When Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, which manages health programs within the state, wanted to get a better sense of how last year’s health care overhaul would affect insurance coverage within the state, they turned to Jonathan Gruber, a health policy expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who served as a consultant on both Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care overhaul and (somewhat controversially) President Obama’s nationwide successor program.
Gruber is a frequent defender of ObamaCare as well as one of its architects. And the report was ordered under Wisconsin’s departed Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, who, after leaving the governor's office, signed on to an ObamaCare agitprop mill dedicated to highlighting “the stories of the millions of Americans who are already benefiting from this important law and how it will benefit millions more in the coming years.” So it's not exactly a hit job.
The report Doyle ordered before leaving office certainly reveals something about how the law will affect hundreds of thousands of individuals in the state he used to govern, it's not all flattering. Indeed, it’s telling that despite bring ordered and authored by true-blue ObamaCare backers, a big part of what this report suggests is that the law will ultimately raise the health insurance costs for large numbers of the state’s residents.
Naturally, Gruber’s leads with a smiley face, noting for the umpteenth time that the law is expected to increase health insurance coverage; approximately 340,000 of the state’s residents are expected to gain insurance coverage by 2016. Of course, about 170,000 of the newly covered will be shuffled into Medicaid, a program that’s wrecking state budgets and providing, at best, uncertain health benefits.
Meanwhile expanding the state’s health insurance coverage will come at a significant cost to hundreds of thousands of individuals, especially within the individual market, where the law has the greatest effect. Gruber projects that the average individual market health insurance premium will cost about 30 percent more than if ObamaCare had never passed. For most individual market enrollees, the average premium increase will be even higher: 87 percent of the individual market is projected to see a premium price increase of 41 percent.
Defenders of the law might note that more than half—about 57 percent—of those who get their insurance through the individual market will benefit from the law’s generous health insurance subsidies. But even discounting the enormous public cost of financing those subsidies (which account for roughly half of the law’s $950 billion price tag over the next decade), it’s still not much consolation for the majority of individual market enrollees.
That’s because more than half the individual market will still end up paying more: “After the application of tax subsidies,” the report projects, “59 percent of the individual market will experience an average premium increase of 31 percent.”
One factor in the price increase is the addition of new coverage mandates that will make health insurance more expensive: An estimated 40 percent of the Wisconsin’s current individual market enrollees don’t carry coverage that meets ObamaCare’s minimum coverage standards. Thanks to the law, they’ll be required to purchase more expensive coverage.
Small businesses and their employees, meanwhile, will face a sort of coin flip—but one that’s weighted against them. Thanks to the law, 47 percent are expected to see their premiums drop by an average of 16 percent. But the other 53 percent are expected to see their health insurance premiums rise by 15 percent as a result of the law. That’s good news for those small employers who costs will go down, I suppose. But it’s not-so-good news for the even larger percentage of small businesses whose costs are projected to go up. Somehow I doubt that Doyle, the state’s ex-governor and recently minted ObamaCare propagandist, will find time to highlight their stories.
Thanks to NCPA President John Goodman for pointing out the report.