The Obamacare-prompted insurance cancellation controversy is not the only issue that could undermine the law’s troubled rollout. An internal memo reportedly from the White House (see embed above) spells out additional concerns with the Affordable Care Act.
President Obama repeatedly declared that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” when he was selling healthcare reform to the American people, but this is not is not holding true for those who buy their insurance directly on the individual market.
An estimated 14 million Americans buy insurance (for themselves and their families) on their own rather than through an employer, and according to CBS News, more than two million of them so far may have already received cancellation notices informing them that they are being booted from their existing plans, and in some instances losing access to their existing healthcare providers network. To make matters worse, the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, is still broken, preventing replacement-insurance seekers from reviewing new options.
Obamacare on a one-size-fits-all basis requires insurers to cover 10 so-called essential benefits which rules out many cafeteria/catastrophic plans that many Americans prefer for their budgets. As a result, consumers pay for additional coverage that they neither want nor need and/or which may be inappropriate for their age or gender.
According to AP, “In the past, consumers could get relatively inexpensive, bare-bones coverage, but those plans will no longer be available. Many consumers are frustrated by what they call forced upgrades as they’re pushed into plans with coverage options they don’t necessarily want.”
The employer mandate has been postponed for one year, but workers will soon encounter big changes in their employer-provided plans for the same reason. Some businesses have already transitioned employees to public or private exchanges in advance.
Meeting notes from the Obamacare war room (i.e., the Obama administration group in charge of implementing the law) obtained by CNN raises other issues even after the glitch-filled healthcare.gov website gets fixed. “In some cases, there will be fewer options than would be desired to promote consumer choice and an ideal shopping experience. Additionally, in some cases there will be relatively high cost plans.”
AP indicates that more cancellation notices will go out in March and May 2014.
The Obama administration claimed that contractors rather than staff were responsible for the meeting notes and did not reflect the official position of the US Department of Health and Human Services, which also insists that Obamacare will be a good deal for the consumer in terms of premium cost.
Along these lines, CNBCs Larry Kudlow explained that that “As a 60-something, relatively healthy person, I don’t want lactation and maternity services, abortion services, speech therapy, mammograms, fertility treatments or Viagra. I don’t want it. So why should I have to tear up my existing health-care plan, and then buy a plan with far more expensive premiums and deductibles, and with services I don’t need or want? Why? Because Team Obama says I have to. And that’s not much of a reason. It’s not freedom.”
As alluded to above, there have also been various reports that health exchange plans prevent consumers keeping their own doctors or existing health networks. A gallbladder cancer survivor wrote yesterday in the Wall Street Journal that her coverage is being discontinued as of December 31: “My choice is to get coverage through the government health exchange and lose access to my cancer doctors, or pay much more for insurance outside the exchange (the quotes average 40% to 50% more) for the privilege of starting over with an unfamiliar insurance company and impaired benefits.”
As one example of Obamacare sticker shock for middle-class America following a plan cancellation, the Washington Post cites the experience of D.C. lawyer Deborah Persico, 58, who “found a comparable plan on the city’s new health insurance exchange. But her monthly premium, now $297, would be $165 higher, and her maximum out-of-pocket costs would double. That means she could end up paying at least $5,000 more a year than she does now. ‘That’s just not fair,’ said Persico, who represents indigent criminal defendants. ‘This is ridiculous.'”
Dealing with insurance companies pre-Obamacare was difficult if not annoying enough for both individuals and businesses. Big Government and Big Insurance under Obamacare seems like a an unlikely combination for healthcare reform.