As health care reform legislation continues to be discussed in Washington, Obamacare remains the law on the books. Time doesn’t stop for Washington, and right now, health plans are preparing their offerings to be sold on the Obamacare exchanges in 2018.
One part of the Affordable Care Act is “cost sharing reductions” (CSRs). CSRs are important for stabilizing the exchanges. The New York Times explains that without them, "insurance markets could quickly unravel. Even more insurers could withdraw from the public marketplaces where more than 10 million Americans obtained coverage last year."
For a deeper dive into what this could mean for consumer and insurers, read this piece from The Commonwealth Fund.
The Trump administration has sent mixed messages on if it will continue funding the CSRs. In response, groups representing insurers, physicians, hospitals, and employers (including the U.S. Chamber) sent letters to President Trump and Congress, urging both to ensure CSR funding. The situation will be dire if they don’t:
• Choices for consumers will be more limited. If reliable funding for CSRs is not provided, it may impact plan participation, which would leave individuals without coverage options.
• Premiums for 2018 and beyond will be higher. Analysts estimate that loss of CSR funding alone would increase premiums for all consumers – both on and off the exchange – by at least 15 percent. Higher premium rates could drive out of the market those middle-income individuals who are not eligible for tax credits.
• If more people are uninsured, providers will experience more uncompensated care which will further strain their ability to meet the needs of their communities and will raise costs for everyone, including employers who sponsor group health plans for their employees.
• Hardworking taxpayers will pay more, as premiums grow and tax credits for low-income families increase, than if CSRs are funded.
Americans relying on the exchanges shouldn’t have their health plans disrupted and coverage in jeopardy while Washington debates future health care legislation. Congress and the President must act to protect the individual market from collapsing. Failing to fund these CSRs would be irresponsible, as this infographic illustrates.