NC Obamacare health plan premiums will jump — but not as high as expected

NC Obamacare health plan premiums will jump — but not as high as expected

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Cassie Cope | The Charlotte Observer) - North Carolina approved a 14.1 percent average premium increase for Blue Cross and Blue Shield 2018 Affordable Care Act health insurance plans.

That rate increase, announced by Blue Cross NC on Wednesday, was lower than the company's first request of 22.9 percent.

"Blue Cross NC is proud to be offering ACA plans in all 100 counties next year – and to offer them with a lower premium increase than we initially thought would be required," said Gary Bolt, a vice president for Blue Cross NC. "But the fact remains that health care costs too much."

A premium increase of any amount is difficult for many of customers, he added.

Most customers receiving help with premiums will see that assistance rise in 2018 to offset the higher increase that was needed, according to Blue Cross.

Blue Cross insures 502,000 N.C. residents through Affordable Care Act plans.

Insurance companies said they had to increase premiums for next year because the fate of cost sharing reduction subsidies were uncertain. Those subsidies paid insurance companies to reduce the cost of out-of-pocket expenses, including copays and deductibles. The Trump administration dropped those subsidies.

Had those subsidies not been eliminated, Blue Cross NC's final rate request for ACA customers' average would have been near zero, the company said in its release.