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— guest editorial from the Carolina Journal
More than three years after Obamacare became law, finally we know what’s in it.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the 2014 rates for health insurance policies on the federal exchange in late September, days before individuals were allowed to enroll in the plan, and North Carolinians took a shot to the jaw:
According to calculations by the Manhattan Institute, residents of the Tar Heel State will endure the nation’s highest rate increases, with individual rates tripling for women and quadrupling for men.
There’s nothing affordable about the Affordable Care Act. Premiums are increasing, companies are reducing coverage and cutting payrolls, and hospitals and physicians’ practices are not participating in plans offered on the exchanges.
So while President Obama vowed that his signature legislation would reduce medical premiums an average of $2,500 yearly, a House Ways and Means Committee analysis of HHS rates for the least-expensive “bronze” plan found that annual rates for 27-year-old males would rise by $701 and 27-year-old females would pay an additional $240.
In North Carolina, the hikes would be $1,612 and $756, respectively.
The Manhattan Institute analysis, which compared the average 2013 premiums of the five least-expensive individual policies in the state with the premiums announced by HHS, found that premiums for 27-year-old males in North Carolina would surge by 267 percent in 2014.
Premiums for 27-year-old females would jump 151 percent.
What about the taxpayer subsidies that are supposed to ease the sticker shock for many low- and middle-income workers?
Writing for Forbes, the Manhattan Institute’s Avik Roy says, “subsidies only protect some people. Middle-class Americans face the double-whammy of higher insurance premiums, and higher taxes to pay for other people’s subsidies.”
When Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina released a summary of individual rates in early September, the company predicted that, even accounting for estimated tax subsidies, two-thirds of its ratepayers would see increases in line with recent trends, with some seeing reductions.
But about a third of ratepayers would experience what a press release called “fairly substantial increases due to the requirements of the ACA.”
Taking potential subsidies out of the equation, John Locke Foundation health and human services analyst Katherine Restrepo found that the average BCBSNC premiums for 25-year-olds and 40-year-olds would increase by 80 percent.
Moreover, the president said June 15, 2009, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. Period.”
Not so fast. Hundreds of employers, including UPS and Xerox, are dropping coverage for employees’ spouses.
An August survey of major employers by the consulting firm Towers Watson found that 40 percent of them planned to reduce health benefits as a cost-control measure.
So much for keeping your plan if you like it.
From the beginning, we predicted these kinds of outcomes: higher premiums, less coverage, and fewer choices.
Now that the actual costs of Obamacare are apparent, we wonder how much longer voters will tolerate elected officials who stand behind this monstrosity.
—The Carolina Journal is a monthly publication of the conservative think tank John Locke Foundation. Learn more at carolinajournal.com.