Oregon Insurers vying to lower premiums because of Obamacare

This is awfully cool.  Health insurance companies in Oregon are trying to lower their premiums, in order to compete with each other, ever since the state started publishing a policy-by-policy comparison online, per the requirements of Obamacare.

It seems the insurers suddenly discovered that if one of them charges people $169 a month, and the other $422 a month, for the same coverage, people might just choose the former rather than the latter.

It’s an amazing story.  And it’s exactly what Obamacare is intended to do.  Make it easier for consumers to compare insurance policies.  Currently it’s a zoo.  I tried comparing plans a few months ago, and couldn’t make heads or tails of the plans even within my own insurer, let alone between companies.  Hopefully all that will soon change.

And insurance experts say that what’s going on in Oregon is only “a taste” of what’s to come.

Having said that, all is not gold.  People on the individual market might be seeing premium increases as a result of insurers having to now cover people with pre-existing conditions.  But, we also should, hopefully, see a lot more healthy people buying plans as well, to avoid the law’s penalties, so that should hopefully help even out premiums.

I know with my CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, it actually went down last year, for the first time, before going up a sizable amount this year I now pay $587 a month in premiums.  When I checked on the “new” Obamacare plans in DC, the ones that don’t have annual limits on prescription drug coverage (my current plan has a $1500 annual limit on prescription drugs), the monthly would be $764.  That’s 30% more just for the prescription drug coverage.  They really are bastards.

But of course, if I don’t get the prescription drug coverage, then I’m subject to the other bastards, America’s pharmaceutical industry, and the politicians, of both parties, they’ve bought off.  Americans pay up to five times what Europeans pay for the same prescription drugs made by the same pharmaceutical companies.  Big Pharma simply charges Americans more, because they can.  In Europe, many governments negotiate lower prices.  So if you dont pay more for the premium, you pay more for the prescription drugs.

Best health care in the world, unless you get sick.  Then it’s not so good.

Still, it’s a positive sign that at least there’s some competition coming somewhere from all of this.  Hopefully, once things move into full gear this fall, we’ll see real savings across the country – at least in blue states.  Red states that are refusing to implement Obamacare can pray for God to pay their hospital bills.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • isHimCrazy

    I think the more frugal thing would be to feed your family, putting food on them just seems like it would add insult to starvation.

  • Ford Prefect

    They can’t deny you based on pre-existing conditions, but there’s no limit to what they can charge you for not being cancelled…. so they can just price you out of healthcare without bothering with cancellations. If there were cost controls, it would be a big deal. But in this case, it’s just a head fake.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Brought to you by Obama after secret backroom deals chaired by Max Baucus, who has now joined an insurance lobby.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    For many seniors Obama Care is ‘zero’ . Medicare decides which drugs we are allowed and which aren’t covered, Some of us have to decide on meds or food in a stretch month.

  • ComradeRutherford

    “Health insurance companies in Oregon are trying to lower their premiums, in order to compete with each other”

    See, that’s why Obamacare is so evil, insurance companies can no longer just charge as much as they want!

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Sounds unclear from that story, but I expect insurance companies to attempt to screw us any way they can. The entire system is broken, especially pricing of drugs, and medical services. At some point, people need to get angry. I dont think enough are yet.

  • nicho

    And employers are finding ways to cut people’s hours so they don’t have to pay for their insurance. They’ll hire more part-time people, though, so the “new jobs” figures will go up. Win-win-win — unless you’re trying to put food on your family.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Yeah, I’ve always felt this is the biggest flaw — that there is no upper limit to the bills charged by BigMed, and therefore there’s a positive-reinforcing incentive to keep the medical inflation as high as possible.

  • Hue-Man

    If the insurance industry agrees – and with this honorable group of companies, it’s impossible to contemplate that happening (snark) – to act as a public utility, will they get to keep their extravagant executive compensation by increasing how much they pay out and through higher premiums?

    For the arithmetically challenged like me, FriendlyMed charges $100 premium, pays $80 for a medical test and pays $20 into the CEO remuneration fund. With Obamacare, FriendlyMed (and every other friendly insurance company) pays $800 for that same medical test after bumping the insurance premium to $1,000 and is therefore able to pay $200 to the CEO compensation fund. Obviously, I’ve exaggerated the increases to keep the math obvious, but is FriendlyMed going to go to hospitals, pharmacies, doctors, etc. and say “Please bill be more, please!” so they can keep living in the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed?

    Result: patients lose, CEO’s win, medical industrial complex wins. With recent disclsoures about the huge range in pricing, it wouldn’t take much to get the “right” result.

    “Patients pay as much as 683% more for the same medical procedures, such
    as MRIs or CT scans, in the same town, depending on which doctor they
    choose, according to a study by a national health care group.” http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/health/2011-06-30-health-costs-wide-differences-locally_n.htm

  • http://www.facebook.com/zachary.smith.3914207 Zachary Smith

    I have a feeling ObamaCare is going to be viewed as more of a curse than a blessing.
    It’s nothing I can substantiate, for information I can trust is mighty scarce.

    Is Bloomberg reliable? I don’t know, but here is a link to a short essay which is kind of gloomy.

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-03-28/obamacare-scare-double-digit-premium-hikes
    IMO letting Big Insurance write the health care bill means their profits are going to increase, but compulsory insurance probably won’t translate into better medical care for us peasants.

  • Drew2u

    Is the only cost-control the 80/20% provision?
    My question, which I’ve heard repeated and I feel bad not knowing this in certainty, but what is the enticement to lower the premiums again; transparency of their prices as contrasted with other companies? Is there an ease-of-payment comparison as well – the coverage and turn-over for payments?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I’ve a feeling the whole ‘pre-existing conditions’ thing was a bogus way to ensure the absolute most ‘cherry’ of possible insurance clients was selected by default.

    Sure, there are plenty of pre-existing conditions that are expensive to take care of. Then there are others that simply require monitoring and maintenance — like your asthma, John, or my migraines and hay-fever allergies. The insurance companies were rejecting individuals often for the most trivial of reasons, and as with us, we’re not even that expensive to treat. The only difference between us and their preferred customers is this absurd presumption that we use a non-zero amount of medical care, whereas the people they want supposedly will use none at all. Which is always a ridiculous assumption, because our bodies always break down, are in accidents, and so on.

    Every single person who has health insurance will inevitably contract some condition or have an accident that will qualify as a coverage-denying pre-existing condition from that point forward.

    Anyway, eliminating the pre-existing conditions denials is a big deal, and might finally provide some much-needed incentive for insurance companies to deal with routine medical needs when they’re inexpensive.

  • AdmNaismith

    Depending on the penalty, it may still be cheaper to take the penalty than to find insurance. I may end up buying my husband insurance (who needs shoulder surgery and two new knees), and I’ll just take the penalty.

    This is still going to bankrupt me so long as there are no legal controls on the price of coverage. I simply cannot afford medical care or insurance coverage.

  • S1AMER

    Gosh, something happening the way it was supposed to! Whodathunk?

    (Meanwhile, in GOP Land states, millions of people will still have no insurance, and no Medicaid, and no nothin’)

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