More bad news for House Speaker John Boehner, who thinks that the premium rate shock people are going to experience in the first few weeks of Obamacare enrollment will strengthen his hand in holding the debt ceiling hike hostage for a delay in Obamcare. Here's his problem: For more than six million people there won't be any rate shock, according to a new report that the Department of Health and Human Services Tuesday, obtained by USA Today.
WASHINGTON — About 6.4 million Americans eligible to buy insurance through the new health exchanges will pay $100 or less a month in premiums because of tax subsidies, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report to be released Tuesday and obtained by USA TODAY.
The report by the HHS office for planning and evaluation said the lower premiums would primarily apply to insurance customers who buy what are called "silver" plans on the exchanges that open Oct. 1. [...]
Although not all of the states nor the federal exchange have announced their rates yet, researchers determined they could estimate payments without that information. As an example, the Affordable Care Act states that someone making 150% of the federal poverty level, or $17,235 a year, would pay 4% of their income—or $57—for the second-lowest-cost plan. So, that person's subsidy would be the difference between the $57 and the cost of the silver plan in that state.
"Consequently, it is not necessary to know the actual second-lowest-cost silver premium to determine how many people will pay $100 or less per person per month for a silver plan," the report states.
Note that the researches didn't use the cheapest, least generous plan offered on the exchanges—the Bronze plan—but the second-cheapest. Silver plans will cover 70 percent of medical expenses, with patients paying the other 30 percent, with deductibles expected to be about $2,000, and must include services in 10 categories of essential health benefits defined by the law. It's important to remember when considering deductible costs how much of annual care—cancer screenings, annual exams, vaccinations, immunizations, wellness checks—will not require a copay.
In addition to the 6.4 million who will be able to get insurance for less than $100 on the exchanges, about 12.4 will be included in expanded Medicaid in the states that have opted in to the program. Those people will pay nominal premiums or nothing at all.
All of which makes the Boehner's strategy, to wait until the debt ceiling fight to take on Obamacare, even more ridiculous. See, Boehner thinks that they'll have more leverage after all that rate shock people will experience in the first few weeks of Obamcare enrollments. Where there's no rate shock, there's no outrage. Where there's no outrage, there's no justification for delaying Obamacare.