Healthcare reform could cost families $4,000 per year in higher premiums, a new report sponsored by the insurance industry says.
The report marks one of the boldest efforts yet by the insurance industry to oppose reform. Democrats and the White House had made courting the industry one of the central compoments of their campaign.
Conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the report examines the effect on healthcare costs of (1) cuts in Medicare/Medicaid; (2) a weak individual mandate; (3) taxes on so-called "Cadillac" plans; and (4) fees imposed on the insurance industry.
"The report makes clear that several major provisions in the current legislative proposal will cause healthcare costs to increase far faster and higher than they would under the current system," Karen Ignagni, head of America's Health Insurance Plans, told her members over the weekend.
Proponents of reform say the report doesn't look at other components that will make healthcare more affordable, especially subsidies to purchase insurance policies.
A spokesman for the Senate Finance Committee said the report was a "hatchet job" by the insurance industry.
"This report is untrue, disingenuous and bought and paid for by the same health insurance companies that have been gouging too many consumers for too long as they stand in the way of reform yet again," said Scott Mulhauser. "It's a health insurance company hatchet job, plain and simple."
Ironically, one of the report's biggest complaints is that reform doesn't do enough to bring everyone into the insurance pool. The mandates and penalties that could achieve that goal are opposed by most Republicans.
At the heart of the argument is whether the Finance Committee bill does enough to draw young, healthy people into the insurance risk pool. By postponing and reducing penalties on people who do not sign up for health insurance, industry analysts predict it would attract less-healthy patients who would drive up cost.
"Market reform enacted in the absence of universal coverage will increase costs dramatically for many who are currently insured by creating a powerful incentive for people to wait until they are sick to purchase coverage," the authors of the report wrote.