Washington Post Shoots Down Obama Healthcare Premiums Claim

Friday, 10 Aug 2012 11:48 AM

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President Barack Obama claimed in a July 16 speech in Cincinnati that insurance pools set up under his healthcare plan would lead to insurance premiums going down.

However, a fact check by The Washington Post concluded the “law’s provisions, especially the requirement for essential benefits, will almost certainly increase premiums.”

In the speech, Obama said, “You should know that once we have fully implemented, you’re going to be able to buy insurance through a pool so that you can get the same good rates as a group that if you’re an employee at a big company you can get right now — which means your premiums will go down.”

The Post said that the president is “claiming that premiums actually will go down for people in the individual and small group markets.” The claim is based on Congressional Budget Office data, which the White House says shows that small employers will experience decreased premiums of up to 2 percent and that those purchasing coverage on the exchanges would see premium savings of 14 to 20 percent.

“Sounds great, right? But the law also mandates a number of significant changes that many experts believe will put upward pressure on premiums,” the Post noted. “There are potentially important policy reasons for each of these changes. But remember, you usually don’t get something for nothing.”

However, the Post notes a number of factors in Obamacare that will drive up costs for some while limiting it for others such as limits on what older people will pay for premiums, barring insurers from charging different rates based on a person’s health status, and requirements insurers accept all customers including those with pre-existing conditions.

“The good news is that there would be a significant expansion of people with health insurance,” the Post wrote. “And, after tax subsidies, many people may experience premium decreases. One could argue that overall there are more winners than losers.

“But the bad news is that, on average, premiums almost certainly will go up — with some people really getting hit with increases.”

The Post concludes by awarding the president’s claim three Pinocchios.
“As we said, you don’t get something for nothing. And the president should be more careful about suggesting that is the case, especially when discussing a complex law with still-uncertain ramifications.”

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