White House Defensive About Obamacare Price-Hike Projections

Inconvenient facts


From the perspective of insurance companies, implementation of Obamacare will mean an average increase of 32 percent in the cost of medical claims per person by 2017, according to a study released Tuesday by the Society of Actuaries (SOA). But that figure will vary dramatically state by state, depending on how states handle their high-risk pools, which are then folded into the individual market under the reform. The cost of claims drives the price of health-care premiums.

"The projections in this study suggest that when the dust settles by 2017, we can expect mixed results on the reform bill's goals of expanding coverage and reducing costs," says Kristi Bohn, consulting health staff fellow at SOA, in the report. …

But on the issue of the 32 percent average increase in the cost of medical claims, the White House is pushing back. At the daily briefing Wednesday, deputy press secretary Josh Earnest responded dismissively toward the SOA report, saying it had been "conducted by a health insurance company."

According to USA Today, the SOA had contracted Optum, a subsidiary of United Health Group, to do the number-crunching for the report. But Ms. Bohn of the SOA said the study reflected the professional conclusions of the actuaries, not Optum or its parent company. Actuaries are statisticians who calculate risk for insurance companies and other institutions.