California was both the first and largest state to commit to building their own state-specific individual marketplace rather than working through the still mostly-busted federal exchange, and the launch of their Covered California site has been relatively smoother than most (although not without its own problems). Like the Obama administration, California is reporting an encouraging amount of traffic but doesn’t plan to release its actual enrollment numbers until mid-November — but in the meantime, the middle-class Californians checking out their new healthcare “options” are feeling a little bit perturbed about what they’re seeing. Via the Los Angeles Times:
“This is when the actual sticker shock comes into play for people,” said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “There are winners and losers under the Affordable Care Act.”
Fullerton resident Jennifer Harris thought she had a great deal, paying $98 a month for an individual plan through Health Net Inc. She got a rude surprise this month when the company said it would cancel her policy at the end of this year. Her current plan does not conform with the new federal rules, which require more generous levels of coverage.
Now Harris, a self-employed lawyer, must shop for replacement insurance. The cheapest plan she has found will cost her $238 a month. She and her husband don’t qualify for federal premium subsidies because they earn too much money, about $80,000 a year combined.
“It doesn’t seem right to make the middle class pay so much more in order to give health insurance to everybody else,” said Harris, who is three months pregnant. “This increase is simply not affordable.”
Gee, no kidding. The LA Times reports that California is home to more than two million individually insured residents, and that hundreds of thousands of them are receiving cancellation notices on their current plans and getting booted into the exchange where they’ll need to pay an average of 30 percent more for their new premiums. How anybody ever managed to convince themselves that none of this would have a net negative economic impact and indeed act as a new tax on the middle class, I’m sure I’ll never know.