According to the Wall Street Journal, this year health insurers will spend $500 million on advertising to attract the business of 41 million uninsured Americans. That’s a huge bet on a program tea party Sen. Ted Cruz pronounced a failure.
It also suggests the insurance industry knows something naysayers like Cruz, Gov. Nathan Deal and Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens don’t; that Obamacare is a boon, not just to the 1.7 million uninsured Georgians, but to the health insurers’ bottom lines.
Despite the doomsday predictions, the botched roll-out of the federal exchange, and various rule changes, Obamacare appears to be on course to achieving its objective of reining in the nation’s runaway healthcare costs.
The Department of Health and Human Services recently reviewed premiums in 11 states. It found rates for small businesses in those states are on average 18 percent lower than health insurance premiums employers paid before Obamacare.
Closer to home, after notifying us in September my Cobb County small business’s rates would jump 13 percent in 2014, my health insurer told us in December premiums won’t increase after all.
Readers have written to criticize my Obamacare opinions because the facts that support them are at odds with the distortions and misinformation they read or hear in the conservative media or from U.S. Representatives Phil Gingrey, Tom Price and Paul Broun.
For example, when I recently explained how a middle class family of four could buy health insurance for less than half its rack rate using federal tax credits, several readers said the family would have to pay significant deductibles.
Depending on the plan they choose, that might be true. But that’s how health insurance and most everything else works, from homes to cars to groceries; the less you pay, the less you get.
However, those readers overlooked one very crucial fact: 100 percent of the hypothetical family’s preventative healthcare costs are covered.
So a newly insured mother can get a breast cancer screening at no cost. If early stage cancer is detected she can expect a better outcome at a lower cost. If she has no insurance and waits, her condition is generally much worse and far more expensive to treat.
What Doctors Gingrey, Price and Broun don’t get about the concept of prevention makes you wonder how they ever earned medical degrees.
Another reader suggested the tax credits uninsured people can use to pay for policies represented money that belongs to him. If that’s true, then “his money” is also subsidizing big oil companies.
Personally, I’d rather see tax credits help the uninsured buy coverage so I don’t have to pay for their healthcare than bankroll ExxonMobil, which made $45 billion in profits in 2012.
The undeniable positives of Obamacare stand in stark contrast to the bogus objections made by state Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens after he reviewed 2014 rates for Georgia on the federal exchange. He complained they were rising “up to 198 percent.”
Of course Hudgens cherry picked the numbers and didn’t factor in tax credits.
Hudgens later admitted he is deliberately obstructing the program’s implementation, a decision that’s bound to hurt many Georgians.
Meantime, Cobb County’s 126,000 uninsured residents must go to the federal health insurance exchange because Gov. Deal refuses to start a state-run health insurance exchange, where rates could be even lower.
By now anti-Obamacare dead-enders like Cruz, Deal and Hudgens must know they’ve lost this battle. The uninsured want coverage and human nature being what it is, many waited until the Dec. 23rd deadline to enroll for plans that start Jan. 1, causing a last minute crush of health insurance applications at federal and state exchanges.
Health insurers are banking that millions more will follow.
Kevin Foley is an author, writer and public relations executive who lives in Kennesaw.