Obamacare enrollees without subsidies face big premium increases

Obamacare rates are going up sharply this year. While most enrollees are sheltered from the increases by government subsidies, there are some—those making over $47,000 a year—who face paying the full cost of the mandated coverage. The Associated Press highlights what that looks like as rates are set to go up as much as 60 percent in some areas:

“I don’t know if I could swallow another 30 or 40 percent without severely cutting into other things I’m trying to do, like retirement savings or reducing debt,” said Bob Byrnes, of Blaine, Minnesota, a Twin Cities suburb. His monthly premium of $524 is already about 50 percent more than he was paying in 2015, and he has a higher deductible…

Byrnes, a manager for a medical courier service, says he supports the law’s goal of expanded coverage, but he hasn’t found his policy particularly affordable.

In the small East Texas city of Lufkin, Kirk Smith buys his policy from the only insurer available, which also happens to be the state’s largest.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas is seeking an average premium increase of nearly 60 percent for 2017, and Smith says his monthly bill of about $350 is already about as much as a car payment. Moreover, he’s had to drive to a neighboring county for medical care because he couldn’t get an appointment close to home.

Some unsubsidized Obamacare enrollees now have monthly premiums that are larger than their mortgage payments. That certainly was not part of the president’s sales pitch. The AP notes, “the Obama administration used public anger about premium increases as leverage to win passage of the health law.” In fact, the president predicted the law would save people money. He also repeatedly pointed to slower-than-average annual increases in premiums despite the fact that experts said most of that reduction was a delayed result of the economic recession.