Report: More Rate Hikes Coming for Destabilized Obamacare

Federal policy shifts that put a crimp in the Obamacare market are likely to drive up premiums for remaining policyholders next year — especially those who are older and in poorer health, a report released Wednesday said.

 from the professional group, the American Academy of Actuaries, cites the elimination of the individual mandate penalty and the expansion of cheaper health plans with fewer benefits as contributing to the 2019 premium hikes.

"The individual market, which had shown signs of stabilizing, now faces a potential deterioration of the risk pool due to policy changes that reduce incentives for healthy individuals to enroll in [Obamacare] marketplace plans," according to senior health fellow Cori Uccello, . "This deterioration and other factors could drive premiums higher for 2019."

Some insurers proposing rate increases from regulators next year have cited the as a primary reason for the request.

Insurers in New York requested an average hike of 24 percent, while

"Eliminating the penalty is expected to increase premiums as unsubsidized lower-cost healthy individuals will be more likely to forgo coverage," the brief says.

President Donald Trump's executive order expanding access to association health plans, such as those obtained by trade groups, and stretching the maximum length of short-term limited duration plans from three to 12 months is also affecting rates.

And the reality many of the policies the report references have yet to be finalized is further clouding the market outlook for insurers trying to price plans under the Affordable Care Act, the formal name for Obamacare, according to the report.

"The Trump administration is attempting to destabilize ACA markets," Gerald Kominski, the director of the University of California-Los Angeles' Center for Health Policy Research, told the  "The uncertainty that's being introduced this year is intentional."