As Ronald Reagan once famously said, “There you go again.”
The culprits in this case are health insurance companies that want to change ObamaCare so they can keep selling highly profitable junk insurance to young people and keep charging older folks so much in premiums they have little money left over for anything else.
What’s happening now is a repeat of the tactics insurers employed during the final weeks of the health care reform debate. Back then, they papered Washington with a flawed “study” warning that premiums would soar if lawmakers ignored their recommendations. And now insurers are once again disseminating a new study with similar predictions. This time they’re trying to convince us that coverage for all young adults will become unaffordable next year if Congress doesn’t gut an important consumer protection in the reform law.
In 2009, shortly before the Senate voted on reform, America’s Health Insurance Plans —the main industry trade group —hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to estimate how much premiums would increase under the law. The study was quickly discredited, however, when it became clear that the accounting firm had ignored sections of the legislation that would keep coverage more affordable.
The current study, by the actuarial firm Oliver Wyman, also suffers from sins of omission —which raises concerns that this new effort may also have been influenced by the insurance industry. (Oliver Wyman has not responded to my request for comment.)
Even if it didn’t finance the study, which was published last week in the trade publication Contingencies, AHIP is using it as part of its campaign to persuade Congress to delay or repeal a provision of the reform law. That provision, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2014, will prohibit insurers from charging older people more than three times as much as younger people.