is sticking with the marketplace, also called an exchange, in Georgia.

“We are committed to the exchange in Georgia. As the only insurance carrier offering plans in all 159 Georgia counties, we wanted to continue offering quality, affordable plans for Georgians,” she said.

Blue Cross expects to pick up many of the estimated 70,000 to 90,000 Georgia Aetna members, who will have to pick new plans during the fall open enrollment. (Aetna had marketplace health plans across almost all of the state.)

In 2016, nearly 588,000 Georgians signed up for coverage in the insurance marketplace a 9 percent increase over the 2015 total.

Glenn Allen, spokesman for the insurance department, said Georgia passed along the premium requests to federal health officials Tuesday, the deadline for the state to do so.

While state approval is a factor, the federal Department of Health and Human Services has the final say on what premiums will be charged on the insurance marketplace.

Advocacy groups, including Georgians for a Healthy Future, say consumers should not simply assume their current policy is the correct option, but should shop around during open enrollment to find the plan that suits them best.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Roswell family files $25M suit over son’s suspected hazing-related death at LSU
Roswell family files $25M suit over son’s suspected hazing-related death at LSU

The family of a Roswell college student who was killed during a suspected hazing-related incident at Louisiana State University filed a $25 million federal lawsuit Thursday against the university, fraternity and several fraternity members, Channel 2 Action News reported. Maxwell Gruver, 18, died of alcohol poisoning during an alleged hazing incident...
Men accused of using kids to help steal from cars parked at Georgia Aquarium
Men accused of using kids to help steal from cars parked at Georgia Aquarium

Surveillance video obtained by Channel 2 Action News Thursday appears to show men using children to attempt to break into cars in the Georgia Aquarium parking garage. Atlanta police told Channel 2 that two men were able to break into cars in the parking garage, stealing cash and credit cards before going on a shopping spree at a nearby Sam’s...
Sugar Hill accepting Youth Council applications
Sugar Hill accepting Youth Council applications

Sugar Hill is accepting applications for the 2018-2019 Youth Council. Applicants must be available for meeting 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday evenings, be current high school students, attend city council meetings at 7:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month and be available to participate in various Sugar Hill events throughout the year. Student participating...
Johns Creek unveils proposed budget, invites comment
Johns Creek unveils proposed budget, invites comment

Declaring fiscal 2019 “the year of storm water,” Johns Creek officials have introduced a proposed budget that they say addresses a “significant liability” in the city’s storm water infrastructure, as well as funding major capital projects like a new firehouse and Abbotts Bridge Road sound abatement. The document calls...
Johns Creek puts new wireless technology on 120-day hold
Johns Creek puts new wireless technology on 120-day hold

The Johns Creek City Council has imposed a 120-day moratorium on permits for small-cell wireless installations to give the city time to either update current ordinances or create a new ordinance to deal with the new technology. Small-cell technology has been proposed as a way to expand 5G coverage without putting up traditional cell towers, and it...
More Stories