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Obamacare rates could soar next year critics claim

Questions about Obamacare remain

For months Obamacare proponents touted lower costs as one of the main benefits of the new healthcare legislation, but now the affordability and its potential to decrease health care costs has been questioned by a report by the Society of Actuaries.

Proponents of the bill note, however, that estimates could be inaccurate and complain that most actuaries in this country are employed by insurance companies. But a new study was released last month by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) that claims that the rising costs may be due primarily to sicker patients joining the coverage pool allowing for insurance rates to rise 32 to 80 percent in some states.

The report estimates that by 2017, in California residents could see their insurance rates jump 62 percent, in Ohio about 80 percent, 20 percent in Florida and 67 percent in Maryland. Critics of the actuary report claim the predicted increases in rates did not include factors which could lower prices such as competition and potential subsidies that some buyers will receive. Additionally, many insurers may receive coverage which is more comprehensive than what they currently receive and in that case an increase in cost would be expected.

Critics also complain the report was published by the SOA who “portray themselves as this nonpartisan think tank,” but the study was generated by people who have a vested interest in the outcome of the study and may not be completely unbiased, despite what they claim.

The SOA counters that the study was “overseen by credentialed actuaries from a cross-section of industry organizations and was exposed for review and comment from the broad health care actuarial community.”

What does an actuary do?

Actuaries exist because they are needed by insurance companies. Their primary focus is to help insurance companies not run out of money by using predictive math. Under Obamacare there is a calculator plans can use to meet the health acts standards for benefits, but the hired actuary who is working with the insurer and employer may override the government’s calculator plan.

Critics have criticized the accuracy of actuaries' predictions claiming they are akin to predictions from weather forecasters. For instance they claim that low calculations from actuaries caused a recent increase in the cost of nursing home care which has risen as much as 50% in recent years, and historically, in the housing market an actuary often overestimates mortgage liability.

Actuaries acknowledge that like any profession there may be room for improvement.

Medical care under Obamacare faces uncertain future

While there is a big push to implement Obamacare by October 1, 2013, costs continues to be a big issue. The goal of Obamacare is to increase insurance coverage for most Americans by helping middle-class households purchase subsidized private insurance in new marketplaces, while low-income people will be moved to Medicaid. States are free to accept or reject a Medicaid expansion also offered under the law.
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