The recent news that average increases on the Obamacare exchanges would go up 22% has sent Republicans especially into rapture. That is only because they love to tell other people what to do, especially when it doesn’t affect them.
First things first. Only about 6% of the population, covering about 10 million people buy individual plans on the exchanges. About half the people in the country get health insurance from their employers, so the rate increases on the exchange do not affect them. Another huge chunk of people are covered under Medicare and Medicaid, again, not affected. Another five percent or so of people buy individual plans outside the exchanges.
So, when you see a survey, such as this one, where 54% of people think Obamacare is “working poorly,” you have to wonder who they surveyed. It is sort of like asking the general population how well the air conditioning in a Mercedes works. How would they know?
Here is my experience. First off, I am 56 years old and am an adjunct faculty member at a state funded school. I also substitute teach in public schools. Neither job provides insurance, so I buy on the exchange. Here has been my experience.
The first year of Obamacare, I skipped buying insurance. The penalty was much lower than the premiums. So I paid that.
The second year, I was able to buy a silver plan for a monthly premium that I could afford. It also happened that I needed cataract surgery that year. At the time of my surgery, I was legally blind in one eye and the other was quickly heading there. The total bill for both eyes was over $20,000. Probably would have been more like $5,000 if I was a few years older and on Medicare, but so be it. Insurance kept me out of bankruptcy or disability or both. So, I was extremely thankful for the coverage.
At the end of that year, I got a notice that my premium (if I stayed with the same company and plan) would more than double. I simply switched plans and my premiums went down 30%.
This past year, knock wood, I have had no health claims. I am not perfectly healthy, but good enough to avoid going to the doctor.
I just had a chance to preview what will be happening this coming year. Once again, if I stay with the same company, same plan, my premiums would more than double. Once again, thanks to the exchange, I will be able to switch plans and my premiums will rise 15%.
Which will make them exactly the same as my first year with an exchange policy.
From my point of view Obamacare has worked exactly as it was supposed to and more importantly exactly the way Republicans SAY they want. Not being pinned down by pre-existing conditions clauses, I can freely chose a health plan that fits my needs. Personally, I just take the absolutely lowest priced plan. That’s what fits my needs now.
I do understand that there are certainly people who have not had and are not having a good experience on the exchange. Unfortunately that is the way health insurance works. I used to coordinate benefits for a 300 employee business. We had premium increases more than this. We arbitrarily switched plans, which forced employees to have to change providers. We even had an insurance company say they undercharged us for two years and socked us with a huge premium increase.
Or I should say tried to, we were able to switch companies and only have a small increase for our employees.
Just like I am able to do on the exchange now.