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    When the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was first passed into a law, it was praised by many due to the thinking that it would assist middle class in finding reliable and affordable health insurance. One of the most popular features of Obamacare was that starting in 2014 insurance companies would no longer be able to deny people coverage due to preexisting conditions. But that was not the only positive aspect of Obamacare that excited many people. Insurance companies would now be required to prove that they are spending between 80 to 85% of their premiums on coverage or else return the money to their consumers. College students would also receive the benefit of staying on their parents' insurance until they reach the age of 26 which would lead to a record drop in uninsured young people. Obamacare also started the provision that seniors no longer had to pay the coverage gap between their deductible and yearly limit causing seniors to have to pay less for prescriptions. While these aspects used to be praised, many insurers, consumers, and legislative officials are starting to question the effectiveness of these provisions especially since insurance premiums are on the rise-the opposite of what President Obama was aiming to do with the passing of Obamacare. .

    Even though many provisions of the Affordable Care Act have not yet gone into effect, many Americans will still be charged with higher insurance premium rates. This is due to insurance companies trying to preemptively cover the tax increases put in place by the Affordable Care Act. Even though the tax does not go into effect until next year, insurance companies are already starting to charge consumers more in order to cover these new costs and benefits such as free birth control and preventive care. It is now estimated that premiums for individuals and consumers will rise 2% this year and could continue to rise to 3.7% by the year 2023. While it will be debated who is at fault-either the insurance companies for laying the extra costs on their consumers or the government for imposing the new insurance taxes in the first place-Americans will be paying more in many cases. A tax has already affected higher-income households. Those households that are earning more than $250,000 a year are being taxed a .9% increase in their Medicare tax and a 3.8% increase on their investment income. Instead of lowering premiums, the new tax on health insurance is only increasing the cost of insurance for families and small businesses.
    The expansion of Medicaid may also cause insurance companies to have to raise their premiums. Some of America's largest providers of health insurance have warned that they will have to raise premiums as much as 116% due to the millions of uninsured Americans that will be purchasing coverage. The rate for small businesses could rise as much as 25% to 50% as well. These new costs are not only affected by growing medical costs but also certain requirements of Obamacare such as children being able to say on their parents' insurance until they are 26, health status cannot affect a consumer's rate, and that plans contain certain minimum benefits. Plans will also be mandated to provide mental health, emergency, and maternity services that are offered now by some plans but not required by all. Previously, plans that covered these services cost on average 47% than plans that did not include these services. Now that all plans are required to offer these benefits, consumers will have to pay more for the added coverage. Although President Obama has said that family premiums would be lowered by $2,500 by the end of his first term, it is now seen that family premiums have actually increased by $3,000 due mainly to the added requirements of Obamacare and the health insurance tax.

    Another concern among officials is that young people may be the greatest effected by the insurance tax. Instead of paying for pricey insurance, young people may opt to just pay next year's $95 fine and even pay $395 the following year. This fine called the Individual Mandate is a requirement that all American citizens are supposed to abide. It calls for citizens to obtain government-approved health insurance or pay a fine. This mandate could fall through ineffectively due to the fine being nominal compared to the rising insurance premium prices. If enough healthy, young people choose to not buy health insurance, it could leave insurers in a position where they would have no way to offset the cost of the chronically ill.

    Even still, some officials do not believe that the Affordable Care Act will raise premiums to this extent. Instead they believe that the change in premiums will mainly be affected by the amount of healthy people who are going to purchase health insurance when the act goes into full affect. Making sure that plenty of healthy people are purchase health insurance will be critical in balancing those costs of covering older people and people will chronic illness.

    Sources:

    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/03/22/1761011/health-insurers-threaten-to-increase-premiums-even-as-profits-soar/?mobile=nc

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/01/21/premiums-set-to-rise-this-year-in-run-up-to-obamacare-tax-on-insurance-industry/

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323936804578227890968100984.html

    http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_22904258/obamacare-and-premiums-what-will-real-effect-real

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