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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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May 24, 2012 - 1:18 pm

Read this Hill story for comprehension. Headline: ‘Study: Most individual insurance plans fall short of health law’s standards.‘ ObamaCare, obviously, is the health law.

Most people who buy their own health insurance would get a much more generous policy under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new study published in Health Affairs.

Hm, sounds good. How?

Most individual policies today fall short of the ACA’s most basic standards, the study said. That means many consumers will get more benefits and will likely face lower out-of-pocket costs — but premiums could rise as a result.

The subject is individual plans — i.e., plans individuals pay for out of their own pockets. So how do rising premiums and “lower out-of-pocket costs” go together?

They don’t.

People who buy health insurance on their own typically pay higher premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs than people who get their coverage through an employer. Individual policies also tend to offer less coverage and, until the ACA is fully implemented in 2014, can exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions.

So they’ll end up paying more to cover those with pre-existing conditions. It’s basic math.

According to the Health Affairs study, even the most basic plan under the ACA’s new standards would be significantly more generous than what most people get today on the individual market.

“More generous”? With whose money?

The ACA establishes new insurance marketplaces, called exchanges in every state and it sets minimum standards for plans sold through the exchanges. For the most basic policies, insurers have to cover 60 percent of a plans’s total cost, leaving customers to pay no more than the other 40 percent.

But a majority of the plans in today’s individual market cover less than 60 percent of all costs, according to the Health Affairs study.

Slightly more than half of people on the individual market are enrolled in policies that cover less than 60 percent of plan costs. One-third of individual policies pay 60 to 69 percent, enough to meet the lowest thresholds under the healthcare law.

Many consumers will therefore get more generous coverage by buying through an exchange. But, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the boost in benefits could also raise premiums.

“Generosity” has been re-defined as forcing people to pay more for something they may not need or want.

“Premiums for health insurance in the individual market will be somewhat higher on average under [the healthcare law] than under prior law, mostly because the average insurance policy in that market will cover a larger share of enrollees’ costs for health care and provide a slightly wider range of benefits,” CBO said in a 2009 report.

CBO said the increases would be partially offset by other policies that would lower premiums, but would still come out slightly higher.

I included that last sentence because it’s funny. So is this one.

Consumers won’t necessarily shoulder the extra costs, though, because the federal government will provide subsidies to help cover the cost of insurance.

And where does the federal government get its money, ultimately?

Now look back to the lead sentence: The Hill’s story creatively tries to obscure the fact that what ObamaCare provides is “generosity” flavored by the taxman’s jackboot.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.
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