Watching the Obamacare rollout has been like watching an accident. I don’t want to look, but I can’t help myself. And each day, it gets more bizarre as facts are revealed and Americans all across the country try to enroll.
My husband and I are both self-employed, so we have been paying for our own insurance for over ten years. We currently have a high-deductible policy, because although we are in our fifties, we are healthy. We don’t smoke and take very good care of ourselves with regular exercise and a healthy diet. We have three healthy teenagers (ages 14, 18, 19).
Our current insurance through Aetna costs us $492 per month. Our deductible is $10,000, but we rarely pay more than $1,000 per year in out-of-pocket costs. Our insurance does give us two things that we consider vital:
- lower negotiated rates on doctor visits, generic drugs, and lab work
- peace of mind that if something really bad happens to any of us, the most we will ever pay in one year is $10,000. Therefore, an accident or cancer could never wipe us out financially.
Under Obamacare, I was prepared to see my health insurance premiums increase. Simple math told me that by adding people with pre-existing conditions to a group, everyone’s cost would go up. Add to that the fact that now everyone must carry “essential benefits” such as maternity coverage and mental health.
What I was not prepared for was the amount of the increase. Next year our insurance will cost us $1,488 per month through Aetna — triple what we currently pay. And you guessed it; we do not qualify for any government subsidies.
The healthcare.gov website is now allowing people like me to go online and shop around a bit, to see how much Obamacare will cost through the exchanges. I eagerly logged on and carefully clicked on the correct buttons, awaiting the promise of more “affordable” options through other carriers. At every new window, a cheery message fed my optimism with such promises as… “Most people who apply will pay lower monthly premiums than those shown here” or “The prices here don’t reflect the lower costs an applicant may qualify for based on household size and income.”
After clicking on the final button–requesting the least expensive level of coverage I qualify for (bronze) — I crossed my fingers and held my breath. The lowest priced plan available for my family in my location was a premium of $679.02 per month (without subsidies) for the BlueSelect HSA 1452 from FloridaBlue.
Next, I tried the free calculator on the website to determine my subsidy. Although I had already been warned that I didn’t qualify, I tried it anyway. The result was the expected “No subsidy.” OK, I can handle that. After all, $679.02 wasn’t the end of the world. I could still afford that.
So I called FloridaBlue and gave my information to a representative. He said that the plan the website referenced — my cheapest option — was in reality $1,255.00 per month for my family – nearly double what the website promised would cover me, my husband and my kids!
One other fact that makes my story even more bizarre is that the IRS.gov website lists several exemptions for Obamacare. There is an “unaffordability” exception that allows Americans to escape the 2.5% penalty by 2016 if the cheapest bronze plan in your area is more than 8% of your income.
Yes, $1,255.00 per month times 12 months for a total of $15,060.00 per year is more than 8% of my family yearly income. So the good news is that we don’t have to pay a penalty. Bad news? We can no longer afford healthcare insurance…courtesy of President Obama and the Democrats in Congress.