Recipients of Obamacare are in for a shock in 2017, with steep rate hikes across the country, including one state where the average cost of insurance plans will increase by an average of 76 percent.
President Barack Obama's embattled rehaul of the healthcare system, which he's said he hopes is part of his enduring legacy, is under attack from all sides -- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly said he'd repeal the Affordable Care Act, while rival Hillary Clinton has said the system needs to be "fixed."
And on Oct. 5, former President Bill Clinton, stumping for his wife, called Obamacare "the craziest thing in the world" while pointing to the same rate increases, which analysts say will be about 25 percent on average in 2017.
As Time magazine notes, Obamacare has successfully extended insurance to 20 million Americans who were without it before. But keeping insurance companies in the game has proven difficult, with many of the largest abandoning state- and federal-run marketplaces because they say they are losing money.
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The insurance companies have been abandoning marketplaces en masse, to the point where Americans in one-third of counties will have only one choice of insurer if they depend on Obamacare.
The insurance companies that haven't fled the marketplaces are the ones trying to make up for lost revenue by hiking rates. Among the worst are Alabama, which will see rates rise by 36 percent next year; Georgia, where rates will rise by 32 percent; Illinois, where Obamacare recipients will pay 44 percent more than they did in 2016; Minnesota, where rates are expected to climb between 50 and 67 percent; and Oklahoma, where rates will spike by 76 percent following 35 percent increases in 2015.
Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman is among those who say the system needs fixing.
“Rising insurance rates are both unsustainable and unfair,” Rothman said in September, according to Time. “Middle-class Minnesotans in particular are being crushed by the heavy burden of these costs. There is a clear and urgent need for reform to protect Minnesota consumers who purchase their own health insurance.”
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At the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' summer meeting, most of the talk was about the insurance hikes, said John Huff, the association's president. He also said he believes it's time for tweaks.
"Clearly, state and federal policymakers need to continue to work together (toward) a more stable risk pool, certainty on funding and more reasonable regulations," Huff told USA Today. "Over six years after the law was passed, making substantive corrections to the law is past due and, consequently, the markets are suffering."