Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Pushes Misleading Study To Attack Obamacare Premiums


The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review highlighted a right-wing think tank study which found that premiums would significantly increase for 27-year-old Pennsylvanians without pointing out any other costs savings for young people due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The October 14 Tribune-Review editorial cited a study by the Commonwealth Foundation to claim "premiums [will] go up 121 percent for 27-year-old males and 62 percent for same-aged females in the Pittsburgh area." The paper also included sparse anecdotal evidence to come to the sweeping conclusion that there will be "outrageous cost hikes."

The Commonwealth Foundation, which has a dubious funding record from right-wing mega-donors and ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), published a study claiming that, compared to current insurance premiums on ehealthinsurance.com, 27-year-olds in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia would see their premiums rise significantly. Although left out of the Tribune-Review editorial, the study itself notes that "the comparison does not take into account the tax credits available to individuals" or "out-of-pocket costs, including co-pays and deductibles" which have been predicted to fall under the ACA.

By failing to note the impact of subsides, both the editorial and the study leave out a significant portion of savings that would manifest as a result of the ACA for young adults. According to a report by FamiliesUSA, almost 900,000 Pennsylvania residents would be eligible for premium tax credits or subsidies in 2014. Of that number, young adults -- those between the ages of 18 and 34 -- are "the likeliest age group to be eligible for premium tax credits, making up approximately 36 percent of all those who are eligible." 

The potential savings for young adults are significant. As a McClatchy article pointed out, subsidies will range from a "few hundred dollars a month to more than $10,000, based on family size, income, and the cost of coverage in an individual's area." According to data released by the Department of Health and Human Services, a 27-year-old Pennsylvanian making an income of $25,000 a year who selects a bronze plan after receiving a subsidy would be almost $40 per month cheaper than the non-subsidy cost.

The editorial also failed to note the many other benefits young adults would see under the ACA. According to the health care advocacy group Young Invincibles's executive director, Aaron Smith, only about 5 percent of young adults don't want health insurance because of how much it costs. However, under the Affordable Care Act, 17 million out of the 19 million currently uninsured young adults "could be eligible for free or reduced cost coverage." With reduced costs, these young adults -- who are more likely to go to the emergency room than adults over the age of 75 -- won't see the astronomical costs associated with a hospital visit and can use their health care to begin accessing preventative care services. Young women, who were routinely denied insurance due to gender-based pre-existing conditions or charged more under a practice known as "gender rating" will no longer pay higher costs or be denied insurance for being female, as such practices are banned under the ACA.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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