NEW STUDY: Republicans Really Got This Wrong

Remember “rate shock”? For a while there all TEA party GOPers did was rend their clothing and wail about this supposed looming disaster–that Obamacare would bring drastic price increases.

Well that turned out to be bad information. In fact, so many people are getting bad information that Consumer Reports decided they needed to put up their own website to show people what Obamacare really costs–and what it can save them. The consumer watchdog groups said they kept hearing from readers who said their health insurance premiums were going to go “through the roof because of the new health law, and they’re having their doubts about the “affordable” part of the Affordable Care Act.”
In reality, “in almost every case it turns out they’re upset over nothing—because their health costs are not going up after all. They just haven’t been able to find their way to the right information.”

And many people are saving money. In Montana, health plans sold on the marketplace are cheaper than what current plans would have cost without the health law — even though the new marketplace plans will offer more and much better benefits than in the past, the Billings Gazette reported.

Montana isn’t alone.

Affordable Care Act Plans Cost Less Than Expected – Will Reduce Deficit by $300 BILLION in 10 Years

In spite of the screeching and tantrums we hear from the TEA Party, a new study released this week shows Affordable Care Act is already working: Heavy price competition between insurance companies in the marketplaces has lowered health insurance costs even below what the bill originally projected.

These lower costs will the save the federal government an additional $190 billion over the next 10 years, according to the new Center for American Progress estimates. The lower health care plan costs means fewer subsidies will be needed–which means the federal government will save money. Lower costs means the ACA is now expected to reduce the deficit by $300 billion. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office originally projected that the ACA would lower the deficit by $109 billion over 10 years. (And you thought the TEA party cared about reducing the national debt.)

The study also found that the “lower premiums will lower the number of uninsured even further, by an additional 700,000 people, even as the number of individuals who receive tax credits will decline because insurance is more affordable.” That’s because the lower costs will mean more people will decide to buy insurance rather than pay the individual mandate penalty.

In short, even though the website was initially overwhelmed with traffic, the Affordable Care Act is working even better than expected, producing more coverage for people for much less money. So much for the “rate shock” lies from the Fox News crowd.

In fact, the real problem with the Affordable Care Act isn’t higher prices or even a bogged-down website. The real problem is what Jon Stewart called “total dickishness”–Republicans who decided to deny health care to millions of working poor Americans just above the poverty line who are too “rich” for Medicaid, but also don’t make enough to qualify for tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. In Montana, that’s about 50,000 people, according to a new report released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Remember, the federal government offered to cover 100 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion to cover those people for the next three years, but 26 states–including the 2013 TEA Party Montana legislature–have declined. Jon Stewart explained it best on the Daily Show recently. Here’s the clip. As Stewart says, “The show’s brought to you by Spite, the emotion that makes you turn down health care for the working poor because you hate the president.”

Stewart isn’t the only one cutting through the lies and “rate shock” misinformation. Livingston Enterprise reporter Liz Kearney decided to skip the rumors and fear mongering and talk to real people about their real experiences applying for health care with the marketplace website and signing up for plans.

This is the kind of thing Montana lawmakers should be reading instead of the propaganda from Fox News and right-wing think tanks funded by the Koch Brothers. You can make like Art Wittich and run around like a chicken with its head cut off, or, as Kearney writes, you can check the prices yourself at the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “subsidy calculator”.

You can also check the prices in Montana at–without entering any personal information. Yes, this is working.



24 Comments on "NEW STUDY: Republicans Really Got This Wrong"

  1. As much as I have defended the ACA against the wingnut right, let’s not get carried away. There have been significant issues with the federal website rollout and it does not do you any credit to discount those issue. Granted, had Montana done the right thing and established it’s own state run insurance exchange like many other states did, this would not have been an issue but that didn’t happen and the website has been problematic for many Montanans.

    Further, while the report you linked has pointed out that many people have saved money on their insurance plans, there is still a lot of uncertainty about what the actual savings is. Many of those plans (the ones that are saving people money) have higher co-pays and deductables than the plans they were compared to. Yes, this will save the government money, but it won’t save the individuals with those plans any money – it will cost them more.

    I am very happy to see competition between insurance companies to provide rate incentives but the jury is still out whether this will actually reduce the amount of money that the average citizen will be spending on health care each year. That still remains to be seen.

