By Mary O’Leary, Staff Reporter

Republican 5th District congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley claims that estimates on the cost of President Obama’s health care reform law have doubled since it was originally pitched.

Actually, the estimated cost of the insurance coverage provisions of the Accountable Care Act has gone down, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while another study predicts lower costs for Connecticut.

“We do know that ‘free’ health care will be twice as expensive as was promised, which means businesses and individuals will have less health care options that are more expensive,” Wilson-Foley said.

When asked for a clarification on what he meant by “free,” Chris Healy, senior advisor to the campaign, said it was a “tongue in cheek” remark.

An analysis of the Massachusetts health care plan, which is similar to the national model and has been in effect since 2006, shows premium costs decreasing significantly for the individual insurance market, but rising slightly for businesses, but at no greater than the rate that costs rose for businesses across the country. It wasn’t clear if this was due to that state’s health care law.

There are more incentives, however, for businesses to participate in Obamacare than there are in the Massachusetts model, which failed to have small businesses at the table. There is also more emphasis on cost containment in the national model, which Massachusetts is now tackling, according to FactCheck.org.

The latest estimate from the Congressional Budget Office issued last month said the net cost of the Affordable Care act’s insurance coverage provisions is “just under $1.1 trillion over the 2012-2021 period – about $50 billion less than the agencies’ March 2011 estimate.”

The Affordable Care Act will however, on net, reduce federal budget deficits over the 2012-2021 period by $210 billion, according to the CBO’s March 2011 report, a figure that has to be updated this year.

Other measures of cost and coverage are provided by a Rand Corporation study in April 2011 of what Connecticut has to look forward to under the ACA.

It projects that ACA will help half of the 340,000 uncovered residents in Connecticut get health insurance, which will increase the number of persons covered from 89 percent to 95 percent.It further predicts that health costs will decrease by 10 percent for the state when it is fully implemented in 2016.

The study predicts an increase in Medicaid enrollment by 31 percent, with 130,000 residents covered through this option with the help of federal subsidies. Health spending by the state will drop by $2.7 billion from 2011 to 2020, Rand said with an annual savings of about $300 million starting in 2016. It does not foresee any “substantial change” in the number of workers offered insurance through their employer.

Nationally, the CBO estimates that 30 million to 33 million Americans will be covered with health insurance under ACA in 2016, leaving between 26 million and 27 million uninsured.

The percentage of legal nonelderly residents insured is expected to rise from 82 percent in 2012 to 93 percent in 2016, which is down from 95 percent in previous estimates.

The CBO estimates that between 20 million and 23 million will get coverage through the insurance exchanges; between 16 million and 17 million more people will be enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Plan), while 3 million to 5 million fewer will be covered through their employer.

Ellen Andrews of the Connecticut Health Policy Institute said the costs will go down particularly for those who will qualify for the expanded Medicaid option, which is much cheaper to operate than private insurance.

Another measure of cost comes from an analysis of the Massachusetts health care program by FactCheck.org.

The individual insurance market is always the most costly, but by combining it with the small business market, the prices for individuals in Massachusetts dropped as much as 40 percent, according to FactCheck.org. The combination increased the premium cost for small businesses by an estimated .5 percent to 1.5 percent, but it said more studies were needed on this.

As far as choice is concerned, seven insurers competed within the Massachusetts health exchange for individuals looking for insurance, while there were three for small businesess. Andrews said the state was able to attract a new insurer to come to Massachusetts to compete within and outside its health exchange.

Is there a statement by a candidate in the 5th District that you want Fact Checked? Contact Mary O’Leary at moleary@nhregister.com.