A Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial left out key details of the insurance market prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the affordability of current ACA plans to attack the law and claim it should be repealed.
The November 20 editorial discussed insurance companies terminating certain Americans' current health plans while claiming that those seeking insurance will have to pay higher costs under the new ACA-compliant plans:
So the insured were part of the problem all along. The people who were responsible enough to purchase coverage that fit their needs and their budgets, without being threatened with a penalty tax, were too dumb to understand they were actually buying “predatory” garbage. The people who gave themselves an economic incentive to take care of their health, who willingly paid cash for routine medical care, needed to be forced to pay even more for coverage they didn't want or need.
Obamacare strikes out on premium affordability, too. According to the Manhattan Institute, Obamacare is projected to increase individual-market premiums by 179 percent in Nevada, the biggest jump in the nation. Sticker shock, not technical failure, is the major reason why so few people are buying insurance from Obamacare exchanges. The Twitter account @MyCancellation documents the cancellation notices Americans are receiving, as well as their outrageous new premium quotes. One tweet this week read “From Alabama: Old plan canceled was $180/mo w/ $6,700 ded. New plan under #ACA $400/mo &ded nearly doubles $12,000.”
Americans were lied to. No amount of revisionist history can save this law or make its awful consequences acceptable. Are you paying attention, Sen. Reid? Repeal and replace.
The issue isn't so much with the insured as the companies providing insurance. As the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute explained, “Pre-ACA, consumers faced a 'wild west' when buying health insurance.” Providers were allowed to indiscriminately change plans and raise premiums without any safeguards. As Consumer Reports explained, the pre-ACA individual insurance market was “a nightmare” with many uninsured being unable to afford an individual plan, or if they did have insurance, most disliking their coverage. The article further noted:
Because of the new health care law people like these, who did nothing wrong except to have the bad luck to be stranded in the individual market, can now get health coverage at a price they can afford. Insurers can't turn them down or exclude coverage of the treatments they need the most. They can't slice and dice risk pools to drive longtime policyholders away. They can't charge them more because of pre-existing conditions.
In addition, insurance companies misled their clients by introducing non-ACA compliant plans without informing them that the plans they had would only be available for a short period of time, or in the case of Humana, sent threatening cancellation letters or letters that omitted crucial information about the ACA. As a Talking Points Memo investigation found, insurance companies around the country “have sent misleading letters to consumers, trying to lock them into the companies' own, sometimes more expensive health insurance plans rather than let them shop for insurance and tax credits on the Obamacare marketplaces,” which could save consumers thousands per month.
As for the Review-Journal's cry of increasing premiums, the editorial does not acknowledge that the Manhattan Institute study it cites estimated average premium increases across the market but didn't account for the subsidies that would decrease premiums for an estimated 155,000 consumers. Throughout the United States, an estimated 6 in 10 uninsured Americans will be able to find health insurance coverage for less than $100 per month.
However, both the Manhattan Institute and the Review-Journal fail to note the differences between pre-ACA plans and those offered under the ACA. As Bill Custer, a health expert at Georgia State University, explained, comparing current plans to plans available in 2014 is unfair because “it's not [comparing] apples to oranges; it's comparing apples to earthworms” given the extra benefits and expanded coverage under the ACA. Under the ACA, each insurance plan must have 10 essential health benefits not previously mandated by law and for the first time ensures that consumers can't be dropped or denied coverage for having pre-existing conditions which, as a WebMD article explained, could range from pregnancy to having acne, high cholesterol, or an old sports injury.
The slow enrollment argument also doesn't hold water. Massachusetts, the model for the ACA, only had 123 people or .3 percent of all those who enrolled in the first year enroll in the first month. Most young and healthy people in Massachusetts waited until the last minute to purchase insurance and avoid the penalty, and almost 8,000 people signed up in the last month before the penalty kicked in. Today, 97 percent of Massachusetts residents have some type of health insurance.