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Lt. Gov: Health care costs will rise dramatically

Implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act in Ohio is going to hurt, Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor told a Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce audience Thursday.

“We will see the most dramatic increases in (health care) costs compared to every other state,” said Taylor, who also directs the Ohio Department of Insurance.

Taylor and Chris Brock, her spokesman, said health care costs for insuring individuals in Ohio are expected to rise an average 88 percent compared to 2013 costs. Small group insurance market costs are also expected to rise, and they expect insurance premiums to closely mirror that rise in expected costs.

Taylor said some premiums would fall, but most are expected to rise. Premiums for some small employers may rise up to 150 percent, and Taylor warned that some employers may face difficult decisions.

“You’ve got to make your decisions for your business,” Taylor said. “You’ve got to stay in business.”

As of May 31, Ohio required companies to file plans with the Department of Insurance. A total of 14 insurance companies have proposed rates for 214 plans to sell in Ohio, she said.

The state considered average index rates for all 14 plans, and they ranged from $340 to $614 a month for small group coverage, compared to $223 today. Average rates for individuals ranged from $282 to $577 monthly, compared to $420 today.

Taylor said she wished the federal government had allowed states to approach health care coverage goals in their own ways. Even with implementation of the ACA, Taylor said 9 to 10 percent of Ohioans will remain uninsured.

Phil Parker, president and chief executive of the chamber, asked Taylor what would happen if young, healthy people choose not to enroll in the ACA, electing instead to pay a relatively less costly penalty. Parker predicted “turmoil that could be worse in a year or two,” and Taylor agreed, saying the plan depends on the support of healthy people.

“Well said,” Taylor told Parker. “You have very clearly defined an issue.”

Bryan Bucklew, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, said Ohio government, legislators, hospitals, physicians and others don’t yet understand how federal health care exchanges — where coverage plans are to be listed and sold — will work. He likened the situation to playing a football game without knowing how many points a touchdown scores.

“I think it’s impossible to have any expectation that businesses or individuals are going to understand how this is going to work,” Bucklew said.

However, he added that almost everyone agrees that the current health care system was not sustainable.

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