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Opinion: Editorials

Examiner Editorial: Obamacare requirements will drive up premiums

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Photo - Female patient sitting on gurney in hospital gown, low section
Female patient sitting on gurney in hospital gown, low section
Opinion,Editorial

In 2007, candidate Barack Obama declared, "I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family's premium by up to $2,500 a year." As president, he signed national health care legislation that is formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. But according to a new report from Congressional Republicans, the law will actually cause premiums to more than double for some Americans.

The report, which is based on a compilation of independent studies on the effect of the law's new regulations, finds that Obamacare could increase premiums by 40 percent on average and by as much as 202 percent for young adults living in Chicago.

There are several ways the health care law puts upward pressure on premiums. It requires insurers to offer coverage to everybody who applies, regardless of pre-existing conditions. It limits the amount that companies can adjust prices based on health status. It also requires that every American purchase a health insurance policy that meets federal specifications regarding the level of benefits covered. In addition, the law imposes $165 billion of tax increases on health insurance, drug manufacturers and medical device-makers. These policies work together to drive up the cost of insurance, especially on younger and healthier Americans.

It's true that the law also offers subsidies to individuals to purchase insurance. But those subsidies are phased out for individuals earning more than $46,000. The report anticipates, "Even after receiving subsidies, Americans earning as little as $25,000 will still pay more."

According to the report, prepared by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee as well as the Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, 13 states could see premiums double in the individual market: Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Some states, such as New Jersey and Massachusetts, would experience smaller increases under these estimates (about 39 percent) because they already have highly regulated insurance markets with hefty premiums.

If federal lawmakers really wanted to control the growth in the cost of premiums, they would allow the purchase of insurance across state lines and end the discrimination in the tax code against individuals purchasing insurance on their own. This would foster more choice and competition, which would allow Americans to purchase the type of insurance that suits their needs, rather than purchasing more insurance than they want in order to meet arbitrary federal and state government mandates.

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