Today’s WSJ features an article summarizing the results of a WellPoint study estimating that Obamacare will raise health insurance premiums by as high as 200%.
At the request of Congressional delegations worried about their constituents—call it a public service—WellPoint mined its own actuarial data to model ObamaCare in the 14 states where it runs Blue Cross plans. The study therefore takes into account market and demographic differences that other industry studies have not, such as the one from the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans, which looked at aggregate national trends.
In all of the 14 states WellPoint scrutinized, ObamaCare would drive up premiums for the small businesses and individuals who are most of WellPoint’s customers. (Other big insurers, like Aetna, focus on the market among large businesses.) Young and healthy consumers will see the largest increases—their premiums would more than triple in some states—though average middle-class buyers will pay more too.
In fact, what distinguishes the Wellpoint study is its detailed rigor. Take Ohio, where a young, healthy 25-year-old living in Columbus can purchase insurance from WellPoint today for about $52 per month in the individual market. WellPoint’s actuaries calculate the bill will rise to $79 because Democrats are going to require it to issue policies to anyone who applies, even if they’ve waited until they’re sick to buy insurance. Then they’ll also require the company to charge everyone nearly the same rate, bringing the premium to $134. Add in an extra $17, since Democrats will require higher benefit levels, and a share of the new health industry taxes ($6), and monthly premiums have risen to $157, a 199% boost.
The White House’s reaction was predictable:
Not even two hours after Wellpoint had presented its materials on the Hill, Democrats were already trashing it—which, considering that it runs to some 238 pages and took weeks to prepare, must have required remarkable powers of digestion and analysis.
“This is yet another insurance-industry report that twists the facts to produce a skewed result,” averred Linda Douglass, the White House communications director on health care. Said a spokesman for the Senate Finance Committee, “This is akin to the tobacco companies commissioning another study claiming nicotine isn’t addictive and cigarettes don’t cause cancer.” So in its Saul Alinsky fashion, the White House again attacks the messenger so it can avoid rebutting the message.