Good news, Virginia! We finally expanded Medicaid. I’m just gonna let you soak in that glory for a second.
Ok. Now, I have some bad news for you. It’s about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Health insurance premiums are poised to skyrocket next year in Virginia. Why? Because of the Trump administration’s efforts to sabotage the ACA.
You probably didn’t know about it because the media isn’t covering it. More on that later.
Repealing the Individual Mandate Makes Insurance More Expensive for Everyone
In December as part of Trump’s #TaxScam bill, Congressional Republicans like Scott Taylor (VA-02) repealed the ACA’s individual mandate, which required every American to obtain some kind of health coverage or face a tax penalty. That allows people to go without health insurance in 2019. So, healthier “low-risk” people will choose to not buy plans on the health insurance marketplace.
The ACA required everyone to have health insurance because with more low-risk people in the pool (the youths!), health insurance was cheaper for everyone.
Young, healthy people pay into the insurance pool and don’t need a lot of healthcare services, which frees up more money for health insurance companies to use to provide coverage to “high-risk” people—individuals who live with pre-existing conditions or chronic illnesses. Now that Trump has sabotaged the insurance marketplace, younger or healthier “low-risk” people are dropping their health insurance, leaving a majority of “high-risk” individuals in the health insurance pool. “High-risk” people cost more to cover, and health insurance companies are raising their premium rates accordingly.
Trump and His Congressional Cronies Are Sabotaging the Market
In May, the big health insurance providers in Virginia asked for increased rates for consumers in the state. They blamed these higher rates on the repeal of the individual mandate. Some insurance companies asked for huge hikes, like CareFirst, which requested 64% and 27% increases for different plans. Others, like Anthem, requested only a 6% increase. According to the Center for American Progress, the average rate increase will be 19% in Virginia.
Last summer, Trump and his GOP buddies in the House and Senate outright failed to repeal and replace the ACA. The administration then looked for other ways to undermine the popular healthcare law. When Congress passed its huge tax cuts for the rich one percent in December, it snuck in the revocation of the individual mandate. Trump is making you pay more for healthcare so he can give tax breaks to the rich.
Haven’t Heard About Rate Increases? Blame the Media.
The rate increases aren’t finalized yet, but brace yourselves for bad news. You would think that the media would be doing its part to let you know so you could prepare for the rate increase, but nope, not much of a peep from them about it. An analysis from Media Matters, a watchdog group, found that Virginia’s major TV news stations and newspapers have provided minimal coverage of the rate increase and have all but ignored the connection between the increase and Trump’s sabotage.
Obviously, the mainstream media needs to do a better job of informing its audience. That’s why it’s important that other independent news outlets exist to cover events that traditional media ignores.
Our work and partners like For Our Families will keep shining light on politicians who try and work in the shadows. Sign up for updates to keep yourself up to date on Trump’s sabotage of the ACA.