Projected Obamacare Exchange Premiums Lower Than Expected

Okay, repeat after me: “Don’t, don’t don’t, don’t believe the hype!” Yes, there’s been a lot of talk about rising premiums and how Obamacare has made things so expensive that employers are now forced to cut the hours of low-wage workers. Well, newsflash: it isn’t even 2014, and the exchanges haven’t even been set up in states. In other words: Obamacare has yet to be fully implemented, dumbass. Damn right; and, all that talk is nonsense. In truth, as Think Progress pointed out earlier this week, companies cutting hours have been cutting the hours of workers long before Obamacare was signed by President Barack Obama. Yes, they were cutting the hours of workers long before Obamcare was evrm around.

This from Think Progress:

Obamacare critics have been pointing to several companies’ claims that the law isforcing them to cut their part-time workers’ hours as proof that the health law is bad for businesses and employees. But a new report finds that employers were cutting health benefits and workers’ hours long before Obamacare was even an idea.

According to data compiled by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), large employers have increasingly been turning to part-time workers for their labor. Between 2007 and 2011, the percentage of workers employed in part-time jobs increased from 16.7 percent to 22.2 percent of the work force. That means that workers’ hours have also been declining, since using more part-time workers lets companies scale back on how many hours those employees can work.

But these companies’ cuts haven’t been limited to workers’ hours — they’ve been cutting back on part-time employees’ health benefits, too. During the same four year period, part-time workers experienced a 15.7 percent decline in the likelihood of having health coverage through their jobs.

But no, let them tell it, Obamacare is destroying America. Yes, and not only that, it will make premiums a lot more expensive. Uh-huh, all of this before one exchange is established in any one of the fifty states.b But like I said: Don’t believe the hype. Speaking of which, here’s more good news.

This from wonkblog:

Obamacare got some very good news on Thursday.

In 2009, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that a medium-level “silver” plan — which covers 70 percent of a beneficiary’s expected health costs — on the California health exchange would cost $5,200 annually. More recently, a report from the consulting firm Milliman predicted it would carry a $450 monthly premium. Yesterday, we got the real numbers. And they’re lower than anyone thought.

As always, Sarah Kliff has the details. The California exchange will have 13 insurance options, and the heavy competition appears to be driving down prices. The most affordable silver-level plan is charging $276-a-month. The second-most affordable plan is charging $294. And all this is before subsidies. Someone making twice the poverty line, say, will only pay $104-a-month.

Sparer plans are even cheaper. A young person buying the cheapest “bronze”-level plan will pay $172 — and that, again, is before any subsidies.

Just another low-information voter.
Just another low-information voter.

California is a particularly important test for Obamacare. It’s not just the largest state in the nation. It’s also one of the states most committed to implementing Obamacare effectively. Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — remember how that really happened? — California was the first state to begin building its insurance exchanges. The state’s outreach efforts are unparalleled. Its insurance regulators are working hard to bring in good plans and make sure they’re playing fair. If California can’t make the law work, perhaps no one can. But if California can make the law work, it shows that others can, too.

And perhaps others will. We’re beginning to see competition drive down proposed rates in some exchanges around the country. Remember Maryland, where CareFirst grabbed headlines with a shocking 25 percent proposed increase in rates? More plans have streamed in with lower bids. Kaiser Permanente, for instance, is only increasing its rates next year by 4.3 percent — a modest increase that will make CareFirst’s proposal almost impossible to sustain. My guess is when the exchange actually opens in October, CareFirst will have dropped its price substantially. If they don’t, then Kaiser and others will grab all the market share.

The way this competition can drive down rates is already evident in Oregon. There, one insurer came in with monthly premium costs in the $169 range, while other insurers asked to charge more than $400. But then, seeing what their competitors were charging, two insurers came back to the state’s regulators and asked if they could refile at lower rates. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be competitive in the exchange. The Obama administration was ecstatic to see this: It’s exactly what they’re hoping will happen across the country.

Well, sucks for you if you live in Texas or any other state that refuses to take up the offer to expand medicare. The only thing I can tell you unfortunate individuals is to get rich or die trying. Either that or consider moving to a state that has decided to get on board and provide its residents with affordable health care coverage. Now of we can get more jobs rolling, “We’d be all to the good,” as one of my homies says.