Conservative think tank: Exchanges decrease choice, affordability

Federal healthcare exchanges reduce consumer choice and correlate with higher prices, according to a study released by the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research.

Comparing a hypothetical unmarried 27-year-old's healthcare options in metropolitan areas across 45 states to those of a typical 57-year-old couple's, David Hogberg, Ph.D., found that:

  • A 27-year-old single man had 10 more policies to choose from on average through and 31 more through than through the exchanges

  • The average 27-year-old single woman had 10 more options through the eHealth site and 38 through the Finder site

  • The average 57-year-old couple had nine more policies through eHealth and 19 more through Finder

Furthermore, "27 year olds and 57 year olds often had many more options that cost less than the lowest price policy on the exchanges," Hogberg said in a statement. "Sometimes they had options that cost less even if they received a subsidy for insurance on the exchange."

Specifically, the study states,

  • The average 27-year-old man had access to 32 policies cheaper than the cheapest exchange policy through eHealth, and 38 such policies on Finder

  • The average 27-year-old woman could purchase 18 cheaper policies through eHealth and 20 through Finder

  • The average 57-year-old couple had access to 29 cheaper policies through eHealth and 28 through Finder

Federal subsidies made little difference in terms of affordability, according to the study. For a 27-year-old man making $25,000 a year, the cheapest exchange policy was still more expensive than 18 plans through both eHealth and Finder, even with a subsidy. Twenty-seven-year-old women making the same amount had access to nine cheaper plans through the eHealth site and eight through Finder, the study says.

"ObamaCare supporters, including the president himself and [House minority leader] Nancy Pelosi, claimed the exchanges would yield more choice and lower prices," Hogberg said in the statement. "This study shows those claims do not stand up."

As of last week, 4 million people have enrolled in new plans through federal exchanges, although the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services did not provide a demographic breakdown of this data, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the study
- read the statement