Fox News advances false GOP claim that premiums under their plan would be $5,000 lower than Dems' plan

››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

In reports on Fox & Friends and America's Newsroom, Fox News advanced the false House Republican claim that "[t]he CBO estimates that health insurance premiums would be nearly $5,000 cheaper under the Republican reforms than the Democratic ones," in Fox News' Martha MacCallum's words. But the GOP's calculation ignores the premium caps included in the Democrats' plan to assist middle-income families purchasing insurance through the exchange, and the purported premium savings that Fox News highlighted apply to only 5 percent of private premiums.

Fox advances false GOP claim that their plan would save $5,000 in premiums compared to Democrats' plans

GOP math: Republican bill's premiums are $5,000 less "than the cheapest Democrat plan." A November 4 press release from Ways and Means Ranking Member Rep. Dave Camp estimated the premium for plans in the individual market under the GOP alternative at $10,120, while "the CBO estimated that in 2016 [the lowest cost plan] under the House Democrats' bill would be $15,000 for a family." Based on this, the press release claimed that the GOP alternative would be "nearly $5,000 less expensive than the cheapest Democrat plan." From the press release:

NOTE: Earlier this week, the CBO estimated that in 2016 the "average of the three lowest-cost basic plans" under the House Democrats' bill would be $15,000 for a family. Today, CBO estimated that the Republican bill would lower premiums in the individual market up to 8 percent, the small group markets by up to 10 percent, and the large group market by up to 3 percent. According to CBO average health care premiums in the individual market would be $11,000 in 2016 under current law. An 8 percent reduction in those costs would mean a premium of $10,120 - nearly $5,000 less expensive than the cheapest Democrat plan, which CBO says is unlikely to attract many families, meaning average premiums would be even higher in the Democrats' exchange.

Fox's Caroline Shively parrots GOP press release. On the November 5 edition of Fox News' Fox and Friends, contributor Caroline Shively adopted the GOP spin by reporting, "Now, on the other side of the aisle, Republicans have gotten favorable reports from the Congressional Budget Office on the cost of their health care bill. GOP lawmakers say that means premiums for millions of families will be almost $5,000 lower under their plan, compared to the cheapest plan in the Democrats' exchange."

America's Newsroom attributes Republican talking point to CBO. On the November 5 edition of America's Newsroom, host Martha McCallum claimed, "The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is saying that the Republican bill ... will carry lower costs for Americans. The CBO estimates that health insurance premiums would be nearly $5,000 cheaper under the Republican reforms than the Democratic ones." In fact, the CBO never made that claim. The comparison was based on calculations done by Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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In fact, the $5,000 difference ignores premium caps in House Democrats' plan

GOP estimate misleads on premiums under Democrats' plan. Because the Democrats' health care bill provides premium caps on a sliding scale based on income, the lowest amount that a family would have to pay in premiums is significantly less than the GOP alternative. The New York Times reported, "Under the House bill, the budget office said, a family of four with income of $78,000 in 2016 would pay, on average, an annual premium of $8,800." Families with lower incomes would pay even less: "A family of four with income of $66,000 would pay premiums of $6,300." The CBO analysis of premiums under the House plan includes a chart indicating that when accounting for the premium caps, most families will pay premiums of less than $15,000 in 2016 to purchase the reference plan in the exchange [see "Enrollee Premium in Reference Plan" column]. The $15,000 figure cited by Republicans is the estimated 2016 cost of the premiums associated with a family policy that the CBO used as its "Reference Plan." This figure does not include any subsidies. From the CBO:

cbochart

Democrats' bill also includes subsidies for cost sharing. The House Democrats' health care reform bill also includes subsidies for cost-sharing, which encompasses certain out-of-pocket medical expenses associated with health insurance plans. These subsidies are provided on a sliding scale, according to income. Families of four whose income is no more than 350 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) would receive some sort of cost-sharing subsidy under the House Democrats' bill. The CBO makes no mention of subsidies when scoring the Republican plan.

GOP's 8 percent premium savings used to calculate $5,000 figure don't apply to "80 percent of total private premiums." CBO estimated that the Republican plan could reduce premiums by "5 percent to 8 percent," but only for coverage in the individual market which, according to CBO estimates, "a little more than 5 percent of total private premiums." For 80 percent of the private premiums, which come from the large group market, the GOP alternative would eventually lower premiums by "zero to 3 percent," according to CBO:

In the small group market, which represents about 15 percent of total private premiums, the amendment would lower average insurance premiums in 2016 by an estimated 7 percent to 10 percent compared with amounts under current law. In the market for individually purchased insurance, which represents a little more than 5 percent of total private premiums, the amendment would lower average insurance premiums in 2016 by an estimated 5 percent to 8 percent compared with amounts under current law. And in the large group market, which represents nearly 80 percent of total private premiums, the amendment would lower average insurance premiums in 2016 by zero to 3 percent compared with amounts under current law, according to CBO's estimates.

Fox & Friends report obscures that GOP plan wouldn't cover uninsured, wouldn't significantly lower premiums, would reduce deficit less than Dems

CBO: GOP plan leaves 52 million people uninsured. Shively's Fox & Friends report ignored that the GOP plan would not cover most uninsured Americans. Despite a reported claim made by a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner that the Republican alternative "will cover millions more Americans" than the Democrats' plan, the CBO estimated that the plan will only cover 3 million uninsured Americans over the next 10 years, 33 million less than the House Democrats' newly released bill. According to the CBO, the GOP plan would leave 52 million people still uninsured. By 2019, CBO predicts that under the GOP plan, "[t]he share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage" would be "roughly in line with the current share."

CBO: GOP plan would lower most premiums by "zero to 3 percent." Shively also ignored that the CBO estimated that for 80 percent of the insured population, the Republican alternative would "lower average insurance premiums in 2016 by zero to 3 percent." In addition, CBO estimated that some of the bill's provisions "would tend to increase the premiums paid by less healthy enrollees."

CBO concluded GOP plan would result in less deficit reduction. Shively also did not report that the CBO estimates indicate that House Democrats' bill lowers the deficit more than the GOP's proposal. The Republican alternative is estimated to reduce the federal deficit by $68 billion over 10 years. By comparison, the Democrats' bill would reduce the federal deficit by $104 billion, according to CBO.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Martha MacCallum, Caroline Shively
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends, America's Newsroom
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