Costly Care


      In 2016, the cost of healthcare for ordinary Americans is dramatically rising. According to independent research, millions of people are watching their premiums skyrocket to new highs this year. There's also a reverse impact for some who used to have policies, but can no longer afford them under Obamacare. For them, it's a case of insurance lost."

      Janet Hill is a professional transport driver in Fernandina Beach, Florida. When she took a new job that didn't provide insurance, she priced out policies and got severe sticker shock.

      Sharyl: When you first heard about Obamacare were you excited at the idea that you'd be able to afford some good insurance?

      Janet Hill: At first, I was and then I just got so disappointed with it.

      Hill: They told me it would be $400 or $500 a month. I can't afford that.

      Hill joins an emerging class that's an unintended side effect of the Affordable Care Act: the newly uninsured. It's not part of the rosy portrait painted by President Obama.

      President Obama, Jan. 23, 2016: Up to 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions can no longer face the risk of being denied coverage or be charged more just because they've been sick. One hundred thirty seven million Americans with private insurance are now guaranteed preventative care coverage.

      Under Obamacare, a new reality is setting in: more people have health insurance. But for millions, policies cover less and cost more.

      Nathan Nascimento is a senior policy adviser at Freedom Partners, a Libertarian leaning nonprofit that opposes Obamacare.

      Nathan Nascimento: People are seeking out insurance plans but what they're realizing is that they just can't afford the monthly premium and they just can't afford the deductibles and out of pocket costs. What good is it carrying an insurance card in your wallet if you can't afford the treatment that you're getting?

      Nascimento says it's turning out just like the fictional Harry and Louise worried it would in a 1994 ad campaign opposing health care reform.

      The ads, sponsored by an insurance industry coalition, helped defeat so-called "Hillarycare" promoted by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton.

      Nascimento: What they were saying back then is exactly what we're experiencing right now: the fact that health care costs are gonna go up, that out of pocket costs are gonna go up, that government run health care is going to be a failed model. And that's what we're seeing exactly today. We're seeing people being harmed by the Affordable Care Act.

      Here's how the numbers stack up. The vast majority of the newly insured, ten million--are people now allowed to get insurance from Medicaid: taxpayer-funded insurance for the poor. The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid to people making more money than before.

      Another 10 million Americans, who earn too much for Medicaid, still get taxpayer help to buy insurance in the form of Obamacare subsidies.

      Everyone else pays full price and must choose a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum plan. Bronze plans have the lowest monthly premiums, but large deductibles. At the other end, Platinum plans have high monthly premiums but smaller out of pocket responsibilities. Most Americans have Silver plans, which is somewhere in between.

      Last week, President Obama touted the supposed affordability.

      President Obama, Jan. 23, 2016: Most folks buying a plan on the marketplace can find an option that costs less than $75 a month.

      But Full Measure looked at the numbers for 2016. In no state could we find average policies priced even close to $75.

      Washington D.C. has the cheapest Silver premium average at $203. The national average is close to $300. That's according to the private health nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which finds overall premiums are up more than 12% in 2016.

      States hit hardest, according to the data: Hawaii, Montana, Minnesota and Alaska, all with average Silver plan premium increases above 30%. Alaskans are paying $169 per month more than last year.

      North Carolina, Utah, Kansas, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma are all seeing hikes between 20 and 30%.

      Nascimento: What we've seen is most states, 49 out of 50, are seeing premium increases. The only state where there was a decrease was Mississippi and that was slight. It was 0.2%. Seventeen states are seeing double digit increases. There are some states that are seeing 30% or higher, including Minnesota which is nearly 47%, almost 48% premium increases for the upcoming year.

      Yet as recently as October, the Obama administration quoted a 7.5% increase and said most consumers would "find plans for less than $100 a month."

      Premium hikes are only half of the burden. Deductibles are up, too. On average, Silver plans went up 7.8% this year, worse in places like Mississippi, with an average 42% increase working out to $1,473 extra for the year, and Washington State, averaging a 47.6% increase or $1,090 more in that state.

      No matter how much it costs, or how little it covers, having insurance is now the law, and more have gotten insured.

      President Obama, Jan. 23, 2016: As the Affordable Care Act has taken effect; nearly 18 million Americans have gained coverage. In fact, for the first time ever, more than 90% of Americans are covered.

      Nascimento: I think the Obama Administration is trying to save a law that they know is failing everybody. First and foremost, the Obama administration has always put the emphasis on their metrics of success, which is putting an insurance card in everyone's hand. The premium increases was less important to them.

      In round numbers, 10 million people have gotten expanded Medicaid; 4 million have picked up insurance buying their own policies; and 3-4 million are young adults covered on their parents' plans.

      But nobody's counting how many previously insured are now going without, like Janet Hill. She's paying a price: a $325 penalty tax in 2015 and $695 this year.

      Sharyl: And so you're doing without insurance?

      Hill: Exactly.

      Sharyl: There's a penalty that comes with that.

      Hill: I'm aware of that.

      Sharyl: You're just gonna have to pay the penalty?

      Hill: That's all I can do. I cannot afford insurance.

      There's another downside. Hill broke her shoulder and says she just has to live with it because doctors won't see her without insurance.

      Sharyl: And meantime you have a broken shoulder?

      Hill: Yes, this was fractured. Because I do not have no insurance, they do not want to take me. So I just got aggravated and said I'll deal with it myself.

      The Congressional Budget Office now says the Affordable Care Act will cost nearly $2 trillion over the next ten years. That doesn't count the estimated $7 billion tax dollars spent on the various websites. And it doesn't count the individual costs many Americans are paying as their premiums and deductibles rise.