Actuaries: GOP plans won't prevent an ObamaCare meltdown

Republicans have spent months pitching ideas on how to limit the potential fallout from next month’s Supreme Court decision that could wipe out ObamaCare insurance subsidies in at least 34 states.

But so far, none of their proposals are likely to stave off the massive disruption of the healthcare marketplace that would result from a ruling against the Obama administration, according to a new report by the American Academy of Actuaries.

ADVERTISEMENT
The most popular idea backed by Republicans — eliminating the requirement for individuals to have health insurance — could cause the most damage, according to the group. The report warns that option would “threaten the viability” of the entire market.

If people are no longer required to buy insurance, and no are longer given tax credits to do so, they will likely leave the market in large numbers, the group says. As a result, premiums would skyrocket for those remaining in the market, who are likely to have existing health conditions.

The changes to the risk pool would be particularly costly for insurance companies because they cannot make mid-year adjustments to their rates if the court rules against the subsidies.

“That’s the big worry. That’s really the biggest worry for most us working in the field, the fact there’s no ability to reset things,” said the report's author, Cathy Murphy-Barron, who has spent 25 years as a health policy actuary.  

Another popular Republican plan — a temporary extension of premium subsidies — also drew criticism from the American Academy of Actuaries, which warned that it would only “delay the market disruption.”

The organization, which advises health insurers on issues such as premium rates and risk pools, analyzes policy issues but does not take stances, Murphy-Barron said.  

The report provides new fodder for Democrats who have argued that Republicans lack a plan if their side wins in court.

“This analysis shows yet again that when it comes to our health care system, Republican policy is to put politics first — ahead of families who would lose access to affordable health care coverage and face higher premiums and uncertainty under Republican proposals,” Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurraySenate Dems link court fight to Congressional Baseball Game Reid: House-passed Zika deal a 'disgrace' Bernie Sanders’s awkward return to the Senate MORE (D-Wash.) wrote in a statement Thursday.