One of the features of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage is that you can choose to remain in the same plan from year-to-year if you like because the prices are stable. Not so with Obamacare.
The Obama Administration just released data showing that many Americans with ObamaCare plans could face substantial price increases next year unless they switch to other plans. Premium prices may spike as much as 20 percent in some cases. This is due to the reshuffling that’s occurring with a new system and the mix of enrollees. According to experts, this reshuffling will continue for another year or two before the cost of premiums eventually starts to stabilize.
The news conveniently came just hours before open enrollment this weekend. The seven million current enrollees must re-enroll this fall for coverage next year, and the plans they are currently on, may not be “affordable” anymore. This will not be fun or Americans who may have just gotten accustomed to their current plans. Not only may they have to change plans to avoid paying more, their new plans may not be accepted by their doctors or hospitals they want to use forcing them to once again shop for different healthcare providers. The medicines they take may also not be covered at the same rate by a different plan.
If that all sounds confusing, inconvenient, and cumbersome, it is. Then add to this mix that prices vary from state to state and even among counties within states.
For new customers, this may be the start of another arduous enrollment period. A hurdle they likely assumed they had overcome by getting enrolled this year.
An analysis of the data by The New York Times suggests that although consumers will often be able to find new health plans with prices comparable to those they now pay, the situation varies greatly from state to state and even among counties in the same state.
''Consumers should shop around,'' said Marilyn B. Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the federal insurance exchange serving three dozen states. ''With new options available this year, they're likely to find a better deal.'' She asserted that the data showed that ''the Affordable Care Act is working.''
The new data means that many of the seven million people who have bought insurance through federal and state exchanges will have to change to different health plans if they want to avoid paying more — an inconvenience for consumers just becoming accustomed to their coverage.
A new Gallup Poll suggests that seven in 10 Americans with insurance bought through the exchanges rate the coverage and the care as excellent or good, and most were planning to keep it.
Another problem for consumers is that if the price for a low-cost benchmark plan in the area has dropped, the amount of federal subsidies provided by the law could be less, meaning that consumers may have to pay more unless they switch plans.
The data, released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, indicates that price increases will be modest for many people willing to change plans. In a typical county, the price will rise 5 percent for the cheapest silver plan and 4 percent for the second cheapest.
In releasing the data, administration officials noted that more insurers had entered the market in many states. By the government's count, 25 percent more insurers will be participating in the exchange next year, and consumers will have a choice of 40 different plans, on average, up from 31 this year.
These price increases are no surprise to us. We’ve been reporting regularly on predicted increases in different states and across insurers.
ObamaCare was supposed to attract young, healthy Americans into the spider web to offset costs for older, sicker Americans, but those targets were never hit. Insurers must adjust for a different risk pool than they originally envisioned – perhaps were promised by the Administration.
There will be others who purchased ObamaCare plans and who will now determine they are not the best healthcare solutions for them. Perhaps because of the more limited networks of doctors and healthcare providers willing to accept ObamaCare. Remember, the President’s promise that “if you like you your doctor you can keep your doctor.” We now know that was not true.
And as for that affordability promise, the only reason ObamaCare is affordable is the largess of the American taxpayer. As we know, 80 percent of those with ObamaCare coverage use taxpayer-funded subsidies to pay their monthly premiums. If those subsides are invalidated by the Supreme Court, the number of ObamaCare customers will likely disappear just as quickly.
The president may have meant well in desiring to see every American covered. However, his plan has gone about in the wrong way, focused on the wrong problems and delivered a bad solution. Americans realize this, which is why more than half still disapprove of ObamaCare, especially young people. With a new Congress next year, it’s time to eliminate the failures of this plan and introduce real reforms to the healthcare industry that empowers patients and doctors, without masking the true costs.