A stark and searing reminder that Healthcare.gov's ongoing struggles and security vulnerabilities are only a small component of Obamacare's comprehensive failure. After the website's myriad technical difficulties are at long last sorted out, mass cancellations, rising premiums and doc shock will remain as the devastating residual legacy of President Obama's top legislative "accomplishment." Every one of those consequences represents a broken White House promise. Meet young Ellie Porter and her family, who've experienced the new law's affects firsthand. Heartbreaking:
Having a child diagnosed with cancer is an unimaginable ordeal for any family, and adding any challenges on top of it can seem overwhelming. Paul and Jami Porter of Kaysville learned last week their insurance plan was terminated under the Affordable Care Act, more than 3 1/2 months into their daughter's fight with undifferentiated sarcoma began. Six-year-old Ellie Porter, who has had one kidney removed, just wrapped up her radiation treatments and is expected to be done with chemotherapy around the first of the year. "You're getting used to what's going on; and then all of a sudden having something like this thrown in is definitely challenging and frustrating at the same time," Paul Porter said. He and his wife are now in the middle of shopping for a new plan that complies with the Affordable Care Act. He said the old plan didn't meet some of the requirements, according to a letter from the insurer. The options the family is weighing have premiums that are more than double the premiums under their previous plan, Paul Porter said. Additionally, the Porters said they had limited time to sign up for a new plan and didn't have all the information they felt they needed to make an informed decision. Like many others across the nation, they were also struggling to simply enroll through the federal website, healthcare.gov.
Ellie isn't an "anecdote." She's a little girl who's very sick:
This poor family hit the Obamacare trifecta: (1) They've been dropped off of their existing insurance plan -- which they were counting on to help pay for their cancer-stricken daughter's treatments -- because Beltway Democrats decreed that their coverage was "substandard." (2) Their efforts to obtain new coverage in time for 2014 were hampered terribly by Obamacare's broken website. (3) Their options for new coverage entail premiums twice as high as what they were previously paying. The Porters' story is particularly wrenching, given the pediatric cancer angle, but similar stories are playing out across the country. Liz Binns is an Ohioan with a pre-existing condition:
"I cannot afford it...I thought this was going to be a miracle for us, and it's not."
Then there are the Swansons from Michigan:
Kalamazoo residents Mary Swanson and her husband are among the reported 225,000 Michiganders who received cancellation letters from their insurers because their plans did not meet the minimum standards of the Affordable Care Act. Mary Swanson of Kalamazoo talks about signing up for Obamacare. The Prudential Preferred Realtor, whose husband owns a construction business, said they currently pay $925 a month for a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan with a $4,000 deductible. They combined the catastrophic coverage with health-savings accounts, she said, which worked well for the couple..."Our coverage from before was far from substandard. It was excellent," she said during a phone interview...Swanson said she tried repeatedly to research new plans via HealthCare.gov during October, but never could get past the identity-verification stage. Since she and her husband won't qualify for a subsidy, she's been researching plans through individual insurers. She has been quoted between $1,300 and $1,500 a month for coverage, she said, and the couple's deductible will jump to $6,000 each instead of $4,000 combined..."I would love to have my former plan back."
The Swansons' premiums will rise by at least $400 per month, and their deductibles will triple. They're not sure if they can afford those prices. Meanwhile, as the president unilaterally imposes changes, "fixes" and delays beyond the letter of his own law, credit rating agencies are beginning to fret about the financial stability of the health insurance industry (via ABC News):
Steve Zaharuk, senior vice president of the U.S. Insurance team for Moody’s, told ABC News that over the next year, the uncertainty posed by last minute changes from the Obama administration could expose insurance companies to higher administrative costs and uncertainty about the effects of the changes on the composition of healthy and sick people they insure. “There are a lot of risks and uncertainty for the Affordable Care Act at the moment,” Zaharuk said. “Insurance companies can deal with risk if they know the playing field. But when you keep changing the rules and adding more uncertainty into situation then it becomes even more risky and more difficult to deal with.” Zaharuk also warned that two changes could be significant for insurance companies if the Obama administration decides to go forward with them, as some in Congress have advocated: delaying the individual mandate or extending the open enrollment period beyond March 31, 2014. “At that point, insurance companies might want to reassess their position in the exchanges and possibly even lobby to have the premium rates changed,” Zaharuk said. “We’d consider those very significant rule changes.”
If the administration's desperate political games and last-minute revisions continue, insurers will begin to pull out of exchanges, or will seek even higher premiums to stay afloat. In other words, there's a lot more pain ahead for a lot of ordinary people.