It’s the most not-so-wonderful time of the year: The open-enrollment period for the national Obamacare exchange began on November 1, and millions of Americans were greeted with the good tidings of increased health insurance premiums and higher deductibles.
According to a new study by HealthPocket.com, average premiums for middle-tier Obamacare exchange “silver plans” are increasing by roughly 10 percent in 2016, and the average deductible is set to increase by 6 percent, to $3,117.
[sharequote align="center"]This depressing news hasn’t phased Obamacare supporters.[/sharequote]
Even the prices of the allegedly affordable “bronze plans” are set to rise by 11 percent for nonsubsidized customers compared to 2015 prices; deductibles for these plans now average a stunning $5,731.
Whatever happened to President Barack Obama’s promise, which he made at least 19 separate times, to lower annual insurance premiums by $2,500?
The only thing worse than having to pay the ever-increasing cost of an Obamacare health insurance plan is having to enroll in an exchange plan for 2016 when you thought you already had a health insurance plan.
That’s exactly what happened for more than 59,000 customers of Arizona-based health insurance provider Meritus, which, according to its website, “has been placed under the supervision of the Arizona State Department of Insurance … with the intention of winding down operations at the end of 2015.”
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Meritus is a health insurance cooperative that is part of the Affordable Care Act’s Consumer Oriented and Operated Plan. These cooperatives are non-profit health insurers directed by their consumers and designed to offer individuals and small businesses affordable health insurance products. They received significant support under Obamacare, which provided large low-interest loans to help these organizations get off and running. More than $3.8 billion of taxpayer money was appropriated to support the loans.
Cooperatives such as Meritus have been failing across the country, largely due to high spending. Many of these new providers are struggling to compete with significantly larger private health insurance companies, and costs have routinely surpassed revenues.
Meritus customers were recently informed that because the cooperative was closing its doors in 2016, they would be forced to enter the Obamacare health insurance exchange like millions of other Americans who must now choose between paying for inferior health insurance or paying a growing “penalty” for not having a qualified health insurance plan. Penalties for 2016 are applied in many situations based on income; experts believe the penalty could exceed $2,000 for some families.
However, this depressing news hasn’t phased Obamacare supporters.
For instance, in a report for Arizona-based media outlet Fox 10, reporter Marcy Jones writes in reference to the 59,000 customers of Meritus now forced to enter the Obamacare exchange, “Health care specialist Allen Gjersvig says finding the right health insurance shouldn’t be a scary thing—in fact, he says it should be exciting.”
Yes, there’s nothing quite as “exciting” as shopping for a high-cost health insurance plan.
There is some good news to report: It appears Healthcare.gov—the Obamacare website with a history so horrific it makes the exploding Ford Pinto of the 1970s look like a brand-new Ferrari—has received a much-needed makeover. It looks like the more than $1 billion spent to build and fix the glitch-laden endeavor has finally paid off: It’s now easier than ever to spends thousands of your hard-earned cash on inferior care!
Justin Haskins (Jhaskins@heartland.org) is a pro-liberty writer and editor of The Heartland Institute’s weekly health care reform publication Consumer Power Report.
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