Californians Experience Obamacare Sticker Shock
Middle class consumers in California are looking at increases in their insurance premiums, a consequence of Obamacare's changes to the health insurance rules. Rates are rising to subsidize the higher cost of covering sick enrollees along with other people previously excluded from the insurance system.
Although the program had a rocky start on account of the program's ill-functioning website, the real battle lies with public's dissatisfaction over wide-spread increases in insurance rates.
"This is when the actual sticker shock comes into play for people," said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. "There are winners and losers under the Affordable Care Act."
Fullerton resident Jennifer Harris thought she had a great deal, paying $98 a month for an individual plan through Health Net Inc. She got a rude surprise this month when the company said it would cancel her policy at the end of this year. Her current plan does not conform with the new federal rules, which require more generous levels of coverage.
Now Harris, a self-employed lawyer, must shop for replacement insurance. The cheapest plan she has found will cost her $238 a month. She and her husband don't qualify for federal premium subsidies because they earn too much money, about $80,000 a year combined.
"It doesn't seem right to make the middle class pay so much more in order to give health insurance to everybody else," said Harris, who is three months pregnant. "This increase is simply not affordable."
According to the Los Angeles Times, middle class consumers will face a 30% increase in their premiums.
Pam Kehaly, president of Anthem Blue Cross in California, said she received a recent letter from a young woman complaining about a 50% rate hike related to the healthcare law.
"She said, 'I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it,'" Kehaly said.
Dissatisfaction will only continue to rise, as more insurance companies continue to cancel insurance policies that are not in conformity with the guild lines of Obamacare. Blue Cross of California sent termination letters to 119,000 customers last month and Kaiser Permanente sent out 160,000.
"All we've been hearing the last three years is if you like your policy you can keep it," said Deborah Cavallaro, a real estate agent in Westchester. "I'm infuriated because I was lied to."
Cavallaro received her cancellation notice from Anthem Blue Cross this month. The company said a comparable Bronze plan would cost her 65% more, or $484 a month. She doubts she'll qualify for much in premium subsidies, if any. Regardless, she resents losing the ability to pick and choose the benefits she wants to pay for.
"I just won't have health insurance because I can't pay this increase," she said.