Will Obamacare Become ‘the Right’s Worst Nightmare’?

shutterstock_123507583

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.

The New York Times:

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.

Read here and here how and why this is or will be so.

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.

But:

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.

Also:

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?”

Image: www.shutterstock.com

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

Share This Post On

24 Comments

  1. My daughter is counting the days when she can quit her dead-end job, get health insurance and become an entrepeneur. She and hundreds of thousands like her. The tax coffers will be bulging when they are unleashed.

  2. Since the edit isn’t working, added:

    And they will remember which political party made it available for them.

  3. Eventually I think Obabamcare will become popular in the same way Medicare and Medicaid are now, and the GOP will have to deal with that. I’m not sure what the GOP will look like by that point, though.

    There are a couple of hitches with the above. If you dig into The Hill article you find:

    Although the rates are lower than expected, they’re still higher than what young, healthy people are paying now for comparable coverage.

    Older, sicker patients will benefit while younger, healthier pay more. It’s hard to predict how younger adults will react to this.

    The second hitch is that ObamaCare is a bloated expensive program that doesn’t control costs very well and is based on very shaky (I say dishonest but that’s another topic) assumptions. This will still leave plenty of opportunity for criticism from fiscal conservatives.

  4. There is absolutely nothing that Obama does that doesn’t leave room for Republican criticism.
    As far as the Hill article goes, I will take a wait and see on that.

    The disinformation about Obamacare is like everything else the Reps do. Lies and distortions are their stock and trade. It is the only way to make something that benefits people and not private industry look menacing…hence the absolute insane story of “death panels”. The second lie is about how insurance costs will rise as a result. That story is like a Republican rallying cry to all large, wealthy Insurance companies to raise their rates for employees this October. They would have anyway just like always, but now they can blame it on Obama.
    Nothing really has changed except that these Insurance companies now have to COMPETE for business and that’s a baaaad thing for these wealthy corporations that have had it their way for far too long.

  5. Since it is probably here to stay, I hope there are some bright spots, like the one in NY APPEARS to be, in Obamacare. Some pieces will likely work, others won’t, like the mandates/fines and the already discarded long term care part. With 2700 pages and a massive shift, what else would one expect. I won’t be effected too much except for the shortage of doctors and those remaining doctors dropping Medicare coverage, and I am hoping for the best for all the younger folks.

  6. edit to add: There really isn’t a government assisted program that IS a money maker for our nation,( unlike private corporations that make a profit), but they are not intended to. It is another attempt to incorporate that dirty word…socialism into our government. Democrats believe we as a country should be taking care of our elderly, poor, and sick. Republicans do not.
    Admittedly, We do not have that worked out well in terms of fraud and waste, primarily due to greed and dishonesty, but these govt. assisted programs are necessary.

  7. Question, why would doctors be dropping Medicare?? Perhaps because it is not going to be the golden frickin goose it has always been for far too long.
    It is about time that the government is more frugal with what it pays out for procedures. Waaaay over due for that. Most of the bills are padded beyond recognition as soon as a Medicare patient walks in the door.

    As for younger people..guess what. They are the target for EVERY type of social program since it pays forward. Not news, and certainly has nothing to do with AHA. They will be paying for SS and Medicare too.

  8. “The second hitch is that ObamaCare is a bloated expensive program that doesn’t control costs very well and is based on very shaky (I say dishonest but that’s another topic) assumptions.”

    Well there is not much the govt can do under the ACA to control costs because that isn’t what this program is. What it does do is force people to get insurance, but at the end of the day the transaction is the same. Someone gets sick/injured, they go to see a doctor, and the insurance company haggles with the hospital about price and then covers it. Only under this plan tens of millions who normally don’t have insurance will now, which spreads the costs out more, allowing overall rate decreases.

    In order for a govt program to have an impact on actual health care costs, you’d need a single payer system. But that would never fly with the GOP. So we are stuck with this middling system that is likely to reduce insurance costs, although obviously not for anyone that was paying zero before, and hope the healthcare system finds some equilibrium and not just an excuse to raise rates because now the insurance companies will have deeper pockets to pay. This is good news, people look like they will pay less, and more people will be covered. I say YAY!

  9. My daughter is counting the days when she can quit her dead-end job, get health insurance and become an entrepeneur. She and hundreds of thousands like her. The tax coffers will be bulging when they are unleashed.

    THIS!

    I maintain we need to decouple health insurance from employment. Keeping it coupled means a) our businesses have a harder time competing against other developed nations who do not have it coupled; b) it makes it more expensive/risky to create your own business, become a consultant, work part time, find better jobs, etc.

    I do feel there is a serious risk it will hurt a lot of people with coverage by their employer, and those who are forced to buy it (primarily the young who would — perhaps unwisely — decline to get it otherwise). But the deal is to get costs down and make it more affordable so it’s not too bad.

    I really suspect this is an economic winner for us. It levels the competitive playing field vs. countries that have a decoupled insurance system.

  10. Sounds good to me Barky.

  11. Barky, you are exactly right. If you went back in time employer provided healthcare wasn’t always the norm. This really took off back in the 70′s and so did healthcare costs. If we went back to when people bought their own healthcare we wouldn’t have the problem we have now. Ways of limiting increases would have been found because they would know people can only afford so much. With the current system somebody else pays the bill so the typical patient doesn’t know how much something costs or even care. The providers don’t care about costs as they have no incentive to do so. I think the signs are that this will overall be a big winner for us and it will eventually drive costs down.

