December 24 2013

ObamaCare: Still Ashes and Switches

Patrice J. Lee

Today’s new ObamaCare sign up deadline buys the Administration a little more time to get millions of Americans on board, but more sign-up time is not what the country needs. ObamaCare is still not a real healthcare reform plan to lower healthcare costs for Americans.

As we reported yesterday, in yet another “quiet” move the Administration granted a 24-hour extension to Americans to sign up for ObamaCare with coverage beginning January 1st. Let’s not thank Obama Clause too quickly. An extra day to sign up for an expensive plan is nothing to celebrate.

The Associated Press reports on the sticker shock applicants face as they learn about not only their new monthly costs but also the high deductibles they have to meet:

Increasingly, experts in health insurance are becoming concerned that many of these first-time buyers will be in for a shock when they get medical care next year and discover they're on the hook for most of the initial cost.

The prospect of sticker shock after Jan. 1, when those who sign up for policies now can begin getting coverage, is seen as a looming problem for a new national system that has been plagued by trouble since the new marketplaces went online in the states in October.

For those without insurance—about about 15 percent of the population—“the lesson is it's important to understand the total cost of ownership of a plan," said Matt Eyles, a vice president of Avalere Health, a market analysis firm. "You just don't want to look only at the premium."

Counselors who have been helping people choose policies say many are focused only on the upfront cost, not what the insurance companies agree to pay.

Hospitals are worried that those who rack up uncovered medical bills next year won't be able to pay them, perpetuating one of the problems the new health care system is supposed to solve.

Well, I thought one of the goals of the President’s signature legislation was to make healthcare accessible and affordable by all Americans so that they wouldn’t skip out on their hospital bills in the case of an emergency?

This points to one of the many problems with this so-called “Affordable” Care Act. Americans are increasingly discovering that affordability is not one of its virtues. Let’s not diminish the immediate relief some Americans will feel at the thought of now having healthcare coverage if they did not have it before. However, how quickly will that relief morph into panic as the monthly costs and deductibles take a bite out of the discretionary spending families and individuals have?

Yes, some subsidies are available – which is a sneaky redistributionist ploy – but not to an individual making above about $46,000 per year.  If you live in a metropolitan city like New York, Boston, Los Angeles or Washington, D.C. living costs don’t leave much discretionary spending if you make this amount.

What navigators are probably quick to gloss over when talking to new applicants, but what we –and many others in opposition to ObamaCare – have raised is that monthly healthcare costs are not the only considerations. While undoubtedly some people may see their monthly premiums fall (of course there is no comprehensive data to prove that) they may face new and higher deductibles. That poses large new out-of-pocket expenses that an individual has to eat before any insurance kicks in.  AP confirms this:

The new federal and state health insurance exchanges offer policies ranked as bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The bronze options have the lowest monthly premiums but high deductibles _ the amount the policyholder must pay before the insurer picks up any of the cost of medical care.

...Some applicants see the catch.

"The real big surprise was how much out-of-pocket would be required for our family," said David Winebrenner, 46, a financial adviser in Lebanon, Ky., whose deductible topped $12,000 for a family of six for a silver plan he was considering. The monthly premium: $1,400.

Some who had private insurance policies that were canceled may find that keeping the same deductibles may mean higher premiums.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day. Eager children will tear open presents and adults will exchange gifts to express appreciation and love.

ObamaCare is the kind of present that takes more than it gives and it leaves one with less than she had before. If Obama Clause tries to leave it under your tree, send it back to the North Pole (aka The White House) with a note: ‘Return to sender and don’t send it back!’

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