Please see below for our reaction to the release of the latest Blue Cross Blue Shield Study on insurance reform: “The health insurance industry and other opponents of reform have been caught cherry picking facts, fudging the numbers, and even soliciting contracts for studies that will reach a pre-determined conclusion, in putting together reports designed to kill insurance reform and protect their bottom line.  So, it’s not surprising that the report released by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) today has already been debunked by the findings of numerous independent observers, including the non-partisan CBO, who have all concluded that health insurance reform legislation being considered by Congress would lower the cost of premiums for most Americans,” said DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan.     “Given the dubious history of these insurance company ‘reports,’ it would be more appropriate if they dropped a couple letters from the BCBS study.  We’ll leave it to you to guess which ones,” Sevugan added.


Newer BCBS Study Is “Not As Deceptive As The Last One,” But Left Out Key Parts Of Analysis To Change The Outcome, Which Is Exactly What PriceWaterhouseCoopers Study Did Too. New Republic writer Jonathan Cohn wrote that insurance companies, “seem to be trying the same stunt again, with a brand new study. It’s not as deceptive as the last one. But it’s not going to win any points for intellectual honesty, either. This time the study’s sponsor is the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), rather than America’s Health Insurance Programs. The hired gun accounting firm is Oliver Wyman, instead of PriceWaterhouseCoopers. But the message is the same as before: Pass reform, as currently envisioned, and insurance premiums will go way upThe big problem with the PriceWaterhouseCoopers study, you may recall, was that it treated certain elements of reform in isolation, leaving out key parts that would have changed the outcome. Unbelievably–or, perhaps, all too believably–Oliver Wyman does the exact same thing.” [The New Republic, 10/15/09


Politifact: AHIP Report Ignores Key Facts, Managed To “Isolated Aspects Of The Bill Without Considering The Overall Effects…The Report Even Acknowledges That.” Politifact wrote, “The Obama administration attacked the [AHIP] report as a last-ditch effort to derail reform. ‘I was disappointed to see that the health insurance industry had contrived a report like this at the last minute, right on the eve of a historic vote,’ said Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform. The report ‘ignores some of the key policies that are part of the Senate Finance Committee bill, such as the health insurance exchange, which is really a central feature that allows people to be pooled together to save administrative costs and to lower people’s cost in achieving getting coverage,’ DeParle said…DeParle’s criticism is that the report doesn’t consider other parts of the bill that would lower costs for consumers. In particular, she points to health insurance exchanges, online marketplaces where people could comparison-shop for policies that meet their preferences for coverage and cost. We read the report and found that DeParle is correct. The report does isolate aspects of the bill without considering the overall effects. It does not appear to consider how incentives or administrative efficiencies could result in reduced costs. The report even acknowledges that…DeParle criticized the health insurance industry report on the grounds that it was an incomplete analysis. She said it ‘ignores some of the key policies that are part of the Senate Finance Committee bill.’ The report itself admits as much. We rate her statement True.” [Politifact, 10/13/09]

Associated Press: “Health Insurers Cherry-Pick Facts.” The Associated Press wrote a fact check on AHIP’s study and associated TV ad attacking health reform efforts, with the heading, “Health Insurers Cherry-Pick Facts.” The AP wrote that, “[i]n its assaults on a Democratic health care overhaul bill, the insurance industry uses facts selectively and mixes accurate assertions with misleading spin and an embrace of worst-case scenarios. Take the 30-second TV spot that America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s trade group, was running this week in six states as the Senate Finance Committee approved overhaul legislation…the announcer adds, ‘The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says many seniors will see cuts in benefits.’ Words flash on the screen for three seconds saying, ‘50 percent reduction in extra benefits.’ The announcer’s words are true — but could be easily misunderstood to mean that basic Medicare coverage is at risk. The ad also fails to mention the reason senators targeted Medicare Advantage for savings: The program is expensive for the government to administer, costing about 14 percent more per recipient than regular Medicare…Yet concluding that providers will pass the full cost of these changes to their customers ignores a basic assumption of the health overhaul effort. The goal is to increase competition and reduce the rate of growth currently assumed in medical costs. If the overall legislation succeeds in doing that, there would be less incentive for providers to pass on those costs — and more incentives for them to compete by keeping prices low.” [Associated Press, 10/15/09]


