Did health word premiums burst 50 percent since of Obamacare?

 “Lamar was proven right”

–voiceover of new debate ad for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

This debate ad highlights Alexander’s purpose as one of a arch GOP critics of President Obama’s health-care law during a nationally televised “health-care summit” hold on Feb. 25, 2010.

The ad shows Alexander debating a boss over either a Congressional Budget Office likely a arise in premiums given of a Senate chronicle of a bill.  Then a ad asserts that particular premiums have left adult some-more than 50 percent, citing 2010 and 2013 information from a Kaiser Family Foundation and a Department of Health and Human Services. It ends with a picture of a quote from a Fox New reporter from a day of a summit, “Lamar Alexander was right,” yet a voiceover somewhat tweaks a quote to say: “Lamar was proven right.”

The Facts

First, let’s revisit that sell between Alexander and a president, as shown in a ad. (The element in brackets was clipped from a ad.)

Obama: “Lamar, when we mentioned progressing that premiums will go up, that’s only not a box [according to a Congressional Budget Office].”

Alexander: “The Congressional Budget Office news says that premiums will arise [in a particular marketplace as a outcome of a Senate bill].”

Obama: “No, no, no, no. This is an instance of where we’ve got to get a contribution straight.”

Alexander: “That’s my point.”

Obama and Alexander were articulate past any other. Alexander was citing an altogether CBO figure that enclosed a cost of a additional coverage mandated by a law, for an boost of 10 to 13 percent. Obama was focusing on CBO’s prophecy that a same accurate word would cost less, observant during one prove that “the costs for families for a same form of coverage that they’re now receiving would go down 14 percent to 20 percent.” 

One could positively contend Obama’s denunciation was overly parsed, given it competence have left viewers with a sense that premiums would go down as a outcome of a law. As we have mostly said, we don’t get something for nothing–and that would embody a strong package of advantages in Obamacare.

Regular readers might remember that we have explored this CBO estimate before, when we gave Two Pinocchios to then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius for observant that premiums were 16 percent revoke than what CBO had projected. (The problem was HHS had reinterpreted CBO’s research yet entirely disclosing that fact.) The CBO analysis, that was never updated, presented normal approaching costs in 2016 for a family of 4 with dual adults and dual children.

We had previously noted that a many critical partial of a CBO news was not a dollar total yet a intensity certain and disastrous impact of a law on premiums. The news did prove that premiums, on average, were approaching to boost given of mandates in a law. But it also showed that, as Obama noted, that all things being equal, a same turn of word would cost less.

It was one of those reports with something for everyone–and news coverage of a CBO analysis led to a plenitude of opposing headlines. The Washington Post said: “Senate health check wouldn’t boost word costs for most, CBO says.” By contrast, The Hill journal reported: “CBO: Senate check would boost particular word premiums.”

In any case, how does Alexander come adult with a statistic that premiums have left adult 50 percent? He takes a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation estimate that a normal particular monthly reward was $215, and afterwards compares it to an guess for a second lowest “silver plan” released by HHS in 2013 as a exchanges were launched–$328 a month. (Alexander focused on a second lowest china devise given a administration labeled it a “benchmark plan.”)

That’s an boost of 53 percent, yet it’s hairy math.

First of all, let’s remember that word premiums have left adult any year–sometimes by double number amounts. One can't only allot any boost to a Affordable Care Act. Here’s a useful draft of Kaiser information on word reward increases put together by a colleagues during FactCheck.org:


Second, it is really tough to review word skeleton before and after a Affordable Care Act given a ACA-compliant skeleton have a minimal turn of benefits. Finally, inhabitant averages are not really didactic given that any state is a possess particular word market.

Larry Levitt, one of a co-authors of a Kaiser report, added: “One other approach in that those dual numbers might paint an apples to oranges comparison is that they simulate averages opposite people, and a combination of who is insured could be really different. For example, really few kids – who have most revoke premiums – are enrolling in marketplace skeleton given they are generally authorised for Medicaid or CHIP [Child’s Health Insurance Program], nonetheless a 2010 figure for a particular marketplace represents an normal opposite adults and kids.”

The same Kaiser information uncover that a bronze devise would cost $249 on average—and $181 in Tennessee. In 2010, a normal for Tennessee was $204, so even regulating a same reports as Alexander, one could make a box that premiums have forsaken depending on a devise selected. (There are also outrageous differences in costs, depending on age, from $146 for a second lowest china devise for 21-year-old to $392 for a same devise for a 55-year-old in Tennessee, according to Kaiser.)

Moreover, Alexander is ignoring a impact of reward taxation subsidies, a pivotal underline of a health caring law. A June news from HHS says that 78 percent of Tennessee residents accept some form of subsidy, that revoke their reward by scarcely 70 percent on average. The normal reward before taxation credits is $281—and $86 after credits. (Alexander doesn’t embody a impact of taxation credits because a review with Obama was about reward costs before taxation credits.)

As for that Fox News quote that “Alexander was right,” a contributor did contend that, yet a Fox News striking done transparent a viewed boost did not comment for a impact of taxation subsidies. The CBO news pronounced that those subsidies would revoke premiums by 56 to 59 percent.

Alexander’s bureau declined to yield an on-the-record response.

The Pinocchio Test

Alexander mixes adult so many apples and oranges here that a ad is a practical fruit basket.

As a ubiquitous matter, one could contend that particular premiums have left up, in partial given a health-care law mandates a abounding package of benefits. But one can't omit a impact of taxation subsidies—or simply review pre-ACA skeleton with post-ACA plans.  Alexander might wish to relive his impulse in a inhabitant spotlight, yet he’s dubious viewers with his math that premiums have risen some-more than 50 percent.

Two Pinocchios


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