Higher Healthcare Costs Will Drive ACA Health Plans Up in 2024

Higher health costs set the stage for ACA premium hikes for 2024

Although this post’s headline apparently caught your attention enough to encourage you to read, here’s betting you aren’t surprised by what it says. Health insurance rates being driven up by higher healthcare costs is a story we hear over and over again. Why should 2023-2024 be any different?

The latest such story comes on the heels of a new KFF report suggesting that the median price increase for Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace plans could be as high as 6% in 2024. Most ACA plans are expected to request premium hikes of between 2% and 10%. What are insurance carriers blaming the hikes on? Higher healthcare costs.

Unlikely to Affect Subscribers

In the event that ACA marketplace plans do go up by 6% in 2024, the good news is that subscribers probably won’t be affected directly. In other words, their premiums are not likely to go up that much – if at all. Who will pay the bill? The federal government.

That ultimately means we all bear the burden. Any monies the government needs to subsidize ACA healthcare plans is derived from taxation. Those of us who pay taxes foot the bill. As for subscribers, rate increases will be largely meaningless to them.

Prices Just Keep Going Up

Meanwhile, prices just keep going up throughout all of healthcare. The interesting thing is that most Americans with health insurance don’t know the half of it. They might know that their monthly premiums go up every year, but they have no clue as to the actual amount their insurance companies pay to satisfy claims – because they never see those claims.

A patient in need of a life-saving prescription medication might be subject to a fairly small copay whenever that prescription is renewed. But he might have no idea that each dose costs hundreds of dollars. Why? Because all he sees is a receipt reflecting his co-pay amount.

Keeping Patients Out of the Loop

Keeping patients out of the loop contributes to prices continuing to go up. Insurance companies do not care all that much as long as they keep making a profit. When prices go up, they simply raise their premiums. They make a profit as long as employers keep buying group insurance plans and employees keep paying premiums.

As for Washington, we all know the story there. Medicare and Medicaid have no problem paying sky high prices on everything from prescription drugs to needles and syringes. And because there is so little accountability in either program, healthcare providers have no problem maximizing their billing opportunities to almost obscene levels.

More Employers Are Struggling

While insurance companies keep the profits rolling in and Washington lawmakers continue approving unlimited spending, employers are struggling to find health plans they can afford. So much so that general agency BenefitMall is constantly encouraging brokers to look at as many options as possible. They encourage brokers to dig around and be creative in hopes of helping clients hold onto their health insurance benefits.

Employees are struggling as well. With the prices on just about everything still climbing higher, health insurance premiums are quickly approaching a breaking point at which the average American worker simply will not be able to afford them.

Health plans of all types, including ACA marketplace plans, are expected to come with higher price tags in 2024. The biggest contributor to higher prices is increased healthcare costs. It is a story we have heard over and over again for decades. It’s a story that will never end unless we completely overhaul how healthcare services are paid for in this country.

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