Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Don't Read Too Much Into This. . . But Vermont's A Hopeful Harbinger

In contrast to the drum-beat of fear -- fear of wildly higher health insurance premiums -- being pounded daily into the news media by the private health care insurance lobby, it would seem that in at least some states, no such thing will actually transpire.

Now, to be fair, Vermont is relatively small, more rural and more wealthy than a fair slice of the rest of the nation. In addition, Vermont has had nearly universal care coverage for quite some time -- so there is relatively little "tweaking" needed to comply with Obamacare's "no denials," and minimum coverages rules.

Even so, we should regard with some skepticism any claim that all premiums, nationwide, are bound to increase significantly in 2014, as the full effect of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 is felt.

Here is the WSJ on it -- do go read it all -- if you've paid for the subscription:

. . . .But because benefits in the state's plans are already relatively close to meeting most of the law's requirements, insurers didn't need to make major changes to the relatively costly policies they already offer.
In contrast, the federal law's requirements that insurers must enroll all customers regardless of their medical history or claims, limit what they pay out of pocket for care, and cover a wide range of benefits could boost insurance costs in other states that have had less stringent rules in place. Subsidies would offset part of potential increases for lower-income consumers. . . . 

Vermont is one of only five states that already require insurers to accept all customers. And while Vermonters aren't required to carry health insurance or pay a penalty—something that most Americans will be required to do next year as part of another provision of the Affordable Care Act—only about 9% of the state's residents lack insurance, compared with a 16% average nationwide. . . .

Do stay tuned. I'll remark that there is a real sense in which Texas, Arizona, Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee will be the beneficiaries of a "reverse welfare payment," from the people of Vermont, though. How so?

Well, with fewer than nine per cent of Vermonters uncovered, and more than 26 per cent of Texans uncovered, at present -- the federal income tax dollars (we all pay, to fund the ACA of 2010)  will initially be spent more heavily in the states that did not provide adequate care to their citizenry, prior to 2014.

I'll bet you a Finn-to-One -- that Texas Governor Perry (R) won't mention that, though -- when Texas ultimately accepts the federal expansion.

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