Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Expected price of Obamacare mounts

See Expected price of Obamacare mounts: The Affordable Care Act could boost the cost of underlying claims by 32%, with worst-hit states including Ohio and California by Aimee Picchi of MSN.
"With many Americans and businesses concerned about the impact of Obamacare, a new study from the country's top group of financial risk analysts is providing fodder for those fears.

Underlying claims costs -- which form the basis for insurers' health care coverage premiums -- will jump by one-third across the U.S. after the Affordable Care Act goes into effect next year, according to the Society of Actuaries.

But that increase won't be felt evenly across the country because the study forecasts that some states will feel more pain than others. Among the hardest-hit will be Ohio, where claims costs will jump by almost 81%, and California, with a 62% increase.

Other states projected to see big increases in claims costs are Wisconsin, with an 80% jump; Indiana at 68%; Maryland, with a 67% bump; and Idaho at 62%.

What does that mean for individuals? If you're already covered by your employer's plan, not much. But if you're uninsured or buy health insurance directly, the study indicates costs could rise for some people, according to The Associated Press.

The actuaries' report is a blow to the Obama administration, which designed the new law to decrease the ranks of uninsured Americans and to whittle away the overall cost of health care. As many as 32 million Americans are expected to receive health care coverage through the law.

The study also supports criticism coming from many business owners, such as the Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchisee who complained earlier this month that Obamacare is forcing him to delay expansion plans and might increase prices. Top executives and franchisees for companies including Wendy's (WEN -0.87%) and Whole Foods Market (WFM +0.49%) have also aired worries about the plan.

One problem: An influx of sick people joining the insurance rolls "will overwhelm the expected lower costs" from younger and healthier people joining the program, the study notes.

The Obama administration questioned the findings, saying costs will go down under the law, which takes effect next year, the AP notes. 
The silver lining in the study is its finding that some states will actually see decreasing costs. Among those are New York, with claims costs sliding 14%, and Massachusetts, with a 13% decline.

"In simplest terms, the states that will see large increases generally have low current individual costs and those showing decreases have high current individual costs, with all states moving closer together but at a higher level overall," said Kristi Bohn, a consulting health staff fellow at the Society of Actuaries, in a statement.

The Society of Actuaries doesn't view itself as a political group, Bohn told the AP. "We are trying to figure out what the situation at hand is," she said."