States Brace for Obamacare Premium Hikes in 2016

This could not have been the way President Barack Obama envisioned his signature legislative domestic achievement heading into an election year. Nearly six years since Obama signed into law the single biggest tax in American history, Obamacare has become a full-blown liability for Democrats on the ballot this year, including the two candidates hoping to replace him. Today, millions of Americans are learning first hand that there is nothing affordable in the Affordable Care Act.

Freedom Partners, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the free enterprise system, recently published a state-by-state breakdown of the healthcare premium hikes millions of Americans will shoulder as a direct result of Obamacare. With the exception of Mississippi, every state will likely see a health insurance premium increase in 2016. Some states will be harder hit than others, but few are avoiding this expensive transition into government-run healthcare.

To make matters worse, many of these same Americans that are bracing for an increase in monthly premiums have not seen an increase in their wages in some time. The authors of the Freedom Partners study conclude that individual health insurance premium plans will likely see an average 14.9 percent increase in premiums over 2015.

Minnesota has the unfortunate distinction of seeing the highest premium hike in a one-year span at 47.7 percent, largely as a result of the huge losses Blue Cross, Blue Shield incurred shortly after Obamacare was signed into law.

Alaska and Hawaii will also likely see a steep rise in premiums estimated at nearly 30 percent, while Oregon is not far behind at 23.2 percent. In the midwest, including Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa, hikes are projected to top 20 percent.

With the exception of Mississippi, every state will likely see a health insurance premium increase in 2016

The complete list can be found here.

For Democrats, the timing of these hikes could not be worse. With historical factors working against them and exit polls revealing that healthcare is a top issue for voters, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) must strike a delicate balance of defending the president’s healthcare plan while diplomatically criticizing Obamacare’s many failings to address the plight of millions of Americans suffering under the law.

This isn’t so easy, as Clinton found out recently when she called the health care premium increases “temporary glitches.”

Republicans appear to be in a better position, but pressure is building to go beyond voting to repeal Obamacare and rally around a bill to replace it. But thanks to the new leadership under House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), Republicans are sending their strongest signals to date that a vote on a bill to replace Obamacare is imminent.

Contours of the bill will likely include allowing consumers to purchase health insurance across states lines, expand Health Savings Accounts and encouraging states to set up high risk pools in order to ensure coverage for patients with preexisting medical conditions.

If Republicans follow through with a strong bill, Democrats will find themselves in the unenviable position of defending a health care law that is responsible for causing health care premiums to rise for millions of Americans.

Israel Ortega is a Senior Writer for Opportunity Lives. You can follow him on Twitter: @IzzyOrtega.