Friday, 27 September 2013

Despite gov't assurances, some could see insurance costs soar under ObamaCare

While the administration maintains that ObamaCare will make health insurance more affordable for Americans, experts say that won’t be the case across the board – and some people could see their rates soar.
On Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released an overview of premiums and plan choices, saying “For millions of Americans, these new options will finally make health insurance work within their budgets.”
The administration also said premiums would generally be lower than what congressional budget experts had estimated during debate on the legislation.
But former Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Holtz-Eakin said Thursday, “unfortunately you can go all through that HHS report and not be able to answer the most important question: will my insurance rates go up in 2014?"
"They cherry picked the data in order to highlight the fact that people of low income will benefit under the law," adds Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a New York-based think tank. "But people of middle income will not. And they didn’t really talk about that."
The new law requires the addition of what it calls essential benefits -- a list of things that must be covered and which make insurance more expensive than it is now.
"This report is intended to send the message, 'hey everybody wins, this is a great thing, please show up,"says Holtz-Eakin.
"That's not the reality. The reality is much messier. There's going to be some people who do better. There are going to be a lot of people who do much, much worse."
The Manhattan Institute analyzed rates around the country and found that for people of medium income, costs will soar -- up by as much as 99 percent for men, and up about 55 percent for women.
"Even if the average American gets some subsidy, a partial subsidy," says Roy, who authored the study,"that partial subsidy won't be enough to overcome the dramatic increase in the cost of insurance, the underlying cost of insurance ObamaCare imposes on the market."
But insurance premiums are only one part of the puzzle. Most plans also have very high deductibles.
"Do you have a large deductible?" asks Holtz-Eakin. "How much do you have to pay before the insurance starts picking up the cost?"
Analysts expect deductibles to be in the $5,000 to $6,000 range for the lowest level of coverage, the bronze plan.
Dan Mendelson, CEO and founder at Avalere Health in Washington,says,"So, if you're in a bronze plan, the premiums are going to be relatively low, you know, as HHS said, in some cases people won't pay premiums at all.
“But there are going to be very high out of pocket costs and deductibles in some cases are going to be over $5,500."
That means a person with a plan at that level might only pay $100 dollars a month in premiums, as the administration has said.
But depending on medical events, the deductible could add almost $500 dollars a month more, without even counting the co-pays
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