Americans have recently been hit with some of the largest premium increases in years, according to a Morgan Stanley survey of insurance brokers.
The investment bank’s April survey of 148 brokers found that this quarter, the average premium increase for customers renewing an insurance plan is 12 percent in the small group market and 11 percent in the individual market, according to Forbes’ Scott Gottlieb.
The hikes — the largest in the past three years, according to Morgan Stanley’s quarterly reports — are “largely due to changes under the [Affordable Care Act],” analysts concluded. Rates have been growing increasingly fast throughout all of 2013, after a period of drops in 2012.
While insurers were hiking premiums since 2012 by smaller amounts, the lead-up to the Obamacare’s launch has seen the average rate at which premiums are growing fourfold.
The small group market saw a jump from a growth rate of close to 3 percent during Morgan Stanley’s September 2013 survey to just above 6 percent three months later in December — the month before a surge of Obamacare regulations hit insurance companies.
Over the next three months, the rate doubled again to the current average small growth premium growth rate of 12 percent.
Individual policies saw a much starker jump after the Obamacare exchanges launched, in anticipation of the health care law going live in 2014. Morgan Stanley’s September 2013 survey, like the previous three quarters, found a fairly constant growth rate around 2 percent — but in December, the rate had shot up to above 9 percent.
Morgan Stanley’s results echo what consumers are already seeing: the Affordable Care Act’s intensive regulation of the insurance market is driving health care premiums up strikingly.
The survey found that premium increases are due to several specific Obamacare policies. The most talked about may be the new benefits all insurance plans are required to offer and excise taxes targeted at insurers themselves, Forbes reports.
But there are two other big contributors to the rise in costs. Age restrictions on premiums prevent the insurer from charging older customers who cost more to cover a higher premium — hiking the costs for young and healthy people disproportionately. Commercial underwriting restrictions also bump up insurers’ costs and are reflected in premiums.
Unfavorable opinions of the new national health care law are at their highest level in several months, while the number who think the quality of care in this country will get worse is at its highest level in over three years.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 58% of Likely U.S. Voters have at least a somewhat unfavorable opinion of the health care law, with 43% who view it Very Unfavorably. Just 39% have a favorable view of the law, including 16% with a Very Favorable one. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Despite the Obama administration’s claim that it has exceeded its March 31 goal of signing up seven million Americans through new health insurance exchanges, overall unfavorables for the health care law are up from 54% two weeks ago. Most voters have had an unfavorable opinion of the law in regular surveys since the beginning of last year. But the latest finding matches the all-time high first reached in mid-November. Favorables fell to a record low of 36% in that same survey.
Fifty-three percent (53%) of voters now believe the quality of health care will get worse under the new law. That’s up six points from 47% a month ago and the highest level of pessimism since mid-March 2011. Twenty-four percent (24%) predict that health care will get better as a result of the law. Seventeen percent (17%) expect the level of care to stay about the same.
Eighty percent (80%) now rate the quality of the health care they receive as good or excellent.
Fifty-nine percent (59%) of voters think Obamacare will force up the cost of health care. Just 20% believe costs will go down instead, while 16% say they will stay about the same. These beliefs are consistent with findings since November following the troubled rollout of the law.
Seventy-six percent (76%) feel it is at least somewhat likely that the health care law will cost more than officially projected, with 57% who say it’s Very Likely. Only 17% think the law is not very or Not At All Likely to cost more than estimated. These views, too, have changed little in the past 16 months.
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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on April 5-6, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
Forty percent (40%) of voters think the federal government should require every American to buy or obtain health insurance, but 46% disagree with this so-called individual mandate.
Fifty percent (50%) think the new health care law will increase the federal deficit, while 15% believe it will reduce the deficit instead. Twenty percent (20%) think it will have no impact. Another 15% are not sure. These attitudes also are consistent with past surveying.
Seventy-two percent (72%) of Democrats view the health care law favorably. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of Republicans and 69% of voters not affiliated with either major party have an unfavorable opinion of it.
Fifty-one percent (51%) of voters in President Obama’s party expect the quality of health care to improve because of the law. Eighty-five percent (85%) of GOP voters and 61% of unaffiliateds think the quality of care will get worse.
Republicans and unaffiliated voters strongly believe the law will push up health care costs, but just one-in-three Democrats (32%) share that view. Still, only slightly more Democrats (36%) believe the law will reduce health care costs as its supporters promised.
Women and those under 40 remain remain less critical of Obamacare than men and older voters are. Blacks are much more supportive of the new law than whites and other minority voters are.
Voters are more supportive of government-mandated health insurance standards as long as consumers still can choose the kind of plan they want based on costs and coverage.
Fifty-three percent (53%) expect the health care system to get worse under Obamacare, a finding that has ranged from 48% to 61% in regular surveys since late 2012.