ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.

“A funny thing happened on the way to the so-called health reform promised in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care
Act (PPACA), signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010: Although the cost of health care has increased at a slower rate than in previous years, premiums for health insurance and the share of premiums used for purposes other than paying claims have been increasing faster than in previous years. That’s not exactly what President Obama promised, is it?”

“Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that, ‘Trustmark Life Insurance Company has proposed unreasonable health insurance premium increases in five states—Alabama, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wyoming. The excessive rate hikes would affect nearly 10,000 residents across these five states.’… This rate increase action by HHS is just political grandstanding as the Obama administration tries to sell a still unpopular law.
But it is dangerous grandstanding.”

“If you’ve never heard of the law’s medical loss ratio (MLR) provision, you’re certainly not alone. This simple calculation has had the effect of radically reducing what health insurance agents earn. That, in turn as greatly restricted their ability to help million of Americans navigate the maze of approvals needed for medical procedures and processing claims. It has also had a devastating effect on these agents’ businesses and is disrupting the insurance market.”

“Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hopes you will believe her and not your own eyes, as she pens an op-ed in the Washington Post deceptively entitled, ‘The Affordable Care Act, helping Americans curb health-care costs.’
Health costs are rising, as we all can see, and independent analysts confirm they will accelerate under Obamacare.”

“You’ll notice, however, that there’s something missing from the op-ed: any mention of actual health insurance premium prices. That’s not particularly surprising, I suppose, given that the premise of the piece is that the law helps make health care cheaper, yet since the law passed, family health insurance premiums have risen substantially faster than in the years before the law went into effect, rising nine percent following several years of three to five percent rises.”

“The final medical loss ratio (MLR) regulations will likely create a vacuum for affordable coverage that cannot be filled by Bronze plans under the state insurance exchanges. If the ‘essential benefits’ and ‘actuarial value’ requirements are equally as discriminatory, there will be no affordable options available and the cost of subsidies will skyrocket. As a result, millions of Americans that have policies today that could have qualified as Bronze plans will be forced to change their coverage or drop coverage because they can no longer afford it.”

“If you want to get an understanding of how the health reform law works, both in theory and practice, it would be a good idea to take a look at the process called ‘rate review.’ The idea is that health insurance premiums can be restrained by forcing health insurance companies to explain ‘unreasonable’ premium increases to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to the state authorities, and on their web sites.”

“Beginning September 1, 2011, health insurers must
submit requests to state or federal reviewers if they
wish to increase insurance rates by 10 percent or more.
This “rate review” process is required by Section 2794
of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), which was
added to Section 1003 of the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Pub. L. 111-148…
The goal of this mandate is to reduce health care costs
by addressing the asymmetry of information in the
health insurance market between consumers, providers
and industry actors. However, despite the stated goals
of the mandate, it fails to ultimately address the
underlying issues accelerating health care costs.”

“However, the bottom line is that Obamacare’s MLR regulations won’t deliver us a utopia of government-run single-payer health care. Instead, they will usher in a new era of private insurance monopolies and significantly drive up the cost of health insurance, things that neither liberals nor conservatives should cheer.”

“A new Obama administration rule could drive out of the market the low-cost, high deductible plans that are supposed to be available under ObamaCare. That would likely mean a sharp jump in taxpayer subsidies. The problem stems in large part from contradictions in the hastily written health care overhaul.”