Health insurance premiums to go up 20% for many in 2018 if Trump makes good on threat to stop U.S. payments

Health insurance premiums for many people who get their coverage on the ACA/Obamacare individual insurance markets will go up 20 percent next year if President Donald Trump executes on his repeated threats to halt billions of dollars in payments to health insurers.

This, according to a Congressional Budget Office study released today. From today's Reuters report on the CBO's findings:

The Congressional Budget Office also found that terminating the payments would mean that 5 percent of Americans would live in areas that do not have an insurer in the individual market in 2018. However, the agency estimated that more insurers would participate by 2020 because they will have observed how the markets work without the payments and most people would be able to purchase insurance.

The CBO's assessment echoes concerns raised by insurers over the past several months, who have said that terminating the payments would cause premiums to rise.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to withhold the payments, called cost-sharing reductions, which amount to about $7 billion in 2017 and help cover out-of-pocket medical expenses for low-income Americans. Trump has derided the payments as a "bailout" for insurance companies.

The CBO found that the number of uninsured would be slightly higher in 2018 but slightly lower in 2020 as more insurers joined the market. It also found that premiums would be 25 percent higher by 2020, which would increase the amount of government-provided tax credits to help shield low-income people from premium increases.

Several insurers have cited the uncertainty over the payments in raising insurance premiums by double digits for 2018 or in exiting some individual insurance markets.