As some pollsters and late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel have proved, ordinary Americans don’t like ObamaCare but they like the idea of an Affordable Care Act, especially if they don’t know the two are the same thing. That’s led the White House and Democrats to try to train the voters to call the president’s signature health-care legislation the ACA rather than the more popular handle that links the increasingly unpopular incumbent to the issue. But like the attempt to minimize the problems of the ObamaCare rollout as a merely the fault of a glitchy website, the notion that ObamaCare really is about affordable health care turns out to be as false as the president’s promise that people could keep their insurance if they liked it. As the New York Times reports this morning, the premiums being offered via the ObamaCare insurance exchanges may be low, but the deductibles and the other out-of-pocket costs associated with actually using the plans are actually far more expensive than those being offered elsewhere in the market.
Apparently it was no accident that until last week, the healthcare.gov website didn’t offer consumers (or at least those who can successfully log in to it) the ability to discover what the deductibles on the plans being offered cost. That the premiums on these plans are often cheap is not in dispute, though many of those who were forced off existing plans that they liked have now found themselves saddled with much more expensive plans. But the point about insurance is not just what it costs to have it, but what it will cost you when you have to use it. If, as the Times reports, the deductible on some of these plans is $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a couple, then as far as many Americans are concerned, pretty much everything short of a hospital stay or surgery is going to mean that they are going to have to pay all medical costs out of their own pockets. Which means, as far as most of the Americans who are being forced onto the state exchanges are concerned, short of a catastrophic event, ObamaCare is the moral equivalent of having no insurance at all.
When pressed about the high costs of the Affordable Care Act, its defenders have answered that most of those saddled with higher premiums and deductibles will actually not be hurt because they will be given subsidies. But as the Times points out, the idea that the ACA will be dishing out widespread subsidies is a myth:
Many people buying insurance on the federal and state exchanges are expected to qualify for subsidies. But in the first month, for reasons that are not clear, only 30 percent qualified. The others must pay the full premium and will be subject to the full deductible.
Most people shopping in the exchanges are expected to choose bronze or silver plans, which provide less generous coverage than most employer-sponsored plans.
A study by Jon R. Gabel and colleagues at NORC, a research organization affiliated with the University of Chicago, found that 65 percent of employees in group health plans had higher-value coverage that would be classified as gold or platinum under the Affordable Care Act.
That means that, contrary to the justifications that were offered for the violation of the president’s promise about keeping policies that consumers liked, many of the choices they are being offered are not as good as what was previously available. Throw in the factor of costs from sky-high deductibles and you have an ObamaCare formula that combines both mediocre-to-lousy coverage with costs that make it dangerous for anyone relying on the ACA to get sick.
As the Times explained:
Higher deductibles are one tool that insurers can use to hold down premiums. Many have also held down premiums on the exchanges by limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers in their provider networks.
That brings up the third damaging element of ObamaCare: the fact that many Americans are not only going to lose their coverage they liked but will also be unable to keep the doctors they liked and trusted.
There are Americans who are, as the Times points out, grateful to get any kind of insurance at all and will suffer with ObamaCare’s costs due to its allowing those with pre-existing conditions to be covered. But the numbers of those who are benefiting from the new health-care regime appear to be heavily outnumbered by those who are being either inconvenienced or gouged by the Affordable Care Act. That’s why the expectation that once it is implemented it will be popular appears to be based on some faulty assumptions. As the ranks of the ObamaCare losers grows, the burden of “affordable care” that turns out to be not so affordable is turning the ACA into an albatross sinking President Obama’s second term.