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Obamacare Premiums To Increase By Less Than 4 Percent On Average

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 15th, 2014 12:08 am by HL

Obamacare Premiums To Increase By Less Than 4 Percent On Average

Increased competition in the exchanges helped to keep premiums low.

The post Obamacare Premiums To Increase By Less Than 4 Percent On Average appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Meghan O’Toole is the Policy Analyst for Health Policy at the Center for American Progress.

shutterstock_obamacare money

CREDIT: Shutterstock

For the second year in a row, Obamacare premiums are lower than anticipated and millions of Americans can expect to find affordable health insurance options during the second open enrollment period.

A Center for American Progress analysis of 2015 premium rates for the individual market in states with Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces shows that premiums will increase by an average of only 3.9 percent from 2014 to 2015. This average is for individual coverage for a 27 or 40 year old across all plans in each metal level in each state and weighted by each state’s enrollment by metal level in 2014.

Silver plans, the most popular type of plan in 2014, will increase even less –- by only 3.45 percent on average. While there is wide variation around the average growth in different geographic areas, the low national average is a testament to the popularity and affordability of the health insurance plans on the exchanges, where more than 7 million Americans purchased health insurance in 2014.

Increased competition in the exchanges, with about 25 percent more issuers offering plans on the exchanges in 2015 than 2014, helped to keep premiums low. Some of the nation’s biggest insurers will now be participating in the exchanges for the first time.

To put this premium increase into perspective, an average increase of 3.9 percent is much less than historical premium growth. From 2008 to 2010, the national average rate of premium increase was 10.9 percent, which is 179 percent greater than the increase between 2014 and 2015.

The post Obamacare Premiums To Increase By Less Than 4 Percent On Average appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Alabama Defends Marriage Ban With ‘Largely Unbelievable’ Expert

Alabama is relying on experts and arguments that other courts have already disregarded.

The post Alabama Defends Marriage Ban With ‘Largely Unbelievable’ Expert appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R)

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R)

CREDIT: AP Photo/Dave Martin

There are still same-sex marriage lawsuits playing out in several states, and state officials are parading some of the same tired claims that have failed elsewhere. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) is the latest to rely upon biased experts to defend refusing same-sex couples the right to marry.

In his latest brief, Strange cites the research of both Mark Regnerus and Loren Marks. Regnerus’ study claiming that children of same-sex couples have poorer outcomes has been largely debunked, which is perhaps why Strange relies more on Marks, who he has also retained as an expert witness. Marks emphasizes that none of the studies that have found positive results for children of same-sex couples are valid simply because they utilized convenience samples to find the families they studied.

“Dr. Marks concludes that the field is too new and the studies too limited to make broad empirical conclusions,” Strange wrote. “This is yet another reason why courts should defer to the States. It is reasonable for a State to conclude that the social science is inconclusive at least, and therefore to be hesitant to change the definition of an institution that has formed the bedrock of civilization for centuries.”

In his attached testimony, Marks explains that he “cannot offer a high confidence, data-based ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response” to whether the children of same-sex couples fare as well as different sex couples. “The available data,” he concludes, “which are drawn primarily from small convenience samples, are insufficient to support a strong generalizable claim either way.”

But Marks, like Regnerus, has also had his claims disavowed — in court. Judge Bernard Friedman, a Reagan appointee, had the opportunity to hear testimony from both Regnerus and Marks and two other anti-gay experts when considering a challenge to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. He concluded that “Marks’s testimony is largely unbelievable,” because he and other researchers all “failed to concede the importance of ‘convenience sampling’ as a social science tool.” Marks and Regnerus, he wrote, “represent a fringe viewpoint that is rejected by the vast majority of their colleagues across a variety of social science fields,” pointing out that there is no “credible evidence showing that children raised by same-sex couples fare worse than those raised by heterosexual couples.”

Strange’s primary argument otherwise is that Alabama’s man-woman definition of marriage doesn’t discriminate against same-sex couples because it’s focused on child-rearing. Invoking a slippery slope, he complains that the suing same-sex couples “do not explain why… marriage must involve sexual intimacy, why it must be limited to two loving, committed people, or why indeed they must be committed.” This ignores, of course, that there are over 1,300 same-sex couples in Alabama already raising children. In fact, in Alabama, an estimated 27 percent of same-sex families include children, higher than in most other states.

Alabama may end up being one of the last states where marriage equality arrives, but it won’t be because the state’s arguments against same-sex couples marrying are any stronger than any other states’.

The post Alabama Defends Marriage Ban With ‘Largely Unbelievable’ Expert appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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