In yesterday’s NY Times, it was reported that individual health insurance premiums are expected to drop by 50% in 2014, when the full effect of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a., “Obamacare”) kick in. Here is the most shocking line in the article:
Because the cost of individual coverage has soared, only 17,000 New Yorkers currently buy insurance on their own.
New York state is home to almost 20,000,000 (that’s TWENTY MILLION) people. And 17,000 of them buy their own health insurance. According to the article, 2.6 million go uninsured. Let’s let those numbers sink in for a moment.
New York is one of a handful of states that already has guarantee-issue coverage for individuals. That is, medical underwriting does not exist; any individual can purchase individual coverage, even those with expensive, chronic diseases. How many of the 17,000 do you think are completely healthy individuals, who do not receive coverage from an employer? Right. Well, no wonder the average cost to an individual is $1,500/month for these individual policies. OK, here are a couple of takeaways:
- The individual mandate — the requirement that all individuals purchase qualified health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty — is crucial to the success of the Affordable Care Act. We must force healthy people into the system, in order to sustain a competitive marketplace that benefits all individuals.
- Can that 17,000 number possibly be correct? Is it really true that 13% of New Yorkers go uninsured, 87% get their health insurance from an employer, and less than one-tenth of one percent purchase their coverage on the individual market? California has twice as many residents as New York, and somewhere between 500,000 and one million purchase their own individual health insurance.
I will do a little more fact-checking and report back…