Have you been waiting months to hear how “affordable” plans are going to be under the Affordable Care Act? Or, do you call it Obamacare, and you’ve been waiting to see how much the costs will be driven up? Well, last night HHS (the US Department of Health and Human Services) finally let some data out. Their press release is full of rosy predictions and positive spin and reflects the best topping they could put on this order of humble pie: premiums “will be lower than originally expected.” Unfortunately, the truth, however, is vastly different from the spin.
The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research has analyzed HHS’ numbers and has concluded the following:
- Younger men, average increase 97 to 99 percent
- Younger women, average increase 55 to 62 percent
North Carolina -Women’s rates will triple. Men’s rates will quadruple.
- Today, a 27 year old man in Memphis can buy a plan for as low as $41/month. On the exchange, the lowest state average is $119/month. That’s a 290% increase.
- Today, a 27-year-old woman in Nashville can also buy a plan for as low as $58/month. On the exchange, the lowest-priced plan in Nashville is $114/month. That’s a 197% increase. Even with a tax subsidy, that plan is $104 a month, almost twice what she could pay today.
- Today, women in Nashville can choose from 30 insurance plans that cost less than the administration says insurance plans on the exchange will cost, even with the new tax subsidy.
- In Nashville, 105 insurance plans offered today will not be available in the exchange.
In stark contrast, the White House blog, chose to focus on other details and looked to other states when summarizing the data for their report. “Nearly all eligible uninsured Americans (about 95 percent) live in states with average premiums below earlier projections. And nearly all consumers (about 95%) will have a choice of health insurance companies, each of which offers a number of different plans,” wrote Jeanne Lambrew, deputy assistant to the president for health policy.
Earlier this month, Forbes magazine and some colleagues from the Manhattan Institute published an interactive map that detailed PPACA/Obamacare’s impact on individually-purchases health insurance premiums in 13 states and the District of Columbia. They concluded that premiums increased in those states by an average of 24 percent. [Those states were mostly “blue” states that have their own, state-based exchanges].
With less than five days to go before Open Enrollment is slated to begin, HHS releases a press release that summarizes a selection of the premium data. They “bolster” this press release with the release of a light, 15-page report.
What do you really want to know? You want to know how much rates will go up NEXT year, under PPACA/Obamacare, relative to THIS year, right? Well, when the HHS announces “Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected”, they aren’t answering your question. In fact, they are muddying the issue. They are taking what the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) projected the rates to be in 2016 and comparing those rates to HHS’ own findings. It may be overly charitable to call HHS’ summary “spin”.
As Avik Roy reports in Forbes, former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin agrees that HHS is hiding the true analysis from consumers. “There are literally no comparisons to current rates. That is, HHS has chosen to dodge the question of whose rates are going up, and how much. Instead they try to distract with a comparison to a hypothetical number that has nothing to do with the actual experience of real people.”
And, today House Ways & Means Chairman David Camp (R-MI), said, “Today, the Administration confirmed that the President will not keep his promise that Americans will see a $2,500 decrease in their premiums. Their (HHS’) announcement made clear that American across the country will pay more for health care. Hardworking people in the state of Michigan could pay almost 100 percent more than they do today. American need relief from this unworkable law, it is only fair.”
- HHS Abstract
- HHS 15-page report
- HHS Health Insurance Marketplace Premiums for 2014 Databook
- HHS/CMS/CCIIO Geographic Rating Areas by State
- Manhattan Institute – Know Your Rates
- Manhattan Institute – Know Your Rates (Methodology Report)