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Healthcare Impact 2013: Understanding the Affordable Care Act – Part V

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These United States are in the final months before some of the most important elements in the Affordable Care Act take hold, and there’s a lot of maneuvering going on between patient advocates and health insurance companies.  At the heart of matter: what price insurance?

That will be determined by several factors, not the least of which is how many uninsured Americans actually enroll in the program. Doctor Vivian Ho, a health economist at Rice University’s James Baker Institute, says the new law doesn’t allow insurers to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions.  “Economists are concerned about ‘adverse selection’ and that what we’ll have is the sickest people signing up for these health policies in the initial period, and that could drive up costs.”

University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston economist Doctor Charles Begley says there’s widespread concern that a lot of people are still clueless about the Affordable Care Act.  He confirms that the success of the affordable care act actually being affordable depends to a great degree on large numbers of healthy people signing up.

Dr. Begley says, “The concern is that not as many people as we would like are aware of this.”

But Dr Ho believes some of the fear is actually being stirred up insurance companies that are predicting very large hikes in individual policy premiums.  “I think there is an incentive for insurance companies to create anxiety about higher prices because they’re still hoping that the Affordable Care Act could get repealed or cut back dramatically.

Both health care economists say the way to hold down premiums is for those implementing the new program to get busy, letting uninsured people know about the benefits of enrolling for health insurance starting October First of this year.


JP Pritchard talked with James A Baker Institute Professor Vivian Ho to get her reaction to a report from the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.

House Report on ACA

Vivian Ho, Ph.D., is the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics, a professor in the Department of Economics at Rice University and a professor in the Department of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Ho’s research examines the effects of economic incentives and regulations on the quality and costs of health care. Her research is widely published in economics, medical and health services research journals.

If you would like more information about the Affordable Care Act, go to

SEE MORE: View more of JP Pritchard’s series on the Affordable Care Act.

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