In some states, people buying insurance on their own could soon find it much easier to afford their premiums next year – and you have Obamacare to thank for that, according to the president.
On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that state insurance regulators have approved monthly premium rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower, on average, than current prices, according to the New York Times. In a speech on Thursday morning, President Barack Obama pointed to the news as further evidence that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a vital piece of health reform.
Soon, “hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who don’t have insurance will finally be able to afford it,” the president said. “Another example of the Affordable Care Act doing what it’s supposed to do.”
Starting in October, New Yorkers who currently buy their own insurance for more than $1,000 per month will be able to buy it for as little as $308 – and federal subsidies could bring the cost even further down, according to the Times. Other states have also unveiled lower premiums in recent months. California’s health insurance exchange, Covered California, revealed a menu of prices in May. A 40-year-old Golden State resident with a moderate income will pay only up to $219 per month for coverage bought through the exchange, according to the Huffington Post.
Still, Obamacare remains wildly unpopular among congressional Republicans. Lawmakers in both houses of Congress have voted to roll back part or all of the health care law 67 times, according to the Washington Post’s fact-checker. But the president noted that both Medicare and Social Security were met with a storm of criticism when those programs were proposed.
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Back then, “there were folks who for political reasons resisted implementation,” Obama said. “But once it was set up, people said ‘this is a pretty good deal.’”
Obama also highlighted the fact that many Americans have been getting rebate checks from their insurance companies. The health care law requires insurance companies to spend 80 or 85 percent (depending on the size of the company) of premiums on health care costs and claims, meaning that only 20 percent of what a person pays out can be used for overhead or profits. In 2012, about 13 million Americans received rebate checks totaling around $1.1 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Meanwhile, Republicans have seized on the fact that the Obama administration has had to delay the implementation of the employer mandate, which requires businesses with 50 or more workers to prove they’re providing health insurance to their employees. Originally, that provision was supposed to go into effect in January 2014, along with the mandate requiring most individuals to have health insurance. Citing concerns about the complexity of the requirements and vast amount of information businesses would have to provide to the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced earlier in July that the administration was giving employers a year’s breathing room.
“After months of insisting that things were ‘on track’ and ‘fabulous,’ the Obama administration and its allies have finally acknowledged what Ohio families and job creators already know: The president’s health care law is unworkable,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote Saturday. “The administration is acknowledging it has no choice but to provide needed relief to large employers from burdens imposed by the law that are clearly dragging on our economy and jobs growth.”