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Obamacare costs soaring in recent rate checks

By   /   June 10, 2013  /   News  /   11 Comments

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

Ask Ohio how affordable the Affordable Care Act will be.

Buckeye State insurers expect to see the cost of essential health care benefits for individual coverage in Ohio’s exchange to soar on average 88 percent next year, according to a new analysis from the Ohio Department of Insurance.

The department analyzed individual market plan proposals from insurers against a Society of Actuaries report earlier this year that found Ohio and Wisconsin hold the dubious honor of ranking No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the list of states expected to be hardest hit by claims cost increases under Obamacare.

Badger State insurance rates are predicted to climb as high as 80 percent by 2017, while Ohio could see an 80.9 percent hike in insurance costs, according to the Actuaries.

A total of 14 insurance companies filed proposed rates for 214 different plans with the department, according to the Ohio Depaertment of Insurance.  Projected costs from the companies for providing coverage for the required essential health benefits ranged from $282.51 to $577.40 for individual health insurance plans.

“We have warned of these increases since a state-specific study in 2011 indicated Ohio would be significantly impacted by the ACA,” Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor said in a statement.


SINKING FEELING: Ohio projects the cost of health care coverage will rise 88 percent under the Obamacare exchange, according to the Ohio Department of Insurance.

Ohio’s current average cost to cover medical expenses for an individual health insurance plan is $223, according to the Society of Actuaries study.  Based on the proposals submitted to the Department of Insurance, the average to cover those costs in 2014 would be $420 — representing an increase of 88 percent when compared to the Society of Actuaries study, according to the department.

The proposed rates still are subject to the department’s review process.

“During this process, rates may change before becoming effective,” the regulator said in its news release.

Wisconsin, like many states, still is taking filings for insurance rate proposals under what will be a federally run health care exchange in the Badger State. The  Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance won’t release details on the rate cases until they have been updated.

J.P Wieske, public information officer and legislative liaison for the office, told Wisconsin Reporter the commissioner hopes to have an analysis of the costs by late July.

Wieske said Wisconsin is starting to get more answers from the federal government, but, “We’re not so sure they are all the answers we would have expected.”

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” he said. “The question is going to be administratively, how is this going to work? We still think there are going to be a lot of complications going forward. This is large, fundamental change for a lot of people.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans, the national trade association representing the health insurance industry, points to a report by actuarial services giant Milliman Inc., which  examines the multitude of changes that will affect health insurance consumers. As the report notes, Obamacare’s scope of covering pre-existing conditions, requiring broader benefit packages and covering uninsured Americans who have gone without medical care will benefit millions of people, but it also will increase the cost of health care coverage. Obamacare’s health insurance tax and other fees also will increase premiums, Milliman notes.

Other provisions of the law, however, will ease costs, including premium and cost-sharing subsidies, according to the study, although taxpayers will pick up the tab for federal insurance assistance.

Cost impacts of individuals are expected to vary, in some cases significantly, depending on the individual’s age, gender, location, health status, income level and the kind of coverage the consumer has today.

“(Y)oung, healthy males could see substantial increases due to the combination of the overall rate change and the age/gender rating requirements,” while “older, less healthy individuals could see rate reductions,” according to the Milliman study.

In most states, there is a a 5-to-1 age ratio built in to health insurance, meaning the older and less healthy in the insurance pool typically pay five times more for coverage than younger, healthier consumers. That age scale under Obamacare moves to 3-to-1, meaning older health care consumers save, while rates go up for many younger insurance holders.

ACA advocates say studies like the one from the Society of Actuaries omit or ignore key expectations that will help drive down costs, such as improved health care delivery, tax credits and increased competition among insurers.

“The health care law will bring down costs and save money for your people and families. It’s misleading to look at only some of the provisions of the law because, taken together, the law will reduce costs,”  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Fabien Levy has repeatedly told Wisconsin Reporter.

California last month issued a news release trumpeting the cost savings coming from Covered California — the name of the Golden State’s version of Obamacare’s health insurance exchange.

“These rates are way below the worst-case gloom-and-doom scenarios we have heard,” Peter Lee, executive director of the nation’s largest exchange, proudly declared in a statement.

The problem is, Covered California’s triumphant release compared the individual market to small business health insurance.

