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Arizonans Could Pay a Lot More for Health Insurance in 2019

In Arizona, health-insurance premiums are projected to rise by more than 20 percent in 2019, one of the fastest rate hikes in the nation. (Flickr)
In Arizona, health-insurance premiums are projected to rise by more than 20 percent in 2019, one of the fastest rate hikes in the nation. (Flickr)
May 23, 2018

PHOENIX - Arizonans could see health insurance premiums increase by around $1,300 next year, according to new research by the Center for American Progress.

The tax plan passed in Congress last year eliminated the individual mandate, which charged a tax penalty to people who didn't have health coverage. The Trump administration also has proposed allowing more people to rely on short-term health plans.

Thomas Huelskoetter, a policy analyst for the Center for American Progress, said that, together, those changes will destabilize the market set up by the Affordable Care Act.

"This is part of a long trend of the Trump administration and Congress trying to undermine the ACA marketplace instead of trying to make it work as well as it could," he said, "and because of that, a lot of people are going to see their premiums go up."

With no penalties and options for cheap, short-term plans, healthier people are expected to give up their health insurance, leaving sicker people behind. Some will have tax credits to curb costs, he said, but the overall impact will be higher prices.

Massachusetts, which has its own individual mandate, is the only state where prices aren't expected to rise. States that limit short-term health plans are expected to see lower-than-average price increases. Huelskoetter said short-term coverage is meant to be just that: short term. If people are allowed to rely on it as their only health plan, he said, they could get into trouble.

"When people get sick and find that they need more comprehensive care," he said, "they'll find that these plans don't cover prescription drugs, they don't cover mental health care, they don't cover maternity care, and a lot of the things that people end up needing."

Short-term plans also generally don't accept people with pre-existing conditions, meaning sicker people will be left footing the bill for higher premiums with traditional insurance providers.

The study is online at americanprogress.org.

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - AZ