One version of the GOP health bill now under consideration promises lower premiums for consumers. To get there, that version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) bill would require patients in standard plans to spend as much as about $13,000 upfront on their own care.
The deductibles would be so high, in fact, that they’d violate maximums set in U.S. law, an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Thursday. Under the current Affordable Care Act rules, by comparison, an individual in a standard plan would have a deductible of roughly $5,000.
The analysis shines new light on a cost issue that’s gone less noticed amid the debate over health insurance premiums, and could unnerve some moderate GOP senators, Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said.
“Many of the moderates have talked about wanting to be assured that the bill really does provide adequate coverage to people, and deductibles are a part of that,” he said. “There have been so many promises from the president and others that this bill would lead to lower deductibles and, in fact, it would do just the opposite.”
It’s the latest misfire for the Republican health insurance proposal, which was written largely behind closed doors and without much consultation from patients, doctors or insurers. Broadly, the latest version of the BCRA bill is similar to the previous one. It would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million in a decade, a number that still presents a political obstacle to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to shore up support.
The BCRA bill would raise costs for many people with private coverage and slash Medicaid spending, CBO said Thursday. The version of BCRA evaluated by CBO didn’t include a key proposal backed by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz designed to offer individuals access to coverage options free from many Affordable Care Act rules, but an analysis of the Cruz proposal could be added later, according to a Republican aide. Insurers have said the amendment would undermine insurance markets and end protections for sick people.