Good work, Maryland!
Maryland insurance officials approved final rates Friday for health plans to be sold in the state’s new online marketplace that are among the lowest in the country. The plans, which are for individuals, will be sold beginning Oct. 1.
The Maryland Insurance Administration approved premiums at levels as much as 33 percent below what had been requested by insurance carriers. For a 21-year-old non-smoker, for example, options start as low as $93 a month. Insurance Commissioner Therese Goldsmith reduced the premium rates proposed by every insurance carrier in the individual market, including some by more than 50 percent, according to an analysis by Maryland officials who will be operating the marketplace.
The rates offered by nine carriers are among the lowest of the 12 states that have proposed or approved rates for comparison to date, and among the lowest in the D.C. area.
“We are pleased that Maryland is among the lowest in the country,” said the state’s health secretary, Joshua Sharfstein. He said the rates were an important step for the launch of the online marketplace, the Maryland Health Connection.
Be careful when reading press releases on rates in the exchanges. Certain states are just flat-out lying. Here’s Indiana’s absolutely ridiculous (but probably successful) attempt to make the rates appear higher than they are:
Witness the latest example of political skullduggery playing out in the great State of Indiana where GOP Governor Mike Pence has found it necessary to take extreme liberties with the reporting of the state’s healthcare exchange data—all to justify his anti-Obamacare political positioning.
Anyone paying attention to data projecting what a health insurance policy will likely cost on the newly formed individual policy insurance exchanges could hardly miss the headlines late last week announcing that premiums for health insurance policies stood to rise to an average monthly price of $570—a 72 percent increase over current rates in Indiana.
Of course, if this data is correct, it would be quite a blow to Indiana residents at the hand of the dreaded Obamacare.
At first glance—the only glance the Indiana officials intend for you to see—this is certainly disturbing news. Even those willing to accept the projections and claims made by the President during last week’s health care address—where he referred to the ‘good news’ in California, Oregon, Washington and, particularly, New York—would have to come to the understanding that there may, indeed, be states where the law is going to badly hurt consumers.
You see, while the states that have already released their projections have based their price expectations on what insurance company filings suggest will be the cost of a ‘Silver’ plan (the second least expensive option to be offered on the exchanges), Indiana decided to publish their projections based on a calculation that took all the levels of plans to be offered—ranging from the less expensive Bronze and Silver plan to the most expensive Gold and Platinum plans—and averaged them all together to come up with their projected rates.
As Sy Mukherjee points out, “That’s like saying the average cost of a car in an Indiana dealership is $100,000 because it sells $20,000 Fords, $60,000 BMWs, and $220,000 Lamborghinis — technically true, but highly misleading.”
Of course, there was no real reason for “headlines” to consist of near-random words copied off a press release, but that’s what happened. Oh, well. I hope no one in Indiana actually needs health insurance!
Ohio’s Mary Taylor has also been caught lying about insurance rates. Taylor may have come up with the specific lie mechanism that Indiana later relied on (she was first) so there’s a lot of innovation and creativity going on in conservative policy circles regarding how best to misrepresent the facts.
My own take on it is people who live in states with competent government and at least a semi-functioning, not-completely-corrupt regulatory team will do better on price than those of us who live in states run by ambitious GOP hacks, but that’s probably true in most things.