Obamacare To Double Cost Of Insurance For Average Californian

Tyler Durden's picture

Last week, the state of California claimed that its version of Obamacare’s health insurance exchange would actually reduce premiums. But, as Forbes reports, the data that the executive director of California's 'exchange' released tells a different story: Obamacare, in fact, will increase individual-market premiums in California by as much as 146 percent. The exuberance that Peter Lee exclaimed over the 'savings' is a misleading comparison. He was comparing apples - the plans that Californians buy today for themselves in a robust individual market-and oranges - the highly regulated plans that small employers purchase for their workers as a group. If you're a 25 year old male non-smoker, buying insurance for yourself, the cheapest plan on Obamacare’s exchanges is the catastrophic plan, which costs an average of $184 a month; but in 2013, on eHealthInsurance.com, Forbes explains, the median cost of the five cheapest plans was only $92. In other words, for the typical 25-year-old male non-smoking Californian, Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent. The desperate spin of the PR disaster is incredible as talk of a 'rate shock' is now very prescient, "these extraordinary increases are up to 15 times faster than inflation and threaten to make health care unaffordable for hundreds of thousands of Californians."

 

 

Via Forbes,

Last week, the state of California claimed that its version of Obamacare’s health insurance exchange would actually reduce premiums. “These rates are way below the worst-case gloom-and-doom scenarios we have heard,” boasted Peter Lee, executive director of the California exchange. But the data that Lee released tells a different story: Obamacare, in fact, will increase individual-market premiums in California by as much as 146 percent.

 

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“The rates submitted to Covered California for the 2014 individual market,” the state said in a press release, “ranged from two percent above to 29 percent below the 2013 average premium for small employer plans in California’s most populous regions.”

 

That’s the sentence that led to all of the triumphant commentary from the left. “This is a home run for consumers in every region of California,” exulted Peter Lee.

 

Except that Lee was making a misleading comparison. He was comparing apples—the plans that Californians buy today for themselves in a robust individual market—and oranges—the highly regulated plans that small employers purchase for their workers as a group. The difference is critical.

 

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If you’re a 25 year old male non-smoker, buying insurance for yourself, the cheapest plan on Obamacare’s exchanges is the catastrophic plan, which costs an average of $184 a month.

 

... But in 2013, on eHealthInsurance.com (NASDAQ:EHTH), the median cost of the five cheapest plans was only $92.

 

In other words, for the typical 25-year-old male non-smoking Californian, Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent.

 

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Obamacare’s impact on 40-year-olds is steepest in the San Francisco Bay area, especially in the counties north of San Francisco, like Marin, Napa, and Sonoma. Also hard-hit are Orange and San Diego counties.

 

 

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How did Lee and his colleagues explain the sleight-of-hand they used to make it seem like they were bringing prices down, instead of up? “It is difficult to make a direct comparison of these rates to existing premiums in the commercial individual market,” Covered California explained in last week’s press release, “because in 2014, there will be new standard benefit designs under the Affordable Care Act.” That’s a polite way of saying that Obamacare’s mandates and regulations will drive up the cost of premiums in the individual market for health insurance.

 

But rather than acknowledge that truth, the agency decided to ignore it completely, instead comparing Obamacare-based insurance to a completely different type of insurance product, that bears no relevance to the actual costs that actual Californians face when they shop for coverage today. Peter Lee calls it a “home run.” It’s more like hitting into a triple play.

 

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So, Forbes' Avik Roy summarizes:

Supporters of Obamacare justified passage of the law because one insurer in California raised rates on some people by as much as 39 percent. But Obamacare itself more than doubles the cost of insurance on the individual market.

 

I can understand why Democrats in California would want to mislead the public on this point.

 

But journalists have a professional responsibility to check out the facts for themselves.