Health Care Reform Round-Up: CBO Finds Some Insurance Savings, New Amendments Proposed

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Health Care Reform Round-Up: CBO Finds Some Insurance Savings, New Amendments Proposed

by Astrid Fiano, DOTmed News Writer | December 02, 2009
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The Congressional Budget Office released an analysis undertaken with the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) on how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, H.R. 3590, would affect premiums paid for health insurance in various markets.

The non-group (individual) market would have the most significant effect, growing in size under the legislation but still only 17 percent of the overall insurance market by 2016. Under legislative change, the cost for individual policies would be about 10 percent to 13 percent higher in 2016 than the same coverage in 2016 under current law. However, more than half of the enrollees in these policies would receive federal government subsidies (for those individuals and families with income between 133 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL)). When those subsidies are taken into account, the enrollees' cost for the subsidized policies would be around 56 percent to 59 percent lower than the same non-group premiums charged under current law.

The CBO and JCT also stated that a majority of persons who have health coverage from their employers will see little effect--either no increase or a reduction in premiums. For the small group market (defined by the analysis as employers with 50 or fewer employees), CBO and JCT estimate that the change under the legislation in the average premium per person would likely range from a one percent increase to a two percent reduction of premiums in 2016, compared to the same premium prices under current law. In the large group market (50+ employees), the premium cost would be likely zero to three percent lower in 2016 (compared to that under current law).

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About 12 percent of those in the small group market would benefit from the small business tax credit on the cost of purchasing insurance under the legislation, with a lowered cost of between 8 percent to 11 percent compared with the same premium cost under current law.

Meanwhile, the debate on H.R. 3590 has begun in earnest on the Senate floor; Monday, Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Olympia Snow (R-ME) offered the first bipartisan amendment to the bill. Senator Mikulski stated that the bill "could do more to be able to enhance and improve women's health care," and that her amendment would address that issue. The amendment guarantees women access to critical preventive services and screenings by eliminating, or minimizing, high co-pays and high deductibles that the Senator said "are often overwhelming hurdles for women to access screening programs."