Orrin Hatch

‘Obamacare’ opponents checking for ‘rate shock’

by Tom Howell Jr. and -The Washington Times  |  published on April 30, 2013

Opponents of President Obama’s health care law are eagerly scouring the paperwork insurers file with states, looking for early evidence of “rate shock” — rising prices ahead of full implementation of the state “exchanges” that begin next year.

Open enrollment begins in October for the exchanges, or state-based markets where those without insurance will be able to purchase policies, often with government subsidies. But even before that, insurers are submitting their plans to states, and in at least one instance a major player in Maryland’s market asked for approval of a 25 percent premium increase.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is “closely monitoring the proposed plan rates all across the country and especially in his home state,” a spokeswoman said.

One congressional aide said Senate Republicans are watching the rates “like a hawk” because they know the still-to-come fight over implementation will not even be relevant if the initial rates send the reforms into a “death spiral.”

But analysts said the picture is not that clear.

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