Feb 10, 2017

The Real Impact of Obamacare: Coverage You Can’t Use

Post by Geoff Holtzman

Bill Belichick’s motto that lines the walls of the New England Patriots’ locker room is a simple one: “Do your job.” Despite its simplicity, five Super Bowl wins have shown how effective it is. Unfortunately for many Americans, Obamacare has failed to live up to Belichick’s mantra. Instead of making health care more affordable, the law has created higher health costs for millions of Americans.

And it’s not just the fact that premiums for plans sold through Obamacare’s exchanges increased this year by an average of 25 percent. Deductibles – the out-of-pocket costs patients must pay before their insurance kicks in – have increased to the point where many Americans who bought coverage through the law, even some who receive generous taxpayer-backed subsidies, are finding their coverage useless.

High deductible plans (HDPs) paired with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) can present a reasonable option for a patient with relatively low health care expenses and needs. However, many consumers have been forced onto Obamacare’s exchanges, where they’ve been left with little, if any, choice but to purchase high deductible plans that don’t meet their needs and that they can’t afford to use. As a result, customers who were told they’d be paying less because of the law are realizing that’s just not the case.

Take, for example, Montana resident Michelle Harris. Harris, who bought a plan through the Obamacare exchange, said “she’s doing everything she can to avoid seeing a doctor” due to her $4,500 deductible. “It hurts,” Harris said of her arthritis, “but we don’t have that kind of money.”

Michigan resident Clare Lee, who along with his wife bought a plan through the Obamacare exchange that comes with a $12,000 deductible, admitted trying to “work through” his ailments instead of visiting the doctor and having to pay large deductibles.

“I’m a sickness away–or my wife is a sickness away–from going to the poor house I guess because the cost of the insurance is so great,” said Kansas City resident Mark Goodman, whose deductible for the plan he has through Obamacare is $10,000 higher than his previous plan.

“This is a nightmare… if you go look up the word ‘affordable,’ by any means this is not affordable,” added Pennsylvania resident Richard Dean, whose plan he bought through Obamacare comes with a $7,000 deductible.

Utah’s Stephanie Haltinner, who signed up for a plan through the Obamacare exchange with her husband that features a $13,000 deductible, summed it up this way: “I’m hoping we’ll be able to get something that actually has benefits, so I don’t have to be afraid to go to the doctor for fear of paying hundreds of dollars I can’t afford.”

Americans were promised that Obamacare would benefit them in the form of more affordable care. Instead, people ended up with skyrocketing premiums and little to no choice, resulting in expensive coverage that is practically useless. As the comments above show, the law simply hasn’t done its job.