Fact Checking the New York Times Claim That Obamacare Cuts N.Y. Health Premiums By 50 Percent

Avrik Roy’s article, The Times Falsely Claims That Obamacare Cuts N.Y. Health Premiums By 50 Percent, caught my attention so I decided to check out the numbers in the ehealthinsurance.com November 2012 report, The Cost and Benefits of Individual & Family Health Insurance Plans. Sure enough the price listed as the average individual plan premiums for New York was $355. You can find it on page 16. Since New Yorkers are pretty savvy shoppers, my guess is that the ehealthinsurance.com number is more likely to be the correct price.

In an enthusiastic front-page story in today’s New York Times, Roni Caryn Rabin and Reed Abelson claim that, as a result of Obamacare, health insurance premiums for individuals shopping on their own for coverage will be “at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York” because “individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly.” See, Obamacare works!

Sounds great, except for a couple of points:

  • New York has one of the costliest and least functional individual-insurance markets in the nation, because many of the regulations that Obamacare imposes nationwide are already present in New York, on steroids. Hence, New York’s market is far from typical.
  • In 2010, average per-person monthly premiums in the New York individual market were not “$1,000 or more,” but $357. Even less expensive plans can be found today on ehealthinsurance.com.

I’ll publish a more detailed analysis of New York’s insurance rates soon, but in the meantime, take the Times piece with a big grain of salt.