California dreamers waking up to harsh reality

Barack Obama won nearly sixty percent of the popular vote in California, pocketing the state’s 55 electoral votes without breaking a sweat. And he has repaid them with Obamacare. Some Golden Staters who used to be his biggest fans are not amused.

From the Sacramento Business Journal:

Sticker shock has hit the Golden State in recent weeks, when hundreds of thousands of individual and family plan policyholders received letters from their insurers explaining that their existing plans don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s standards and will expire at year’s end.

By some accounts, as many as 492,000 Californians could be affected by these changes. Blue Shield sent termination letters to 119,000 policyholders, Kaiser Permanente to 160,000 and Health Net to 75,000. Anthem Blue Cross, the largest player in the Golden State’s individual market, hasn’t said how many of its policyholders are in the same boat.

And in many, but not all, cases the new plans will cost them considerably more than the prior coverage. Healthy individuals with high-deductible plans in many cases will now pay far more for more comprehensive coverage — in some cases, for coverage they don’t want but are now required to pay for. Cases of 30 percent increases, 50 percent increases and more are sending many individual policyholders’ blood pressures soaring.

ramirez

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Shelly Ross of San Francisco was looking forward to the opening of the new health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act because she was hoping to get a better deal.

But now that she’s seen her options, Ross is disappointed. Turns out she earns slightly too much money to qualify for federal financial aid to help her buy coverage in the state’s exchange, called Covered California. And because policies have to be upgraded to comply with the new law, her rates are going up nearly 10 percent.

“Every plan is going to cost more than what I pay now. And what I pay now is ridiculous,” said Ross, 47, who owns a cat-sitting business called Tales of the Kitty and pays more than $400 a month for her insurance. “It’s a great thing for some people, but it’s certainly not helping me.”

Ross is among the millions of Americans who buy coverage on their own, but must find new coverage because the health law has rendered their current policies outdated. But Ross, like many others, is not finding the plans sold through the Affordable Care Act to be particularly affordable. […]

Federal tax credits are available to help offset the cost of coverage purchased in the new marketplace, but more than half of the consumers it serves won’t qualify.

“It’s a horribly complex and ill-designed system that’s going to be good for some people — mostly people with lower incomes — but for a lot of people, it’s not going to be good for them,” said Jeff Sher, a San Francisco health insurance agent who supports universal coverage but believes the law doesn’t go far enough to help consumers and curb costs.

Aside from a prohibition on denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions beginning Jan. 1, the health law also requires policies sold next year to cover a minimum number of benefits. And that can add to the cost of premiums.

These include such mandated benefits as maternity and newborn care, substance abuse treatment, and dental and vision coverage for children.

From the San Jose Mercury News:

Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.

Yet, like many other Bay Area residents who pay for their own medical insurance, they were floored last week when they opened their bills: Their policies were being replaced with pricier plans that conform to all the requirements of the new health care law.

Vinson, of San Jose, will pay $1,800 more a year for an individual policy, while Waschura, of Portola Valley, will cough up almost $10,000 more for insurance for his family of four. […]

In California, 1.9 million people buy plans on the open market, according to officials with Covered California, the state’s new health insurance exchange. And many of them are steaming mad. […]

“I was laughing at Boehner — until the mail came today,” Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare. “I really don’t like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family’s pocket each year, that’s otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy.”

Both Vinson and Waschura have adjusted gross incomes greater than four times the federal poverty level — the cutoff for a tax credit. And while both said they anticipated their rates would go up, they didn’t realize they would rise so much.

“Of course, I want people to have health care,” Vinson said. “I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.”

From the Los Angeles Times:

Thousands of Californians are discovering what Obamacare will cost them — and many don’t like what they see.

These middle-class consumers are staring at hefty increases on their insurance bills as the overhaul remakes the healthcare market. […]

Although recent criticism of the healthcare law has focused on website glitches and early enrollment snags, experts say sharp price increases for individual policies have the greatest potential to erode public support for President Obama‘s signature legislation. […]

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.”

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. […]

Many are frustrated at being forced to give up the plans they have now. They frequently cite assurances given by Obama that Americans could hold on to their health insurance despite the massive overhaul.

“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 hate to have to be the one to point this out, but you clowns voted for this disaster. I’m sorry you’re losing your insurance, or being forced to pay a lot more for it, but maybe one of these days you’ll learn that elections have consequences.

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