GOP health plan would hit rural areas hard

In extreme cases, the amount a consumer might owe for a plan could exceed that person’s annual income. In Nebraska’s Chase County, a 62-year-old currently earning about $18,000 a year could pay nearly $20,000 annually to get health-insurance coverage under the House GOP plan—compared with about $760 a year that person would owe toward premiums under the ACA, an analysis by Oliver Wyman showed.

The consulting firm, a unit of Marsh & McLennan Cos. is the first to project what consumers could actually have to pay to get health plans under the House’s blueprint. The analysis looked at the cost of a benchmark insurance plan at the “silver” level under both setups.

Among people who currently have ACA benchmark plans, Oliver Wyman found those who are older and have lower incomes would generally see their costs for similar coverage increase the most under the House bill. Some with higher wages, and certain younger consumers, would likely do better financially under the new regime. Both urban and rural 35-year-olds making about $54,000 a year, for instance, could on average save roughly $3,000 annually, the analysis showed…

Of the 100 counties where a 62-year-old making three times the federal poverty level—generally around $36,000—would see the biggest jump in annual costs for a plan under the Republican blueprint, 97 were rural. “It is disproportionately affecting the rural,” said Dianna Welch, an actuary at Oliver Wyman.