Around the country, health insurers are jacking up premiums and blaming the increases on the new health reform law. From NPR (via Kaiser Health News):
Dan Thystrup, owner of a paddleboat manufacturing company in Indiana, says he was told it was the new health care regulation that helped prompt a doubling of his firm’s premiums. Thystrup, who’d been providing health insurance for his workers for more than two decades, said he had to make the difficult decision to drop coverage for both his workers and himself.
Thystrup’s business isn’t the only one where premium increases are being blamed on the new health law. Celinda Lake runs the Democratic polling firm Lake Research. She said her firm’s premiums are going up 20 percent.
“My broker told me that it’s because of health insurance reform,” she says.
They’re lying in blaming Obamacare, of course. Health insurance premiums have been going up since the 1990s, during the period when Clinton’s attempt to reform health care was killed:
But is it really?
Absolutely not, says Jay Angoff, who heads the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “It would be inaccurate and silly to blame it on the new law,” he says.
“To the extent that the insurance companies blame the new law for rate increases, they know better,” Angoff says. “They’ve said themselves that the new law would only raise rates by between 1 and 2 percent.”
And even those increases would pay for a number of new benefits.
And a couple of health insurance execs have admitted the industry’s lie:
Robert Zirkelbach of the insurance industry trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans concedes that, despite what some have claimed, the law isn’t the major driver of premium increases for next year. “In fact, the evidence is very clear that the rise in medical costs is a key factor in driving up health insurance premiums,” he says.
But, Zirkelbach says, in some cases, premiums could rise significantly because of new benefits the law requires. . .
Insurance industry consultant Robert Laszewski says there’s still another reason premiums are rising so rapidly right now, particularly for individuals: the bad economy.
“What happens in a down economy is that people who are healthy have a tendency to drop their health insurance sooner, maybe [because] someone in the household has lost their job,” he says. “But if you’re sick, you’re going to do everything you can — you’ll take a second mortgage on the house if you have to — to pay your health insurance premiums because you think that maybe you’re going to use the insurance.”
That means the insurance risk pool is full of sicker people, and premiums go up faster. But Laszewski says even if the currently rising premiums can’t be blamed directly on the new health law, its backers still have a very big problem: The law doesn’t do enough to bring down the rising cost of health care.
“To me, the real issue here is there’s not a lot of hope in the new health law that we’re going to change this,” he says.
Nevertheless, it’s a lie they will keep on telling.