OPINION: Wall Street Journal Editorial "ObamaCare Bait and Switch"

June 4, 2013

In recent weeks, the Energy and Commerce Committee has explored the looming rate shock that will hit when the president’s health care law takes full effect. Despite widespread evidence that significant price spikes are expected, Covered California recently announced insurance premium rates would remain steady in the golden state, if not decrease in 2014. However, a closer look at the numbers told a different story, and multiple analyses soon emerged that poked holes in the state’s announcement and suggested the state was “comparing apples to oranges to grapefruit.” Today, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board weighs in, writing that California “goosed the data” and “was comparing apples to ostriches.”

June 3, 2013

EDITORIAL: ObamaCare Bait and Switch

The truth about those rate increases in Oregon and California.

Liberals have spent years claiming that "rate shock" under the Affordable Care Act—the 20% to 30% average spike in insurance premiums that every independent analyst projects—is merely the political imagination of Republicans and the insurance industry. So they immediately claimed victory when California reported last month that the plans that will be available on the state's new insurance exchange next year would be cheaper than they are today.

Except now it emerges that California goosed the data to make it appear as if ObamaCare won't send costs aloft as the law's regulations and mandates kick in. It will, by a lot. …

California reported that the rates would range from 2% above to 29% below the current market. "This is a home run for consumers in every region of California," said Peter Lee, the director of the state exchange. "These rates are way below the worst-case gloom-and-doom scenarios we have heard."

But Mr. Lee and his fellow regulators were making a false comparison. They weren't looking at California's lightly regulated individual insurance market that functions surprisingly well. They were comparing ObamaCare insurance to the state's current small-business market where regulations similar to ObamaCare have already been imposed.

In other words, California wasn't comparing apples to apples. It wasn't even comparing apples to oranges. It was comparing apples to ostriches. The conservative analyst Avik Roy consulted current rates on the eHealthInsurance website and discovered that the cheapest ObamaCare plan for a typical 25-year-old man is roughly 64% to 117% more expensive than the five cheapest policies sold today. For a 40 year old, it's 73% to 146%. …

So they're finally admitting what some us predicted from the start, but that's also the policy point. Americans are being forced to buy more expensive coverage than what they willingly buy today. …

The Affordable Care Act was sold as a tool to lower health costs. In case you missed it, the claim is right there in the law's title. The new Democratic position is that the entitlement will do the opposite but never mind, which is at least more honest. …

To read the entire editorial online, click here.

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