Saturday, May 25, 2013

Obamacare | GSU Prof. Bill Custer Whiffs It

According to Georgia Health News citizens of the Peach State will have 7 (but in reality only 6) carriers to pick from when the 2014 Obamacare exchange, uh, marketplace rolls out this fall.

Aetna, Alliant, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Coventry, Humana, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, and Peach State will offer a range of plans for individuals in Georgia as part of the Affordable Care Act’s exchange, or “marketplace,” which will debut in 2014.

Aetna is/will be buying Coventry so really only 6 players.

But that isn't where Custer made his last stand. It was this comment that raised an eyebrow.

“On average, these plans are coming in slightly less than premiums of employer plans,’’ said Custer.
He said he based that assessment on premiums for a single person in employer plans in the 2012 Kaiser Family Foundation/HRET benefits survey, where an HMO plan for an individual in the South averaged $456 per month.
“A lot of the fears about premium shock are unfounded, at least in these preliminary filings,’’ Custer said.
For starters, averages are mostly meaningless unless the buyer is . . . average.
But where Prof. Custer really blows it is in comparing individual rates (and apparently nothing else) with group rates.

Small group starting rates are roughly 2x individual rates for similar plans.

It would appear Mr. Custer also failed to consider the tiny networks that will be used by carriers participating in HIX and the even skinnier drug formulary.

Custer believers will be sadly disappointed when 2014 rolls around. I wonder if we should grade his advice on a curve?
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