Patricia Wanderlich got insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, and with good reason: She suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2011, spending weeks in a hospital intensive care unit, and has a second, smaller aneurysm that needs monitoring.
But her new plan has a $6,000 annual deductible, meaning that Ms. Wanderlich, who works part time at a landscaping company outside Chicago, has to pay for most of her medical services up to that amount. She is skipping this year’s brain scan and hoping for the best.
“To spend thousands of dollars just making sure it hasn’t grown?” said Ms. Wanderlich, 61. “I don’t have that money.”
About 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in private coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than 80 percent qualified for federal subsidies to help with the cost of their monthly premiums. But many are still on the hook for deductibles that can top $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families — the trade-off, insurers say, for keeping premiums for the marketplace plans relatively low. The result is that some people — no firm data exists on how many — say they hesitate to use their new insurance because of the high out-of-pocket costs.
Gee, maybe if consumers could have the benefit of shopping a national market, rather than merely being restricted to regional ones, they might be able to get better deals regarding deductibles. I hear that market competition does have a way of working out to the benefit of consumers. Perhaps the Affordable Care Act–which really is not affordable–could have been written in such a way as to actually encourage the existence a free marketplace for consumers. Too bad that the bill’s authors decided to go in another direction, and too bad that a former speaker of the House of Representatives decided that we had to pass the health care bill in order to find out what is in it.