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The Quarterback of Obamacare Doesn’t Like the GOP Senators’ Alternative

12:22 PM, Feb 3, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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Speaking of saving money, Emanuel writes, “Under the Republican plan, a 30-year-old man living in New York City earning $35,000 a year would pay the full price of insurance, roughly $4,383 for a typical plan.  Under Obamacare, he would pay $3,325.” 

This is misleading on several levels.  First of all, Emanuel cherry picks New York, where taxpayer-funded Obamacare subsidies for young people are higher than in any other state (because liberal New York, amazingly, bans insurers from taking age into account when pricing plans, which causes artificially high prices for younger people and triggers bigger taxpayer-funded Obamacare subsidies for them as a result). 

Secondly, young people would not have had to pay $4,383 pre-Obamacare—even in New York.  According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, as of last year (the last non-Obamacare year until full repeal is achieved in 2017), a 30-year-old man could have gotten a plan in New York for as little as $1,986—a lot less than $3,325 (the price under Obamacare after he receives his taxpayer-funded Obamacare subsidy). 

Thirdly, according to the 2017 Project’s Study on Obamacare’s Subsidies and Penalties, a 31-year-old man making $35,000 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio would have to pay $2,704 for the 2nd-lowest-cost Obamacare “silver” plan (the same level of plan that Emanuel is apparently talking about, since a “silver” plan is what $3,325 will buy you in New York.)  Moreover, this Ohioan wouldn’t get any subsidy whatsoever.  The GAO says that, pre-Obamacare, he could have gotten a cheap plan in that state (assuming he’s a non-smoker) for $492 and could have gotten the median-priced individual-market plan for $1,485—that’s $1,219 less than this Obamacare “silver” plan. 

According to the 2017 Project study, other 30-year-old men—or women—making $35,000 who wouldn’t get an Obamacare subsidy are those living in Philadelphia Co., Pa.; Orange Co., Fla.; Hillsborough Co., Fla.; Fulton Co., Ga.; Miami-Dade Co., Fla.; Wake Co., N.C.; Dallas Co., Texas; Tarrant Co., Texas; Clark Co., Nev.; Palm Beach Co., Fla.; St. Louis Co., Mo.; Travis Co., Texas; Fairfax Co., Va.; Bexar Co., Texas; Oakland Co., Mich.; Wayne Co., Mich.; Harris Co., Texas; Salt Lake Co., Utah; Broward Co., Fla.; DuPage Co., Ill.; and Cook Co., Ill.—just to list counties that are among the 50 largest in the U.S.

In each of the states in which those counties are located, the GAO says a 30-year-old man making $35,000 could have gotten insurance in the individual market for less than $700 pre-Obamacare.  Moreover, the GAO says he could have gotten the median-priced plan in the individual market for between $1,072 (in Mich.) and $1,704 (in Fla.).  The Obamacare plan in question, however, would cost between $2,250 and $3,300—roughly twice the price of the median-priced plan pre-Obamacare, and about four times the price of the cheapest plan pre-Obamacare.  Under the Coburn-Burr-Hatch proposal, Americans wouldn’t have to pay these inflated Obamacare prices.

Emanuel also tries to turn Obamacare’s price hikes for the young (who are expected to subsidize those who are older) into a virtue, writing that, under the senators’ alternative, “older people” would “be penalized.”  He writes, “Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are allowed to charge 64-year-olds only three times what they charge 21-year-olds.  But the Republican plan allows insurance companies to charge 64-year-olds five times more. So a 64-year-old individual could pay as much as $21,900 for a plan that costs a 21-year-old only $4,380.”

Well, in New York (the apparent source of Emanuel’s $4,380 figure), if a 21-year-old is charged $4,380, a 64-year-old would be charged…$4,380.  Nor would the Republican senators’ proposal prevent New York from keeping this unreasonable arrangement in place at the expense of the young.  That’s pretty much what federalism is all about:  states are free to pass ridiculous laws, and their residents are free to move somewhere warmer and more right-leaning.

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