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PolitiFact Florida Dissects Obamacare Premium Hike Claims

Donald Trump speaks on Obamacare at a rally in Jacksonville Nov. 3
Donald Trump speaks on Obamacare at a rally in Jacksonville Nov. 3

Incoming President Donald Trump has been on the stump attacking Obamacare, vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act. One of the claims he's made is that Floridians will see a double-digit increase in their premiums next year. To dissect that claim, WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Josh Gillin of PolitiFact Florida.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed one of his first steps after taking office in January will be to repeal and replace Obamacare. Now, he's backtracked on a couple of items, saying he wants to keep the provision protecting people with pre-existing conditions, for example. But just before the election - in Jacksonville, he said premiums are going to go way up.

"It's just been announced that the residents of Florida are going to experience a massive, double-digit premium hike," he said at a Nov. 3, 2016, campaign rally in Jacksonville.

Here's PolitiFact Florida's ruling:

Trump is talking about a small portion of people who get health insurance in Florida, and he neglects that most of the plans with increases will get subsidies to offset the cost.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, which oversees insurance company requests for changes in premiums, did not answer our questions about increases next year. But the agency announced in September that premiums for individual health insurance plans sold in Florida in 2017 would go up an average of 19.1 percent.

That is for any individual plan that meets the ACA’s minimum coverage requirements, whether it’s sold on the federal exchange’s or not.

The premium changes depend on the company: For plans sold on the exchange, Health First’s increase is the lowest at 11.7 percent. Humana’s premiums are going up at the highest rate, 36.8 percent.

Changes for compliant plans sold off the exchange range from a high of 27.3 percent for AvMed, to a decrease of 1.5 percent for premiums with Cigna.

The nationwide average for premium increases is about 25 percent, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

One thing Trump didn’t mention is that customers who buy plans off the exchange won’t necessarily be paying the full price of those increases.

About 1.53 million Floridians bought their coverage off the federal exchange in 2016. Out of those, 1.42 million -- 93 percent -- were subsidized in part by the federal government to make the plans more affordable. The average premium tax credit in Florida was $305.

About 1 percent of customers who buy a plan off the exchange earn too much income and do not qualify for any subsidies. They will have to pay the full increase.

Also, people have the option to choose a different, cheaper plan.

For 2017, Health and Human Services has estimated that 86 percent of Floridians who buy a plan off will be able to find a plan for $100 a month or less. Amid double-digit increases last year, average premiums after subsidies went from $82 to $84, the agency said.

Again, Trump is talking only about people who buy insurance on the exchanges. People who get insurance through work wouldn’t necessarily see the same increase. Small group plans, for example, will see an average premium increase of 9.5 percent, for example.

Also, on this same topic of premium hikes, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of South Florida told CNN's Wolf Blitzer recently that "it's four or five states where the number of insurance options have narrowed, and so premiums have increased. "

Here's PolitiFact Florida's ruling:

Data released in the same Department of Health and Human Services report that unveiled the 22-percent projected premium increase showed that at least 29 states have fewer plan issuers in 2017 than they did in 2016 -- many more than Wasserman Schultz had said. (An issuer is defined as a company that offers insurance plans on a state's exchange.)

Here’s a list of the states that are seeing a decrease in companies offering plans under the act between 2016 and 2017:

Copyright 2016 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.