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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 24, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 08
Republican claims ignore consumer gains under ACA in Washington, insurance commissioner says
Section One
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Republican claims ignore consumer gains under ACA in Washington, insurance commissioner says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler says that Republicans are misrepresenting the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare).

In a statement issued by his office on February 23, Kreidler says that 'recent claims by Washington state congressional Republicans about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ignore significant consumer gains.'

The facts show otherwise, Kreidler added, citing three key findings by his office.

First, Kreidler says, deductibles - the amount an individual must pay before insurance kicks in - actually decreased since passage of the ACA.

'The percentage of individual health plans with annual deductibles higher than $6,000 plunged from 42% in 2013 to just 17% in 2017,' Kreidler's office found.

Second, individual insurance plans now have more value than they did before the ACA.

'The value of a typical individual plan is much closer to the value of the average employer-sponsored plan - 70% today compared to 40% in 2013,' Kreidler notes. 'In other words, consumers are getting more benefits for their money.'

Finally, annual premium increases have actually slowed under the ACA, contrary to Republican allegations.

'Before the ACA, insurers increased premiums an average of 18.5%. Since the ACA took effect in 2014, premiums have only increased an average of 6.7%,' Kreidler found.

Kreidler also noted the drop in Washington's rate of uninsured people - from 14% in 2013 to 5.8% today. An additional 750,000 state residents gained insurance coverage because of the ACA, he said.

'The facts tell a different story than what opponents are saying,' Kreidler said.

'Before the ACA, consumers in Washington were paying a lot more for a lot less. Many went without health insurance. Denials of coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition were common. Many plans failed to cover prescription drugs. My concern is that current Republican plans will return us to the dark days of health care before the ACA.'

Kreidler is also analyzing the potential ACA replacement plan proposed by House Republican Speaker Paul Ryan and a proposed rule by the federal Health and Human Services Department.

Both proposals could seriously harm Washington consumers, he said.

Final results of his investigation are expected in early March. The reviews are being coordinated with state and national experts.

'I've consistently said that the ACA was not perfect and that improvements need to be made,' Kreidler said. 'My focus is on changes that benefit consumers instead of harming them.'

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