A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey from March and early April finds that “people who purchase health insurance on their own were faced with premium increases averaging 20 percent when they last sought to renew their coverage“:
While some people switched to less expensive plans that offered less generous coverage, and others negotiated lower prices than their insurers initially requested, the people surveyed still reported an average increase of 13 percent on their health insurance costs….The findings also underscore the challenges that will continue to be faced by people in the individual market until changes under the new health care law go into effect in 2014, Mr. Altman said. About 14 million people under the age of 65 purchase their coverage in the individual market, according to Kaiser.
All of this is just a long way of proving that despite the GOP’s feigned horror about ‘losing the coverage you like’ under the health law, insurers change plans all the time, particularly in the individual market, where sicker and more expensive beneficiaries often find themselves subject to outrageous cost increases. Reform should put a stop to most of this behavior by 2014 and if a plan loses its so-called ‘grandfathered’ status, beneficiaries will have regulated coverage options through the exchanges. Without reform, you couldn’t keep the health care plan you like because, as we see, some combination of rising health care costs and insurer self interest will lead the issuer to increase your premiums or jack up your deductibles.
The other important point is that all of these increases are happening in the individual market, which is where we will all be if Republicans repeal the health care law and “replace” it with tax credits and selling-across-sate lines provisions. Remember, their proposals would push Americans into individual plans without significantly regulating that market. If 61% of Americans with individual policies already “say it is very or somewhat difficult for them to afford the cost of health care” and only 47% are confident “about their ability to pay for a major illness” with their individual policies, just imagine what people would face with a static tax credit and a deregulated insurance market.