Democrats’ Rx would jack up premiums

Democratic legislators recently rammed their $1.3 trillion health care bill through the House of Representatives. This is bad news for Californians — particularly young adults.

The bills favored by leading Democrats would impose many new regulations on insurers and ultimately increase the amount Californians pay for health insurance.

Several new studies reveal just how much premiums will go up if the Democrats’ reforms become law. One study, conducted using actuarial data from the health insurer WellPoint Inc., examined 14 states, including the Golden State.

The conclusion? The vast majority of Americans, from young people in good health to middle-age people in average health, would see their premiums increase under the Democrats’ plan. In Los Angeles, for instance, the average healthy 25-year-old man would experience a 106 percent surge in his insurance premiums.

Democrats would also deliver a huge blow to California’s small businesses. Covering young, healthy employees at these firms would cost 31 percent more. Coverage for middle-age workers would be 18 percent more expensive.

The Democrats’ plan would make family coverage less affordable, too. A typical family with two children in Los Angeles, for example, would see its monthly premiums increase from $536 to $763 — an increase of $227.

Why the big cost increases? For starters, both the Senate and House reform packages would require every insurance policy to include certain benefits. Customers would have to pay for them even if they didn’t want or need them. These mandates can increase the price of a basic insurance policy by 20 percent to 50 percent.

Democrats are also pushing for a “guaranteed-issue” rule that would bar insurers from denying coverage to applicants because of pre-existing conditions, health status, or medical history. That sounds fair. But guaranteed-issue only encourages people to go without health insurance until they’re sick.

After all, it makes no sense to pay for a policy when you’re healthy if you can get coverage for the same price when you actually need medical care.

As healthy people opt out of the insurance pool, only those with serious health problems would remain. Insurers would compensate by raising premiums.

By pushing for a legislative package that would increase health costs for most Americans, leading Democrats seem to have decided that it’s more important to pass a reform bill than it is to improve the health care system.

Ordinary people will pay the price for Congress’ misplaced priorities.

Sally Pipes is president and chief executive officer of the Pacific Research Institute.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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