Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor announced this week that the state's insurance premiums would climb an average of 41 percent for individuals enrolling in the health exchanges this October. But policy experts and proponents of federal health reform immediately raised concerns about Taylor's estimate. Ideastream's Sarah Jane Tribble explains.
For years, Ohio's individual insurance market has allowed for some high deductible health plans with coverage that is far from comprehensive. And that's meant the average premium in the state is lower than in many other states.
But next year, insurers will be required to follow the rules of the federal Affordable Care Act and provide 10 essential health benefits. During a conference call with reporters this week, Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor said that means next year's plans will be much more expensive than those found on the market today.
"The ACA requires more benefits that every consumer is required to purchase regardless of whether they want them, need them or can afford them that will drive up the cost," Taylor says.
Those mandated benefits under Obamacare include coverage for preventive and wellness care, maternity and newborn care, mental health, prescription drugs and more. So while the average premium in the individual market is $236 this year it goes up to $332 next year, according to Taylor.
But Larry Levitt of the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation says Taylor's explanation of the numbers isn't the whole story.
"State's like Ohio have emphasized the kind of raw premiums and not really talked about the tax credits that will bring those premiums down. … In many ways the premiums that you see are really sticker prices that most people won't actually pay," Levitt says.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also weighed in. Federal spokeswoman Joanne Peters, in a written statement, says "we are confident that Ohio's premiums will be affordable."