A new study from health insurance company WellPoint finds, as did the widely criticized PricewaterhouseCoopers report commissioned by America's Health Insurance Plans earlier this month, that insurance premiums will go up if Congress passes health care reform.
It's a state-by-state analysis that looks at 14 states, finding that premiums for an average age/average health individual would rise anywhere from 19 percent to 172 percent in each state. If you average all the 14 states together, you get an increase of 92.4 percent, without weighting for population.
The report includes separate categories for low-income Americans who would receive federal subsidies, finding that, for the poorest Americans, costs would go down. It also dismisses the notion that a health insurance exchange would drive prices down, finding that any reduction in costs would be offset by the cost of running the exchange.
Interestingly enough, it finds that premiums would go down for older/less healthy individuals in all but four of the 13 states that include a breakdown for that category. Putting aside Maine, which, they say, would see a 172 percent increase in cost, premiums for older/less healthy individuals would go down six percent in the remaining 12 states.
The study says that, in cases where the various bills in Congress differed, "we analyzed what could be considered as likely compromises with respect to those provisions."
The report's authors also seem aware of the criticism aimed at PricewaterhouseCoopers/AHIP study for ignoring some of the cost-cutting measures in Congress's health plans. It states:
We believe the pages that follow reflect a reasonable, honest assessment of the impacts those purchasing coverage would see post-reform. As shown, we do expect some individuals that currently exhibit higher risks to experience a drop in premiums as the result of reform. However, most purchasers will face higher premium costs post-reform, and as shown, purchasers of average age and average health are expected to face higher premiums post-reform.
While this analysis focuses on the underlying cost of the premium, we appreciate that there are also elements of reform that would shift a portion of those costs from lower-income individuals and certain employers to taxpayers in the form of premium assistance and tax credits that offset the costs of coverage. Therefore, we include displays which present how those provisions may result in a lower post-subsidy cost for certain low-income individuals.
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