The Corner

Obamacare for Thee But Not for Me

Congress can breathe easy now since it won’t be subjected to the ironically titled Affordable Care Act. As I mentioned on Tuesday,  according to the New York Times, many in Congress were “freaking out” about having to get their insurance through the Obamacare exchanges without the lavish subsidies that they usually benefit from as federal employees. Manhattan Institute’s Avik Roy has a good summary of the issue t:his morning. Here is a tidbit:

According to John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman of Politico, President Obama has personally involved himself in the controversy over whether or not Congressmen and Hill staffers should retain access to their insurance subsidies. “It is extraordinarily rare, to say the least, for the president of the United States to get involved in an inside-the-Beltway flap over the payment of health care premiums,” note the Politico authors.

They also report that “some lawmakers have privately threatened to push through a legislative fix — possibly attached to a must-pass spending bill — that would require the government to continue its contributions for health care premiums for Hill employees.” But the White House fears that such a legislative change would “open a door for Obamacare opponents to try to unwind other parts of the 2010 legislation, and senior administration officials want to avoid that step.” […]

Because most Congressional staffers are poorly paid, but are paid enough to not have eligibility for the Obamacare subsidies that low-income Americans will receive, losing their current health insurance subsidies would be a big financial blow. Many members fear that their staffers would leave for better-paying jobs in response.

But Bresnahan and Sherman now report that OPM has decided to allow the government to subsidize coverage for its employees on the exchanges. “A White House official confirmed the deal,” they report, “and said the proposed regulations will be issued next week.”

The whole thing is worth reading. As Roy concludes, it is a good thing that these guys will have to get their health insurance through the exchange. However, the subsidies they get will shelter them from one of the most painful consequences of the law: the incredible increase in premiums that many Americans will be subjected to.

In fact, this morning Politico reports that Ohio just announced that its premiums will increase by an average of 41 percent:

The fight over Obamacare premiums has a new home base: Ohio.

Customers in the key swing state can expect to pay 41 percent more on average for individual health insurance coverage next year because of Obamacare, according to projections released by the state’s Republican insurance commissioner Thursday. 

The Ohio Insurance Department says the average premium in the individual market is currently $236.29 per month. The new average under the health care law will be $336.44, the department says.

“The ACA requires more benefits that every consumer is required to purchase regardless of whether they want them, need them or can afford them,” Taylor said.

So far the best response by the law’s advocates to these announcements that premiums will go up is that people are expected to buy a lower level of coverage to lower their annual cost. In other words, starting in October many will be buying much less insurance for the amount they currently pay. That’s hardly a good argument. No wonder the law remains really unpopular.
 

 

 

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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