Insurers applying to be part of the Obamacare exchange in Pennsylvania next year have requested average rate increases of 8.8 percent on premiums, an outcome the state is using to attack the Trump administration and Republicans' efforts to undo the healthcare law.
"These low percentages show that Pennsylvania's market is stabilizing and insurers are better understanding the markets and the population they serve," Teresa Miller, the state's insurance commissioner, said in a statement. "I sincerely hope that Congress and the Trump Administration do not take action that could negatively impact the progress we have made in Pennsylvania."
All five insurers who participated in the exchange plan to participate again in 2018. Pennsylvania's government's website issued a press release saying that the requests were "confirming move toward stability unless Congress or the Trump administration act to disrupt the individual market." The requests still need to be reviewed and approved by the state's insurance department.
Republicans in Congress are working to repeal Obamacare, which would affect what insurers charge customers.
The rates filed in Pennsylvania assume that the federal government will continue to enforce the individual mandate, which obligates people to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, and that the Trump administration will continue to pay cost-sharing reduction subsidies, which allow insurers to offer reduced priced to customers for out-of-pocket medical expenses.
If both are undone, insurers estimate they will seek rate increases of 36.3 percent. If the individual mandate alone is repealed, requests would increase to 23.3 percent and if the cost-sharing reductions alone are not paid then insurers would seek an increase of 36.6 percent.
Other states have seen requests for double-digit rate hikes, which insurers have attributed both to uncertainty and to financial losses after not enough young, healthy people signed up for the plans to balance the risk pools.
Under Obamacare, most customers who enroll through the exchanges will receive a tax subsidy and will not personally feel the impact of premium hikes. Full premium increases, however, could affect anyone who makes more than $48,240 for an individual and $98,400 for a family of four.