US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

6 Things to Expect When Americans Eventually Log On

Get ready for “rate shock,” whether you’re buying through the exchanges, or you thought you could keep the insurance you had at the price you paid

Thursday, October 10, 2013Liz Wolgemuth (202) 224-8584

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“These will be tough and disappointing days for many Americans, as they finally log on to the exchanges and discover that health insurance next year will cost multiple times what it costs them now.” – Lamar Alexander

 

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 – As Americans begin to make their way onto the Obamacare exchanges, many are experiencing the “rate shock” that Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and other Republicans warned against. Other Americans are discovering that the plans they have now will either cost much more next year, or don’t meet the law’s mandates. They must either pay for a more expensive plan, including coverage they don’t want, or choose to go without insurance and pay a penalty to the IRS.

Senator Alexander said today: “These will be tough and disappointing days for many Americans, as they finally log on to the exchanges and discover that health insurance next year will cost multiple times what it costs them now.  This will be a difficult time for other Americans, too, who will find they cannot keep the plans they had, as the president promised, or will pay much more.”

Alexander added: “This is why we’ve been working so hard to dismantle and repeal this bill, so that we can begin to pass step-by-step reforms that transform the health care delivery system by putting patients in charge, giving them more choices, and reducing the cost of health care so that more people can afford it.”

Here are six things many Americans can expect:

 

1. Higher premiums:

 

  • “In a Sept. 23 letter, Blue Cross notified him that his current plan doesn’t meet benefit requirements outlined in the Affordable Care Act and suggested a comparable plan for $1,208 a month – $980 more than he now pays. ‘I’m 62 and retired,’ [said George Schwab of Charlotte, North Carolina]. ‘This creates a tremendous financial burden for our family.’” http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/10/06/4365331/insurance-premium-increases-shock.html#
  • “Shelly Ross of San Francisco was looking forward to the opening of the new health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act because she was hoping to get a better deal. But now that she's seen her options, Ross is disappointed. Turns out she earns slightly too much money to qualify for federal financial aid to help her buy coverage in the state's exchange, called Covered California. And because policies have to be upgraded to comply with the new law, her rates are going up nearly 10 percent. ‘Every plan is going to cost more than what I pay now. And what I pay now is ridiculous,’ said Ross, 47, who owns a cat-sitting business called Tales of the Kitty and pays more than $400 a month for her insurance. ‘It's a great thing for some people, but it's certainly not helping me.’ http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Health-insurance-shoppers-suffer-sticker-shock-4872701.php

2. Higher deductibles:

 

  • “Some consumers who have been buying their own insurance are getting cancellation notices – and offers for insurance at dramatically higher rates…Michael Yount of Charlotte, N.C., is one such unhappy customer. He and his wife, retired and in their late 50s, have been buying their own health insurance from Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) in North Carolina, paying about $380 a month with an $11,000 deductible. BCBS is offering them a new plan for three times the cost, $1,124.50 a month, still with an $11,000 deductible.” http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/2013/1007/Beyond-Obamacare-glitches-some-consumers-face-dramatically-higher-rates-video
  • “So I just received my 2014 coverage and costs from by health care provider. They informed me that they have transitioned my current coverage that I have had for the past 4 years to a comparable ACA certified coverage plan. My MONTHLY premium went up by $200.00 and my coverage out of pockets costs increased by 30%. So answer me this, how is this a ‘Affordable Health Care Act’? I can now no longer afford my health insurance premium for my family and do not qualify for assistance based on the guidelines. I compared my new rate to the ones on the Marketplace and they are the same or higher, so that is not an option either. I feel like my government has again lied and cheated me into a corner - now what?” --Comment on Healthcare.gov’s Facebook page
  • “The report [by Avalere Health] estimates that a silver plan would have a deductible ranging from $1,500 to $5,000, which is higher than the average deductible ($1,135) for an employer-sponsored plan.”  http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/exchanges-high-costs-obamacare-97363.html#ixzz2hAony2Op 
  • “She found a bronze-level plan for roughly $357 a month, after their subsidy, which they could swing. But it comes with a $12,600 family deductible. (If they don't qualify for a subsidy, they would pay nearly $1,275 on the exchange for that policy.)  ‘This is like a catastrophic plan,’ said Hornbacher, a public school nurse who pays more than $300 a month for coverage at work and will now look to add her husband for 2014. ‘I am totally shocked and taken aback at how little it did provide at the level I could afford.’" http://money.cnn.com/2013/10/04/news/economy/obamacare-costs/

 

3. Higher co-pays:

 

4. Coverage you don’t need:

 

  • “Under the law, most health plans must cover so-called ‘essential health benefits,’ such as maternity coverage and pediatric dental coverage. Some of these items were previously optional, and…more than 200,000 individual and small-group customers must upgrade their coverage to meet the new requirements. ‘Some of these essential health benefits, I wasn't paying for those because I didn't need them. But now, I'm required to pay for them in this new plan. I'm never going to use them,’ Amy Williamson said Tuesday. Williamson, the controller for a small Web design company, has purchased her own insurance. She said her monthly premiums have been $192, but Blue Cross recently told her she would have to start paying $314 a month for coverage in January. ‘I, honestly, was absolutely shocked. I wanted to go on all social media sites and post how mad I was about it,’ she said.” http://www.wral.com/insurance-changes-force-some-into-health-exchange-for-coverage/12948344/
  • “Today, people who buy individual policies often choose plans without maternity coverage, for example, to reduce premiums. That choice is gone, too. ‘Now maternity is loaded into everybody’s plan,’ [Chris Blount, a Blue Cross agent with Piedmont Benefits Group in Charlotte] said. That means men will generally be paying more than they did before.” http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/10/06/4365331/insurance-premium-increases-shock.html

 

5. Fewer Choices

 

6. Less Competition

  • “Insurers offered 158 plans in eastern Florida's Seminole County, the most available in any single county, and 50 or more plans in 217 other counties across the country. On the other end of the spectrum, shoppers in 161 counties will have 10 or fewer plans to choose from… Nationwide, 18 percent of counties have only one insurer offering plans and 33 percent of counties have only two insurers competing, the KHN analysis found.”  http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2013/October/04/Marketplace-plans-variation-counties-and-nation.aspx

 

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