Study: Insurance Costs Fall in Franklin County Under Obamacare - The Missourian: Local News

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Study: Insurance Costs Fall in Franklin County Under Obamacare

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Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014 11:00 am

In Franklin County, some insurance premiums under Obamacare are less than what they were prior to the new health care law taking effect, according to a nonprofit organization.

Asked if this means the Affordable Care Act was good for Franklin County, Yevgeniy Feyman with the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research said, “It sort of looks like it. It’s definitely hard to say without looking specifically at what health care costs are like in Franklin County.”

It appears Franklin County was in the minority in Missouri. Statewide, rates went up significantly in some cases, according to the study, which was done by the New York City-based Manhattan Institute.

The study looked at health plans for men and women aged 27, 40 and 64 who do not get their health insurance through an employer or from Medicare or Medicaid.

Feyman said the study showed that rates went up 49 percent on average in counties across the country.

“This is just a function of adding more regulations to markets that are relatively lightly regulated,” Feyman said.

Asked why Franklin County’s rates may have fallen after Obamacare and the state as a whole went up, Feyman said, it is difficult to pick out any county-specific factors.

However, he said, “When you’ve got a big enough market insurers will try to undercut each other possibly even below cost just to capture a particular market and push a rival out or make it harder for the rival to get that market.”

However, the lower prices after Obamacare may not last, Feyman said.

“It’s certainly possible that this is a short-lived phenomenon in Franklin County,” Feyman said.

Not all rates fell in Franklin County after Obamacare, according to the study.

The average monthly health insurance premium in Franklin County before the Affordable Care Act for men aged 27 was $160 compared to the current Obamacare rate of $167, the study says.

The study looked at the average of the five lowest-cost plans excluding catastrophic policies for the most populous ZIP code in the county.

Other Rates

For 40-year-old men in Franklin County the average monthly premium prior to the Affordable Care Act was $216 and dropped to $204 under Obamacare, the report shows.

For 64-year-old men in Franklin County the rate dropped from $689 before the new health care law to $480 now, according to the institute.

For women in Franklin County, the rates after the Affordable Care Act dropped even more. The study shows the following:

For 27-year-old women monthly premiums rates dropped from $204 to $167; 40-year-old women, $323 to $204; and 64-year-old women $672 to $480.

Statewide, rates went up significantly for men aged 27 and 40 after Obamacare, the research says.

The study showed the following:

• Monthly premiums for 27-year-old males went up 97 percent, or from $102 to $201, and 40-year-old men saw a 67 percent increase, or $147 to $246.

• Statewide, men aged 64, saw a slight decrease in monthly premiums after Obamacare from $586 to $578, it says.

• Statewide, for women, monthly premiums went up in three age categories under the Affordable Care Act. For 27-year-old women the rate went up 30 percent, $155 to $201; age 40, 12 percent increase, $220 to $246; and age 64, up 3 percent, or $559 to $578.

Reaction

The Missouri Branch of Americans for Prosperity weighed in on the research, saying the information exposes “substantial premium hikes” facing many Missourians.

“Today we learn that the Show-Me State is showing some of the highest Obamacare rate hikes by county in the nation,” said Patrick Werner, Missouri state director of Americans for Prosperity. “Missourians are already getting nickel and dimed with higher prices for gas, food, and energy. Now they get socked with news of even higher health care premiums. How much more can we ask from the beleaguered taxpayer before they throw up their hands and throw in the towel?”

Partisan?

As for someone who says this is just a partisan study that leans in a conservative direction, Feyman said, “It’s easy to dismiss something that you don’t like as simply being partisan.”

The study’s methodology was largely solid, he said, adding that the main criticism has been that 2013 rates were compared to 2014 rates.

Some people say that rates before the Affordable Care Act can’t be compared to rates under the new law, he said.

”We disagree with that profoundly,” Feyman said, adding that the study aimed to be “objective.”

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