As insurance markets prepare to open, effects of GOP-caused uncertainty continue to resound

INDIANAPOLIS – Consumers who will face rising prices for health care when the individual insurance marketplaces open later this week have only Republicans to blame, after uncertainty spurred by the party’s politicians have forced insurers to raise premiums.

Wednesday, the individual marketplaces for health care will open under the control of a united Republican government in Washington for the first time. As the curtain rises, however, it’s the marketplaces themselves that appear sickly. The marketplaces will only be open for 45 days, with a radically reduced advertising and outreach budget to remind Americans to sign up. Those who do sign up will find fewer insurers offering plans and premiums that are expected to increase by more than 50% in some states.

The changes are largely due to GOP sabotage of the marketplace in their efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Even after Washington Republicans failed to garner enough support from their own party to pass their unpopular, disastrous overhauls, they’ve kept the damage they’ve done in place. They’ve even inflicted more harm in the health care markets after their overhauls failed, seemingly out of spite, as seen by the Trump Administration’s decision to stop crucial subsidies to insurers that keep premiums down for millions of Americans.

These acts of sabotage appear to be the primary driver of spiking health care costs. “Insurance companies have defended the rate increases, saying they were unavoidable under the current circumstances. After the latest Senate effort to repeal the health law collapsed, insurers still have no commitment about whether the government will continue to allocate millions of dollars in critical financing,” The New York Times wrote earlier this month. “It’s very hard for a regulator to deny those rate increases when we can take a look at [insurers’] bottom line and can tell they can’t continue if they can’t keep their head above water,” Washington state’s Insurance Commissioner told the Times. 

Yet, it will be Americans who need insurance who will ultimately bear the brunt of the sabotage. Lower-income Americans are likely to struggle the most this year, as they benefit more from the cost-sharing subsidies that the Trump Administration has halted, and with less time and means to shop for plans, they’re likely to be harmed by the shortened window and reduced outreach budget.

“After undermining the health care system at every turn to try and set the table for a failed, disastrous overhaul, Republicans like Congressman Messer and Congressman Rokita are now culpable for our health care system,” said Will Baskin-Gerwitz, Senior Media Strategist for the Indiana Democratic Party. “If Hoosiers struggle to find a plan that works for them or have sticker shock at the cost of a plan that does, they have no one to blame anymore but the GOP.”

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