Sunday, March 29, 2015

Washington Post columnist looks at data, talks to experts and concludes Obamacare is working, at less cost than expected

The federal health-reform law "has accomplished its goal of expanding coverage — at a significantly lower cost than expected," columnist Ruth Marcus writes for The Washington Post "after talking to numerous health-care experts and examining the data."

Marcus writes up front, "There is a legitimate ideological debate about whether it is a wise use of federal power to require individuals to obtain health insurance or a wise use of federal resources to spend so much on subsidizing coverage. What’s more puzzling, and more disturbing, is the still-raging division over the real-world effect of the ACA."

She says President Obama "over-promised when he told people that, if they liked their health insurance, they could keep it; by its own terms, the law set new standards for required coverage. Certainly, some individuals, particularly younger and healthier customers, find themselves paying more; again, such winners and losers were an inevitable consequence of the individual mandate and minimum-coverage rules. Meantime, the scariest warnings — of employers rushing to drop coverage and insurance markets ensnared in death spirals of ever-rising premiums — have not come to pass.
Where the law has yet to fully deliver on its promises — and some wonder whether it will — is in the area of cost containment and quality improvement."

Marcus backs up her assessment with facts. For example, "Health-care costs and premiums for employer-sponsored insurance (the way most of us obtain coverage) have been rising at their lowest levels in years. On the exchanges, premium increases during the law’s second year mirrored that modest growth — averaging 2 percent on some mid-range plans and 4 percent on the lowest-cost ones, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation."

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