McCaughey: HHS Saying 'Drop Dead to Taxpayers Paying That (Obamacare) Subsidy'

By Susan Jones | August 26, 2016 | 7:28 AM EDT

President Obama plugs his taxpayer-subsidized, mandatory health care plan. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Pay no attention to those big premium hikes, the Obama administration told Obamacare subscribers this week.

"An estimated 73 percent of HealthCare.gov consumers could still purchase a plan for less than $75 per month, even if all final rates were to increase by double digits," the Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release issued on Wednesday.

HHS is reassuring 73 percent of subscribers that they will get tax credits to keep their premiums "affordable." But what about the rest of the subscribers, who will face premium increases of 62 percent in Tennessee; 43 percent in Mississippi; and 23 percent in Kentucky, for example.



"Well, the administration is saying, oh, people shouldn't worry because most people are getting a taxpayer-funded subsidy. Well, first of all, that means drop dead to the taxpayers paying that subsidy," said Betsy McCaughey, the former Lieutenant Governor of New York and author of the book, "Beating Obamacare 2014."

"But number two, about 20 percent of people don't get a subsidy. Individuals earning more than $46,000, couples earning more $64,000, they're going to pay the full freight. And for some people, it's going to mean paying 20 percent or more of their income for a health plan, and then having a deductible that is so enormous, the bronze plan, individual deductible, $7,000."

McCaughey told Fox News on Thursday that Obamacare deductibles have gone up every year to prevent health insurance premiums from rising even higher.

The final premium and deductible numbers for 2017 aren't all in yet. HHS said all of those Marketplace premiums and deductibles should be finalized and made public in October.

Asked why Tennessee premiums are going up 62 percent, McCaughey blamed it on a "flawed design."

"This is a plan that forces healthy people to pay the same premium as chronically ill people. But 5 percent of the people in the country need 50 percent of the health care. So it's like trying to feed a Chihuahua and a Great Dane on the same budget. The healthy people say, I'm not going to pay that premium, right? So, they pull out. And the only people left in the plan are sick people. Then the premium goes up even more, and more people pull out. And that"s what is happening. It`s called the death spiral."

McCaughey also said Democrats are talking about increasing the penalty for uninsured people as a way of keeping healthy people signed up for Obamacare.

People who get insurance from their employers -- the vast majority of Americans -- may also see premium increases in 2017, McCaughey said.

"Those costs are going to go up about 6 percent this year, double the rate of inflation," she said. "Employers are worried about it. They may make your deductible slightly bigger, but nothing compared with what is clobbering Obamacare holders."

In the news release issued Wednesday, HHS pointed to its new analysis showing that "HealthCare.gov consumers would continue to have affordable coverage options, even if all Marketplace final health insurance premium rates were to increase by double digits next year. In a hypothetical scenario where all rates increase by 25 percent, the vast majority of consumers (73%) would be able to purchase coverage for less than $75 per month, according to today’s report."

HHS noted that "tax credits go up along with premiums." And "consumers can shop around to find the best plan."

Anticipating a backlash, HHS said 2017 rate increases are subject to "a number of predictable upward pressures that will dissipate next year."

Those pressures include the end of the Affordable Care Act's temporary reinsurance program in 2016; and insurance companies "making one-time adjustments this year to bring premiums in line with observed costs."

Despite anticipated whopping premium hikes for 2017, HHS insisted, "The Marketplace is providing consumers with coverage they value, because it improves their access to care and financial security."

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