    What the far right will have to complain about when this all comes about I have no idea. However, they are a creative bunch and I am sure they will have some new issue to occupy their thoughts.

  12. Sheknows and T.O. are correct as well in that this is going to free a lot of people locked in jobs because of healthcare benefits. This is going to have a big positive impact on the economy.

  13. Having worked for a health insurance co. as an underwriter for a few years, I can tell you exactly why employers began giving health Insurance as a company benefit.
    Individual insurance policies and especially those for families were ridered to hell and back for people with ailments. The cost, if viewed as cheaper, is only because everything was cheaper. The ugly truth was that Insurance companies are a profit making business, and they REFUSED to pay for many, many claims.

    A huge benefit was having a group plan to carry the people already ill. The insurance companies knowing this, kept raising rates to compensate for the inability to rider out the sick ones. It is called corporate GREED.

  14. Though I have been a critic of the overall law, mostly because of its cost, individual exchanges make sense (though I don’t see why we needed a federal law to tell NY to implement an exchange if it made so much sense for that state to do it). I have to admit that the reduction is impressive, but it also approaches “too good to be true” territory. We’ll have to wait to see if the really materializes and can be sustained. I’m with dduck that I think the law is here to stay and the GOP should start working to make it better, not worse. So, sign me up for the ACA cheerleading squad, I guess. In that spirit, maybe proponents can admit that it’s opponents have some points, in particular that the “deficit neutral” analysis was based on double-counting and budget gimmicks. That might be asking too much.

    I also agree that detaching health care coverage from employment is a good thing, which the individual exchanges help facilitate. This is a step in the right direction. It seems to be counteracted by the employer mandate which was thankfully delayed.

  15. Just a quick question for all in favor of “detachment” from the revered employer. Do any of you have any idea of what a personal insurance policy would cost in this country for or say a 55 year old male? or how about a 35 yr old with diabetes? or a 50 year old that had a cancer removed 5 years ago?

    Without the safety net of a group plan, these individuals could not afford health insurance…trust me! And God forbid they have a child with any type of chronic illness….
    Individual plans no matter how inexpensive initially, will ALWAYS wind up costing an arm an a leg once the insured gets ill.
    Without that group protection they are lone fish in a sea of sharks.

  16. sheknows: the concept of group plan is what needs to die. EVERYONE should be in a “group plan” to spread out all the risk. That’s what this is all about.

    Group plans are just a marketing scheme put forth by insurance companies. They could change the model whenever they want.

  17. O.K. I get that now but please explain to me how these insurance companies are going to profit by insuring people with medical conditions.
    I am nor arguing the point, I am simply wondering. As a person who worked for a health Ins. Co back in the 70′s, ONE of my jobs was to find ways in which the company wasn’t liable for payment, either due to a specific rider or a clause somewhere. I can remember the horror stories of denied claims and dying patients and just terrible crap that went on back then.

    Why should an insurance company give great coverage for a little bit of money and then just keep paying for a person’s illness without raising their premiums?
    I just don’t see how that would be profitable for them. Do you?

  18. I have read the comments here and I have read numerous articles both pro- and con “Obamacare.”

    Even if the arguments for and against the ACA were equally balanced (I emphasize “were” because, in my opinion, the arguments for ACA by far outweigh the arguments against it), the following story alone would tip the balance for me. Yet there are thousands, perhaps million more stories like this.

    (Feel free to call me a sentimentalist, “bleeding heart, stupid, etc. — I have been called worse, right here on these pages,)

    It is about a little baby girl named Zoe “who was born with a congenital heart defect that required her to have multiple open heart surgeries in the first few months of her life. By the time she was six months old, she had already reached over half of her lifetime health insurance cap, which would have left [the parents] unable to pay for the continuing care and future surgeries required for Zoe to survive.”

    But then the much-maligned Obamacare came along and Zoe’s insurance company removed Zoe’s lifetime cap , which meant that Zoe’s parents did not have to sell everything, lose everything they had in order to keep their daughter alive.

    Why is this so important to me?

    Among other, because I have seen firsthand the fear, the anguish in the eyes of a desperate mother whose little child had such a congenital heart disease. However, unlike so many other mothers and through the Grace of God and the goodwill of others, this mother saw her child undergo successful open-heart surgery so that she would live — and I saw the joy and the tears in her eyes when this mother, for the first time, listened to the healthy beat of her baby’s heart.

    Thank you sheknows for prompting me to write this with your, “Without the safety net of a group plan, these individuals could not afford health insurance…trust me! And God forbid they have a child with any type of chronic illness….”

    Watch Zoe’s video here

  19. God love em…those little ones :)
    Caring about others of our species is not necessarily just a human trait, but a deeply ingrained one I am happy to say.
    Too bad there are those that argue it’s necessity.

  20. Yea, this is going to be a good thing.

  21. Too early to predict pro or con as a whole. I like the pre-existing coverage.

    Too little reform to insurance companies …

    Too little reform to big pharma …

    Too much burden on workers, unions, business and physicians …

    While the safety net is essential, this bill is poorly written.

    Time will tell if it can be repaired.

  22. Yes, if Americans discover they like the ACA then the GOP/TP will once again have it pounded home how empty and disruptive their ideology is. Eventually enough people will catch on..

  23. good article Dorian. Thanks especially to the extra care given to write it out.

  24. Thanks, Dr. E

Submit a Comment