Many critics of the Democrats’ health-care proposals have argued that the plans would not only harm the quality of American health care and reduce the options available to doctors and patients, but would actually increase the cost of health insurance premiums for the great bulk of Americans who are now insured. A new study out today, conducted for the health-insurance industry’s trade group by PricewaterhouseCoopers, does a bit of the math on that front and comes to some startling conclusions about the Baucus bill, which the Senate Finance Committee will vote on tomorrow.
The overall effect of the various provisions of the bill, the study concludes, “will be to increase the cost of private insurance coverage for individuals, families, and businesses above what these costs would be in the absence of reform.” Specifically:
This analysis shows that the cost of the average family coverage is approximately $12,300 today and could be expected to increase to approximately:
$15,500 in 2013 under current law and to $17,200 if these provisions are implemented.
$18,400 in 2016 under current law and to $21,300 if these provisions are implemented.
$21,900 in 2019 under current law and to $25,900 if these provisions are implemented.
This analysis shows that the cost of the average single coverage is $4,600 today and could be expected to increase to:
$5,800 in 2013 under current law and to $6,400 if these provisions are implemented.
$6,900 in 2016 under current law and to $7,900 if these provisions are implemented.
$8,200 in 2019 under current law and to $9,700 if these provisions are implemented.
In other words, the average family will be paying $4,000 more per year for health insurance premiums under the Baucus bill than if nothing were done. Rather than bring costs under control, as any reform worth its salt would have to do (and as reforms that would introduce real private sector competition into the insurance sector would do) the bill would actually increase the rate at which those costs are growing.
The fundamental problem at the core of our health-care dilemmas is the cost of coverage. That’s the reason that the uninsured are uninsured; it’s the reason the employer-based coverage system is collapsing; it’s the reason our health-care entitlements are unsustainable. Everything else is a symptom: the exploding cost of coverage is the underlying problem. The approach the Democrats are now pursuing would make it worse, and, this study suggests, would cost the average family an additional $20,000 in insurance premiums over ten years.