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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 3 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

5 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. on Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro. Security forces placed six U.S. oil executives under house arrest hours later, per AP.