As first reported Wednesday in a front-page New York Times story, New York state officials have announced that under the Affordable Care Act, premiums for those purchasing individual insurance will plummet up to 50 percent. Following that story, the news got considerable national play, including a segment on one of the nightly network broadcasts. Much of the coverage notes the importance of the news to the national conversation about the ACA, concluding that this is a positive development for the Obama Administration, which has faced considerable criticism and a handful of setbacks in its implementation of the law.
ABC World News reported that three states “have unveiled specifics of what they’re offering American families” under the Affordable Care Act, with all three “promising lower premiums.” ABC’s Jonathan Karl said that the Obama Administration is “specifically focusing” on New York, where premiums for “non-employer insurance will be down more than 50 percent.” He continued, “the White House is hoping you will see savings like that for all 50 states.”
Bloomberg News (7/18, Klopott, Nussbaum) reports that “the lowered rates mean that starting Oct. 1, a New York City resident who now pays at least $1,000 a month for insurance will be able to buy coverage for as little as $308, according to rates posted by governor’s office.” According to the article, this news “may ease fears that next year’s implementation of the biggest parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act would send prices soaring.”
The Wall Street Journal (7/18, Orden, Subscription Publication) quotes New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who in announcing the rates said, “The opportunity to choose among affordable, quality health insurance options will mean improved health outcomes, stronger economic security, and better peace of mind for New York families.”
The Washington Times (7/18, Howell) “Inside Politics” blog notes that “Democratic lawmakers touted the news on Wednesday as proof the Affordable Care Act is working as promised to drive up competition and lower premiums.” And, the Obama Administration is saying the New York premiums are “mirrored by similar results in Oregon and California.”
The Christian Science Monitor (7/18, Bruinius) calls the announcement “a victory for Obamacare, which Americans still view warily, according to polls.”
In a piece on the specifics of the state’s exchange, the AP (7/18, Virtanen) reports that officials “approved health insurance rates for 17 insurers planning to offer coverage next year through New York’s new Health Benefit Exchange,” which is expected to cover “1.1 million uninsured statewide.” Of the 17 insurers, eight of these “don’t currently offer commercial health insurance plans” in the state.
Other national outlets offering accounts of the plummeting premiums include Reuters (7/18, Humer), The Hill (7/18, Baker) “Healthwatch” blog, CQ (7/18, Subscription Publication), CBS News (7/18, Haven), CNN- Money (7/18, Luhby), and the Modern Healthcare (7/18, Block, Subscription Publication) “Vital Signs” blog.
New York-based outlets reporting include the Albany (NY) Times Union (7/18, Hughes), the White Plains (NY) Journal News (7/18, Bakeman), the Buffalo (NY) News (7/18, Zremski), the Buffalo (NY) Business First (7/18, Drury, Subscription Publication), and the New York Business Journal (7/18, Orlando).
Beyond just reporting the news, several outlets offer analysis pieces looking deeper into the mechanics behind the plummeting rates. For example, the Washington Post (7/18, Kliff) “Wonkblog” reports that while the “unexpected” news is a “rarity,” it “shouldn’t be shocking.” The blog explains that New York has for over twenty years had “the highest individual market premiums in the country,” due to a 1993 law requiring “insurance plans to accept all applicants, regardless of how sick or healthy they were.” And now that the ACA adds in the requirement that all uninsured sign up for coverage, the pool in New York gets a lot less sick. And, the blog concludes, “A less sick population generally means a less expensive population.”
Similarly, in a piece going “behind” the falling premiums, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (7/18, Tozzi) calls them “not surprising” because of the way New York’s market was “previously structured.” John Cassidy, in The New Yorker (7/18), and the Atlantic Wire (7/18, Reeve) offer similar analyses.
Commentary Considers Implications Of New York’s Plummeting Premiums. A handful of commentators consider the implications of premiums plummeting in New York under the Affordable Care Act. Given the subject matter, all three speak positively about the ACA.
First, Paul Krugman, in his New York Times (7/18) “The Conscience of a Liberal” blog, writes that “the New York experience perfectly illustrates why Obamacare had to look the way it does,” as well as why “conservatives should be terrified about this legislation.” He concludes, “Conservatives are right to be hysterical about this: it’s an attack on everything they believe — and it’s going to make Americans’ lives better.”
Similarly, Kansas City (MO) Star (7/18) columnist Barbara Shelly writes that with the news out of New York, as well as falling rates in California, Oregon, Washington, Maryland, and Vermont, this is “not exactly the imaginary ‘train wreck’ that has the U.S. House preparing to vote to repeal Obamacare for, what, the 38th time?”
Jay Bookman, in his Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution (7/18) blog, calls the news “promising” and “encouraging” for the Affordable Care Act.