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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Obamacare’s Higher Costs

I’m A Sickness Away … From Going To The Poor House’

‘The Vast Majority Of Americans Want To See The Law Changed’

GALLUP: “Americans' assessments of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remain relatively unchanged after the Nov. 8 election, with more continuing to disapprove (53%) than approve (42%) of the law. Going forward, the vast majority of Americans want to see the law changed.” (“Most Americans Want Changes to Affordable Care Act,” Gallup, 11/28/2016)
GALLUP: “[I]t is clear that about eight in 10 Americans favor changing the ACA significantly (43%) or replacing it altogether (37%).” (“Most Americans Want Changes to Affordable Care Act,” Gallup, 11/28/2016)

Because ‘The Affordability Problem Is A Middle-Class One’
“In many ways, the affordability problem is a middle-class one. While the law provides tax subsidies to help buy insurance, and extra help with out-of-pocket costs for low-income individuals, it restricts the most generous subsidies to those who earn less than about two times the poverty level, [Jonathan] Oberlander [a health policy professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill] said. At higher income levels, customers are asked to pay almost 10 percent of their income for a mid-level insurance plan.” (“Some Find Care Unaffordable, Even With Obamacare Coverage,” Bloomberg News, 11/04/2016)
    “[A] Commonwealth Fund study this year found that about four in 10 adults in ACA plans aren't confident they could afford care if they got sick.” (“Some Find Care Unaffordable, Even With Obamacare Coverage,” Bloomberg News, 11/04/2016)

    ‘My Husband And I Are Solidly Middle Class … We’re Literally Siphoning Through Our Savings’
    Florida Woman: “[Jules] Stewart and her husband, Kip Koelsch ... chose a silver plan from Humana. They were stunned by the $774 monthly premium, she said — especially because they had to meet a $12,000 deductible before most of the benefits kicked in. ‘We’re literally siphoning through our savings to be protected,’ she said. She also had to change primary care physicians. ... ‘My husband and I are solidly middle class and wonder how folks living just below our level manage to afford Obamacare,’ she said. ‘It doesn’t seem to benefit anyone I know.’” (“Tampa Bay Case Studies Of Obamacare's Costs And Benefits,” Tampa Bay Times, 11/11/2016)

    ‘I’m A Sickness Away Or My Wife Is A Sickness Away From Going To The Poor House’
    Kansas City Retiree:< “‘I’m a sickness away or my wife is a sickness away from going to the poor house I guess because the cost of the insurance is so great,’ said Goodman.” (“Obamacare Costs Up, Choices Down In Missouri And Kansas,” KSHB-TV Kansas City, 11/01/2016)
    • “When Mark Goodman retired from his job, he was able to get COBRA health insurance. Under that plan, you pay all the cost of your former employer's coverage. But when the time frame allowed on that plan ran out, Goodman realized the Affordable Care Act was his only option. ‘I found out that the Affordable Care Act was so much more expensive than what I previously had been on,’ he said.” (“Obamacare Costs Up, Choices Down In Missouri And Kansas,” KSHB-TV Kansas City, 11/01/2016)
    • “Here’s how the costs compared in Goodman's case. Cobra's monthly premium was $1,566. The ACA's monthly premium was $1,247, but only covered three of his four family members. COBRA's network deductible was $2,600 versus $12,000 for the ACA. After that deductible is met, Goodman would pay 10 percent of any claims with COBRA and 30 percent with the ACA. ‘COBRA used to be the expensive form of insurance which everyone told me for years. Now it's something you want to do,’ Goodman said.” (“Obamacare Costs Up, Choices Down In Missouri And Kansas,” KSHB-TV Kansas City, 11/01/2016)
    • “Goodman took his concerns to Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill's office. Goodman says after months of trying to get action from that office, he says one of the senator’s representatives from her Kansas City office told him nothing could be done to help him.” (“Obamacare Costs Up, Choices Down In Missouri And Kansas,” KSHB-TV Kansas City, 11/01/2016)
    ‘Obamacare Plans … Put Health Services Out Of Reach’
    Montana Retiree: “Michelle Harris, a 61-year-old retired waitress in northwest Montana, has arthritis in both shoulders. …pays $338 a month for the BlueCross BlueShield plan. Yet with its $4,500 deductible, she says she's doing everything she can to avoid seeing a doctor. Instead, she uses ibuprofen and cold-packs. ‘It hurts, but we don't have that kind of money,’ Harris said in an interview. ‘So I deal with it.’ ... Harris is one of many people with Obamacare plans that feature high out-of-pocket costs that can put health services out of reach... The cheapest plan available to them costs $1,400 a month, with a deductible of about $13,000. If premiums keep rising, Harris says, they probably won't buy coverage in 2018.” (“Some Find Care Unaffordable, Even With Obamacare Coverage,” Bloomberg News, 11/04/2016)

    ‘Afraid To Go To The Doctor For Fear Of Paying Hundreds Of Dollars I Can’t Afford’
    Utah Woman: “Stephanie Haltinner, 30, has an insurance plan with a $13,000 deductible for her and her husband under Obamacare. Her husband is currently looking for work. She’s looking for a different plan for next year. ‘I’m hoping we’ll be able to get something that actually has benefits, so I don’t have to be afraid to go to the doctor for fear of paying hundreds of dollars I can’t afford,’ said Haltinner, who lives in Farmington, Utah and works part time while going to school. For Haltinner, that means being insured, but still having large financial risk.” (“Some Find Care Unaffordable, Even With Obamacare Coverage,” Bloomberg News, 11/04/2016)

