By now you may have seen this chart showing that about 3 percent of Americans are expected to have to pay a higher premium for insurance next year because of the ACA. This was not unexpected. But I fear the rightie noise machine has pumped it up to a BIG BLEEPING DEAL. See, for example, this Wall Street Journal op ed by a cancer patient whose policy was canceled, and none of her new options will let her see all of her doctors.
That’s very sad. However, it turns out, the cancellation wasn’t because of the ACA.
(Update: Looks like that’s not the only thing the subject of the article left out.)
Sundby shouldn’t blame reform — United Healthcare dropped her coverage because they’ve struggled to compete in California’s individual health care market for years and didn’t want to pay for sicker patients like Sundby.
The company, which only had 8,000 individual policy holders in California out of the two million who participate in the market, announced (along with a second insurer, Aetna) that it would be pulling out of the individual market in May. The company could not compete with Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente, who control more than 80 percent of the individual market.
Not that Wall Street Journal readers are likely to find that out.
The Washington Post dutifully reports on the “growing backlash”
Americans who face higher insurance costs under President Obama’s health-care law are angrily complaining about “sticker shock,” threatening to become a new political force opposing the law even as the White House struggles to convince other consumers that they will benefit from it.
The growing backlash involves people whose plans are being discontinued because the policies don’t meet the law’s more-stringent standards. They’re finding that many alternative policies come with higher premiums and deductibles.
There aren’t enough of them by themselves to become a “new political force,” of course. What the Washingon Post doesn’t bother to mention, but the New York Times did, is that nobody’s policy was cancelled, strictly speaking, because of the ACA. instead, they were upgraded. A lot of those old “cancelled” policies were junk. (See also.)
Making the “sticker shock” worse, however, is that insurers are hiding benefits from customers and trying to gouge them as well.
Across the country, insurance companies have sent misleading letters to consumers, trying to lock them into the companies’ own, sometimes more expensive health insurance plans rather than let them shop for insurance and tax credits on the Obamacare marketplaces — which could lead to people like Donna spending thousands more for insurance than the law intended. In some cases, mentions of the marketplace in those letters are relegated to a mere footnote, which can be easily overlooked.
The extreme lengths to which some insurance companies are going to hold on to existing customers at higher price, as the Affordable Care Act fundamentally re-orders the individual insurance market, has caught the attention of state insurance regulators.
Making this worse is the fact that a lot of people facing higher premiums can’t get on the website yet to find out what better deals might be out there. So we’re in for a bumpy ride for awhile, I’m afraid.
Update and off topic — Smirking Chimp is holding a fundraiser to help it stay online.