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Will health insurance rates go up in 2017? The Department of Health and Human Services recently answered that question: Yes, by an average of 25 percent.
Charles Gaba at ACA Signups, who previously estimated a 25 percent increase in individual health plan premiums (unsubsidized) for 2017 across all markets nationally, has calculated a weighted average rate increase of 57 percent for approved Arizona individual market plans (unsubsidized).,
Under the Affordable Care Act, if the only health insurance plans available to someone exceed 8.16 percent of their income (this is the amount for 2017), then they may qualify for a hardship exemption [...]
For people living in Phoenix, which could be called the U.S. epicenter of rate increases and lack of competition in the market, rate hikes are well above the national and the Arizona average. In Maricopa County, consumers who shop HealthCare.gov will have only one option when it comes to insurance companies: Centene Corp., which sells Ambetter plans. The approved rate increase for 2017 Centene/Ambetter plans? 74.5 percent. Of the four Ambetter plans available, only one is bronze.
Those living in Maricopa Country who were covered by another carrier in 2016 and will no longer have that option could see their monthly health insurance rates increase even more significantly and they may also be forced to find new doctors.
In Phoenix, a 35-year-old would need to make between $45,000 and $65,000 per year to qualify for a hardship exemption, which would claimed on that individual’s federal tax return.
To see how middle-class individuals and families who buy Obamacare plans and do not qualify for subsidies will be impacted, we obtained quotes for the lowest-cost bronze plans available in Maricopa County through HealthCare.gov in 2016 and 2017. In comparing these finalized rates, we found premium increases of 176 percent across the board for the brackets we quoted – 35-year-old male nonsmoker; 45-year-old male nonsmokers; and a family of four with a two male and two female members, all nonsmoking.
We then broke down these rates and increases, and then compared them with other household expenses.
Under the Affordable Care Act, if the only health insurance plans available to someone exceed 8.16 percent of their income (this is the amount for 2017), then they may qualify for a hardship exemption from the individual shared responsibility provision and thereby can avoid the tax penalty. In Phoenix, a 35-year-old would need to make between $45,000 and $65,000 per year to qualify for a hardship exemption, which would claimed on that individual’s federal tax return.
Even with an exemption, consumers may want to consider some form of healthcare benefits to help lower out-of-pocket exposure to medical bills. Anyone taking an exemption or shopping for individual and family health plans in the private market or through HealthCare.gov may want to consider working with a local, licensed health insurance agent. These individuals can help you navigate coverage options, including Obamacare plans as well as supplemental coverage such as critical illness, dental, hospital indemnity, and medical gap products to help lower out-of-pocket healthcare costs.
Originally published on November 3, 2016.
 Alonso-Zaldivar, Ricardo. “Obama Health Plan Hit by Double-Digit Premium Hikes.” AP. Oct. 25, 2016. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/4e2846e6f17a4c4482d5b8c1243b85dd/obama-health-plan-hit-double-digit-premium-hikes
 Gaba, Charles. “Did I Overestimate 2017 Avg Unsubsidized Rate Hikes??? Nope.” Blog. ACASignups.com. Oct. 25, 2016. http://acasignups.net/16/10/25/did-i-overestimate-2017-avg-unsubsidized-rate-hikes-nope
 Gaba, Charles. “Arizona: Approved *Unsubsidized* 2017 Indy Mkt Rate Hikes: 57%.” Blog. ACASignups.com. Oct. 17, 2016. http://acasignups.net/16/10/17/arizona-approved-unsubsidized-2017-indy-mkt-rate-hikes-57
 Alltucker, Ken. “‘Obamacare’ in Arizona: 2 Remaining Insurers Hike Rates By 50-75 Percent.” The Republic. Oct. 19, 2016 http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/health/2016/10/19/obamacare-arizona-two-remaining-health-insurers-hike-rates-by-half-and-three-fourth/92374528/
 Rates acquired through HealthCare.gov and INSXCloud on Oct. 25, 2016. 35-year-old male, nonsmoker, 2016 Phoenix Choice Bronze HMO Abrazo premium: $154.13 per month; 2017 Ambetter From Health Net (Bronze, HMO) premium: $426.03; 45-year-old male, nonsmoker, 2016 Phoenix Choice Bronze HMO Abrazo premium: $182.13; 2017 Ambetter From Health Net (Bronze, HMO) premium: $503.42; nonsmoking family of four, including two parents (a male and a female, both 45 years old), a 7-year-old daughter, and a 13-year-old son, 2016 Phoenix Choice Bronze HMO Abrazo premium: $524.44, 2017 Ambetter From Health Net (Bronze, HMO) premium: $1,449.60