Speed Reads

health care

Under the GOP plan, rural voters could be charged more for health insurance than they make in a year

An analysis of the Republican health-care proposal by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman has found that the overhaul would hit rural areas intensely, and in some cases consumers could even owe more for a plan than they make in a year. "In Nebraska's Chase County, a 62-year-old currently earning about $18,000 a year could pay nearly $20,000 annually to get health-insurance coverage under the House GOP plan," writes The Wall Street Journal. Under the Affordable Care Act, that same person would owe $760 a year toward premiums, the Journal notes.

"It is disproportionately affecting the rural," explained Dianna Welch, an actuary at Oliver Wyman. The firm's analysis found that 97 out of 100 counties where 62-year-olds who earned around $36,000 would see the biggest jumps in costs were rural. The Wall Street Journal's own number-crunching showed that 62-year-olds earning around $18,000 a year would see a jump of more than $10,000 in 41 percent of countries won by President Trump, compared with 28 percent of counties won by Hillary Clinton in November.

Why rural counties in particular? The Wall Street Journal explains:

Rural regions' higher premiums are driven partly by a population that tends to be sicker and require costlier care, with higher rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, said April Todd, an executive at consulting firm Avalere Health, a unit of Inovalon Inc. Also, insurers often struggle to win price concessions from health-care providers who have few competitors, she said. "Given that they're the only hospital, you don't have a lot of negotiating leverage." [The Wall Street Journal]

But Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, shrugged off Oliver Wyman's numbers, saying they did not roundly reflect how the House bill will work. "Our legislation eliminates the red tape, taxes, and mandates that have led to sky-high premiums and a collapsing health care marketplace," Brady said in a statement.