Ohio Health Insurance Rate Shock: Is It Mandatory Next Year?

July 08, 2013

Their point, that Ohio has taken a page from California's playbook and pulled numbers out of the air that don't necessarily mean a whole lot to you.

Trudy Lieberman a writer for the Columbia Journalism Review said, "The [Ohio] insurance department had blurred the lines between the costs insurers incur to provide coverage with the actual premiums they will charge, and it was basing its assertions on projected rates that the department had not finished reviewing."

Is She's Right?

I don't know.

For arguments sake, let's give Trudy the benefit of the doubt and say the republican political machine is hard at work here and they did everything in their power to make these numbers look as bad as possible to stick it to "Obamacare."

Let's also say that 88 percent is double what the actual percentage will be. My math may or may not be correct on this, but that would leave us with a hypothetical 44 percent increase next year.

Do you know what a 44 percent increase looks like on a health insurance policy?

Here's A Real Life Example

Let's take a look at a real renewal rate for an Ohio family of four, a couple in their mid 50's with two children in their early 20's, from this past April. Their current rate for a $5,000 family deductible Health Savings Account plan was $740.23.

They were hit with a 29.8 percent increase this year, one of the highest I have ever seen, bringing their new rate to $960.79.

If their policy increases by 44 percent next year, that's an additional $422, bringing the grand total to $1,383.53.


It doesn't matter how much Ohio officials told you your health insurance would increase, it's going to feel like a 133 percent increase when that family gets that notice.

Of course, this is an example of a current plan that was sold before the 10 essential health benefits were created, however from everything I have been told, a plan similar to this should be able to exist within Ohio's upcoming health insurance marketplace.

With the limited information we have on proposed rates and plans insurance companies will be selling inside and out of the marketplace, this is the best we can do right now.

Will This Happen To You?

Steve Koff, Washington bureau chief for the Cleveland Plain Dealer said, "The debate is over a relatively slim portion of the insurance market, individual policies that are sold by agents or brokers to one customer at a time,"

According to Lieberman, there are "only about 350,000 people out of the state's 10 million will be affected." These are people, like you, who buy their health coverage on their own. She went on to say that "this hoopla" over these increases "is somewhat beside the point to most residents."

How does that make you feel?

What she and others forget, is these are the people whose health insurance was unaffordable in the first place, not the other 9,650,000 Ohioans.

If your job offers health insurance, they are paying a minimum of 50 percent for that policy, probably more.

The Slippery Slope

With the recent delay of the employer mandate under healthcare reform, other well read, fairly intelligent people speculate we could see a lot more people find their way into that "slim portion" of Ohio's population.

Having your employer provide you health insurance has become an inefficient burden to businesses in this country. It might be in everyone's best interests if that were no longer the case.

If your employer doesn't have to worry about paying for and picking a health insurance plan you're going to like, he can pass those savings (time, money) on to you and the company.

It might seem intimidating buying health insurance on your own, but it's not. You have probably already bought several kinds of insurance without your employer holding your hand and were successful.

Not too mention, that's where I come in, it's my job to help you understand this "stuff" and make the best decision.

What's The Real Problem?

You can't lower the cost of health insurance without doing serious work lowering the cost of what it's trying to insure, medical treatment.

Steven Brill, founder of the Yale Journalism Initiative who wrote "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills are Killing Us" last March for Time Magazine says, "[The Affordable Care Act] nips at the edges but doesn't address the basic problem of the cost of healthcare. It deals with who pays the costs, not what the costs are. The law passed precisely because it doesn't solve the problem."

The government can create artificial affordability all day long with tax credits and subsidies. Until they get serious and focus on the cost of medical treatment, they will be bailing water out of boat with 72 holes.

Are There Any Other Problems?

I think the conversation should be taken even one step further. Not reforming, or putting enough emphasis on what comes before you get to the doctor or hospital is just as dangerous.

If everyone was as concerned about their health (nutrition, exercise) as they are about how much it will cost to clean up the mess afterwards, we would be in good shape, pun intended.

As much as we needed "health care" reform in this country, I would argue food reform is something that needed to come with it.

This isn't to suggest that we all run around eating grass and tree bark, rather we understand simple nutrition basics and have easy access to quality food and ingredients that aren't muddle with deceitful marketing.

The Bottom Line

Now that I've step down from my soapbox, it doesn't matter if your health insurance increases 88 percent or 44 percent next year. If it's anything more than 30 percent, I'm guessing you will have a hard time calling it "affordable."

With information not easy to come by and cloudier than a hurricane when it does, you need to have a way to constantly stay informed on this new system as it comes to life.

You Tell Me

Are you a member of that slim portion of Ohio's population? Do you think more people should have/want to buy health insurance on their own?