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October 28, 2013

Obamacare sticker shock leads to heart attacks, many new patients for health care system

'I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it'

This quote (from the article linked below), ladies and gentlemen, may go down in history as one of the iconic summaries of the political support the 'Affordable' Care Act enjoyed before anyone actually signed up for it and found out how much it would cost.

The risk pool has been forcibly expanded to include those who were formerly uninsurable due to the fact that they already had conditions guaranteeing that the insurance companies would take a loss on these customers from day one.

I'm not speaking against people who have trouble getting insurance; I'm merely asking: why is anybody surprised that insurance rates would go up when millions of high-risk customers were suddenly added to the risk pool?

Of course, not even Congress read the text of the Affordable Care Act before passing it, so why should we expect consumers to know picky little details like this?

Saturday's Los Angeles Times ran an article about California residents experiencing a rude awakening over the realities of losing their current coverage and being forced into plans that have significantly higher premiums.  Excerpts [emphasis added]:
Thousands of Californians are discovering what Obamacare will cost them — and many don't like what they see.

These middle-class consumers are staring at hefty increases on their insurance bills as the overhaul remakes the healthcare market. Their rates are rising in large part to help offset the higher costs of covering sicker, poorer people who have been shut out of the system for years.

Although recent criticism of the healthcare law has focused on website glitches and early enrollment snags, experts say sharp price increases for individual policies have the greatest potential to erode public support for President Obama's signature legislation.

"This is when the actual sticker shock comes into play for people," said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. "There are winners and losers under the Affordable Care Act."
If you're in one of the demographic categories that the ACA was designed to help, the law really appears to be a godsend.  But if you're not one of the favored ones, guess what?  You're basically being taxed to support the favored ones.
On balance, many Americans will benefit from the healthcare expansion. They are guaranteed coverage regardless of their medical history. And lower-income families will gain access to comprehensive coverage at little or no cost.

The federal government picks up much of the tab through an expansion of Medicaid and subsidies to people earning up to four times the federal poverty level. That's up to $46,000 for an individual or $94,000 for a family of four.

But middle-income consumers face an estimated 30% rate increase, on average, in California due to several factors tied to the healthcare law.
This is coming as quite a surprise to many who enthusiastically supported the law as long as it remained an abstract collection of promises.
Pam Kehaly, president of Anthem Blue Cross in California, said she received a recent letter from a young woman complaining about a 50% rate hike related to the healthcare law.

"She said, 'I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it,'" Kehaly said.
Obamacare really does seem designed to fail.  Whether or not the current form of the law was written with malicious intent, it is clearly not politically sustainable.  As the horror stories mount, the clamor for a government-run single-payer system will likely become deafening (especially with the media energetically amplifying said clamor).

[Image credit: various websites.  If you know the original source, please let me know!]

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