Insurers warn individual mandate repeal will raise premiums, drive more away from ACA markets

Health insurers expect the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s individual mandate will make the individual insurance market worse, particularly for customers who don’t have employer-sponsored coverage but make too much money to receive subsidies to lower their premiums.

Fifteen companies responded to the Huffington Post when asked to assess the impact of repealing the mandate, which Republicans seek to do as part of their broader tax cut plan now being discussed between the House and Senate. The general consensus was premiums would have to be raised and more insurers may decide to leave the ACA exchanges altogether, leaving customers with fewer choices at higher prices.

“Let’s assume for a second that you eliminate the mandate and so those healthy people decide to sit out, whether they need a subsidy or not, the pool shrinks,” said Jim Havens, senior vice president of individual and senior markets for Premera Blue Cross. “That means that the people left are people who either intend to use it or think they will be using it, which is going to make it more expensive.”

Other companies think it won’t have much of an impact, as the availability of subsidies will keep people who qualify for them in the market.

“We know our block of business is using their healthcare,” said Lisa Carson, senior director of market strategy at Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based Sanford Health Plan.

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