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Obamacare rollout leaves millions without insurance, facing higher costs

By From page A1 | November 15, 2013

Despite efforts to put a good spin on things, to date the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has been one disaster after another.

Currently, the federal government is running insurance exchanges in 36 states for those shopping for health insurance.

Plagued with technology glitches and breakdowns, fewer than 27,000 people have actually used the federal exchanges to select health insurance, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

In addition state marketplaces for health insurance have been set up in 15 states plus the District of Columbia. Some 79,000 people have used those to enroll.

Taken together, a total of 106,185 people have enrolled nationally over the period Oct. 1 to Nov. 2.

At the same time, more than 4.8 million Americans received notices that their preexisting plans will soon be illegal and will be cancelled, according to Forbes Magazine.

In California the situation is no different with only 35,364 people signing up for insurance using a state exchange.

However, California state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said that at the same time, more than 1 million Californians received cancellation notices from their insurance companies because their insurance no longer meets the minimum coverage required by Obamacare.

Contributing to California’s problems is that three of the country’s largest health insurers — UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, and Cigna — announced they wouldn’t participate in the California insurance exchange.

Budget forecasters had previously projected that 7 million people would enroll during the open enrollment period which runs until March 31. People have to sign up by that date to avoid the individual mandate fee for not having health insurance.

Obamacare is also causing heartburn to those who believed President Obama when he repeatedly told people they would be able to keep their existing health insurance and doctors. However, people are now finding out that was untrue as their insurance policies are canceled because they don’t include services mandated by the law.

Admittedly Obamacare will allow some people to purchase health care who otherwise couldn’t afford to. However, many others are facing much higher premiums because of the new mandates.

According to a recent study by the Manhattan Institute, those who shop for insurance coverage on their own under Obamacare will find their underlying premiums will increase, on average, by 41 percent with the steepest hikes imposed on the healthy, the young, and on males.

In California, the average increase in premiums is expected to be anywhere between 20 and 50 percent.

Employees are finding there are other hidden costs associated with Obamacare, including employers who would rather pay a penalty than foot the cost for employee health care coverage or who require employees to pick up a larger portion of the cost of health care premiums because of rising costs. Other employers have chosen to reduce their workforce or the hours employees work in response to Obamacare.

According to a poll sponsored by business groups and referenced in the Christian Science Monitor, about 30 percent of small franchises and 12 percent of other small businesses say they are cutting work hours — or swapping full-time for part-time workers — because of the law.

This is more bad news in a country already suffering from a weak economy, high unemployment and stagnant wages.

Despite all the setbacks, federal officials remain optimistic that enrollments will pick up once all the bugs are ironed out of the insurance exchanges.

On Thursday President Obama announced he plans to offer an administrative “fix” to the law, saying that states and insurers can extend current policies canceled under Obamacare for a year. This “fix” will mean that current plans sold to customers will not be considered out of compliance with the health care law in 2014.

However, House Speaker John Boehner said he was “highly skeptical” the Obama administration would be able to fix the problems administratively. Obamacare is a “rolling calamity that has to be stopped,” he said. “This is going to destroy the best health care delivery system in the world.”

Note: The Mountain Democrat wants to know if any local residents are experiencing problems due to Obamacare. If so, please contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] with the details.

Dawn Hodson

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