In a piece contesting the sunny California outlook, Forbes contributor Avik Roy does some comparison shopping and finds Covered California’s assumptions of significant rate savings in the individual market don’t add up.

“… (T)he ‘bronze’ comprehensive plan (the second cheapest plan in Obamacare), costs $205 a month. But in 2013, on eHealthInsurance.com …, the median cost of the five cheapest plans was only $92,” Roy writes.

“In other words, for the typical 25-year-old male non-smoking Californian, Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent.”

The price rises for older health care consumers.

“In California, the median price of a bronze plan for a 40-year-old male non-smoker will be $261. But on eHealthInsurance, the median cost of the five cheapest plans was $121. That is, Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums by an average of 116 percent,” Roy notes.

Same goes apparently for Ohio, where the lieutenant governor predicts trouble ahead for businesses and individuals under the Obamacare exchange.

“The Department’s initial analysis of the proposed rates show consumers will have fewer choices and pay much higher premiums for their health insurance starting in 2014,” Taylor said.

Contact M.D. Kittle at [email protected]


M.D. Kittle is bureau chief of Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment Reporter for Watchdog.org. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of print, broadcast and online media. He is the recipient of several awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and others. He is also a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors. Kittle's extensive series on Wisconsin's unconstitutional John Doe investigations was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. His work has been featured in Town Hall, Fox News, NewsMax, and other national publications, and his reporting has been cited by news outlets nationwide. Kittle is a fill-in talk show host on the Jay Weber Show and the Vicki McKenna Show in Milwaukee and Madison.

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  • Dan

    I get a kick out of this part:

    “Other provisions of the law, however, will ease costs, including premium
    and cost-sharing subsidies, according to the study, although taxpayers
    will pick up the tab for federal insurance assistance.”

    So the premium costs for taxpayers will be subsidized by taxpayers, thus saving the taxpayers money?

  • lakewooddraft123

    I’d be interested to see what the real cost of these plans would be if you added in the government’s total cost of subsidies, administration, fraud, etc. Break the total down by individual plans and give us the number. I’ll bet it’s way higher than any of us are currently paying.

  • gary

    Good point. The media has neither the means nor motivation to understand much less answer the question. They just accept that there’s some boundless source of ‘free’ money available to spend.

  • Indiana Conservative

    Wish that george”THe Michelin Man”lilja still lived on Steepleview Drive so he and his Missuss “THe Dutchess of Pork” could be socked by these Ohio increases

  • E Harris

    Yes…rates are jumping here in Ohio. Since we are a largely non-mandated state, paying for all of the mandates in 2014 substantially raises prices.

    The subsidy will help some consumers. But many others will pay quite a bit more.

    Best Ohio Healthcare

  • FarOutlier

    Yep, its starting. I am beginning to see news stories touting the fact that gee ObamaCare really isn’t more expensive. I even saw a MSM article the raved about health care costs going down, first time in 40 years. Right. The KY is being spread for the big one. People, your costs are going to explode and everyone that pays attention knows it.

  • Anne D

    Except for Congress. They will receive subsidies for the increases. They can’t afford it y’know.

  • FarOutlier

    I believe that they understand at least as well as I do. They simply cover for Obama. The MSM are his b*tches and they know and act accordingly. Every year the faith in ABCBSNBSCNBCMSNBCNYTWP drop. That is the correct outcome. I have been following ObamaCare and you can see the Dim talking points. The merely went to their b*tches, gave them talking points and all of a sudden the exact same spin comes. You can notice, no costs are ever provided. Just generic up down subsidiy. Also notice that Obama is delaying implementation of the small employer mandate until after the 2014 elections. Very little in the MSM about that. Like it isn’t important.

  • Jrsheriff

    Don’t believe the quotes online that’s exactly what they are QUOTES I’ve fallen for this trick a couple of times once they get your background and health info the rates are much higher its the old bait and switch. My BCBS online quote was 350 but because I once took BP meds five years ago I now pay 511 a month with a 5k ded. No doctor visits and no RX. I would love to pay 261 a month and have increased benefits

  • The Earth is not Flat

    Ohio rate increase is very deceptive. Taylor is an very anti-obamacare. Don’t trust her analysis.
    Mary Taylor (Ohio) compared a 25K deductible policy in claiming her rate change.

    Hardly an apple to apples comparison.