Los Angeles Times Announces Health Insurance Sticker Shock

We finally found an article that admits the weaknesses in the health care reform law which some of our own experts have been warning about for months.

The article recently ran in the Los Angeles Times, stating that middle-class American consumers are realizing that their rates “are rising in large part to help offset the higher costs of covering sicker, poorer people who have been shut out of the system for years.”  While the current news is filled with stories of glitches in the online enrollment process, “experts say sharp price increases for individual policies have the greatest potential to erode public support for President Obama’s signature legislation.”

Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research said, “There are winners and losers under the Affordable Care Act.”

The article describes a middle class couple, expecting their first child, who are now required to upgrade their health insurance coverage, which will increase their monthly premium from $98 to $238.  Unfortunately, they do not qualify for “federal premium subsidies because they earn too much money, about $80,000 a year combined.”  Of course, “many Americans will benefit from the healthcare expansion. They are guaranteed coverage regardless of their medical history. And lower-income families will gain access to comprehensive coverage at little or no cost.   The federal government picks up much of the tab through an expansion of Medicaid and subsidies to people earning up to four times the federal poverty level. That’s up to $46,000 for an individual or $94,000 for a family of four.  But middle-income consumers face an estimated 30% rate increase, on average, in California due to several factors tied to the healthcare law.  Some may elect to go without coverage if they feel prices are too high. Penalties for opting out are very small initially. Defections could cause rates to skyrocket if a diverse mix of people don’t sign up for health insurance.”

Although those with employer sponsored group coverage are not affected by the Affordable Care Act, several hundred thousand insured through individual plans are receiving cancellation notices because their plans do not meet the new federal requirements.

In closing, the article states: “All these cancellations were prompted by a requirement from Covered California, the state’s new insurance exchange. The state didn’t want to give insurance companies the opportunity to hold on to the healthiest patients for up to a year, keeping them out of the larger risk pool that will influence future rates.  Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said the state and insurers agreed that clearing the decks by Jan. 1 was best for consumers in the long run despite the initial disruption…Lee said some of these rate hikes will be partially offset by smaller deductibles and lower limits on out-of-pocket medical expenses in the new plans.”

Hmmm…guess we shall see….

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