Indiana rates to climb more than 20 percent on Obamacare exchanges

Hoosiers buying health insurance on the Obamacare marketplace will pay an average of nearly $500 a month in premiums next year, a sharp rise over current rates.

The Indiana Department of Insurance on Thursday posted new, approved rates on its web site, showing the average premiums from the only two insurers left on the exchange.

CareSource Indiana will charge an average premium of $497.59 a month, representing an increase of 20 percent.

Celtic Insurance Co./MHS will charge slightly less, an average premium of $496 a month, representing an increase of 35.7 percent.

People without employer-sponsored health care or other coverage can sign upon on during the open-enrollment period, which runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. Coverage starts Jan. 1.

Numerous studies have shown that the Obamacare exchanges have signed up fewer young, healthy people than expected, meaning that they are disproportionately filled with older, sicker people with more expensive health needs. That has caused many insurers to increase rates sharply to cover high medical costs, or to flee the exchanges altogether.

In Indiana, two major insurers, Anthem Inc. and MDwise Marketplace said in June they would drop out of the exchanges next year, citing growing uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act. One concern was whether the Trump administration would stop paying subsidies that lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans.

Republicans in Congress have also tried repeatedly to repeal or largely dismantle the Affordable Care Act, but have been unable to muster enough votes. On Tuesday, Senate Republican leaders dropped plans to vote on the latest version of the repeal, known as Graham-Cassidy, after three Republican senators said they would vote against it, joining all 48 Democrats who oppose a repeal.

A national survey by Oliver Wyman, a consulting firm, found that 43 percent of insurers have asked for rate hike with an average increase of more than 20 percent. About 36 percent are seeking premium increases of between 10 percent and 20 percent. The remainder are seeking rate increases in the single digits.

Last year, six insurers submitted plans to Indiana regulators to provide coverage on the exchange. Two of those insurers, Physicians Health Plan of Northern Indiana and IU Health Plans, later withdrew their plans and said they would not participate.

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