Affordable care may be anything but

When the Affordable Care Act goes into effect in January, most Ohioans will get hit with substantial increases in their health care insurance premiums.

That’s because Ohio has allowed more than 60 insurance companies to compete in the state with few mandated benefits and the state also requires insurance companies to justify rate increases with the Ohio Department of Insurance.

The Affordable Care Act, however, imposes a litany of mandated benefits which drastically reduces the options for Ohio health insurance customers, thus negating the state’s consumer-friendly laws.

One example is pediatric vision care – a 64-year-old without kids would be required to purchase pediatric vision care. Another example is maternity coverage, required even if the woman has no intention of getting pregnant.

In states that already imposed strict mandates, the cost impact of the Affordable Care Act will not be significant. In Ohio, watch out.

Individual health plans in Ohio currently cost on average $236.29 per month while small group plans (for companies with 50 or fewer employees) cost $332.58 per month. Beginning in January, the individual plan costs will rise on average to $341.03 per month, an increase of 41 percent, while small group plans will increase to $401.99, an 18 percent increase.

This was determined by the Ohio Department of Insurance, which compared premiums reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners at the end of 2012 with the 2014 plans that companies provided. Milliman Inc., in 2011, and the American Society of Actuaries in 2013 also concluded that premiums will increase in Ohio in 2014.

Health insurance companies in Ohio were required to file the plans they intend to sell on the federal exchange that begins Oct. 1. Individuals and small businesses can purchase subsidized coverage on the exchange.

Many Ohioans will receive the subsidies to offset the increase. However, subsidies nationwide will cost taxpayers $33 billion in 2014, $100 billion in 2016 and $153 billion in 2023, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Congress has refused to pass legislation that would require safeguards against wrongly awarding subsidies to those who fail to meet income requirements.

The CBO estimates that the average subsidy per person will be $5,290 in 2014 and rise steadily to $7,900 per person by 2023 as the Affordable Care Act’s impact on premiums continues to escalate the cost.

Then there’s the cost to employers trying to understand and implement the Affordable Care Act. Just last week, the LaBrae Board of Education approved $3,000 for an Affordable Care Act compliance officer. When multiplied by all the employers in Trumbull County alone, the costs just keep getting more and more staggering.

Beside cost, there are the scary scenarios aired by the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. The group’s campaign, citing the Wall Street Journal, points out how the new health care law will restrict patient choices of doctors.

”Many health insurers are planning to decrease the network of health care providers available to their customers because of the law’s cost-increasing effects,” according to a report in the Journal. The Journal also reported that ”the new health care exchanges will include relatively few choices of doctors and hospitals.”

All this means that Ohioans are being penalized the most for doing it better all along. It seems the more we learn about the Affordable Care Act, the worse it sounds.