Health insurance rates may rise due to ObamaCare - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Health insurance rates may rise due to ObamaCare

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Just as a list of issues continue to plague the Affordable Care Act across the nation, the problems are prevalent here at home -  if anything, worse.

ObamaCare sets out to help people- to insure the uninsured, to provide essential health benefits, and to provide no limit on treatments. However according to tax commissioner Art Ilagan, the Affordable Care Act appears to be anything but affordable and may actually be costing more for the people of Guam. "So of course the cost of the benefits are going to affect how we pay our insurers, so the insurance companies, the insurers, are going to raise their rates to make up for this benefits that are required to be offered to the people of Guam," he said.

Ilagan says ever since ObamaCare was signed into law three years ago, meetings with Calvo's Selectcare, Staywell, TakeCare and Netcare were held to assess the impact on Guam. "We've met with several of the health insurance providers and they have their actuaries look at what it's going to cost them and they're looking at up to 55% in some areas where they feel it's going to go up," he said.

Ilagan says the increase in premiums is just another concern that has plagued not only Guam but the other territories as well which are treated much differently than the states when it comes to implementing ObamaCare. It was exactly one month ago when Guam opted out of the health insurance exchange primarily because unlike the States who receive subsidies to establish it and would be covered by the federal government, the same doesn't apply to Guam. Ilagan says to establish an exchange, for the first year alone would cost $74 million, far in excess of the $24 million, six-year allocation that Guam is slated to receive under the Act.

Ultimately Ilagan wants fairness and has since relayed the message once again to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a letter as part of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The letter requests flexibility in light of the statute's ambiguity to the territories. Ilagan says just this week, he received a call from HHS saying they're unable to delay or change the law but are willing to technically assist.

"I guess they're saying they're willing to advise us of what to do, but the problem still is how are we going to pay for the huge costs of this benefits," he said.

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