If our health insurance premiums were increasing on average by 1.5 percent each year, would anyone bat an eye? Let’s all admit the answer is “No.”
In fact, the National Conference of State Legislatures website links to a report titled, “State Trends in Premiums and Deductibles, 2003–2011: Eroding Protection and Rising Costs Underscore Need for Action,” that shows our health insurance premiums skyrocketed by 62 percent between 2003 and 2011. Given those kinds of increases over the past eight years, if all we saw in 2013 was a 1.5 percent rise, I’ll bet we’d all be celebrating.
Politico came out with a story on Friday about big increases in health care premiums coming down the pike, framed as being the result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Many of the small-business and individual insurance policies are working the health reform law’s 2014 fees into their 2013 bills, contributing to double-digit premium increases for some people.
All those new consumer benefits packed into the health reform law — birth control without a co-pay, free preventive care and limits on when insurers can turn down a customer — had to be paid for somehow.
Except those benefits aren’t what’s causing those double-digit increases; insurance companies pre-billing their insureds in 2013 for projected expenses in 2014, and plain and simple greed account for all but about 1.5 percent of it — the 1.5 percent that is the result of the PPACA’s assessment of new fees on insurance companies, not any of the benefits Politico claimed, according to research done by ThinkProgress.
So the PPACA is only costing you about 1.5 percent this year, which we all agreed we’d be celebrating were that the extent of it. And you may not even be among those whose rates insurance companies want to raise to double-digits, which are only (potentially — they haven’t been approved) affecting a small segment of insureds. Most people who have health insurance get it through their employer. And people covered by employer-based policies will only see a four percent average increase in their premiums.
“PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that [actual health care] costs may increase just 7.5 percent next year, well below the rate increases being sought by some insurers.”
So the real story here is insurance companies once again trying to get away with gouging some of their customers – when it isn’t necessary to cover the actual costs of the new requirements or the projected increases in the cost of treatment – while keeping the premiums lower than the expected rise in health care costs for the majority of their insureds.
The secondary story is why Politico chose not to tell you that’s what’s really happening.