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Remember the words of Obama? OBAMACARE WILL LOWER YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUMS? IF YOU LIKE YOUR PRESENT INSURANCE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO KEEP IT?
WELL, FOLKS, THIS JUST SEEMS LIKE ANOTHER BROKEN OBAMA PROMISE, DOESN'T IT?
ObamaCare's Health-Insurance Sticker Shock
Thanks to mandates that take effect in 2014, premiums in individual markets will shoot up. Some may double.
Health-insurance premiums have been rising—and consumers will experience another series of price shocks later this year when some see their premiums skyrocket thanks to the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.
The reason: The congressional Democrats who crafted the legislation ignored virtually every actuarial principle governing rational insurance pricing. Premiums will soon reflect that disregard—indeed, premiums are already reflecting it.
Central to ObamaCare are requirements that health insurers (1) accept everyone who applies (guaranteed issue), (2) cannot charge more based on serious medical conditions (modified community rating), and (3) include numerous coverage mandates that force insurance to pay for many often uncovered medical conditions.
Guaranteed issue incentivizes people to forgo buying a policy until they get sick and need coverage (and then drop the policy after they get well). While ObamaCare imposes a financial penalty—or is it a tax?—to discourage people from gaming the system, it is too low to be a real disincentive. The result will be insurance pools that are smaller and sicker, and therefore more expensive.
How do we know these requirements will have such a negative impact on premiums? Eight states—New Jersey, New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Washington, Kentucky, Vermont and Massachusetts—enacted guaranteed issue and community rating in the mid-1990s and wrecked their individual (i.e., non-group) health-insurance markets. Premiums increased so much that Kentucky largely repealed its law in 2000 and some of the other states eventually modified their community-rating provisions.
States won't experience equal increases in their premiums under ObamaCare. Ironically, citizens in states that have acted responsibly over the years by adhering to standard actuarial principles and limiting the (often politically motivated) mandates will see the biggest increases, because their premiums have typically been the lowest.
Many actuaries, such as those in the international consulting firm Oliver Wyman, are now predicting an average increase of roughly 50% in premiums for some in the individual market for the same coverage. But that is an average. Large employer groups will be less affected, at least initially, because the law grandfathers in employers that self-insure. Small employers will likely see a significant increase, though not as large as the individual market, which will be the hardest hit.
We compared the average premiums in states that already have ObamaCare-like provisions in their laws and found that consumers in New Jersey, New York and Vermont already pay well over twice what citizens in many other states pay. Consumers in Maine and Massachusetts aren't far behind. Those states will likely see a small increase.
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