For quite a while now, we have been assured that we as a nation are well past the early hiccups and rough patches that attended the implementation of Obamacare. From here on out, we have been promised relatively smooth sailing. Everything is fine, everyone is happy, there is nothing bad or unpleasant to see, and we can all move along. Or so we are regularly told by the president of the United States, his political allies, and fans of Obamacare in general.
Obama administration officials, urging people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, have trumpeted the low premiums available on the law’s new marketplaces.
But for many consumers, the sticker shock is coming not on the front end, when they purchase the plans, but on the back end when they get sick: sky-high deductibles that are leaving some newly insured feeling nearly as vulnerable as they were before they had coverage.
“The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor,” said David R. Reines, 60, of Jefferson Township, N.J., a former hardware salesman with chronic knee pain. “We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.”
In many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through HealthCare.gov, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more, a New York Times review has found. Those deductibles are causing concern among Democrats — and some Republican detractors of the health law, who once pushed high-deductible health plans in the belief that consumers would be more cost-conscious if they had more of a financial stake or skin in the game.
“We could not afford the deductible,” said Kevin Fanning, 59, who lives in North Texas, near Wichita Falls. “Basically I was paying for insurance I could not afford to use.”
He dropped his policy.
As the health care law enters its third annual open enrollment period, premiums and subsidies have been one of the administration’s main selling points.
“Most Americans will find an option that costs less than $75 a month,” President Obama said.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, issued a report analyzing premiums in the 38 states that use HealthCare.gov. “Eight out of 10 returning consumers will be able to buy a plan with premiums less than $100 a month after tax credits,” she said.
But in interviews, a number of consumers made it clear that premiums were only one side of the affordability equation.
“Our deductible is so high, we practically pay for all of our medical expenses out of pocket,” said Wendy Kaplan, 50, of Evanston, Ill. “So our policy is really there for emergencies only, and basic wellness appointments.”
It is nice and good that the New York Times is actually paying attention to this story. And good for them for doing so. But these developments were entirely predictable, and were predicted by those who actually possess a basic understanding of economics. Those predictions were scorned by the likes of the New York Times. Nowhere in the Times story is there any acknowledgment that the Times and other media outlets sympathetic to the Obama administration–not to mention the administration and its allies–improperly and unjustifiably hyped Obamacare as being the cure to all of the world’s ills . . . or at least the cure to America’s ills. Nowhere in the Times story is there any hint of an apology for having so spectacularly erred in gauging the efficacy of Obamacare.
And if any of you actually think that the New York Times editorial board will pen something acknowledging the shortcomings of Obamacare, then you probably also thought that if you liked your health care plan, you could keep your health care plan.
(Photo from the Times article.)