Study shows premiums for overwhelming majority will rise under Obamacare

That bastion of right wing conservative Republicanism - the National Journal - has analyzed Obamacare's impact and headlines its article "Obama's Affordable Care Act Looking a bit Unaffordable."

For the vast majority of Americans, premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they're currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data. Adding even more out-of-pocket expenses to consumers' monthly insurance bills is a swell in deductibles under the Affordable Care Act.

Health law proponents have excused the rate hikes by saying the prices in the exchange won't apply to the millions receiving coverage from their employers. But that's only if employers continue to offer that coverage--something that's looking increasingly uncertain. Already, UPS, for example, cited Obamacare as its reason for nixing spousal coverage. And while a Kaiser Family Foundation report found that 49 percent of the U.S. population now receives employer-sponsored coverage, more companies are debating whether they will continue to be in the business of providing such benefits at all.

Economists largely agree there won't be a sea change among employers offering coverage. But they're also saying small businesses are still in play.

Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere Health, a health care and public policy advisory firm, said there's a calculation low-wage companies will make to determine if there's cost savings in sending employees to the exchanges.

"The amount you have to gross up their wages so they can get their own insurance and the cost of the penalties may add up to less than the cost of providing care," she said.

It's a choice companies are already making. The number of employers offering coverage has declined, from 66 percent in 2003 to 57 percent today, according to Kaiser's study.

The new variable is the penalty employers will face for not providing coverage, which will start in 2015 after it was delayed earlier this year. The Health and Human Services Department argued that any increase in the number of employers that drop benefits would not deviate from the historical trendline. And, HHS said, employer decisions to drop coverage might have nothing to do with the ACA. HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said previous health care reform measures have, in fact, reversed that trend.

"As we saw in Massachusetts," Peters wrote in an e-mail, "employer coverage increased when similar reforms were adopted."

But others aren't as confident. The drop-off in employer coverage paralleled an increase in premiums, which rose 80 percent for families and 74 percent for singles in the last 10 years, the Kaiser study found.

And this is just shocking: "A single wage earner must make less than $20,000 to see his or her current premiums drop or stay the same under Obamacare."

The question is, how is Obama going to spin all this so it appears he's a genius? "Pay no attention to those increases in your premiums, Obamacare is still a great deal. Trust me."

Actually, the president will probably brag about all the people who sign up for Medicaid or can afford insurance with a pre-existing condition. For those of us who are going to see a big increase in our premiums, we're supposed to feel better about ourselves I guess.

Meanwhile, your contraceptives are now "free" anyway.

That bastion of right wing conservative Republicanism - the National Journal - has analyzed Obamacare's impact and headlines its article "Obama's Affordable Care Act Looking a bit Unaffordable."

For the vast majority of Americans, premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they're currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data. Adding even more out-of-pocket expenses to consumers' monthly insurance bills is a swell in deductibles under the Affordable Care Act.

Health law proponents have excused the rate hikes by saying the prices in the exchange won't apply to the millions receiving coverage from their employers. But that's only if employers continue to offer that coverage--something that's looking increasingly uncertain. Already, UPS, for example, cited Obamacare as its reason for nixing spousal coverage. And while a Kaiser Family Foundation report found that 49 percent of the U.S. population now receives employer-sponsored coverage, more companies are debating whether they will continue to be in the business of providing such benefits at all.

Economists largely agree there won't be a sea change among employers offering coverage. But they're also saying small businesses are still in play.

Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere Health, a health care and public policy advisory firm, said there's a calculation low-wage companies will make to determine if there's cost savings in sending employees to the exchanges.

"The amount you have to gross up their wages so they can get their own insurance and the cost of the penalties may add up to less than the cost of providing care," she said.

It's a choice companies are already making. The number of employers offering coverage has declined, from 66 percent in 2003 to 57 percent today, according to Kaiser's study.

The new variable is the penalty employers will face for not providing coverage, which will start in 2015 after it was delayed earlier this year. The Health and Human Services Department argued that any increase in the number of employers that drop benefits would not deviate from the historical trendline. And, HHS said, employer decisions to drop coverage might have nothing to do with the ACA. HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said previous health care reform measures have, in fact, reversed that trend.

"As we saw in Massachusetts," Peters wrote in an e-mail, "employer coverage increased when similar reforms were adopted."

But others aren't as confident. The drop-off in employer coverage paralleled an increase in premiums, which rose 80 percent for families and 74 percent for singles in the last 10 years, the Kaiser study found.

And this is just shocking: "A single wage earner must make less than $20,000 to see his or her current premiums drop or stay the same under Obamacare."

The question is, how is Obama going to spin all this so it appears he's a genius? "Pay no attention to those increases in your premiums, Obamacare is still a great deal. Trust me."

Actually, the president will probably brag about all the people who sign up for Medicaid or can afford insurance with a pre-existing condition. For those of us who are going to see a big increase in our premiums, we're supposed to feel better about ourselves I guess.

Meanwhile, your contraceptives are now "free" anyway.

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