Editor’s note: A version of this piece first appeared in the Washington Times.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is going to make health care unaffordable to a shockingly large number of poor people—many of them single and childless. This should come as no surprise, though: The burden of regulation falls all too often disproportionately on the relatively poor, especially the working poor—the very people this law was supposed to help. Obamacare, sadly, is merely the latest and most painful hit from the regulatory onslaught of Washington, diverting resources that could be better used to address larger and more immediate risks.
For example, the Ohio Department of Insurance recently announced an average expected jump of 88 percent in individual-market health insurance premiums as “consumers have fewer choices and pay much higher premiums for their health insurance starting in 2014,” according to a statement by Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. This sobering statement comes hard on the heels of calculations by Manhattan Institute analyst Avik Roy showing that premiums in California’s individual market are set to almost double next year.
According to Mr. Roy’s calculations, young, single, childless men and women who do not have employer-provided health insurance will be hit equally because California prohibits sex-based discrimination. If your income exceeds 183 percent of the federal poverty level, you are ineligible for either expanded Medicaid or any subsidies—and you’ll see your premiums almost double. With an annual income of as little at $21,000, a young childless adult could be shelling out $183 monthly, compared to the current rate of $74 for a plan with a large deductible and substantial co-pays, a far cry from the original promises of Obamacare.
Some of this increase is a result of so-called “community rating,” which means insurance companies can no longer fully take differences in health into account when pricing health insurance for residents of a geographical location. The Society of Actuaries, however, calculates that almost 60 percent of the increase is a result of factors other than the inclusion of coverage for high-risk individuals. A significant portion of the increase is driven by top-down mandates of benefits that must be included in insurance plans, and the costs are pushed to consumers in the form of higher premiums.
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