Health care costs are expected to spike as the federal government struggles to keep pace with the number of Americans who have gained coverage.
But there’s a good chance they’ll also fall by a bit as insurers seek to make up the difference.
The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy think tank, released a report Wednesday that estimates the federal health care law will cost $1,724 per month for a single person, $4,811 for a family of four and $7,631 for a couple.
The numbers are likely to increase as insurance companies are expected in the coming months to begin enrolling people in the law’s tax subsidies, which have been suspended.
In some states, the price increases are projected to be far higher than they are now.
The report comes as insurers are struggling to meet the expected influx of people who have signed up for insurance through the law and as President Donald Trump has suggested that his administration would continue to charge as much as $2,000 for coverage.
“Health care costs could be the largest single driver of premium increases in the future,” said Kaiser Family Affiliates’ Robert Laszewski, a senior vice president.
“It’s the most critical part of the plan, because we have a lot of people that have been waiting for coverage.”
A couple with children at a local hospital.
The report also estimates that about 7 million people would have gained insurance through this year if it were allowed to go into effect, though the federal subsidies will be halted for now.
But it also estimates the number could be slightly higher than that because of the uncertainty around how the law will work.
That’s because many states have set up rules for what insurers can and cannot charge for plans sold through the federal marketplace.
Some states also have made it harder for insurers to charge for coverage through the marketplace, so the cost of insurance will be much higher than the report estimated.
So the actual number of people eligible for subsidies may be lower than what the numbers look like based on those rules, Lasziewicz said.
“If you’re going to have a situation where we’re going into 2018 where insurers have to raise prices to people who are not going to be insured, we’re likely to see premiums increase more than what we’ve seen so far,” he said.
More coverage:Healthcare cost increases will continue to be a problem, but they may be less so in 2018 because many insurers will continue offering plans that have higher deductibles and co-pays, he said, meaning people who choose to buy coverage will pay higher premiums for the same coverage.
And those premium increases could have an impact on the overall health care cost picture because some people may have more expensive insurance, meaning higher health care costs for people who might otherwise be eligible for the subsidies.
The estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundations report are based on a model that includes data from three years, so there’s some uncertainty around when insurers might begin enroll new people in their insurance plans and how much the cost will increase.
In 2018, the cost for a benchmark plan in California would be $3,966 per month, the report estimates.
But that figure will increase to $3.85 per month in 2019.
That would translate to an increase of about $3 a month for people earning about $56,000.
And the Kaiser report says people who earn about $80,000 or more a year could pay an average of $3 more per month.
That could mean people who already have health insurance but want to purchase insurance will end up paying more for their coverage.
As a result, some of the numbers in the report don’t include the cost-sharing reductions the government is proposing for some of these plans.
Those cost-shifting measures will cost the federal treasury an estimated $5 billion in 2019, but the administration has not yet specified how much it plans to spend.
The new administration is also likely to be watching the health care marketplace closely as it works to get as many people insured as possible.
In recent months, the administration was working with insurers to develop a plan to allow people to keep their existing plans and still have coverage through 2018 if they choose.
But the administration also has been pushing insurers to raise premiums for plans that they are still selling through the marketplaces.
In California, for example, a premium increase of 10 percent will be expected for a bronze plan, which would cost $10,800.
That increases to 18 percent for silver and 19 percent for gold plans.
But a plan that has an average annual premium of $4.50 per month could cost $15,900 in 2019 because of those premium changes.
In a letter to the president this week, the Kaiser’s Laszewsky said the administration should take a closer look at how the marketplace is working.
“We are concerned about the impact on affordability, especially for people with preexisting conditions,” he wrote.
“For the most part, insurers have been successful in lowering their premiums in