Thursday, November 6, 2014

Obamacare, A Love Story: Our 2015 Premium is Declining Mightily

My wife and I are avid supporters of President Obama, and we were thrilled when he was able to enact the Affordable Care Act, fulfilling a dream held dear by Democratic presidents since FDR.  With the exception perhaps of Middle East peace, no goal had been pursued so ardently, with less success over that time span.  We viewed universal health care as a societal obligation and a moral responsibility, and we also had high hopes that certain provisions of the ACA would help to “bend” the spiraling health cost curve downward.

We did not think much about the impact on our own insurance.  As a pre-65 retiree and a part-time consultant, I was able to purchase health care coverage through a major carrier via a local business council.  It was expensive, but it was really the only option we had until we became eligible for Medicare at 65.

Until Obamacare, that is.  A provision of the act was particularly onerous for single-proprietor businesses, and the business council discontinued insurance for people like us.  Yes, we lost our coverage to Obamacare – ironic in light of our support, but we were among those who had their “promise broken” by Obama.  We did indeed need to find new coverage.

We were fine with doing so.  We supported the ACA in full and knew that, no matter what the President had “promised,” there would be unintended consequences that would hurt some people.  That we were among them did not dampen our support.

And so to the exchanges we gamely went.  And after the computer glitches arose, we went directly to our carrier, and lo and behold, they now offered Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze policies, new for them, which mimicked those offered on the exchanges.  We were able to get a policy similar to the one we’d lost, in which our current doctors and hospital participated, but the cost was 16% higher than what we had been paying.  We grumbled a bit, but understood that in the first year of Obamacare, insurers were going to be cautious and price accordingly.

Last week we began to wonder whether we would have to sign up again in 2015, and go through the process, and what further increases we might experience.  We dutifully put “call our carrier” on our “to do” list.  And yet the very next day, we received notification from them indicating that, unless we wanted to change our plan, they would roll over our policy without any further ado.  And, to top it all off, the cost of our policy would be fully 10% lower than in 2014.

Yes, our policy is still higher than two years ago, but by a paltry 2% per year.  That is indeed bending the health care cost curve mightily for this family, which had been experiencing increases of 11% per year.  We’ll take it.  For this couple, Obamacare is working…as we know it is for millions of others as well:  people who had no insurance coverage before who burdened our emergency rooms, people with pre-existing conditions, young people who were now allowed to stay on their parents coverage until they were 26, and many more.


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