It worked the way it was supposed to work, in other words.
Texans who received financial assistance to purchase health coverage through the federal insurance exchange are paying less in monthly premiums than individuals in most other states using that online marketplace, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Texas, like dozens of other states with Republican leadership, declined to create its own state-based insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, relying on a federally managed marketplace instead.
Texans who receive tax credits to help them purchase health coverage through the federal marketplace pay $72 on average in monthly premiums for their plans — the seventh-lowest monthly premium among the 36 states using the federal marketplace.
The national average for subsidized enrollees in the federal marketplace is $82 a month, with individuals in states like New Mexico, Wyoming and New Jersey paying more than $100 a month on average.
On average, subsidized enrollees — who make up 84 percent of Texans who purchased coverage through the federal marketplace — have received $233 in monthly tax credits in Texas.
You can see the report here – the breakdown of subsidy amounts by state is on page 23. There are still things that need to be fixed with Obamacare, as with any large new program, but they’re all doable given a non-insane Congress and some time. The best news so far is that premium increases will be modest for next year, and more insurers want in. As Kevin Drum says, it’s time to acknowledge that it’s working pretty well overall.
Not that this will make any of the usual suspects shut up already, of course.
Opponents of the health reform law have attributed low overall enrollment rates to the fact that low premiums often mean high deductibles. Despite the subsidies offered by the federal government, Texas’ total enrollment numbers have not made a big dent in the state’s sky-high rate of uninsured.
John Davidson, a health policy analyst at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, has said that Texans’ reluctance to purchase insurance through the marketplace in bigger numbers stems from the cost of the health plans, even subsidized ones.
He added that individuals are also apprehensive about accepting the subsidies because they might be faced with paying them back if their annual income increases.
I look forward to the day when a story about Obamacare can be written without reporters feeling compelled to include some “on the other hand” quotes by shills like John Davidson. He has no useful insights or criticisms to offer, he’s just here for the FUD. If you must quote a hack like Davidson, then the least you should do is make it clear that his objections have nothing to do with numbers and everything to do with plain old politics. Matt Yglesias lays out what the argument really is.
One of America’s political parties doesn’t like that idea in any non-health context and they don’t like it for health care either. They think the money it costs to provide those subsidies should be taken away, and it should be given to high-income households in the form of tax cuts.
This is an excellent and important policy debate to have. One of the great ideological issues not just of our time and place, but of democratic politics across eras and countries. Should economic resources be distributed more equally or less equally?
But thus far to an amazing extent we haven’t been having that debate. Instead we’ve been having a debate over whether Obamacare works, over death panels, over enrollment numbers, over income verification procedures, and over the minutia of premiums and payments. It’s time to put that debate behind us. It’s clear — as it always should have been — that if you offer people large subsidies to go buy health insurance, lots of people will happily take the money and go buy some health insurance.
It’s time to start debating the real issue: should we do that, or is it more important to keep taxes on high-earners low than to give low-earners comprehensive health insurance?
So to be clear, John Davidson and his overlords absolutely support cutting their taxes so they don’t have to help pay for anyone to get health insurance. That’s what you should read when you see someone like him quoted in one of these stories.