I spent a recent weekend on vacation in Boston, enjoying holiday time with my parents, who spend a great deal of their retirement there. It was a busy, long weekend: We saw the Boston Pops holiday concert, “A Christmas Story: the Musical” and a play; ate seafood; shopped for Christmas gifts along Boylston and Newbury streets—and browsed for Obamacare coverage.
Guess which one was the most frustrating experience? (And I hate–hate!–hordes of people, so busy mall shopping isn’t ideal.)
See, my mom needs to buy an individual health plan through PPACA. She’s been getting cancellation notices all year—the plan she has right now (that she likes) expires in March—and she’s a few years shy of qualifying for Medicare. Since I was with them, my dad suggested, you know, since I write about this stuff, that I lend a hand in looking for coverage through the exchange (thanks, Dad!).
So we spent some time searching for a health plan through Connect for Health Colorado—their permanent place of residency, and home to my mother’s beloved primary doctor.
My mom has been browsing for coverage since the exchanges opened Oct. 1. And two months later, she still hasn’t purchased a plan, turned off by ridiculous costs and, of course, website troubles that have both kicked her off the site and resulted in spinning pinwheels. But hey, at least in mid-December, she was actually able to stay on the exchange website long enough to compare coverage, so that’s a step up.
Though I’ve written about Obamacare’s problems and rate shock, I was stunned by the options I found for my mother. Or lack thereof. First of all, she has about three choices if she wants to keep her doctor—all under one carrier—since apparently no other carriers are really participating in Colorado’s exchange. And her only choices were bronze or silver plans.
Very disappointing considering I’ve been telling her for months that she needs at least a gold plan, mainly because she’s suffered her fair share of medical problems in the past. But it’s just not an option.
(Researchers say that despite the administration’s proclamations of an abundance of plan levels, gold plans aren’t as common, and platinum plans are even rarer.)
Perhaps the most upsetting part about her offerings? Just how damn expensive these things are.
She’ll be forced to pay more than 50 percent more for a plan similar to, but actually worse than, the one has right now.
Yes, you read that right: more than 50 percent more under Obamacare for a WORSE plan with a higher deductible. Her silver plan options under PPACA had a roughly $800-$850 premium, and the bronze plan was about $700-$750 (she pays a $500 premium for a plan comparable to a gold plan.)
Not only that, but her sticker shock comes in a high deductible, too. On average, the deductibles for her plan offerings were $7,500, or $15,000 out-of-network.
Thank you, Obamacare!
“I just don’t have a choice,” she told me.
I know so many people who love repeating the claims about “affordable” being the key word of PPACA. But how much news do we have to read to see that it’s not the case? HealthPocket released an analysis of Obamacare deductibles not too long ago and found they’re delivering a hefty sticker shock to consumers—an average increase of 40 percent from the average deductible for an individually purchased plan before the federal health care overhaul.
I know there are a ton of people who have similar stories, but that’s just my own. Suffice to say, even on vacation I can’t escape PPACA’s upsetting reality.
And let it be known: when that reality hurts my sweet mother, it makes me really mad.