In 2009 when he was selling his radical healthcare plan to the American people, the POS promised that if we like our present health plans and doctors, we could keep them even after Obamacare became law.
Every day since both parties in both houses of Congress passed the cursed unAffordable Care Act, we are finding out what’s in it. But this latest news is the worst.
It is nothing less than an unmitigated DISASTER.
Across America, hundreds of thousands of people who buy their own healthcare coverage (instead of one through their place of employment) are receiving cancellation notices from their health insurances. Those letters began arriving in August.
Anna Gorman and Julie Appleby report for Kaiser Health News, Oct. 21, 2013, that the main reason insurers offer is that the policies fall short of what Obamacare requires starting Jan. 1. Most of the cancelled policies were sold after the law passed in March 2010. At least a few of the cancelled policies had been sold to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
An estimated 14 million people purchase their own coverage because they don’t get it through their jobs. Calls to insurers in several states showed that many have sent notices. They include:
- Florida Blue is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80% of its individual policies in the state.
- In California, Kaiser Permanente has sent notices to 160,000 people – about 50% of its individual business in the state. Blue Shield of California sent roughly 119,000 cancellation notices out in mid-September, about 60% of its individual business.
- Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about 20% of its individual market customers.
- Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping about 45% of its individual policies.
Both Independence and Highmark are cancelling so-called “guaranteed issue” policies, which had been sold to customers who had pre-existing medical conditions when they signed up. Policyholders with regular policies because they did not have health problems will be given an option to extend their coverage through next year.
Consumer advocates say such cancellations raise concerns that companies may be targeting their most costly enrollees. They may be “doing this as an opportunity to push their populations into the [Obamacare] exchange and purge their systems” of policyholders they no longer want, said Jerry Flanagan, an attorney with the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog in California.
Insurers deny that, saying they are encouraging existing customers to re-enroll in their new plans.
By all accounts, the new policies will offer consumers better coverage, in some cases, for comparable cost — especially after the inclusion of federal subsidies for those who qualify. Obamacare requires policies sold in the individual market to cover 10 “essential” benefits, such as prescription drugs, mental health treatment and maternity care. In addition, insurers cannot reject people with medical problems or charge them higher prices. The policies must also cap consumers’ annual expenses at levels lower than many plans sold before the new rules.
But for some, their new policies will cost more, despite studies projecting that about half of all enrollees will get income-based subsidies.
Kris Malean, 56, lives outside Seattle, and has a health policy that costs $390 a month with a $2,500 deductible and a $10,000 in potential out-of-pocket costs for such things as doctor visits, drug costs or hospital care. As a replacement, Regence BlueShield is offering her a plan for $79 more a month with a deductible twice as large as what she pays now, but which limits her potential out-of-pocket costs to $6,250 a year, including the deductible. Malean does not believe she is eligible for a subsidy.
Patrick Johnston, chief executive officer of the California Association of Health Plans, explains: “The arithmetic is inescapable.” Costs must be spread, so while some consumers will see their premiums drop, others will pay more — “no matter what people in Washington say.”
Health insurance experts say new prices will vary and much depends on where a person lives, their age and the type of policy they decide to buy. Some, including young people and those with skimpy or high-deductible plans, may see an increase. Others, including those with health problems or who buy coverage with higher deductibles than they have now, may see lower premiums.
About two-thirds of Blue Shield of California’s cancelled policyholders will see rate increases in their new policies, said spokesman Steve Shivinsky.
Folks, this is just the beginning of insurance cancellations.
Just you wait and see. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Medicare Advantage will be next.
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More on that tomorrow.
Dr. Eowyn is the Editor of Fellowship of the Minds.