The Affordable Care Act is Working Pretty Well

I signed up for a new insurance plan through healthcare.gov (Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature refused to create a state health care exchange, so I’m on the federal exchange). The one I had this year is still available, but slightly more expensive, but I changed companies to a new one that wasn’t part of the exchange last year and got a slightly better deal for about the same price I paid this year. And apparently I’m not alone.

Obama administration officials announced on Thursday that health care premiums for policies available through the Affordable Care Act will increase slightly on average in 2015, growing at a far slower rate than they did before President Barack Obama signed reform into law in 2010.

Premiums will decrease, on average, in at least 14 of the 35 states where the federal government has established a health care exchange. In the remaining 21 states, premiums will fluctuate between a two percent increase in Utah and Wisconsin to a 28 percent spike in Alaska. On average, the report concludesthat premiums for the second-lowest cost policy will rise “by 2 percent on average this year before tax credits, while premiums for the lowest-cost silver plan will increase on average by 5 percent.”

Prior to reform, an analysis conducted for the Commonwealth Fund, found that on average, premiums in the individual and small group markets rose by more than 10 percent annually.

The 26-page report also notes that more than 25 percent more insurers are participating in the exchanges in 2015, meaning that “91 percent of consumers will be able to choose from 3 or more issuers—up from 74 percent in 2014.” The administration is encouraging enrollees who had signed up for coverage in 2014 to shop around this year, noting that the plans offering the lowest prices may have changed as new issuers enter the market and compete for customers. Approximately two-thirds of existing customers will be able to find coverage for $100 a month or less.

All of this is important. The fact that more companies are joining the exchanges, including the one that I’ll be with after the 1st, is a clear indication that this has actually been good for insurance companies despite having lower numbers of young and healthy people signing up than hoped for. Having more companies in the market means more competition and helps reduce the cost of insurance. This is also important:

On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported that health inflation in 2013 fell to the lowest level since the federal government began keeping track of the statistic.

This is the cost of health care in general, not health insurance. The rate of inflation in health care costs has been staggeringly high year after year, rivaling the cost of college tuition, despite overall inflation being low. That health care costs only grew 3.4% in the first year of the ACA is a good sign that reducing the number of uninsured helps bring costs down because doctors and hospitals don’t have to overcharge those with insurance to make up for those without it.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Premiums will decrease, on average, in at least 14 of the 35 states where the federal government has established a health care exchange. In the remaining 21 states, premiums will fluctuate between a two percent increase in Utah and Wisconsin to a 28 percent spike in Alaska.

    FoxNews headline:

    Obamacare Premiums Soar Twenty-Eight Percent

  • grendelsfather

    Did you have to sign up for a death panel, too, or do they just assign you to one?

  • http://archiveofbabel.wordpress.com/ archivistkristine

    In the NBC News comment section last year, all I did as an ACA ambassador was explain the various plans, etc., in response to some questions and one overwrought “It’s socialism!” comment, and got a long lecture — I tend to get a lot of lecture-comments — from the guardian against “socialism” who wankity-wank-wanked about communism, workers rising up and opposing ACA (sounds a tad communist-ish, no?), taking to the streets with guns I presume, or being terminated left and right – particularly right – because they would not be able to pay their $1000/month premiums. (In which case, would they not then collect unemployment?) I then was informed that I was “deluded.”

    So welcome to my delusion. 😉 I’m keeping it.

  • caseloweraz
  • zippythepinhead

    “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was getting Obamacare to work.”

  • doublereed

    I’ve always been impressed with how ridiculously long we’ve gone without dealing with tuition or healthcare costs.

    Seriously, did we just sit on our hands for 20+ years?

  • grizzle

    Really wish a relative of mine had signed up. He stuck his nose up at the ACA repeating all of the FOX talking points. Just got word the other day that he has been diagnosed with colon cancer. It was discovered early enough so his prognosis is very very good, but he’s going to be faced with some very high medical bills to say the least…

  • davem

    Seriously, did we just sit on our hands for 20+ years?

    No, rest assured that you didn’t . You did it for 70.

  • pocketnerd

    My health care costs, on the other hand, have just spiked sharply for the second year in a row. I have a comfortable white-collar job, and I’m beginning to suspect insurance companies are trying to scare the middle class into pushing for an ACA repeal.

