‘It’s A Good Thing’ Obamacare Doubles Individual Health Insurance Premiums?

June 3, 2013

3 Jun (FORBES) – Well, it’s been an interesting week in health care land. For a while now, independent analysts—and conservative critics—have raised concerns that Obamacare will dramatically increase the cost of individually-purchased health insurance for healthier people. This would, of course, contradict President Obama’s promises that “if you like your plan, you can keep it” and that the cost of insurance would go down “by $2,500 per family per year.” What’s new is that liberal columnists, facing reality, are conceding that premiums will go up for most people in the individual market. But they’re justifying it by saying that “rate shock” will help a tiny minority of people who can’t get insurance today. If they had said that in 2009, would Obamacare have passed?                                                            By Avik Roy

Last month, progressive pundits were trumpeting news out of California that the cost of health insurance under Obamacare in that state was surprisingly low. “Well, the California bids are in,” wrote Paul Krugman on May 27. “And the prices, it turns out, are surprisingly low…So yes, it does look as if there’s an Obamacare shock coming,” the shock that Obamacare will work just fine.

It turns out, however, that Krugman was uncritically regurgitating California’s misleading press release. In fact, the average 25 and 40-year-old will pay double under Obamacare what they would need to pay today, based on rates posted at eHealthInsurance.com (NASDAQ:EHTH). More specifically, for the typical 25-year-old male non-smoker, the average Obamacare “bronze” exchange plan in California will cost between 64 and 117 percent more than the cheapest five plans on eHealth. For 40-year-old male non-smokers, it’s between 73 and 146 percent more.

DEMOCRATS NOW: IT’S OKAY IF PREMIUM DOUBLE FOR AVERAGE PEOPLE

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, in response to my article on this topic, checked out the eHealth rates for plans in his hometown of Irvine, California, and compared them to a similar website sponsored by the government at healthcare.gov. He found that the third-cheapest plan there cost only $109 a month,  “if they’ll sell it to you for that price.” According to the government, Ezra notes, 14 percent of people who tried to buy that plan—Health Net’s IPF PPO Value 4500—were turned away. Another 12 percent were asked to pay more than $109.

To Ezra, it’s galling that three-fourths of his compatriots can pay $109 for health insurance, because 12 percent were not eligible for the plan, and another 14 percent had to pay somewhat more. This is why Obamacare is a great achievement, he says, because Health Net will have to serve all comers, regardless of prior health status.

And I appreciate Ezra’s perspective. I, too, am a supporter of universal coverage, so I understand Ezra’s passion for providing health insurance to the sick. But what we didn’t know last week—and we do now—is how much more the healthy will have to pay for that insurance, under Obamacare. In Orange County, where Irvine is located, the three-fourths of the 25-year-old population that is in good health will have their premiums jacked by 95 percent.

And that’s for Obamacare’s “catastrophic” coverage; the more comprehensive “bronze” plan increases premiums by 130 percent. For the fraction—one-eighth of the total—who, under the old system, would have been charged more, the premium increase due to Obamacare will be somewhat less.

And the vast majority of those who were turned away are able to find insurance—albeit at a higher price—elsewhere. Based on enrollment in Obamacare’s high-risk pool program, the number of people in America who are truly uninsurable is closer to 150,000. That’s a pretty small number in a nation of 300 million. Previous estimates of the uninsurable population came in around 2 to 4 million people, but it’s likely that for many of these individuals, the principal problem is not that they’re denied coverage, but that the premiums are high.

For complete article go to Forbes.

 

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