When Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sought to quell concerns about rising premiums under ObamaCare last week, she said: “The increases [we’re seeing] are far less significant than what they were prior to the Affordable Care Act.” This was an echo of a representative of Sebelius at HHS, Joanne Peters, who told Fox News, “Since the Affordable Care Act became law, health-care costs have been slowing and premium growth has slowed to the lowest rate in years ... making it easier for [small] businesses to offer coverage.”
These claims surprised health insurance company officials, who have been wrestling with the massive takeover by the government and trying to charge enough to stay solvent. Said one official, on conditions of anonymity: “[These comments are] pretty shortsighted … everybody knows that [ObamaCare] is going to lead to higher costs.” Privately, the same official said that his company, located in a large swing state, expects to triple its rates next year.
Another insurance company official stated: “We’re exasperated. All of these major delays on very significant portions of the law are going to change what it’s going to cost.” Bill Hoagland, a former executive at health insurance company CIGNA, agreed: “My gut tells me that, for some people, these increases will be significant.”
Analysts have been trying to estimate precisely what those cost increases are likely to be. Three economists with the Manhattan Institute made their first estimate last September, expanded it later that month, and issued a further broader report in November. Writing in Forbes, one of them said the average increase will be more than 40 percent over current premiums, with some insureds seeing their premiums double:
This nearly-complete analysis finds that the average state will face underlying premium increases of 41 percent.
Men will have the steepest increases: 77, 37, and 47 percent for 27-year-olds, 40-year-olds, and 64-year-olds, respectively….
The eight states that will face the biggest increases in underlying premiums are: Nevada (+179 percent), New Mexico (+142 percent), Arkansas (+138 percent), North Carolina (+136 percent), Vermont (+117 percent), Georgia (+92 percent), South Dakota (+77 percent) and Nebraska (+74 percent).
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