CBS News: 'Many Hit With Obamacare Sticker Shock'

Posted: Nov 02, 2015 1:40 PM

As Obamacare enters its third year of implementation, CBS News points out what we've been highlighting for months -- the 'Affordable' Care Act continues to be a promise-breaking misnomer for millions of consumers:

Sign-up season started Sunday for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, now in year 3. Premiums are going up an average of 7.5 percent, but they could be much higher depending on where you live...Premiums vary widely -- and are actually decreasing in a few places...But in most states, premiums are rising, up 31.5 percent in Alaska and up nearly 36 percent in Oklahoma.

Ugly numbers are cropping up across the country, from Minnesota to Arizona to South Dakota.  The story profiles an accountant from Oklahoma whose premiums are jumping by $600 per month over last year's rates, a 66 percent increase. In all, CBS reports, he could end up paying roughly $20,000 for healthcare coverage in 2016. "The first job when I got out of school was $16,500," he told the network. "You know that's a lot of money."  The administration's own projections predict weak enrollment growth during the current sign-up period, for reasons we've addressed previously: "The uninsured people 'most eager to enroll,' predictably, were older, sicker consumers, many with pre-existing conditions. This phenomenon has produced a risk pool that's more expensive to cover -- without the needed legions of younger, healthier enrollees in the mix to defray and absorb those increases. Thus, the coming rate shock that will accompany rising out-of-pocket costs for consumers within both the individual and employer-based markets."  That last link is particularly important, as it illustrates the rising costs for Americans who weren't among the millions who lost their existing plans under Obamacare.  The top barrier to entry for uninsured Americans remains lack of affordability.  Meanwhile, Utah and Arizona have joined the parade of Obamacare co-op failures last week -- becoming the tenth and eleventh such program to shut down.  On another front, industry experts are raising concerns about Obamacare's ongoing access issues:

Some health insurance plans sold on the Affordable Care Act's federal marketplace may not provide reasonable access to medical specialists, new research suggests. Under the act, also known as Obamacare, the federal marketplace offers subsidized private health insurance to consumers in states that didn't establish their own health insurance exchanges. About one in seven health insurance plans offered on the federal marketplace in 2015 did not provide access to in-network doctors for at least one medical specialty, researchers found...Overall, in April 2015, 18 plans in nine states lacked in-network specialists for at least one specialty within a 100-mile search area, and 19 lacked specialists within a 50-mile radius. Endocrinology, rheumatology and psychiatry were the most commonly excluded specialties. Another seven to 14 plans had fewer than five in-network doctors in those fields...The researchers also found that people enrolled in plans that lacked access to specialists had high out-of-network charges for doctors' visits and medication. In some cases, they had to pay half or more of all costs. "What this basically translates into is huge out-of-pocket costs for the consumers," Dorner said.

Sticker shock and access shock: The Obamacare way.  And that suits Hillary Clinton just fine.  She says the law is working well, although she says she plans to "build" on it by imposing more market-crushing price controls -- an implicit acknowledgement that Obamacare is failing to live up to its central promise.  Lest you forget, Obamacare is Hillarycare.  Mrs. Clinton is still taking fire from editorial boards and veterans groups for her dismissive minimization of the VA healthcare scandal, which she cast as overblown by ideological Republicans.  One of her primary arguments in her revealing answer on this matter was that most veterans are satisfied with the care they receive through the government-run system.  The Washington Post fact-checker examines that claim, noting that Clinton omitted results that conflicted with her 'much ado about little' attitude: "A July 2014 Gallup survey of 1,268 veterans in the broader veteran population found 55 percent of veterans said it is somewhat difficult or very difficult to access care."  A survey released earlier this year showed that an overwhelming majority of veterans favor more private options within the VA system, an idea of which Clinton has been critical.  In short, Hillary Clinton is campaigning for president as someone who: (a) invented Obamacare, (b) insists it's been successful, (c) nevertheless wants to expand the government's role to address its glaring failures, and (d) reflexively downplays abject federal incompetence and corruption.