How to navigate the Obamacare premium spike

Affordable Care Act

If you have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act – brace yourself. The Department of Health and Human Services says premiums will go up, on average, by 25 percent.

Compare that to increases of two percent in 2015 and seven percent this year.

In Texas, Health Economist Devon Herrick said the increase, in many cases, will be more than 25 percent.

"There are a lot of people in Texas that were uninsured for many years, Herrick explained. "There's not enough healthy people to offset those high claims -- and that's why insurance companies are raising rates."

Providers are also leaving the marketplace exchange.

"My carrier is dropping out of Obamacare,” Patty Abney commented on the WFAA-TV Facebook page Tuesday. “I have to find another plan."

Herrick said with medical networks narrowing, consumers will pay more to see a doctor no longer in their network. The alternative is to change providers and/or physicians.

Herrick acknowledges the hassle of transferring medical records and costs of “first-time visits” often required when seeing a new physician. He also warns of longer wait times to schedule appointments with doctors in a network that gets smaller.

While premiums are rising, the HHS says Marketplace tax credits adjust to match changes in each consumer’s benchmark silver plan premium.

“Roughly 82 percent of the enrollees in HealthCare.gov are those that get subsidies,” Herrick noted.

In a report released Monday, the HHS says of the nearly 1.3 million HealthCare.gov consumers who did not receive tax credits in 2016, 22 percent have benchmark premiums and incomes in the range that may make them eligible for tax credits in 2017.

Seventy-two percent of folks enrolling can find a plan for $75 dollars or less per month, according to the HHS report.

To help avoid premium hikes, Herrick suggests shopping around the marketplace and comparing options. To offset costs, he advises consumers to "Take advantage of things like health savings accounts. That's a way to put money aside to help cover these high deductibles - and you can do it tax free."

Herrick answered questions in a Facebook live chat with WFAA's Alisha Ebrahimji Tuesday afternoon. Watch below or here.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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