Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20%-40% or more, saying their new customers under the Affordable Care Act turned out to be sicker than expected. Federal officials say they are determined to see that the requests are scaled back.
Some state insurance commissioners, like Oregon's Laura N. Cali, have approved 2016 increases for companies with more than 220,000 people.
Jesse Ellis O'Brien, a health advocate at the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, said "Rate increases will be biggerin 2016 than they have been for years and years and will have a profound effect on consumers here. Some may start wondering if insurance is affordable or if its worth the money."
President Obama, on a trip to Tennessee, said that consumers should put pressure on state insurance regulators to scrutinize the proposed rate increases. If commissioners do their job and actively review rate, he said, "my expectation is that they'll come in significantly lower thatn what's being requested."