Advocates of ObamaCare have predicted that when the White House manages to fix the problems with the Healthcare.gov exchange, opponents will have expended all their firepower and will be left twisting in the wind. As CBS reported again this morning, that’s hardly the case — and the website is hardly the main problem with the program. In fact, the media attention on the website actually masks the biggest problems with ObamaCare, which are skyrocketing premiums and millions of people getting kicked out of the plans they chose:
For many, their introduction to the Affordable Care Act has been negative: a broken website, and now cancellation notices from insurance companies followed by sticker shock over higher prices for the new plans. It’s directly at odds with repeated assurances from the president, who has said “if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you.”
But people across the country are finding out they’re losing their existing insurance plans under Obamacare because requirements in the law, such as prenatal and prescription drug coverage, mean their old plans aren’t comprehensive enough.
In California, Kaiser Permanente terminated policies for 160,000 people. In Florida, at least 300,000 people are losing coverage.
That includes 56-year-old Dianne Barrette. Last month, she received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield informing her as of January 2014, she would lose her current plan. Barrette pays $54 a month. The new plan she’s being offered would run $591 a month — 10 times more than what she currently pays.
Barrette said, “What I have right now is what I am happy with and I just want to know why I can’t keep what I have. Why do I have to be forced into something else?”
According to HealthCare.gov, Barrette is eligible for some subsidies, CBS News’ Jan Crawford pointed out on “CBS This Morning.” But Barrette told CBS News she has no idea what those subsidies would be because she cannot log on to the website — an issue U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is sure to be asked about when she testifies on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
Two points. First, her subsidies won’t come to $500 a month, which is about the difference between the two plans. Second, subsidies don’t come off of the Subsidy Tree Forest. Those funds come out of taxes, either directly on taxpayers or on health care providers and manufacturers — and those costs get passed onto consumers.
Just as we all predicted, the so-called Affordable Care Act didn’t bend the cost curve downward — it has twisted it sharply upward. That will only become more apparent when the website issues are fixed, and it’s why the system will incentivize the young and healthy to stay out of the exchanges, which will only accelerate premium increases.