Popular ACA plans see premiums jump 34% on average amid market uncertainty

Premiums for the most popular plans sold on HealthCare.gov will grow an average 34 percent for 2018 compared to last year, according to an Avalere analysis of federal exchange filings.

"Plans are raising premiums in 2018 to account for market uncertainty and the federal government's failure to pay for cost-sharing reductions," said Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at Avalere. President Donald Trump's administration announced Oct. 12 it will no longer reimburse insurers for cost-sharing reductions, which help offset the cost of providing health insurance to low-income Americans on the exchanges.

Avalere analysts also pointed to lower-than-expected marketplace enrollment, slimmer insurer participation, unpaid risk corridors payments and volatility in the exchanges as contributors to the increase. Rate hikes vary by state, with Iowa silver premiums rising by 69 percent and premiums in Alaska dropping 22 percent.

"These premium increases may allow insurers to remain in the market and enrollees in all regions to have access to coverage," Ms. Pearson noted.

Avalere added most exchange enrollees have subsidized plans and will not see the increases. This is not the case for consumers who pay full price for their plans — estimated at 7.5 million Americans — who may decide to exit the exchanges for 2018 because of the hikes.

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Anthem grows net income 21% in Q

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