The Obama administration is firing back at one of the major attacks Republicans have leveled at the health reform law: that it will make insurance premiums rise.
A report released by HHS on Friday argues that individuals and families purchasing coverage through the exchanges in 2014 will save 14 percent to 20 percent over what coverage would cost them if the law had never been enacted. These savings come from market reforms and regulations — they do not include the tax credits that will effectively reduce premiums for some individuals by more than half.
The report points to “preliminary evidence” that provisions of the Affordable Care Act already in place will contribute to rate increases in 2011 that are lower than in previous years. State premium rate reviews have reined in premium hikes in states including Connecticut and California, and HHS says the new Medical Loss Ratio requirements will “likely lead to rebates” in 2012 for an estimated 5 million insurance customers.
Senate Republicans aren't too convinced. They set out to fact check the administration's claims, and gosh darned if they didn't find loads of contravening evidence:
And, of course, there's the nasty business of ever-expanding roster of businesses obtaining special waivers to circumvent the cost-raising, job-killing mandates embedded in the new law. Other than all that, though, it's a total winner! The government says so.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: ‘This Law Will Lower Premiums’
(President Obama, Remarks To ‘Families USA,’ 1/28/11)
Reality: ‘Premiums Continue To Rise
CALIFORNIA: “Another Big California Health Insurer Has Stunned Individual Policyholders With Huge Rate Increases — This Time It's Blue Shield Of California Seeking Cumulative Hikes Of As Much As 59% For Tens Of Thousands Of Customers March 1.” (“Blue Shield Of California Seeks Rate Hikes Of As Much As 59% For Individuals,” Los Angeles Times, 1/6/11)• “San Francisco-Based Blue Shield Said The Increases Were The Result Of Fast-Rising Healthcare Costs And Other Expenses Resulting From New Healthcare Laws.” (“Blue Shield Of California Seeks Rate Hikes Of As Much As 59% For Individuals,” Los Angeles Times, 1/6/11)
“California Was A Focal Point Of Debate Over Insurance Premiums Last Year, Too, When Mr. Jones's Predecessor Drew Attention To A 39% Increase By WellPoint.” (“Health Insurers Feel Heat In California,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/14/11)
VERMONT: “California Isn't The Only State Seeing Premiums Continue To Rise. In Iowa, WellMark Blue Cross & Blue Shield Plans Raised Premiums By About 11% This Year. In Vermont, MVP Health Care Is Raising Premiums For Some Catamount Products By About 21%.” (“Health Insurers Feel Heat In California,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/14/11)
IOWA: “Wellmark Is Planning A 10.8 Percent Rate Hike For Individual Policy Holders. Close To 46,000 Iowa Policyholders Under Age 65 Will See An Increase In Their Base Premium Rate Of 10.8 Percent, Effective April 1, 2011, If Approved. Another 3,000 Basic And Standard Policyholders Will Receive An Increase Of 11.3 Percent. Approximately 2,500 Blue Transitions Policyholders Will Receive An Increase Of 15 Percent.” (“Wellmark Customers Question Rate Increase,” KCCI Des Moines, 1/6/11)
WASHINGTON STATE: “In October, [Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike] Kreidler Accepted Rate Hikes Of 16.4 Percent For Regence Blueshield, 15.4 Percent For Regence Bluecross Blueshield Of Oregon And 23.7 Percent For Asuris Northwest Health, according to Stephanie Marquis, a spokeswoman for Kreidler. In recent years, most insurers have requested and won double-digit rate hikes, Marquis said. Additional rate changes are allowed if the plan is required to offer new benefits.” (“Regence's Rate Hike Request Rejected,” The [Vancouver, WA] Columbian, 12/8/10)
CONNECTICUT: “Health Insurers Are Asking For Immediate Rate Hikes Of More Than 20 Percent In Connecticut For Some Plans, Citing Rising Medical Costs And Federal Health Reform Laws As Reasons. Both issues — the new federal health care reform and rising medical costs — are significant drivers of the increases, according to filings by insurers with state regulators that were reviewed by The Courant.” (“Health Insurers Seeking Rate Hikes Of More Than 20 Percent In Connecticut,” The Hartford Courant, 9/15/10)