The Obama administration's announcement in October that individual-market premiums would rise by an average of 22% across the country created political turbulence for Democrats heading into the November elections.
Rising out-of-pocket costs were an issue in employer-based plans as well. Kaiser Family Foundation data showed that premium growth slowed somewhat in 2016 because more employers shifted workers into high-deductible plans. Drew Altman, the foundation's CEO, called the cost shift to consumers “the biggest change in healthcare in America that we are not really debating.”
The entire industry, meanwhile, watched closely as the Anthem/Cigna Corp. and Aetna/Humana merger plans proceeded. The U.S. Justice Department sued to block both deals, and the trials got underway in the final weeks of the year.