Hannity is the one “obscuring the facts” on premiums under health care reform
While attempting to correct President Obama, Sean Hannity cited the Congressional Budget Office’s statement that “the average premium” for individual policyholders would increase “10 to 13 percent” under the Senate health bill. However the CBO stated that premiums paid by a majority of people insured on the individual market would decrease when factoring in federal subsidies included in the bill.
From the February 26 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
HANNITY: Biden’s hot mic wasn’t the only problem the Democrats ran into at yesterday’s health care summit. Facts also seemed to pose difficulty for them. Now that was particularly evident in the President’s exchange with Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander.
OBAMA: So, Lamar when you mentioned earlier that you said premiums go up, that’s just not the case according to the Congressional Budget Office.
ALEXANDER: If you going to contradict me I ought to have a chance to — the Congressional Budget Office report says that premiums will rise in the individual market, as a result of the Senate bill.
OBAMA: No, this is an example of where we got to get our facts straight.
HANNITY: All right, now a look back at that CBO report commissioned by Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh shows that it is the president who needs to get his facts straight. The report concludes, “the average premium per person covered would be about 10 to 13 percent higher in 2016 than the average premium for nongroup coverage in that same year under the current law.” Wow, what a great bill. No wonder the Democrats are obscuring the facts.
CBO backs Obama: Bill would actually result in lower premiums for most enrollees
CBO: Premiums paid by most individuals would decrease. The CBO estimated that premiums paid by a majority of people insured on the individual market would decrease when factoring in federal subsidies that are included in the bill. CBO stated, “The majority of nongroup enrollees (about 57 percent) would receive subsidies via the new insurance exchanges, and those subsidies, on average, would cover nearly two-thirds of the total premium, CBO and JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] estimate. Thus, the amount that subsidized enrollees would pay for nongroup coverage would be roughly 56 percent to 59 percent lower, on average, than the nongroup premiums charged under current law.” Conservative claims that the bill would increase premiums in the individual market are based on estimates that do not factor in subsidies. CBO stated that figures identical to those cited by conservatives “indicate what enrollees would pay, on average, not accounting for the new federal subsidies.”
CBO: Premiums increase for some in nongroup market rise due to people buying more coverage. CBO found that the increase in average premiums in the nongroup market was due to people purchasing “a greater amount of coverage:
Average premiums would be 27 percent to 30 percent higher because a greater amount of coverage would be obtained. In particular, the average insurance policy in this market would cover a substantially larger share of enrollees’ costs for health care (on average) and a slightly wider range of benefits. Those expansions would reflect both the minimum level of coverage (and related requirements) specified in the proposal and people’s decisions to purchase more extensive coverage in response to the structure of subsidies.
This increase would be partially offset by “a net reduction in costs that insurers incurred to deliver the same amount of insurance coverage to the same group of enrollees” and “a shift in the types of people obtaining coverage.”
Washington Post’s Ezra Klein: “CBO found health-care reform would reduce premiums.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein reported on Alexander and Obama’s exchange in a February 25 post:
Lamar Alexander and Barack Obama just had a contentious exchange on this point, so it’s worth settling the issue: Yes, the CBO found health-care reform would reduce premiums. The issue gets confused because it also found that access to subsidies would encourage people to buy more comprehensive insurance, which would mean that the value of their insurance would be higher after reform than before it. But that’s not the same as insurance becoming more expensive: The fact that I could buy a nicer car after getting a better job suggests that cars are becoming pricier. The bottom line is that if you’re comparing two plans that are exactly the same, costs go down after reform.
CNN’s Velshi: “57 percent of those insured will see a government subsidy, which will bring the average premium down, actually.” During CNN’s coverage of the health care summit, Wolf Blitzer aired a portion of Obama’s exchange with Alexander, and chief business correspondent Ali Velshi stated that Obama was “more right than Senator Alexander.” Velshi stated: “The CBO, which is an independent — independent of the political party — says that rates will go up. But here’s the reality: 57% of those insured will see a government subsidy, which will bring the average premium down, actually. It would be — it would drive average premiums down 7 to 10 percent, but this is all based on assumptions.”
PolitiFact: “CBO reported that, for most people, premiums would stay about the same, or slightly decrease.” A January 27 PolitiFact.com analysis labeled the claim that health care reform would cause premiums for most Americans to increase “pants on fire” false and stated: “The CBO reported that, for most people, premiums would stay about the same, or slightly decrease.” From PolitiFact.com:
On Nov. 30, 2009, the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, released a detailed analysis on how health insurance premiums might be affected by the Senate Democrats’ health care bill. The CBO is an independent agency whose estimates for pending legislation are considered nonpartisan and rigorous.
The CBO reported that, for most people, premiums would stay about the same, or slightly decrease. This was especially true for people who get their insurance through work. (Health policy wonks call these the large group and small group markets.) People who have to go out and buy insurance on their own (the individual market) would see rates increase by 10 to 13 percent. But more than half of those people — 57 percent, in fact — would be eligible for subsidies to help them pay for the insurance. People who get subsidies would see their premiums drop by more than half, according to the CBO. So most people would see their premiums stay the same or potentially drop.
CBO: Premiums in group market will not increase. CBO estimated that the large group and small group markets make up 83 percent of the insurance market and that those premiums will not increase.