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Healthcare Exchange Watch: Ohio's Phony Tale About Rising Premiums

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Columnists on both the left and the right picked up the Ohio insurance department's misleading message. Jonathan Cohn, writing in The New Republic reported the "Department of Insurance announced that Ohioans buying insurance on their own should brace for premium increases that will average 88 percent next year." But later in his piece, he said the "88 percent figure is so useless"--because insurance officials paid no attention to the number of people enrolling in plans and did not account for different benefit levels.

In a rebuttal to Cohn, Philip Klein, a columnist for The Washington Examiner began his piece this way:

Ohio Department of insurance officials announced last week that average premiums in the Buckeye state would soar 88 percent once President Obama's health care law kicks in. The news added fuel to an already raging debate over Obamacare's effect on insurance costs.

Indeed it did. The department's press outreach--muddling premiums and costs--may have given birth to a false meme that news reporters and columnists should be wary of passing along.

In the end, it's the price of the insurance policy to a consumer that matters (along with what is in that policy) and the insurance department was not ready to tell the press what those prices will be.

At least the Dispatch got the headline right: "Insurance prices still unclear."

They are unclear in most states at the moment, and may be up until close to October 1, when the state exchanges open for business. Passing on spin from state insurance officials does not help ordinary people make decisions, and attributing price increases for insurance (or anything else) to unspecified "costs" does not help the public understand the high price of American healthcare

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Trudy Lieberman, a journalist for more than 40 years, is a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review where she blogs about health care and retirement at Her blogposts are at She is also a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health where she blogs about health at (more...)

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I am an Ohioian and I know governor Kaisch is a tr... by liberalsrock on Monday, Jun 17, 2013 at 9:25:40 AM
Death Panels are on the Ropes... smile :-)... by Rixar13 on Monday, Jun 17, 2013 at 11:18:43 AM
Of course, the insurance companies have their own ... by Richard Pietrasz on Monday, Jun 17, 2013 at 2:56:23 PM
Death Panels are on the Ropes... smile :-)... by Rixar13 on Monday, Jun 17, 2013 at 11:19:18 AM
wouldn't have gotten the surgery she needed had it... by Michael Shaw on Monday, Jun 17, 2013 at 11:39:44 AM
When is our government going to start telling the ... by JenniferNY on Tuesday, Jun 18, 2013 at 4:45:48 PM
...when prices only jump by, say, 60%, instead of ... by Jill Herendeen on Tuesday, Jun 18, 2013 at 6:03:14 PM