Last updated on: 7/15/2016 | Author:

Have Health Insurance Premiums Been Rising at a Faster Rate Under Obamacare? – DEBATED

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation stated in a June 19, 2014 report written by Liz Hamel et al., titled “Survey of Non-Group Health Insurance Enrollees,” available at

“Among those who previously bought non-group insurance and have switched to a new, ACA-compliant plan (referred to as ‘plan switchers’ throughout this report), nearly half (46 percent) say their current premium – taking into account government subsidies – is lower than it was under their previous plan, while four in ten (39 percent) say it is higher. This group’s responses to other survey questions suggest that the coverage they are getting is, on average, similar to what they had before.”

PRO (yes)


Karl Rove, Former Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush, stated the following in a June 1, 2016 article “Why Clinton Should Fear Obamacare,” available at

“[Under Obamacare] insurers are forced to ask for drastic premium increases, driven by the fact that ObamaCare policyholders are older and sicker than the government had forecast…

[Florida health insurance companies] are asking regulators for an average premium increase of 17.7% for individual coverage under ObamaCare and 9.6% for small-group plans…

The largest insurer in Virginia is seeking a 15.8% premium increase, while another major provider is requesting 16.6%. In Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield has written customers to warn premiums might rise by 38% to 43% next year…

The second-largest ObamaCare provider in New Hampshire is seeking a premium increase of 45.2%. Pennsylvania’s insurers have so far asked for increases averaging 23.6% for the individual market…

[Ohio health insurance companies] have yet to file rate requests for next year, but last week the state’s nonprofit ObamaCare co-op shut down. Simply to break even, it reportedly would have needed premium increases of 60%.”


Amanda E. Kowalski, PhD, Faculty Research Fellow with the National Bureau of Economic Research, stated in her study titled “The Early Impact of the Affordable Care Act, State by State,” published in the Fall 2014 issue of Brookings Papers on Economic Activity:

“In the vast majority of states, in the first quarter of 2014 premiums rose relative to state seasonally adjusted trends. Health insurance premiums almost always go up, but it is striking that they went up so much relative to trend… [P]remiums increased relative to seasonally adjusted trends in the first half of 2014 in the four most populous states. Across all states, from before the reform to the first half of 2014, enrollment-weighted premiums in the individual health insurance market increased by 24.4 percent beyond what they would have had they simply followed state-level seasonally adjusted trends.”


Avik Roy, MD, Forbes‘ Opinion Editor and Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, stated in his Sep. 14, 2014 article titled “Obamacare Has Failed to Collapse — but Its Premiums Continue to Climb,” available at

“[T]here can be no doubt that health care today is more costly than it would have been without Obamacare… [M]easured over two years, Obamacare’s rate hikes remain toxic. And further increases are on the horizon in 2017, when some of the law’s subsidies to insurance companies are set to expire…

I and my colleagues at the Manhattan Institute looked at the actual, finalized rate filings in 2014 and compared them to what was available in 2013. The average U.S. county saw a rate increase of 49 percent.”


Gigi A. Cuckler, MA, MBA, Andrea M. Sisko, PhD, and Sean P. Keehan, MA, economists in the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), et al., stated the following in their Sep. 2013 article “National Health Expenditure Projections, 2012-22: Slow Growth until Coverage Expands and Economy Improves,” published in Health Affairs:

“On a per enrollee basis, growth in private health insurance premiums is expected to accelerate to 6.0 percent, up from 3.2 percent in 2013.

This acceleration is driven by expected increases in utilization for those covered through the Marketplaces. For these people, the availability of new, or potentially more generous, coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion—as well as the presence of premium and cost-sharing subsidies that partially offset the cost of care—is expected to lead to increased spending relative to their current status.”


Drew Gonshorowski, MA, Policy Analyst in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation, stated the following in his Oct. 16, 2013 Issue Brief #4068, “How Will You Fare in the Obamacare Exchanges?,” available at

“Individuals in most states will end up spending more on the exchanges. It is true that in some states, the experience could be the opposite. This is because those states had already over-regulated insurance markets that led to sharply higher premiums through adverse selection, as is the case of New York. Many states, however, double or nearly triple premiums for young adults. Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, and Vermont see some of the largest increases in premiums…

Many individuals will experience sticker shock when shopping on the exchanges. It is clear that many policies and cross-subsidization within Obamacare will lead to upward shifts in premiums…

[T]he claims of savings on premiums for the average participant is a fantasy.”


Douglas Holtz-Eakin, PhD, President of the American Action Forum, wrote in his Mar. 9, 2011 paper “Higher Costs and the Affordable Care Act,” available at the American Action Forum website:

“Objective analysts have uniformly concluded that the new law raises – not lowers – national health-care spending. The rising bill for national health care spending will produce sustained upward pressures on health insurance premiums.

