Thursday, June 21, 2018
Business

PolitiFact: AFP ad says premiums will rise under Obamacare

The statement

Says health insurance premiums will rise under Obamacare.

Americans for Prosperity, in a television ad

The ruling

The conservative organization that spent more than $33 million in the last election to defeat President Barack Obama and other Democrats has turned its sights to undermining support for the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. The group, Americans for Prosperity, launched a television ad in Ohio and Florida.

The ad is called "Questions," and in it a pregnant mother talks about her concerns about Obamacare:

Two years ago, my son Caleb began having seizures. The medical care he received meant the world to me. Now? I'm paying more attention.

And I have some questions about Obamacare.

If we can't pick our own doctor, how do I know my family's going to get the care they need?

And what am I getting in exchange for higher premiums and a smaller paycheck?

Can I really trust the folks in Washington with my family's health care?

In this fact-check, we focus on Julie's question, "What am I getting in exchange for higher premiums?"

That line presents higher premiums as a certainty, effectively saying "premiums will rise." But whether that's true in Julie's case and anyone else's depends on several key factors: age, income, and perhaps most important, how they get their insurance today.

Employers provide most of the insurance in this country. About 60 percent of everyone under 65 is covered through either a large-group or small-group plan, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, an independent think tank. Statistically, if Julie has insurance today, it's most likely in one of those markets and the ad should not assume that her rates will rise.

Another 22 percent of people under 65 are with a government program, either Medicaid or a children's program, S-CHIP.

Then there's the individual market, which represents the smallest slice of people with insurance, about 7 percent.

In citing support for the claim that premiums will go up, Americans for Prosperity spokesman Levi Russell focused on the individual market. He said rates in California will be 64 to 146 percent higher. We were unable to confirm that. Russell also pointed to a Wall Street Journal article. He said the article covered at length the prospect of "rising premiums for many Americans."

The Journal looked only at the individual market and found that, "Healthy consumers could see insurance rates double or even triple when they look for individual coverage under the federal health law later this year, while the premiums paid by sicker people are set to become more affordable."

Experts have always expected younger workers in the individual market to pay more. The Congressional Budget Office, for instance, said that the price tag for this sort of health insurance plan was likely to go up by 10 to 13 percent.

Bottom line: Premiums for some people are likely to go up. But they're in the minority, most people agree.

As such, we rate the statement Half True.

This ruling has been edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

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