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Federal Health Officials Seek To Tamp Down Concerns About Rising Insurance Premiums

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Federal health officials say headlines about anticipated premium increases on the Obamacare health insurance marketplace overlook an important point: Most Americans, including two-thirds of Kansans, will still be able to find a plan with a premium of $75 a month, or less.

The Department of Health and Human Services says almost 90 percent of those shopping on the marketplace qualify for tax credits to offset the rising premiums. HHS official Katie Martin says even if premiums rose 50 percent across the board, coverage would still be available for $75 a month to 73 percent of purchasers.

“We know there has been speculation about rates in the marketplace, and we want to make sure that everyone understands that headline rate increases do not reflect what consumers actually pay," she says.

Deputy Kansas Insurance Commissioner Clark Schultz says there are many possible reasons that premiums are going up. One is because some people don’t buy insurance until they need medical care.

“It’s a little bit like having an auto accident, and then being able to call your insurance agent, and buy insurance that would cover you for that accident that you just had yesterday,” Schultz says.

Increasing the penalty for those who don’t buy insurance might be one way to address that problem.