Covered California’s Affordability Challenge

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to download.

California has caught a case of the Obamacare Blues.

The state’s health insurance exchange, Covered California, announced this week that premiums for 2017 will increase 13.2 percent on average statewide.

The two biggest insurers on the exchange, Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross, are driving the double-digit increase. Blue Shield said it will have a 19.9 percent average increase, and Anthem isn’t far behind at 17.2 percent. The two health plans account for more than half of Covered California’s enrollment of 1.4 million.

The news was a stark departure from the past two years, when exchange officials negotiated increases of 4 percent, earning the state accolades across the country.

Covered California and its largest health plans attributed the higher premiums to a number of factors. Federal programs aimed at helping insurers with big medical claims expire this year. People who signed up during special enrollment were costlier than expected. And medical expenses keep climbing, particularly for expensive specialty drugs.

Chad Terhune of California Healthline spoke with KPCC radio’s Take Two on Wednesday to discuss the implications of these rate increases for consumers and for the future of the Affordable Care Act.

Related Topics

Capitol Desk Cost and Quality Covered California Insurance The Health Law