    I am glad that the hysterical claims made by the nutcase right are being disproven but it is still way too early to be “high fiving” each other. There is a lot of work to be done to fix the ACA and now is not the time to be standing on your laurels.

    As a counter point to your article, I present the following links –

    The following is a statement directly from Monica Lindeen and she has expressed both concern and disgust with the rollout of the federal website.

    The HHS secretary talks about the rollout of the website –

    Factcheck on the claim that premiums will go up (it explains that the actual answer is very complicated) –

    The Rand Corporation report on Premiums under the ACA – (it points out that while the cost to the government will go down, and the price of the plans will be less, the actual cost to consumers may will go up because of higher deductibles and copays)

    We will see where this all lands. My personal hope is that Rob is right, and the ACA will eventually lead to a single payer or public option system. Moreover, there has yet to be a study published on what the result of the ACA will be on the ACTUAL cost of health care. Without a public option, there is actually very little the ACA does to reduce the actual cost of health care in the US, and as I have pointed out on many occasions, an insurance based system simply shields the health care industry from any kind of market pressure to reduce cost.

  2. I thought GOP loved competition? While this Nation continues to be the world’s policeman, we’ll never get to single-payer while the insurance companies LOBBY with millions to keep the status quo. Heck, RomneyCare was lifted by President Obama and now the Heritage Foundation and GOP screaming, Dude who stole my car!

  3. I agree– single payer system would eliminate the need for a complex multi-million dollar system to weed through who is deemed eligible and worthy of help and who is not. All of the money spent on these systems –both the federal and state, would be spent on actually providing healthcare.

    I also think that the tech problems the site has are embarrassing and that the Obama administration should be held responsible for (1) delaying the build for the election (2) the process they used to select the contractor to build this (3) the cloak of secrecy about who has already signed up. If they would just release the figures, it would show that for some people the site is working. But instead, they’ve kept enrollment data secret thinking they need to wait until they get a certain critical mass to provide the public with information.

    • I agree: a single-payer system would have obviated most of these problems.

      The website’s problems are on the backend. Bad information is being sent to the insurance companies. That’s a fixable problem, and it will get fixed…eventually. Given part of the problem was the need to protect the system from Republican sabotage, I’m willing to cut the Obama administration some slack, but not a lot of slack.

      Over the weekend, I visited the website and looked at some insurance prices for Montana. The options and prices are different for every county. For example, there are 29 options for Sweet Grass County. I found 29 or 30 for Flathead County. This is crazy, but the inevitable result of relying on private insurance.

      I also looked at dental plans. I found an Excel file with the plans for the entire nation: 64,000+ records. Again, plans for Bent Tooth County differ from those for Root Canal County.

      We can see these things now thanks to website changes made over the weekend. Before, people had to register an account before being allowed access to the numbers. I’m beginning to suspect that was done to hide the brain frying complexity of the system from journalists and researchers.

    • Cowgirl inadvertently brings up another issue with the ACA as it exists now. All the rather insidious ways in which the nutcase right has “modified” the ACA are all expensive and aren’t mentioned in any of these studies – including the ones done by the CBO.

      Take, for example, the concession made to the hard right to end the shutdown – the requirement that income verification has to be accomplished on any individual receiving subsidies. This won’t effect those getting medicare/Medicaid because income verification is already a part of that process. It will effect everyone else applying for insurance through the system that are less than 400% of poverty (roughly estimated to be 25 million or more). The means to do this income verification haven’t even been finalized and you can logically bet that it is likely to cost in the tens of millions if not hundreds of millions to implement. Since no budgetary device to set up to pay for this income verification, this will have to come off the top of whatever financial tool the government puts in place to pay for the ACA.

      I call these moves insidious because they are all aimed at making the ACA exactly what they want it to be – too big, cumbersome and expensive to work. They want to be able to say that the ACA is a budgetary nightmare and they will do anything to accomplish that goal. Without any kind of justification (there obviously can’t be any numbers of people attempting to defraud the system as the system isn’t even working right and no numbers have been released on signups as it is…), they have tacked on a multi-million dollar boondoggle to the system already.

