New Yorkers will see insurance premiums that are at least 50 percent lower than what they currently pay when the Affordable Care Act takes effect, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) announced Wednesday.
As House Republicans prepare to vote Wednesday afternoon to repeal both the individual and employer mandates of Obamacare, this “triumph” for the health care law shows exactly why the individual mandate is crucial to bringing down high health insurance prices.
New York State already has both “community rating” and “guaranteed issue,” which means people cannot be charged more or turned down for coverage based on an existing condition or health risk.
Likewise, Obamacare ends the ability of insurers to deny coverage or charge more based on “pre-existing conditions.” But New York didn’t have a requirement for people to be insured. Thus private insurance companies took on the risk of covering the sickest New Yorkers and in return, they passed the costs on to those who could afford to purchase coverage. As a result, the state’s rates could be as high as double the national average.
“If there was any state that the ACA could bring rates down, it was New York,” said Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University.
In May, Deloitte had predicted that the average individual would see a 13.9 percent reduction in rates. But even with a 50 percent reduction, the cheapest plan in New York City is still $359 a month, the Washington Post‘s Sarah Kliff notes, before government subsidies.
An estimated 26 million Americans will be eligible for government help in paying for the insurance, Families USA reported earlier this year. Obamacare limits how much people earning up to 400 percent of the poverty level — between $47,100 and $94,200 depending on the size of your family — will have to pay for their insurance. You can find out if you’re eligible for subsidies with this calculator.
Americans will begin to find out what their rates and government subsidy will actually be when the Affordable Care Act open enrollment begins on October 1.
It’s those subsidies that some opponents of the law seem to fear most.
The House GOP has decided to try a new strategy to fight the law, after recognizing that their nearly 40 repeal votes have successfully confused many Americans about whether the law is still in effect, but have done nothing to actually stop it from being implemented. In reaction to the Obama administration’s announcement that it would delay the employer mandate for a year, they’re focusing on just repealing the mandates, which are among the least popular aspects of the law
But this strategy has led to a rift in the Republican Party. Club for Growth and Heritage Action both are opposed to repealing parts of the law, fearing that will let the rest “take root.” The far right wants Republicans to bear down for a huge fight on the resolution to keep the government funded, which expires September 30, the day before Obamacare open enrollment begins.
The editorial board of The Washington Examiner explains:
Republicans should work to include language in the next continuing resolution that would prevent all Obamacare health insurance exchange subsidies from going forward until, as an absolute minimum, a credible income-verification system is in place to determine who is eligible for those subsidies,” writes “This is a good-government, common-sense policy that comes with a ready made slogan: ‘No subsidization without verification.’
Obama is desperate to get the American people hooked on his health insurance subsidies. They are the centerpiece of his signature health care law. If Republicans can delay these funds from being spent, they will have significantly increased the chances for full repeal in the future.
In the first year, Obamacare’s “verification” system for subsidies will require individuals to vouch for their own income, the way the self-employed do for the Internal Revenue Service.
Republicans may say they’re interested in “good government.” But what they’re desperate to avoid is any more good Obamacare news.