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Obamacare: Another Big Bite out of Your Wallet

As drug and health care costs continue to rise sharply amid turbulent markets, a spokesperson for U.S. health insurers predicts large increases in Obamacare premiums and other costs in 2017.

Without offering a specific number, Marilyn Tavenner -- president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) -- said in an interview that a one-two punch of market shifts and increasing health care costs will lead to big jumps in health insurance rates in the coming year.

“I’ve been asked, what are the premiums going to look like?” she said. “I don’t know because it also varies by state, market, even within markets... I think the overall trend is going to be higher than we saw previous years. That’s my big prediction.”

If she's right, Obamacare costs will jump dramatically -— last year’s premium for the silver-level plan surged an average of 11 percent. Although Tavenner didn’t specifically address the issue of deductibles, in 2016 some states saw spikes of up to 76 percent, with the average deductible for a 27-year-old male on a silver plan coming out to 8 percent.

Tavenner's announcement only makes worse a growing uncertainty about the makeup and future of the Obamacare health insurance market. Insurers are struggling to find profitability in the program, and almost half of the 23 state-level Obamacare insurance co-ops have tanked. Compounding all of it was last week’s announcement by giant UnitedHealth Group that it plans to withdraw from most Obamacare markets, because corporate planning around future healthcare premiums and copayments has become increasingly risky.

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