On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was forced to concede that some people who will be buying health insurance for themselves next fall will face higher premium costs due to provisions in the healthcare bill. A new study released the same day reveals that insurance companies themselves will be paying out an average of 32 percent more for medical claims. Both stories join the growing list of indicators that point toward a grim reality: when it is fully implemented, the Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010 will be anything but.
Sebelius tried to put a happy face on the ongoing debacle better known as Obamacare, claiming that people who have minimal plans they can afford will be better served by the more expensive, but more generous, plans. “These folks will be moving into a really fully insured product for the first time, and so there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market,” she said. “But we feel pretty strongly that with subsidies available to a lot of that population that they are really going to see much better benefit for the money that they’re spending.”
In other words, not only will premiums be going up, but taxpayer-underwritten subsidies will be as well — meaning many Americans will be soaked twice.
Furthermore, Barack Obama’s oft-stated contention that Americans who already have health insurance can keep the policy they have now joins a rather large list of lies this president has promoted to advance his agenda.
Yet Sebelius insisted that when the new online marketplaces for buying insurance become operational, competition will drive down the price. “As a former insurance commissioner I have watched what transparency does to a market,” Sebelius said. “This is the first time ever in the history of the United States that insurance companies have to file their rates, it has to be very transparent, they have to offer the same kind of coverage without 5,000 tiny little lines and internal caps, and they have to compete for customers,” she contended. “And I am a believer in the market strategies that in and of itself will minimize the rate impact.”
Sebelius’s faith in market strategies is belied by a more daunting reality. While competition may mitigate price increases, in 2014 insurance companies will be forced to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Thus, as the aforementioned study by the Society of Actuaries explains, sicker people will be joining the pool of those insured, driving up costs. ”Claims cost is the most important driver of health care premiums,” said Kristi Bohn, an actuary who worked on the study.
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