Blue Cross wants 23 percent rate increase for North Carolina Obamacare insurance plans

Blue Cross of North Carolina has requested a 22.9 percent rate increase for the health insurance plans it offers under the Affordable Care Act - also known as Obamacare - in 2018.

Blue Cross said it needs the increase to cover increasing doctor and prescription drug costs, the return of the Federal Health Insurance Tax, and the lack of government funding for cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments.

Blue Cross said the CSR subsidies help lower-income customers buy plans with lower out-of-pocket costs, and the ACA requires insurers to offer the plans. But, it said the lack of government subsidies spreads the extra cost to all customers.

"We're seeing the market begin to stabilize after three years of coverage," said Brian Tajlili, director of actuarial and pricing services for Blue Cross NC. "Unfortunately, the lack of CSR funding significantly increases the rates for all ACA customers. We are still required to offer the additional CSR benefits to participate in the Exchange, so covering these costs without CSR funding will drive up our average rate for next year."

Blue Cross said it still plans to offer ACA plans in all of North Carolina's 100 counties, but the uncertain future of Obamacare in Congress could impact whether or not it can follow through with that commitment.

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