Forbes Tells The Truth, Then Lies About Obamacare

Last week, Forbes blogger Rick Ungar admitted Obamacare was keeping rates down. This week, Forbes blogger Avik Roy lied to readers about rates doubling.

Forbes seems to have a bit of a conflict between their desire to serve corporate interests and their desire to be journalists.

Last week, Forbes blogger Rick Ungar admitted he was wrong about Obamacare and insurance rates, following the news that California's rates were actually less than expected.

For quite some time, I have been predicting that Obamacare would likely mean higher insurance rates in the individual market for the “young immortals” and others under the age of 40. At the same time, my expectation was that those who fall into the older age ranges would benefit greatly as their premium charges would be lowered thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

It is increasingly clear that I had it wrong.

That must have come as a shock to the Forbes community, so they quickly put Avik Roy, their corporate pharma shill, on the job. His post making the claim that rates double is incredibly disingenuous on a number of levels.

If you’re a 25 year old male non-smoker, buying insurance for yourself, the cheapest plan on Obamacare’s exchanges is the catastrophic plan, which costs an average of $184 a month. (By “average,” I mean the median monthly premium across California’s 19 insurance rating regions.)

The next cheapest plan, the “bronze” comprehensive plan, costs $205 a month. But in 2013, on eHealthInsurance.com (NASDAQ:EHTH), the median cost of the five cheapest plans was only $92.

In other words, for the typical 25-year-old male non-smoking Californian, Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent.

Under Obamacare, only people under the age of 30 can participate in the slightly cheaper catastrophic plan. So if you’re 40, your cheapest option is the bronze plan. In California, the median price of a bronze plan for a 40-year-old male non-smoker will be $261.

Here's your quickie bullet point rebuttal to this nonsense:

  • eHealth doesn't sell long-term comprehensive health insurance policies, only short term catastrophic policies and bridge policies.
  • eHealth will not consider anyone with pre-existing conditions. They point people to federal and state high-risk pools instead.
  • There is a huge difference between plans with a $10,000 deductible, no coverage for doctors, no coverage for prescriptions, and only catastrophic coverage and the Obamacare Bronze or Silver plans, which provide free preventive coverage, prescription coverage, and reasonable co-payments for doctors' visits.
  • Obamacare rates require a tight ratio between premiums for younger insureds and older. Older non-smokers' premiums cannot be more than 3 times the youngest insured's rate. That means that the overall base rate WILL go up to some extent, but the subsidies will likely cover more younger people and bring their costs into line with what they can afford.

In December 2012, Roy also interviewed Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini who had a lot gloom-and-doom predictions about how expensive premiums would be under Obamacare. I guess Bertolini decided they wouldn't go high enough for his liking, because Aetna opted out of California's health insurance exchange. Do you suppose that had something to do with their megaprofit needs?

Here's your takeaway from this. Forbes is trying to massively spin one guy's endorsement of Obamacare's health insurance exchanges which was largely accurate in order to keep their corporate friends happy, and they're not afraid to use false comparisons and lies to do it.

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