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Sebelius acknowledges likely health insurance rate increase for 2015

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Finn Knox-Seith
Open enrollment deadline already approaching
Open enrollment deadline already approaching

One of the biggest criticisms of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's various machinations was concern among consumers, experts, and policymakers alike that it might lead to higher costs for health insurance for some parts of the population. This potential likelihood was recently confirmed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Testifying before the House Committee of Ways and Means, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told lawmakers that many Americans could likely expect to pay higher health insurance premiums next year, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. However, before she could be excoriated by the Republican opponents of the ACA on the committee, Sebelius was quick to note that they would likely have gone up anyway, and in fact, it seems that the health care law would actually slow the rate of that increase.

This fact comes on the heels of many Americans having likewise seen their rates increase this year, though once again it's important to note that they would likely have seen such spikes regardless of whether the ACA's coverage mandate had gone into place or not, the report said. This issue might be particularly troubling for young Americans, who are now going to be asked to bear a larger financial burden for their coverage despite being generally healthy and therefore requiring relatively little care.

Millennial enrollment still struggling
In fact, these young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 were often cited as a cornerstone of the success, and numbers recently released by the Obama administration show that they are still not really getting into the federal and state health insurance exchanges, the report said. Only about 25 percent of enrollees in the month of February were from this demographic, while the White House had originally targeted a threshold of 40 percent for propping up the larger system. Overall, some 4.2 million people were on these exchanges and had purchased plans through the end of last month, but that's below the Congressional Budget Office's initial estimates of between 6 million and 7 million people signing up before the end of March.

However, health insurance issuers should also keep in mind that experts generally project a large number of consumers could sign up just before the March 31 enrollment deadline. As such, they could see significantly more business in the next two weeks, and therefore might want to do more to prepare for such a crush of applications.

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