      As I said before, it will be time before we can even start to evaluate how the system is working – years probably – and at each step these nutcases are going to try to throw a monkey wrench into the system. We should be working toward fixing the system, not playing a game of “I told you so”.

    • Honestly cowgirl, at this point and what I have been digging at, I really don’t think they know yet, Like I said their is more than one data base, theres the govs the insurance company’s and their proprietary software and data bases, and then there is the states Data bases. my opinion is not of them all synced up yet. I really dont understand the need to ask any questions about who is on yet. they only need 7 million signed up, and I think they will handle that nicely.

      I mean for comparison lets take the job numbers it takes a month to collect all the necessary numbers from states and then crunch the numbers. In all actuality people are asking way too soon. they expect this to be a simple process…. it is not!

      • The Sydney Morning Herald reports, “…..after granting asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, Russia is preparing to implement the kind of electronic surveillance that he uncovered in the US. The Russian communications ministry and the KGB’s successor, the Federal Security Service (FSB), have drafted a regulation requiring internet providers and mobile operators to install equipment allowing spy services to record and store for no less than 12 hours any data passing through their networks. . . .and some of you all think Snowden was a hero???? Bwahahahahaha

        Yea right!

        If Snowden is still in Russia in July, his communications will be recorded and stored by his mobile phone and internet provider – which, unlike the US companies tapped by the NSA, will not even try to hide what they’re doing.

        Nice going Snowden your either bought off or very stupid!

  4. The problem is, this is the Republican plan for healthcare. But then that tan person adopted it and left the Republicans swinging in the wind. If Bob Dole had won ‘way back when, we’d have had this program for years and the Republicans would be singing its praise.
    The basic rule for the modern Republican is “Oppose it even it is the best thing for the country and my constituents in one of THEM supports it.”

  5. Nah the problem is both parts of the web site have some fatal flaws and still can interact properly. The backside the part that sends info and pricing to the insurance companies just isn’t working properly yet. the front end the place where people sign in is still working but just barley also.

    the back end also carries the buying options on it and needs to be secured before the front end the Part us citizen use to send in payments is fixed and properly secured. otherwise the whole site will crash in a rather spectacular way.

    It is very hard to employ css3, html5,Java script, C++, the new PHP, and any perl or phython script seamlessly on such a big site that has as many businesses and state login admins as it does. and thats not including different databases from varying Insurance companies and states as well Getting everyone to change over to one streamlined DB has got to be a bitch. if that was what they were trying to do….

    I have worked on big sites in the past and we had tons of problems just getting a couple of business to work off one site… cant Imagine thousands…. and I am not even talking about the customers yet. They will get it figured out. they will find some script writer who debugs well an understands site OS….

    Satellite wagering in California took years to get the kinks out. Between all the tracks and the camera feeds, not to mention tying in the state we used an entirely new script in the beginning, that just wouldn’t meld with everyone right away. in some place one character change was enough keep half the site down.

    My guess is they will have to build some sort of OS into the website itself that handles the myriad of proprietary software of Insurance companies soon. We basically were writing an entire new OS built on Linux but it was n’t working in the beginning like we hoped it would. and the old Microsoft Code C+ wasn’t the easiest to integrate with back than either.

    California at one time set the whole backcode up onto the racing agency site in RTF, in plain view, begging techies to read through, and help find the problems in the code. We got it done… and the patience paid off. I am sure thats what the gov is doing now in a more secured setting then we had years ago.

  6. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 24, 2013 5:39 PM at 5:39 PM |

    Wow! THIS is how you handle a dipshit!

  7. Lastly the Koch brothers and another conservative group get nailed again by California 16 million in Fines,0,2581021.story#axzz2ii5fMFTX and they have been trying to buy the LA times as well.,0,7288568.story#axzz2ii5fMFTX

  8. The Consumer Reports story is very misleading. Rates have not necessarily gone down in the cases they mention. The amount the folks are paying in those cases has gone down because of subsidies. They don’t mention the total cost of the plan. It’s like saying a Ferrari is a really affordable car…when my daddy pays for 90% of it! Rate shock is there, but someone else is picking up the tab!

  9. But Crow, by your analogy the GOP is arguing that the price of all cars, subsidized or no, Ferrari or Ford, are skyrocketing because dealers are no longer allowed to sell you a lemon.

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