NYT Report: Public Option Could ‘Raise Premiums’ … ‘Rock Employer-Based System’ … ‘Threaten Obamacare’ … ‘Prove Costly’
WASHINGTON – In a story headlined “How a Medicare Buy-In or Public Option Could Threaten Obamacare,” The New York Times reports that “a public option may well threaten the A.C.A. in unexpected ways.”
A government plan, even a Medicare buy-in, could shrink the number of customers buying policies on the Obamacare markets, making them less appealing for leading insurers, according to many health insurers, policy analysts and even some Democrats … [A] buy-in shift in insurance coverage could profoundly unsettle the nation’s private health sector, which makes up almost a fifth of the United States economy. Depending on who is allowed to sign up for the plan, it could also rock the employer-based system that now covers some 160 million Americans … Siphoning off such a large group of customers could also lead to a 10 percent increase in premiums for the remaining pool of insured people, according to the Blue Cross analysis. More younger people with expensive medical conditions have enrolled than insurers expected, and insurers would have to increase premiums to cover their costs, Mr. Haltmeyer said. Tricia Neuman, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies insurance markets, said a government buy-in that attracted older Americans could indeed raise premiums for those who remained in the A.C.A. markets, especially if those consumers had high medical costs … Dr. David Blumenthal, the president of the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that funds health care research, said a government plan that attracted people with expensive conditions could prove costly. “You might, as a taxpayer, become concerned that they would be more like high-risk pools,” he said.
In addition to its substantial risks to consumers and taxpayers, research also warns of the risks to hospitals and patients posed by so-called “moderate” fallback proposals like the “public option.” One study found that “[f]or hospitals, the introduction of a public plan that reimburses providers using Medicare rates would compound financial stresses they are already facing, potentially impacting access to care and provider quality.” Another study found that new government insurance systems like “Medicare buy-in” or “public option” could force hospitals to limit the care they provide, produce significant “layoffs” and “potentially force the closure” of some hospitals
A new poll released by the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future this week reveals that voters prioritize improving our current health care system over offering a new government insurance system, often referred to as the “public option.” Voters across party lines prefer a presidential candidate focused on making those improvements over one who wants to expand government insurance systems, and majorities also “believe that negative outcomes, such as increased taxes and fewer employer-based options, are more likely to occur than positive ones if a government health care program that people could choose were put into place – and most believe it would be unlikely to improve their health care or that of their family.”
Notably, The Associated Press reports that “[g]overnment surveys show that about 90% of the population has coverage, largely preserving gains from President Barack Obama’s years. Independent experts estimate that more than one-half of the roughly 30 million uninsured people in the country are eligible for health insurance through existing programs.”