11.23.2020 0

Why Obamacare Needs to Die: One Man’s Healthcare Nightmare

 

“It is the worst of all worlds, high deductibles, high premiums.”

By Catherine Mortensen

Mason Bishop’s Obamacare nightmare began nearly eight years ago when the 52-year old launched a consulting business. With enactment of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, Bishop’s family has embarked on an annual quest of finding affordable health insurance, which has become nearly impossible. While dealing with the constant “health insurance insecurity,” Bishop looks to the  U.S. Supreme Court’s third review of the law as an opportunity to recognize the harm the law has caused and force Congress to do something about it.

In October 2012, he enrolled his family in a group insurance plan under his company’s name, which was allowed in Virginia for small businesses with two or more employees as he and his wife were both employees. His 2012 monthly premiums were $1,043, which went up to $1,342 by 2014. However, his premium’s were his only healthcare costs as his group policy had no co-pays or deductibles.

It was in fall of 2013 when Bishop went to renew his policy for 2014 when he was given some stark news by his health insurance rep. “It’s a good thing your renewal is December 1,” the rep said. “Because if it was January 1, you would not be able to have this insurance for another year.” That is when Bishop found out a little advertised part of the Obamacare law—group policies were banned for companies with family-only employees. Insurers could no longer enroll businesses in group  plans unless at least one non-family member was employed by the business.

“So, boom. I lost my health insurance,” Bishop said. “President Obama promised ‘if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.’ That was a lie.”

Ever since then, Bishop has scrambled each year to find affordable insurance for his family. On the front end, he puts in hours of research, and then once he finds a plan, there are hassles on the back end with billing each time he changes plans. “It just never ends,” he said.

The ACA was supposed to help people such as Bishop and his family. What went wrong?

Instead of expanding insurance options for individual buyers, Obamacare narrowed them for most people. Bishop said prior to Obamacare, he could choose from between six or seven plans. But because many insurers opted out of Obamacare due to expensive mandates, Bishop now can only choose from two providers. And costs are decidedly unaffordable. In 2017, he would have paid $1,742 in monthly premiums under Obamacare with a $5,000 deductible.

“What ACA did was create a health insurance market of only policies with high deductibles and high premiums,” Bishop said. “You are paying high premiums for garbage insurance. And if you can’t afford it, you pay a penalty!”

If Bishop, who makes well over six-figures-a-year, cannot afford Obamacare options, which run a minimum of $2,000 per month or more, how can anyone afford it? With the help of federal subsidies. Under Obamacare, people who earn up to 400 percent of the poverty level (about $48,500 for an individual and $100,400 for a family of four in 2019) are eligible for premium subsidies. Eighty-seven percent of the 10.6 million people with Obamacare plans in 2018 received a subsidy. While Bishop said his income may appear high to some, in the high-cost suburbs of Washington, D.C. premiums of $2,000 or more for $5,000 per person deductibles makes health insurance unaffordable.

“I was perfectly happy with my health insurance before Obamacare,” he said. “What’s happened since then is outrageous.”  And he said he’s not alone in his insurance woes. “I hate the ACA. Every time I post on social media about it, I get at least ten comments back from people dealing with similar problems.”

According to a study from the Heritage Foundation, nationally, Obamacare more than doubled premiums for individual plans, halved individual insurer offerings, and increased enrollment in government programs. Obamacare increased premiums in 49 of 50 states. Some states experienced premium increases of less than 50 percent, while others saw insurance premiums triple.Heritage also notes that 86.3 percent of the newly covered during Obamacare’s first four years came by way of expanded access to Medicaid. 

This latest case to reach the U.S. Supreme court, brought by Republican officials in 18 states, contends that the ACA’s mandate for all Americans to obtain insurance became unconstitutional after Congress reduced the penalty for not having such insurance to zero. By eliminating the mandate, they say, the entire law collapses. The law has operated without the mandate for years. Last year, 8.5 million people were covered by ACA-funded insurance plans.

Bishop said he would love for the court to get rid of Obamacare, but doesn’t think they will, because of concerns about insurance for individuals with preexisting conditions. “But Congress can institutionalize coverage for preexisting conditions tomorrow. They can pass a law protecting health insurance for those individuals. We don’t need Obamacare to do that.” He also adds that President Trump deserves credit for eliminating the individual mandate. “At least now, there are ‘short-term’ insurance options that I can shop for and I don’t have to pay a tax to the government because they don’t fit the Obamacare definition of good insurance.”

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning said Obamacare has been a disaster for Americans, doing more harm than good. He said surprise medical billing, in which patients get billed from an out-of-network provider in a situation they cannot reasonably control, such as being treated by an out-of-network anesthesiologist at an in-network hospital, is on the rise because of Obamacare.

“I’d like to see the court kill the law once and for all. We can do better.”

Catherine Mortensen is Vice President of Communications at Americans for Limited Government.

 

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