Via Ace, emphasis on “at least.” Remember the number, because ObamaCare fans much prefer to talk in percentages when discussing the program’s losers. Jon Gruber told New York magazine last week that, of the roughly six percent of the population that buys insurance on the individual market, half are at risk of being slapped with a cancellation notice by their insurer and forced to buy a new, more expensive plan. To Gruber, that’s an acceptable casualty rate: “Don’t get me wrong, that’s a shame, but no law in the history of America makes everyone better off.” It fell to Ryan Lizza, the author of the New York piece, to remind readers that three percent equals nine million people. To put that in perspective, the number of active duty servicemen and reserves across the entire U.S. armed forces is only 2.3 million. It’d be like hitting the entire population of New Jersey with a premium hike — or, if you prefer, the total population of the 10 least populous states. If your new boondoggle is predicated on the idea that you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, which number would you rather be pushing as “a few”? Three percent? Or nine million?
The Obama administration insists nobody will lose coverage as a result of cancellation notices going out to millions of people. At least 3.5 million Americans have been issued cancellations, but the exact number is unclear. Associated Press checks find that data is unavailable in a half the states…
Speaking in Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall this past week, Obama said the problem is limited to fewer than 5 percent of Americans “who’ve got cut-rate plans that don’t offer real financial protection in the event of a serious illness or an accident.”
But in a nation of more than 300 million, 5 percent is a big number – about 15 million people. Among them are Ian and Sara Hodge of Lancaster, Pa., in their early 60s and paying $1,041 a month for a policy.
After insurer Highmark Inc., sent the Hodges a cancellation notice, the cheapest rate they say they’ve been able to find is $1,400 for a comparable plan. Ian is worried they may not qualify for tax credits and doesn’t trust that the federal website is secure enough to enter personal financial information in order to find out.
Interesting that Obama thinks the problem might be even worse than Gruber does. How many of the 3.5 million who’ve already received cancellation notices had “cut-rate” plans and have now been “transitioned” to better (i.e. more expensive) ones, and how many had perfectly decent plans that needed to be sacrificed in the name of gouging healthy people for higher premiums to help cover the preexisting conditions of others? The new Big Lie from Democrats as a defense to rate shock is to insist, against all available evidence, that virtually every plan that’s been canceled under ObamaCare’s regs was crap coverage unfit for a decent society. Here’s yet another reminder that it just ain’t so:
Marlys Dietrick, a 60-year-old artist from San Antonio, said she had high hopes that the new law would help many of her friends who are chefs, actors or photographers get insured. But she said they have been turned off by high premiums and deductibles and would rather pay the fine.
“I am one of those Democrats who wanted it to be better than this,” she said.
Her insurer, Humana, informed her that her plan was being canceled and that the rate for herself and her 21-year-old son for a plan compliant with the new law would rise from $300 to $705. On the federal Web site, she found a comparable plan for $623 a month. Because her annual income is about $80,000, she doesn’t qualify for subsidies.
A cheaper alternative on the federal exchange, she said, had a premium of $490 a month — but it was an HMO plan rather than the PPO plan she currently has. “I wouldn’t be able to go to the doctor I’ve been going to for years,” she said. “That is not a deal.”
And both the HMO and PPO exchange plans she examined had family deductibles of $12,700, compared with her current $7,000.
This AP piece has another vivid example involving a couple in their sixties who’ll be paying $500 more per month in premiums plus — yes, really — a $10,000 increase in their deductible. That’s if they decide to sign up, though; right now they’re on the fence about whether to enroll or to drop their health insurance altogether and pay the mandate fine this year. That’s a tiny inkling of a potential nightmare scenario for the industry as a whole — a death spiral, where not only do healthy people not sign up for coverage but healthy people who already have it end up priced out by the soaring premiums generated by guaranteed issue.
For more examples of ObamaCare as “junk insurance,” see David Freddoso’s post at the Examiner. How many of these cases are outliers and how many are representative remains to be seen, but as one health-care expert told WaPo, “The problem is that even if the majority are winners . . . they’re not the ones writing to their congressmen.” On that note, go read this HuffPo piece from a few days ago about Democrats looking ahead to the ObamaCare fiascos that await them next year, even if the White House somehow manages to get the website going soon. The employer mandate, which was delayed this year by proclamation of the King, will take effect for 2015, forcing a new round of rate shock as small businesses dump their employees onto the exchanges to buy ObamaCare’s more expensive insurance. The 2015 rates will be announced by insurers, as is customary, in October of the previous year — i.e. one month before the 2014 midterms. Exit quotation from a “key Democrat”: “What genius came up with that timetable?”