A supporter of Obamacare living in Orange County, California says her first year under the new system has been “more frustrating than I’d ever dreamed.”
In a piece published by the Washington Post, 56-year-old freelance writer Catherine Keefe describes the ups and downs of life under Obamacare. Keefe writes that she was “elated” when Obamacare passed. Now she is one of many who learned the hard way that the reality of the new system was different from the promises repeatedly made by the President.
In November 2013, Jim learned his small-business policy would becanceled because it didn’t comply with the new mandate to coverpediatric dentistry and maternity care. So Jim went to CoveredCalifornia, the state’s health insurance exchange, to look for coveragefor his employee and himself.
He found that the cost of his employee’s individual “bronze” planmonthly premiums went up 13 percent, and that his own new individualpaying $82 more a month in premiums. The deductible (the amount you haveto pay before the insurance company starts footing the bill) did godown — from $5,000 to $2,000 for each individual insured. But if youadded together 12 months of premiums, the deductible, and the newpolicies’ out-of-pocket maximums, we were potentially on the hook for$13,260 — rather than the $11,024 from 2013 — if Jim got very sick.Around this time, Jim was diagnosed with prostate cancer, so the threatof high medical bills was real.
The individual plan I had withBlue Cross was canceled, too. The bronze plan I got at CoveredCalifornia raised my monthly premium payment from $301 to $422, with a$5,000 deductible. The maximum I might be responsible for if I gotreally sick went from $8,612 to $11,314.
After experiencing significant frustration trying to sign up for a health plan via Covered California, Keefe and her husband finally settled on a Blue Cross plan. But that wasn’t the end of the story:
On Jan. 22, we finally got our enrollment number and made our first payment to Blue Cross so we could start seeing doctors. Jim went to his cardiologist on Feb. 10, only to discover the doctor had left Blue Cross.
We canceled Blue Cross and enrolled in Blue Shield so Jim could see his urologist. Then, when the urologist’s office said they didn’t accept Blue Shield patients enrolled through the state exchange, we canceled California Covered Blue Shield and bought directly from the insurance company, even though that meant foregoing the subsidies.
But the urologist wouldn’t accept our new Blue Shield plan – even though the Blue Shield website said he did. Jim’s regular dermatologist left Blue Shield, too.
Fortunately, Keefe’s husband found a new urologist who they liked better than the one he had lost. Keefe also says that they wound up saving some money their first year because her own medical expenses stayed “well below my annual deductible.” Obviously neither of those outcomes were guaranteed.
And that’s why Keefe still worries about the future of the system and her place in it. “We’re deeply concerned about our ability to get quality medical care from doctors we trust. The day may soon come when we can’t afford the plans our doctors accept, or we’ll have to wait hours to seen,” she writes.
The piece ends with Keefe waiting to find out whether “Administrators at our medical group” will continue to accept her plan or she’ll need to start the whole process over again. At least this time around she’ll have some sense of what to expect.