Saturday, July 21, 2018
News Roundup

PolitiFact Florida: Trump misses details about health insurance premium increases

President-elect Donald Trump continued to bash the Affordable Care Act right up until Election Day, warning that Floridians are on the hook for big premium increases next year.

"It's just been announced that the residents of Florida are going to experience a massive, double-digit premium hike," he said at a Nov. 3 campaign rally in Jacksonville.

It's a favorite talking point for Trump, who vows to repeal the law, known as Obamacare, and replace it with an unspecified option.

But in this instance, Trump's talking point is missing a lot of context.

Trump is talking about a small portion of people who get health insurance in Florida, and he neglects that most of the plans with increases will get subsidies to offset the cost.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, which oversees insurance company requests for changes in premiums, announced in September that premiums for individual health insurance plans sold in Florida in 2017 would go up an average of 19.1 percent.

That is for any individual plan that meets the ACA's minimum coverage requirements, whether it's sold on the federal exchange's HealthCare.gov or not.

The premium changes depend on the company: For plans sold on the exchange, Health First's increase is the lowest at 11.7 percent. Humana's premiums are going up at the highest rate, 36.8 percent.

Changes for compliant plans sold off the exchange range from a high of 27.3 percent for AvMed, to a decrease of 1.5 percent for premiums with Cigna.

The nationwide average for premium increases is about 25 percent, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

One thing Trump didn't mention is that customers who buy plans off the exchange won't necessarily be paying the full price of those increases.

About 1.53 million Floridians bought their coverage off the federal exchange in 2016. Out of those, 1.42 million — 93 percent — were subsidized in part by the federal government to make the plans more affordable. The average premium tax credit in Florida was $305.

About 1 percent of customers who buy a plan off the exchange earn too much income and do not qualify for any subsidies. They will have to pay the full increase.

Also, people have the option to choose a different, cheaper plan.

For 2017, Health and Human Services has estimated that 86 percent of Floridians who buy a plan off HealthCare.gov will be able to find a plan for $100 a month or less. Amid double-digit increases last year, average premiums after subsidies went from $82 to $84, the agency said.

Again, Trump is talking only about people who buy insurance on the exchanges. People who get insurance through work wouldn't necessarily see the same increase. Small group plans, for example, will see an average premium increase of 9.5 percent, for example.

In Jacksonville, Trump also said that "over 90 percent of the counties in Florida are losing Obamacare insurance next year." For 2017, every Florida county still has at least one Obamacare option on the exchange. Last year, Florida Blue and UnitedHealthcare were the only two insurance companies to offer policies in all 67 counties. UnitedHealthcare announced earlier this year it would leave the exchange in Florida and dozens of other states.

These are all important points Trump didn't mention, so we rate his statement Half True.

Read more rulings at PolitiFact.com/florida.

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