Just last week, National Journal published a much-discussed piece on the federal health care, arguing that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is “looking a bit unaffordable.” The piece was immediately embraced by conservative media as proof that the dreaded “Obamacare” was poised to impose unexpectedly high premiums on unsuspecting consumers.
And that was a shame because the National Journal report, as a substantive matter, was a bit of a mess. That said, it was the latest in a series of “rate shock” stories eagerly touted by the right. Is there anything to this?
Here’s some good news for Americans who are currently uninsured, who currently buy insurance on the individual marketplace, or who think it’s possible that at some point over the course of their life they might have to or want to switch jobs – the premiums charged for insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges will likely be cheaper than forecast by the Congressional Budget Office.
Since the level of subsidies available to families of modest means is keyed in part to the price of insurance premiums, this is also good news for anyone who pays taxes or uses non-health care public services.
The news comes by way of a new report (pdf) from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which this morning published a comprehensive review – the most thorough analysis I’ve seen to date – of what health care premiums are set to be under the Affordable Care Act. In fairness, the information from some states is still incomplete, making a definitive assessment impossible for now, but the news is nevertheless very encouraging.
As Sy Mukherjee’s analysis added, “Many Americans will pay even less than the top-line rates after factoring in government subsidies for their health coverage, with some paying nothing at all for crucial medical coverage.”
Wait, “nothing at all”? Is that true? Actually, yes.
As Bloomberg News’ report noted this morning, “A 25-year-old New Yorker earning $25,000 a year will pay as little as $62 a month for health insurance next year, and a peer living in Vermont may pay nothing, according to a 17-state survey of premiums under the U.S. health-care overhaul.”
And in the larger context, I get the sense the conventional wisdom is that Obamacare implementation is going poorly, but have you noticed all the good news lately? Public-awareness campaigns are generating new support; the public opposes the Republican crusade to defund the law; Medicaid expansion is, well, expanding; there’s anecdotal evidence to suggest Obamacare is helping create jobs; even opponents of the law are finding parts they like; and consumers are liking the law’s benefits a lot more they expected to.
And now premiums consumers will pay through the exchange marketplaces will be even more affordable than predicted.
So where’s this “disaster” we keep hearing about?