In addition, the law’s array of insurance market reforms will increase premiums. Barring limits on annual and lifetime out-of-pocket spending, coverage of children’s pre-existing conditions and the ability for children to stay on parents’ policies are all initiatives that enhance benefits. These benefits must necessarily be covered by higher premiums.”

CON (no)


Jeffrey Young, health care reporter with the Huffington Post, stated in his Aug. 21, 2014 article titled “Here’s What’s Going on with Obamacare Premium Increases,” available at the Huffington Post website:

“[M]ost people will pay more for health insurance next year. That’s true whether you get coverage from a job, on your own through an exchange or directly from an insurer, or from Medicare. Health insurance prices tend to go up. It’s their nature, and it’s closely tied to how much the cost of medical care rises.

The good news is that available information indicates the doomsayers were wrong, and premiums under President Barack Obama’s health care law aren’t going through the roof.

The average increase for Obamacare plans will be 8.2 percent next year in 29 states and the District of Columbia where data about health insurance premiums for 2015 are available, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has conducted the most thorough review to date [‘A Preliminary Look at 2015 Individual Market Rate Filings’]. That’s significant, but it’s a little lower than the 10 percent annual rate hikes typical before the Affordable Care Act, according to a recent analysis published by the Commonwealth Fund [‘Growth and Variability in Health Plan Premiums in the Individual Insurance Market Before the Affordable Care Act’].”


Rick Ungar, Senior Political Contributor at Forbes, stated in his Oct. 31, 2014 article for titled “Key Study on Obamacare 2015 Premium Rates Is out and You Won’t Believe What’s Going to Happen”:

“One of the best sources of actual facts is the annual study done by the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform [‘2015 OEP: Emerging Trends in the Individual Exchanges’]…

According to the McKinsey study… While 65 percent of existing policies will see an increase in premium costs for 2015, the median increase will be just 4 percent.

When was the last time we saw insurance premiums experience an annual increase of less than 5 percent? I cannot remember such a time and doubt that you can either.”


Christine Eibner, PhD, Economist at the RAND Corporation, and Amado Cordova, PhD, Senior Engineer at RAND Corporation, et al., stated the following in their Aug. 2013 report “The Affordable Care Act and Health Insurance Markets: Simulating the Effects of Regulation,” available at

“Our estimates indicate that, on average, out -of-pocket premium spending for nongroup enrollees will fall due to new federal tax credits available after the Affordable Care Act takes full effect…

In our main estimates, which assume that the individual and small group markets are split for the purposes of risk pooling, we find little to no change in small group premiums as a result of the law. For nine out of ten states considered, and for the United States overall, we find virtually no difference in age – , actuarial value – , and tobacco use – standardized small group premiums in scenarios with and without the Affordable Care Act. Of course, individual firms may experience an increase or decrease in premiums, depending on the health status of their enrollees. However, overall, we find no evidence to suggest that small premiums will systematically change as a result of the law.”


The US Department of Health and Human Services stated in its Sep. 23, 2011 report “Reducing Costs, Protecting Consumers: The Affordable Care Act on the One Year Anniversary of the Patient’s Bill of Rights,” available at the Affordable Care Act website:

“This report outlines how the Affordable Care Act is strengthening the health care system for all Americans and helping to control health care costs. The report finds that the Affordable Care Act’s reforms have helped reduce premiums and hold insurance companies more accountable, and the Administration’s anti-fraud efforts alone will save $1.8 billion through 2015…

The MLR [Medical Loss Ratio] provision is already forcing insurance companies to carefully evaluate their rates, slow the rate of premium growth and, in some cases, decrease premiums.”


David M. Cutler, PhD, Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics at Harvard University, Karen Davis, PhD, President of The Commonwealth Fund, and Kristof Stremikis, MPP, MPH, Senior Research Associate for Commonwealth Fund, wrote in their May 21, 2010 report “The Impact of Health Reform on Health System Spending,” available at The Commonwealth Fund website:

“We estimate that, on net, the combination of provisions in the new law will reduce health care spending by $590 billion over 2010–2019 and lower premiums by nearly $2,000 per family. Moreover, the annual growth rate in national health expenditures could be slowed from 6.3 percent to 5.7 percent…

Reducing insurer administration and modernizing the delivery of health care services will each result in reductions in private insurance premiums. Private premiums might be affected by other provisions as well. For example, an excise tax on high-premium health insurance plans, set to take effect in 2018, will introduce a strong financial incentive for insurers to trim benefits and reduce costs below a tax-free threshold of $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage. Indexing this cap to the overall rate of inflation in the economy plus one percentage point will encourage insurers to seek out value and efficiency continually, thus placing downward pressure on premiums over time.”