Important as the weekend visit of the President’s adulterous and apparently unemployed son was to the Montana media, a report came out Friday afternoon that probably deserves a bit more attention than closed political rallies where not even the media were permitted to ask questions. It turns out, lies from the Republicans notwithstanding, that many of the policies they’ve implemented—and the policies Matt Rosendale supports—will be responsible for significant hikes in health insurance premiums, even as the rates that the ACA would have led to are leveling off or even falling.
In an in-depth review of insurer rate filings, the Kaiser Family Foundation discovered that the repeal of the individual mandate and the expansion of junk insurance plans like those touted by Matt Rosendale will increase premiums by $70/month:
Our analysis therefore suggests the average healthcare.gov benchmark silver premium for a 40-year-old would be approximately $427 per month (instead of $495) in 2019, if it were not for the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, expansion of short-term plans, and loss of cost-sharing subsidy payments.
For the average family, the Republican efforts to cripple the ACA will mean a 16% hike in premiums:
ACA silver-level plans in the marketplaces will cost an average of 16% more than they otherwise would have, due to the combined effects of the loss of ACA cost-sharing reduction payments, the repeal of the individual mandate penalty and the expansion of loosely-regulated plans.
The Kaiser Family Foundations explains why ending the individual mandate will increase costs in terms even someone who never goes to work as State Auditor could probably understand:
In health insurance systems designed to protect people with pre-existing conditions and guarantee availability of coverage regardless of health status, countervailing measures are also needed to ensure people do not wait until they are sick to sign up for coverage (as doing so would drive up average costs for other enrollees). The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included a variety of “carrots” (e.g., premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions) and “sticks” (e.g., the individual mandate penalty and limited enrollment opportunities) to encourage healthy as well as sick people to enroll in health insurance coverage.
In other words, the only way an insurance plan—any insurance plan—can work is for people to pay premiums while they’re not in need of services. The lie Rosendale and Republicans are trying to spin how, that they will somehow protect people with preexisting conditions without the mandate, without federal assistance, is absurd on its face unless they’re willing to admit that they will let rates balloon to uncontrolled levels. What Rosendale is promising is a system that lets people choose to wait to insure their homes at the moment it catches fire, an unsustainable practice even he could understand.
The ACA is a flawed piece of legislation and responsible Senators like Jon Tester have called for fixes in the law to make it more effective. What Trump, the Republicans, and Rosendale have done, though, is as dishonest as it is ineffective for the American people: by dismantling the levers the keep healthy people contributing to health insurance programs, they’ve ensured that rates will continue to increase even as the number of people insured decreases.
And their new poll-tested lie that Republicans will protect people with preexisting conditions? There’s a reason they run away the minute someone asks them to explain how that can be done fairly and affordably.
And Montana cannot afford to elect someone to the Senate who neither seems to understand that nor care about it.