Gary Cohen today defended the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) health insurance access provisions against analyst predictions that PPACA will increase the cost of commercial health insurance.
PPACA will change the way the country classifies and thinks about existing health care cost drivers, and it should help control some of the factors that are making care more expensive than it has to be, Cohen said today at a hearing on PPACA organized by the Senate Finance Committee’s health subcommittee.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., asked Cohen about Oliver Wyman analysts who are predicting that PPACA health insurance underwriting and pricing rules that are supposed to take effect in 2014 could increase the average premium for policyholders ages 21 to 29 by 29 percent.
The analysts also are predicting the PPACA-related fees and taxes could increase premiums for all enrollees by an average by about 1.9 percent to 2.3 percent in 2014, and by 2.8 percent to 3.7 percent in 2018 and later years.
Cohen — the director of the federal Center for Consumer Information & Oversight (CCIIO) (pronounced, “Sih-Sigh-Oh), the agency in charge of helping the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implement the PPACA health insurance market provisions — told Scott that he believes the analyses about the effects of PPACA on the cost of commercial health insurance fail to reflect the effects of PPACA on the cost of the U.S. health care system as a whole.
“We’re paying that cost now in the form of uncompensated care,” Cohen said. “Every small business in America that offers health insurance is paying that cost. They’re paying more for their insurance because there are people who don’t have insurance, and they’re showing up at the emergency room. They’re getting care, and it’s not compensated.”
The hospitals end up getting the money from other payers, Cohen said.