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Tags: red | states | Obamacare | healthcare

Red States' Hostility Toward Obamacare Can Be Costly

By    |   Tuesday, 03 December 2013 10:56 AM EST

Citizens who face unnecessarily high health insurance costs may have their state officials to thank.

According to CNNMoney, hardball politics is likely to hurt healthcare consumers in red states, where lawmakers have spent more energy opposing Obamacare than fighting for reasonably priced healthcare plans.

In several states run by Democrats, regulators aggressively negotiated with insurers, ultimately securing lower rates for consumers.

Editor's Note:
ObamaCare Secrets Revealed

But some Republican-led states disassociated themselves from the process. When insurers submitted rates for review, those states forwarded the filings to the federal government, which lacks authority to disapprove the rates, so the proposed premiums sailed through without scrutiny, CNNMoney reports.

Highlighting the contrast, CNNMoney says Oregon's insurance commissioner played an active role in the reviewing process, demanding justification of the premiums proposed by the state's 14 insurers. In doing so, it was found that at least one insurer made a mathematical error, and others didn't properly document projected increases of medical costs.

In the end, Oregon's commissioner lowered rates for individual plans up to 30 percent. The average premium for a mid-tier plan for a 40-year-old in Portland costs $201 before federal subsidies, according to Kaiser Family Foundation.

By comparison, the average mid-tier plan premium is $269 for a 40-year-old in Florida, where legislators suspended the insurance commissioner's power to approve rates for two years.

The insurers in Florida pretty much got to charge whatever they wanted, says CNNMoney.

According to a Kaiser study, on average, rates were 2.6 percent lower after review compared with insurers' initial requests, though the adjustments varied widely across the states.

"If states were more aggressive in reviewing rates, you saw more of a decrease," Cynthia Cox, policy analyst at Kaiser, tells CNNMoney.

In addition to refusing to set up healthcare exchanges, many states have taken their opposition to Obamacare much further, including legislative battles, federal lawsuits and obstructionist measures, MarketWatch notes.

For example, navigators are supposed to help people navigate the process and sign up for healthcare.

But Florida has banned navigators, and Georgia increased the difficulty of becoming a navigator, requiring a state course and a state licensing exam, in addition to the federal government training, MarketWatch reports.

Henry Aaron, healthcare economist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, tells MarketWatch the red state movement against Obamacare is comparable to the "massive resistance" in the 1950s when Southern lawmakers opposed allowing black and white students to attend the same schools despite the Supreme Court's ruling.

"The idea that you have a duly passed law, confirmed by the courts, that is affecting tens of millions of people, and you have state officials doing everything in their power to block the enforcement of the law of the land, is in the same corner of the box, so to speak, as a massive resistance," he argues.

Ultimately, the real losers in the political battles over Obamacare could be the people wanting healthcare coverage. In places where hostility toward the law is the greatest, consumers are feeling the greatest impact, according to MarketWatch.

Editor's Note: ObamaCare Secrets Revealed

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Citizens who face unnecessarily high health insurance costs may have their state officials to thank.
Tuesday, 03 December 2013 10:56 AM
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