By now, you've probably heard all about the latest California miracle being touted by Obamacare defenders. Based on newly released rates for individual insurance premiums on the state's exchange that was created as part of the Affordable Care Act, supporters have cried victory. Rates are low, they say, both in terms of earlier predictions and existing policies.
Except they're not cheaper than what's currently available, as Peter Suderman noted here yesterday. That directly relevant point is totally obscured by phony claims that "it is difficult to make a direct comparison of these rates to existing premiums in the commercial individual market."
The chart above is from Avik Roy at Forbes. Here's more:
"The rates submitted to Covered California for the 2014 individual market," the state said in a press release, "ranged from two percent above to 29 percent below the 2013 average premium for small employer plans in California's most populous regions."
That's the sentence that led to all of the triumphant commentary from the left. "This is a home run for consumers in every region of California," exulted Peter Lee.
But this is fantasy baseball. As Roy explains, the Obamacare folks are comparing significantly different products: "[Lee is] comparing apples—the plans that Californians buy today for themselves in a robust individual market—and oranges—the highly regulated plans that small employers purchase for their workers as a group."
When you compare, say, the new catastrophic plans being offered to similar ones that are out there right now, the supposed Obamacare price advantage strikes out faster than Dave Kingman in the clutch.
Under Obamacare…if you're 40, your cheapest option is the bronze plan. In California, the median price of a bronze plan for a 40-year-old male non-smoker will be $261.
But on eHealthInsurance, the median cost of the five cheapest plans was $121. That is, Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums by an average of 116 percent.
This is a point worth stressing, especially as the Obamacare p.r. machine starts cranking up. When you compare similar products to similar products, you see just how much premiums - now mandatory, due to the indivdiual mandate - are increasing.