Health reform’s critics are sounding the alarm: in 2014, they say, health insurance premiums will climb, both for small businesses and for individuals who purchase their own coverage. “Hold onto your hat,” writes Bob Laszewski, editor of Health Care Policy and Market Place Review. “There Will Be Sticker Shock!”
Laszweski’s piece has been cross-posted on popular blogs, and his forecasts have been popping up in mainstream newspapers, including USA Today. Such wide circulation makes Laszewski’s warnings worthy of attention, and compels me to ask an important, if impertinent, question: Is what he says true?
Cherry-picking a CBO report
The Congressional Budget Office expects that the ACA will have a “negligible” effect on the premiums that large employers pay for insurance, and most experts agree. But in the individual market, Laszewski claims that CBO projections show “10% to 13% premium increases.”
Here is what the CBO actually said:
“About 57 percent of people buying [their own] insurance would receive subsidies via the new insurance exchanges, and those subsidies, on average, would cover nearly two-thirds of the total premium.
“Thus, the amount that subsidized enrollees would pay would be roughly 56 percent to 59 percent lower, on average, than the premiums charged under current law.”
Wait a minute: “56 to 59 percent lower?” Where does Laszweski get “10 percent to 13 percent higher?