Obamacare Saves New Yorkers Money!

This [NYT] is great news – especially for Dish Publishing LLC – and bad news for those conservatives who loathe the market-friendly insurance exchanges solely because president Obama included them in the ACA:

Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under the federal health care law take effect, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday. State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, 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. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.

Again, it’s worth noting that these efficiencies are gained by competition, an idea that was once pioneered by the Heritage Foundation. Now, their hatred of Obama has made them hate their own policies. Jonathan Cohn goes into more detail on how Obamacare is spurring competition:

New York … seems to be reaping the benefits of a more competitive market. Based on the filings, it appears that some insurers are pricing very aggressively, trying to underbid competitors. Some will price too low, and end up losing money, while others may be saving in ways consumers won’t like—say, by offering very limited networks of doctors and hospitals. But the insurers will find a price that works for them. Meanwhile, people can pick and choose the plan they want, which is something many simply can’t do now because they can’t really compare benefits and prices, or because they lack the money to pay for insurance in the first place. As New York officials pointed out today, per capita health care costs in the state are among the highest in the country. But these new premium rates are actually slightly lower than what the Congressional Budget Office had projected for a nationwide average. That’s an encouraging sign.

Sarah Kliff explains why New York is nonetheless an outlier:

A headline about the health care law driving down premiums, by this level of magnitude, is a rarity. But it shouldn’t be shocking: New York has, for two decades now, had the highest individual market premiums in the country.

A lot of it seems to trace back to a law passed in 1993, which required insurance plans to accept all applicants, regardless of how sick or healthy they were. That law did not, however, require everyone to sign up, as the Affordable Care Act does.

New York has, for 20 years now, been a long-running experiment in what happens to universal coverage without an individual mandate. It’s the type of law the country would have if House Republicans succeeded in delaying the individual mandate, as they will vote to do this afternoon. The result: a small insurance market with very high insurance premiums.

Beutler agrees:

The news out of New York vindicates the consensus view that the mandate-subsidize-regulate policy only works if it includes a mandate, subsidies, and regulations. This vindication couldn’t be better-timed, as the House of Representative gears up to vote on legislation to delay the mandate for a year.

Yglesias adds:

The haters are out in force already on Twitter to observe that this is happening due to special state-specific features of New York that won’t impact people elsewhere. That’s true, but this is a big deal anyway.

The first reason is that New York is a really big state. Its almost 20 million residents account for over 6 percent of the American population. In terms of the number of people impacted, a huge improvement in the health insurance market in New York is a bigger deal than a huge improvement in New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, D.C., Vermont, and Wyoming combined. So it’s true that if you live outside New York state this is not good news for you, personally. But if you’re capable of some human empathy, then it’s good news for an awful lot of people and you might care about that.