healthcare.gov home page as of Feb. 6, 2017

Healthcare.gov home page as of Feb. 6, 2017.

Pennsylvania health insurers are requesting 2018 premium increases averaging 8.8 percent for individual plans -- but that's only if the Affordable Care Act stays as it is, state regulators announced this afternoon.

If  the federal government repeals the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department said, the insurers would request a 23.3 percent increase.

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If insurers stop receiving cost-sharing reduction payments known as CSRs, the department said, the requested increase would be 20.3 percent.

And if both the individual mandate and the CSRs stopped, the department said, the requested increase would be 36.3 percent.

“These low percentages show that Pennsylvania’s market is stabilizing and insurers are better understanding the markets and the population they serve,” said Commissioner Miller. “I sincerely hope that Congress and the Trump Administration do not take action that could negatively impact the progress we have made in Pennsylvania.”

Last year, Miller said, insurers initially requested individual rate increases averaging 23.6 percent, but her department ended up granting increases averaging 32.5 percent, as many reconsidered remaining in the Affordable Care Act marketplace where they had lost millions.

The department announced last week that all five insurers selling individual plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplace in Pennsylvania — including the three offering plans in Lancaster County — have filed rate requests for 2018.

However, they could still choose to pull out of the marketplace, which Miller said she fears some would do if either the individual mandate or CSRs stop.

The department did not release rate requests for specific insurers or areas, but said that would be available July 21. Final approved rates will not be released until shortly before the marketplace open enrollment starts on Oct. 1.

Last year the department solicited feedback during the review process with a public meeting and got an earful from consumers who said the constantly rising cost of insurance is putting health care out of their reach.

Wanda Miller, a member of the citizen-advocacy group Put People First, said in an email Thursday that it’s asking for an expanded public input process before new rates are approved, with hearings in each rating area at a time when working people can attend.

“In this difficult political climate it's more important than ever that the state creates avenues for greater participation and transparency over matters that directly impact our lives,” she wrote.