As the Republican-controlled House works feverishly on its umpteenth try to obfuscate, gut, sabotage, delay and just plain kill the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we now learn that in New York State, individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums plunge next year as changes under the ACA take effect.
State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.
New York now joins a “list of states that appear to be successfully carrying out the law and setting up exchanges,” says the Times.
The Times explains:
The new premium rates do not affect a majority of New Yorkers, who receive insurance through their employers, only those who must purchase it on their own. Because the cost of individual coverage has soared, only 17,000 New Yorkers currently buy insurance on their own. About 2.6 million are uninsured in New York State.
State officials estimate as many as 615,000 individuals will buy health insurance on their own in the first few years the health law is in effect. In addition to lower premiums, about three-quarters of those people will be eligible for the subsidies available to lower-income individuals.
The rates for small businesses, which are considerably lower than for individuals, will not fall as precipitously. But small businesses will be eligible for tax credits, and the exchanges will make it easier for them to select a plan. Roughly 15,000 plans are available today to small businesses, and choosing among them is particularly challenging.
In a follow-up article yesterday, we read that such a plunge in insurance premiums on the individual market should not come as a surprise. In “Obamacare Is the Right’s Worst Nightmare,” Paul Krugman says
[I]n fact, the New York experience perfectly illustrates why Obamacare had to look the way it does. And it also illustrates why conservatives should be terrified about this legislation, as it takes effect. Americans may have had a lot of misgivings in advance, thanks to vast, deliberately spread misinformation. But I agree with Matt Yglesias — unless the GOP finds even more ways to sabotage the plan, this thing is going to work, it’s going to be extremely popular, and it’s going to wreak havoc with conservative ideology.
And for those Conservative critics who will certainly dismiss New York’s (and California’s) experiences as exceptions, as outliers, “the White House is set to release a report ahead of Obama’s remarks today highlighting lower-than-expected premiums in 11 states that have filed their initial rate information,” according to The Hill.
Krugman aptly concludes his piece on the “right’s worse nightmare” with: “Conservatives are right to be hysterical about this: it’s an attack on everything they believe — and it’s going to make Americans’ lives better. What could be worse?”