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Over the past year or so, I’ve expended considerable ink on the underreported problem of ObamaCare deductibles. What few people understand about insurance is that you don’t get a dime from the insurer until you pay the deductible amount out of pocket. Until then, you might as well not be covered. So, when people see low premiums and fancy coverage options, they could be getting sucked into what is actually a bad deal - a deductible they will never be able to reach.
This is the case with many of the lower-cost plans under ObamaCare. Last year, the bronze plans had an average deductible of around $5,000. This is hardly a boon for the poor, as people unable to afford the premiums of a silver or better plan are unlikely to have $5,000 lying around for medical expenses. For many people without any savings, $5,000 might as well be a million as far as they’re concerned. And yet federal law forces them to pay for these unusable plans anyway.
Sadly, the problem is about to get even worse, with expected spikes in both premiums and deductibles in 2016. Bronze plans are expected to have deductibles as high as $6,850. Silver plans are not much better, with expected deductibles of $6,500. And on top of this, premiums will rise by more than 20 percent in at least 16 states.
In other words, everyone will be forced to pay more for less coverage. This should not be surprising to anyone who has been following the ObamaCare fiasco from its inception a little over five years ago. Forcing insurers to cover a ridiculous array of treatments, even when it is not in the interest of the patient, was always going to drive costs up. The more inexpensive, more practical plans that only covered catastrophic care are now illegal (those plans we liked and were promised that we could keep, remember?)
Combine this with enrollment numbers that have been consistently below expectations, state insurance exchanges that are falling like dominoes, and bankrupt health care co-ops, it’s easy to see why costs continue to spiral out of control. At the same time, doctors are decreasingly incentivized to practice medicine. ObamaCare regulations make their jobs more expensive and less responsive to patient needs, while simultaneously making it harder for them to earn back the investment of ten years of medical training. A shortage of doctors not only decreases patient choice, but exacerbates the cost hikes we’re seeing.
Five years after its passage, the name “Affordable Care Act” increasingly resembles a cruel joke played on consumers. Only, with the possible exception of the president, no one’s laughing.