I’m Now Blue in the Face: It’s Not the Premiums, But the Co-Pays and Deductibles

I’ve written this many times before, but maybe people will believe it now that the NY Times writes about it (boldface mine):

For months, the Obama administration has heralded the low premiums of medical insurance policies on sale in the insurance exchanges created by the new health law. But as consumers dig into the details, they are finding that the deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs are often much higher than what is typical in employer-sponsored health plans.

…For policies offered in the federal exchange, as in many states, the annual deductible often tops $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a couple….

In El Paso, Tex., for example, for a husband and wife both age 35, one of the cheapest plans on the federal exchange, offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has a premium less than $300 a month, but the annual deductible is more than $12,000. For a 45-year-old couple seeking insurance on the federal exchange in Saginaw, Mich., a policy with a premium of $515 a month has a deductible of $10,000.

In Santa Cruz, Calif., where the exchange is run by the state, Robert Aaron, a self-employed 56-year-old engineer, said he was looking for a low-cost plan. The best one he could find had a premium of $488 a month. But the annual deductible was $5,000, and that, he said, “sounds really high.”

By contrast, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average deductible in employer-sponsored health plans is $1,135.

Is this better than what existed before? Yes. But for some this will simply be the opportunity to be thousands of dollars in debt instead of tens of thousands of dollars in debt:

Mark A. York, a 60-year-old freelance writer in Hailey, Idaho, said he began shopping after he received a letter saying that his current insurance policy would be canceled because it did not meet the requirements of the health care law. In the exchange, he said, he found policies with premiums similar to what he is now paying, $440 a month, but “the deductibles were so high — $4,000 to $6,000 a year — that it defeats the purpose of having insurance.”

Brian H. Snoddy, 35, of Palmyra, Va., said his wife and two children had a policy with a $330 premium and a $2,500 deductible, but it is being canceled. For new plans with comparable coverage on the federal exchange, he said, “the deductibles are way higher, $5,000 or $6,000.”

It didn’t have to be this way. And it isn’t in other countries.

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3 Responses to I’m Now Blue in the Face: It’s Not the Premiums, But the Co-Pays and Deductibles

  1. Carissa says:

    Indeed. I’m getting all kinds of grief from my liberal friends who think Obama can do no wrong. I’ve followed this whole thing from the get-go. Universal health care has been my passion for 45 years, and this is so NOT what I wanted to see enacted by a Democratic President and Congress.

    How many people are going to think twice before heading to the doctor? Yeah, sure, mammograms are “free”, but the doctor visit to get the referral will cost.

  2. jrkrideau says:

    What’s a co-pay?
    Of course I live in Canada with its terrible socialist medical system.

  3. Anne says:

    Uhhh’, total cost.

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