    ‘This Is A Nightmare’

    Pennsylvania Retiree: “Richard Dean of Bethlehem Township, said he can no longer afford insurance on Healthcare.gov. The retired bank employee said . . . though he has health insurance through retirement benefits, his wife does not. For 2016, Dean found separate coverage for his wife on the exchange. But that plan, which cost $572 a month, is to be discontinued next year and the nearest equivalent he can find would be $917 a month, or $11,004 a year, he said. The deductible would also go up, to $6,800 from $4,500; and after meeting the deductible, the co-insurance would be 30 percent — meaning his wife would still have to pay 30 percent of her bills. ‘I’m praying this is a mistake,’ he said. ‘Who can afford that?’” (“With Obamacare Options Slim In The Lehigh Valley, Many Feel Priced Out Of Health Coverage,” The [Allentown, PA] Morning Call, 11/05/2016)
    • “Dean said his wife might have to go without any coverage — a move that, adding insult to injury, would trigger a tax penalty. He said the Affordable Care Act doesn't seem to be living up to its name. ‘This is a nightmare,’ he said. ‘If you go look up the word “affordable,” by any means this is not affordable.’” (“With Obamacare Options Slim In The Lehigh Valley, Many Feel Priced Out Of Health Coverage,” The [Allentown, PA] Morning Call, 11/05/2016)

      ‘The Only Reason I'm Working Is To Pay The Premiums’

      Florida Retiree: “After a decades-long career as an insurance claims adjustor, Dave Beveridge fulfilled his goal of retiring at 60. He never imagined the cost of health insurance would drive him back into the workforce. But Beveridge, 63, had to take a temporary position with a Tampa insurance company, he said, because the monthly premium for his Affordable Care Act plan is so expensive. ‘The only reason I'm working is to pay the premiums,’ he said. In 2016, he and his wife Nancy paid $868 a month for a bronze plan from Humana. In 2017, the cheapest plan available to them is a $1,267-a-month bronze plan from Florida Blue, he said. The deductible is $6,800.” (“Tampa Bay Case Studies Of Obamacare's Costs And Benefits,” Tampa Bay Times, 11/11/2016)
    ‘Fears His Family Will Be “Open To Complete Financial Ruin”’

    Florida Small Business Owner: “‘Five years ago, small business owner Robert Lust and his wife, Michelle, decided to drop their health insurance. The $2,400 monthly premium was eating up nearly half their household income. The couple couldn’t wait for the launch of the Affordable Care Act. ‘We saw relief coming,’ recalled Lust, now 60. In 2014, the Lusts purchased a silver plan from UnitedHealth that cost about $1,000 per month. But they couldn’t see any of their longtime doctors, and were assigned to a primary care facility that did little more than provide referrals, Lust said. When the monthly premiums rose 40 percent, they decided to ‘bite the bullet’ and buy a platinum plan from Florida Blue that gave them more choice in doctors. In 2016 . . . the plan cost $1,872 a month. ‘Add to that the $4,000 out-of-pocket expenses and all the other things that the plan does not pay for,’ Lust said. . . If the premiums continue to rise like they have in years past, Lust fears his family will be ‘open to complete financial ruin.’” (“Tampa Bay Case Studies Of Obamacare's Costs And Benefits,” Tampa Bay Times, 11/11/2016)

    Consumers Face Premium Hikes Up To 53% In Some States

    PENNSYLVANIA: “In Pennsylvania, one of 37 states that use the federal government's online exchange, the average price for the benchmark silver plan is going up 53 percent, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” (“With Obamacare Options Slim In The Lehigh Valley, Many Feel Priced Out Of Health Coverage,” The [Allentown, PA] Morning Call, 11/05/2016)

    SOUTH DAKOTA: “Outside of the marketplace, plans are up 5 percent and inside, plans are up about 25 to 45 percent over the last year. That’s due to the companies dropping out of the marketplace and the remaining carriers raising their prices to balance out the rising medical costs. Insurance agents say that the high costs are affecting the majority of people in South Dakota.” (“Enrollment For Obamacare Is Open But Policies Are Expensive,” KOTA-TV Rapid City, 11/23/2016)

    MISSOURI & KANSAS: “[R]ecords the 41 Action News Investigators have obtained from those states show the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare is getting less affordable as options dwindle. . . There are two carriers for the Kansas City area, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and Humana. According to healthinsurance.org, Blue Cross is proposing a 29 percent rate increase while Humana is proposing a just under 35 percent increase. . . Blue Cross for the Kansas side of the metro is proposing a more than 28 percent rate increase and a more than 47 percent increase for the rest of the state.” (“Obamacare Costs Up, Choices Down In Missouri And Kansas,” KSHB-TV Kansas City, 11/01/2016)
    FLORIDA: “The average rate hike in Florida was 19 percent.” (“Tampa Bay Case Studies Of Obamacare’s Costs And Benefits,” Tampa Bay Times, 11/11/2016)

    NEW YORK: “Health insurance premiums rose at a faster rate here after 2010, when the federal Affordable Care Act passed, than they did in the five years before, according to [a newly released report from the Commonwealth Fund], released last month. . . Researchers sought to determine how the law affected employer-sponsored plans. Supporters had predicted the law would result in lowering insurance costs overall, while critics have charged it has done the opposite for businesses and workers.” (“Against Trend, N.Y. Health Insurance Costs Grow Faster After Obamacare,” Albany Times Union, 11/03/2016)

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