Via Reddit's Libertarian subtopic comes news from health-care giant Kaiser of Obamacare's likely impact on insurance costs in Maryland, "an important state to watch because it has embraced Obamacare's insurance reforms, setting up its own marketplace."
The ACA [Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare] prohibits charging sicker members substantially more but allows plans to adjust premiums for age and other factors, within strict limits.
Taking those factors into account, CareFirst premiums for individual plans could rise as high as 150 percent next year for healthy young men and decrease slightly for someone older and sicker, Burrell said.
One current popular CareFirst plan with a $2,700 deductible costs "less than $115 per month" for men under 30, said Mark Hammett, a broker at Kelly & Associates Insurance Group in Hunt Valley, Md….
Which isn't to say that the people getting insurance under the new rates will be shelling out $288 a month for insurance premiums. The more expensive premiums will be heavily subsidized so we'll all be kicking in for the added costs. As a spokesman for Families First said,
"Some people may actually spend much less out of pocket… and end up with a much better product and a much better situation to protect their family from financial devastation from illness," she said.
Hmm. So we're likely to see massive premium increases for some people while others get better programs that cost less money to the actual users of those programs? Isn't that sort of disconnect between the consumer and the costs they generate one of the main reasons health care costs keep rising?
CareFirst owns about 70 percent of the individual insurance market in Maryland and that seems unlikely to change anytime soon, especially since Obamacare did essentially nothing to create more competition among health-care providers in a given state (indeed, the reform actively discourages it in at least two ways: first, by disallowing shopping for coverage across state lines and second by capping premiums and mandating minimum-level coverage plans). It's also likely that people looking for insurance in the state-run exchange will increase if and when employers drop coverage since it's generally cheaper for them to pay associated fines than keep covering employees.
What about small-employer plans that will be offered via the exchanges next year? The Kaiser article notes that Maryland already caps premiums for small businesses.
Premiums for CareFirst's small employer plans to be offered on the exchange next year are proposed to rise about 15 percent, Burrell said, mainly because of the rising cost of health care….
Besides CareFirst, Kaiser Permanente, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, Coventry Health and Evergreen Health Cooperative all filed to offer about 50 individual or small group plans on the exchange.
An Aetna spokesman said proposed premiums for Maryland small group plans would rise between 12 and 16 percent next year. United proposed average small group increases of from 15 to 28 percent, but premium changes could vary widely depending on the plan, said company spokesman Matt Stearns.
Again, recall that deep-blue Maryland is "an important state to watch because it has embraced Obamacare's insurance reforms, setting up its own marketplace."
Maybe you can't put a price tag on good health. But in Maryland, the cost is going up by double and possibly even triple digits next year.
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