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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

New figures from the Congressional Budget Office put a finer point on just how bad things are getting for Affordable Care Act premiums.

The state of play: The premium for an average "benchmark" plan is 34% higher this year than in 2017, when the rules of the road had been set by the Obama administration. CBO expects premiums for the same set of plans to go up another 15% for 2019, then to level out at about 7% per year after that.

  • As a result, CBO has also bumped up its estimates of how many Americans will be uninsured over the next decade — from 30 million to 34 million people.

Why now: Insurance premiums tend to go up every year, but the magnitude of these increases stems largely from the repeal of the ACA's individual mandate, the expansion of skimpy short-term plans, and the decision last year to cut off the law's cost-sharing payments.

What's next: Although the administration hasn't teed up any new policy announcements lately, senior officials from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association told reporters yesterday that there's still reason to be nervous.

  • It's too late to help moderate premium hikes for 2019, they said, so they're focused on 2020.
  • They're hoping new policies like the change in short-term plans won't take effect until 2020, so that they won't upend the market assumptions plans have made for next year.
  • "It continues to be uncertain times," said Justine Handelman, a BCBSA senior vice president.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.