Desperate to salvage the credibility of the increasingly discredited Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Robert Kraig, the state’s leading ObamaCare apologist, are trying to put a new spin on a wave of negative news stories about ObamaCare driving shocking premium increases. Instead of admitting that premium hikes are increasingly making the Affordable Care Act less affordable, Kraig calls the cost increases “moderate.”
On Monday, Bloomberg reported that the Obama Administration’s own Department of Health and Human Services released data showing premiums for mid-grade health insurance plans will rise by an average of 25% in the 38 states that use the federal health insurance exchange. Wisconsin is one of those states.
Previously, Media Trackers pointed out that according to data provided by the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, health insurance premiums in the Badger state are set to rise an average of 15.88% next year, and some health plans will see a 30.37% increase in monthly premiums.
Neighboring Minnesota, where Democrats led by Gov. Mark Dayton (D) implemented a state health insurance exchange at the cost of state taxpayers, suffered a near-catastrophic departure of health insurance providers from the exchange this year. Dayton admitted in public remarks that, “The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people.”
Citizen Action and Robert Kraig wanted Wisconsin to follow the path of Minnesota in the way the Gopher state set up a state-based exchange and regulated insurance plans that were offered through the exchange. While Wisconsin has suffered from premium hikes and the departure of several big insurance companies from the market, the crisis has not been as acute as it is in Minnesota.
“A preliminary analysis by Citizen Action of Wisconsin of Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace rates released earlier today by the federal government shows moderate increases when premiums and deductibles are taken together,” Kraig blogged on Sunday on the ironically named “No Sacred Cows Blog” run by Citizen Action.
Wisconsin consumers won’t be hit hard by the premium hikes, Kraig argued, if they look at premium hikes and lower deductibles together. “The result is that rates (premiums and deductibles together) decreased by 1.2% for the most common plans,” he claims. But that requires consumers to be unhealthy enough to make use of their health insurance up to and beyond the cost of the deductible. For a healthy person, there is no silver lining to the premium hikes.
Arguing that, “a Wisconsin consumer who uses enough health care to pay the full deductible will actually see a reduction in consumer costs (not including tax subsidies)” is not a terribly persuasive argument because it requires the assumption that consumers spend at least some part of the upcoming year sick.
After making the argument that sick people will be the winners under the monthly premium hikes, Kraig then asserts that, “Premium increases are actually easier for health consumers to handle because they are covered by affordability tax credits.”
Who pays for those tax credits – also known as a subsidy for health insurance premiums? The federal government. Who funds the federal government? Taxpayers. Who is required to have federally-mandated health insurance coverage? Everyone.
Additionally, because of how the Affordable Care Act was written, a taxpayer may fund the subsidies on one hand – because they pay taxes – while not qualifying for them when they buy government-mandated health insurance. The subsidies are only available to individuals and families who make less than 400% of the federal poverty level. One group hit by that rule is small business owners who run their business expenses and profits through their personal tax rate.
Not once in his praise of premium hikes did Kraig address the biggest broken promise of ObamaCare: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” That’s not true in Wisconsin or anywhere else, where new plans have replaced pre-ObamaCare plans and entire insurance companies have quit the marketplace.
Russ Feingold voted to ruin your health care by voting for ObamaCare. Keep that in mind when you vote.