  • magistramarla

    I saw this headline this morning. The GOP is now pinning its hopes of destroying the ACA on the SCOYUS.

    They seem to feel that they have enough support there to succeed, so they have a few cases in the pipeline.

    http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/226197-gop-pins-hopes-of-dismantling-obamacare-on-the-courts

    I’m getting more and more discouraged about the future of this country,

  • magistramarla

    SCOTUS — Fat fingers above!

  • Die Anyway

    re: Approximately two-thirds of existing customers will be able to find coverage for $100 a month or less.

    I guess we’re in the other 1/3. My wife is trying to find coverage through ACA and is looking at @$600 per month. Her take-home pay is only around $1,000 per month so she’s going to be working pretty much exclusively to pay for health insurance. Also, that’s a $6,000 deductible policy so we still have to pay for all doctor or clinic visits (up to $6,000). Admittedly, the ACA exchange is less expensive than the open market but don’t be fooled by that $100 figure. That’s not what some of us are paying.

  • iangould

    “That health care costs only grew 3.4% in the first year of the ACA is a good sign that reducing the number of uninsured helps bring costs down because doctors and hospitals don’t have to overcharge those with insurance to make up for those without it.”

    That’s only part of it.

    Increased competition between insurers and rules limiting overheads also have a lot to do with it.

  • iangould

    “No, rest assured that you didn’t . You did it for 70.”

    More like 100, Teddy Roosevelt proposed the first national health insurance scheme. Without looking it up, I’m unsure whether that was during his Presidency or when he was running as a Progressive in 1912.

  • felidae

    I don’t know which exchange Die Anyway was shopping on, but in my state a $5000 deductible policy is about $400 a month WITHOUT A SUBSIDY and would be $0 for someone with her income level with the subsidy

    For 26 of the last 30 years I have been self employed and bought my own health insurance and my premium went up at least 15% a year and usually 20%, with a 40% bump on my fiftieth birthday so the assertion that Obamacare made rates jump is utter bullshit. The ACA has been great for me, helping bridge the gap until I qualify for Medicare

  • mildlymagnificent

    I don’t know which exchange Die Anyway was shopping on, but in my state a $5000 deductible policy is about $400 a month WITHOUT A SUBSIDY and would be $0 for someone with her income level with the subsidy

    Thanks for that, felidae. Being from commie Australia, I don’t know the US system at all. But as soon as I saw those numbers from Die Anyway my feeble memory banks lit up with “What about the subsidy! ” and “$6000 deductible!!!!” brighter than all the rest.

  • https://www.facebook.com/amber.carmona.56 Amber

    I just wish more employers who object to the ACA would just drop the insurance benefit instead of holding their employees hostage/unable to access subsidies. My husband’s employer had reasonable insurance rates until this cycle. They decided to only contribute to the single employee coverage, which made all the rest of the family and +1 rates they offered unaffordable for most of the people who work there. Those rates increased 40% over what they were last year. Many people have quit, and most are looking elsewhere for health insurance because the premiums for their family are equal to buying a new house. It’s an obvious play to push people to dislike the ACA policies. None of us qualify for subsidies because they have the “minimum value plan” that lets us pay $650/mo for literally nothing until we meet a $10k deductible. So, all the policies on the marketplace are full price for us, and that makes the ACA look bad. I can’t go without insurance, because of type 1 diabetes and paranoia that, while there are safeguards against “gaps in coverage/pre-existing conditions/lack of care” in the ACA as of this moment, I can’t know if it will be used against me in the future.

    On the ACA, for my family of four in NC, we’d pay $1130 a month. That is the only policy for which we would not have to pay an additional $500/mo out of pocket for my insulin, syringes, etc. It’s not pretty, and it’s about twice as much as if we paid cash for all of my supplies and meds.

  • Die Anyway

    Yes, what about the subsidy? Well, because we lived frugally and invested for retirement, we don’t qualify for a subsidy. I’m retired and on Medicare but my wife is younger than I and needs health insurance. The ACA looks at our combined income, not just her paycheck. So she is penalized because I have a halfway decent retirement income. We won’t starve or lose our home because of $600 per month insurance payments although I certainly wouldn’t mind it being less, but I’m not asking people to cry for us… we’ll do ok. My main point was that the $100 mentioned in the OP could be misleading.