WP: CBO Said The Senate Health Care Bill “Would Leave Premiums Unchanged Or Slightly Lower For The Vast Majority Of Americans, Contradicting Assertions By The Insurance Industry That The Average Family’s Coverage Would Rise.” “As the Senate opened debate Monday on a landmark plan to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, congressional budget analysts said the measure would leave premiums unchanged or slightly lower for the vast majority of Americans, contradicting assertions by the insurance industry that the average family’s coverage would rise by thousands of dollars if the proposal became law.” [Washington Post, 12/1/09]

NYT: CBO Said That The Senate Health Care Bill Could “Significantly Reduce Costs For Many People Who Buy Health Insurance On Their Own” And Would Reduce Premiums For People Who Get Their Insurance Through Their Employers. “The Congressional Budget Office said Monday that the Senate health bill could significantly reduce costs for many people who buy health insurance on their own, and that it would not substantially change premiums for the vast numbers of Americans who receive coverage from large employers. … In groups with 50 or fewer employees, it said, unsubsidized premiums in 2016 would average $7,800 a year for individuals and $19,200 for families — scarcely any different from the amounts expected under current law. Of the 25 million people receiving coverage from small businesses, it said, 3 million would qualify for subsidies, which would reduce their premiums by an average of 8 percent to 11 percent. Large employers would generally not be eligible for such assistance. Their premiums in 2016 under the bill would average $7,300 for individual coverage and $20,100 for family coverage, the report said. Under current law, the comparable figures would be $7,400 for individual coverage and $20,300 for family coverage.” [New York Times, 12/1/09]

Ezra Klein: “Congressional Budget Office: Reform Will Bring Down The Cost Of Health-Care Insurance.” “The Congressional Budget Office released a report today estimating changes to average premiums under the Senate health-care bill. The report is going to prove very important, and is going to confuse a lot of people. So let’s be very, very clear about what it says. The CBO’s analysis broke the health-care system into three parts: individual, small group and large group. The small- and large-group markets account for 159 million Americans, and have very little change in premiums. But what change they see is in the right direction: Health-care reform is expected to reduce premiums in the large group market by about 1.5 percent, and in the small group market by about 0.5 percent. … So in the final analysis, the effect of reform on your typical individual market purchasers is to give them insurance that’s about 30 percent better but only 10 to 12 percent more expensive, and then assure them subsidies that will lower their payments by more than 50 percent. And if you’re in the small group or large group markets, your premiums are expected to fall a bit.” [Ezra Klein, Washington Post, 11/30/09]

TNR: Health Care Reform Will “In Fact Deliver Some Savings… [And] It Certainly Won’t Raise Premiums.” “If you get insurance through a large employer, then your insurance premiums should stay roughly the same, with perhaps a very small decrease.If you get insurance through a small employer, then, again, your insurance premiums should stay roughly the same, with perhaps an even smaller decrease. … If you get insurance on your own, then your premiums would probably go up, because you’d end up buying coverage that was more comprehensive. … But–and this is the key point–newly available federal subsidies will more than offset this increase. In other words, the majority of people buying coverage on their own will be able to spend less money and, at the same time, get better insurance. … But this analysis suggests reform can in fact deliver some savings–and that it certainly won’t raise premiums, as so many conservative critics have predicted.” [The New Republic, 11/30/09]

MIT Analysis: The Senate Health Care Bill Would Reduce Premium Prices In The Individual Health Insurance Market. “A new analysis by a leading MIT economist provides new ammunition for Democrats as the Senate begins formally debating the historic health-reform bill being pushed by President Barack Obama. The report concludes that under the Senate’s health-reform bill, Americans buying individual coverage will pay less than they do for today’s typical individual market coverage, and would be protected from high out-of-pocket costs. … Gruber concludes that people purchasing individual insurance would save an annual $200 (singles) to $500 (families) in 2009 dollars. And people with low incomes would receive premium tax credits that would reduce the price that they pay for health insurance by as much as $2,500 to $7,500.” [Politico, 11/28/09]