Three states so far have come out with preliminary premium-rate requests for ObamaCare in 2019, and a column by Catherine Rampell at the Washington Post suggests that a "death spiral" is underway for the health insurance program. Maryland's average rate increase is 30%, Virginia's is 13.4%, and Vermont's is 9.2%. It's possible these numbers could come down, but Rampell sees them as "troubling" and a "preview of what we should expect nationwide, as more states announce premiums over the next few months." Her column recaps the cause: Republicans were unable to repeal ObamaCare, but they still managed to hobble it, most notably by ditching the individual mandate.
In addition, the White House is making it easier to buy cheap plans that don't comply with ObamaCare consumer protections, while making it generally harder to sign up for ObamaCare by shortening the enrollment period and cutting the budget for advertising. "The net effect of all these changes: Younger, healthier and cheaper enrollees are getting siphoned out of the Obamacare marketplace," writes Rampell. "Older, sicker and more expensive people are sticking around, because they actually need coverage." Insurers end up with a less healthy pool of enrollees and raise rates as a result. Click to read her full column. (Read more ObamaCare stories.)