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Health insurance premiums could increase if national inflation package isn't passed, health experts say

The package extends subsidies that were previously granted during the pandemic.

SAN DIEGO — The price of health insurance for those enrolled in Covered California is expected to increase by $1,000 per policy holder, if the federal government does not pass the 'Inflation Relief' package. 

That's according to Health Access California, who teamed up with other organizations on Thursday to express their concern and urge the passage of the legislation.

The bill includes provisions dealing with the environment, but health wise it would try to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, by allowing Medicare to negotiate with big pharmaceutical companies instead of the government. 

It would extend the subsidies granted during COVID to help Americans pay for health insurance. 

“I'm almost overwhelmed that we're here today discussing this, excuse me,” said Steven Martin, who struggled to get out during the discussion Thursday. 

Martin recalls the worst day of his life back in 2016. 

“I was diagnosed with an incurable form of leukemia,” he said. 

On that same day, he found out the cost to try to save his life would be, $147,000. 

It’s why he joined Health Access California Thursday to talk about the national inflation-fighting package, which includes provisions on health. 

“This legislation is so profound because it returns dignity back to patients,” he said. 

Health Access Director Anthony Wright said if it doesn’t pass those in San Diego, for example, could see premiums increase by upwards of $1,000. 

“Almost 110,000 enrollees in Covered California in San Diego, the estimate is that premiums would go up $1,000.74 on average for subsidized members,” Wright said. 

He said premiums are expected to go up even higher in Northern California. 

“For Sacramento, which has about 60,000 books enrolled in Sacramento county, the premium average increase is going to be $1,124,” Wright said. 

He said the state of California can only do so much to offset the cost if it does not pass. 

“The money that's budgeted in the budget that was just signed a month ago is only about a fifth of the $1.7 billion that would be lost,“ Wright said. 

The package can be voted on as soon as this week, but wright knows it’s not going to be an easy battle. Republican lawmakers both in D.C. and California are calling the package a tax increase on Americans. 

"So, the legislation we apparently are going to be asked to vote on this week is called the inflation reduction act. And in fact, it is the 'inflation increase act. 'And we've seen here today why that is true. When you put taxes on the economy that fall to workers and fall to consumers and fall to shareholders, it increases inflationary pressures,"  Sen. Rob Portman (R- Ohio) said. 

Democrats disagree with that sentiment, saying the only people who are going to see tax’s increase are large corporations and those who make more than $400,000 a year.

WATCH RELATED: Millions face increasing health insurance rates if federal COVID benefits aren't extended (May 2022)

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