I have believed for a long time that the healthcare system in the United States is broken. In countries that have universal healthcare, everyone has equal access to healthcare, regardless of social standing. In the United States, you can receive healthcare if you can afford to pay for it. Sometimes you can receive healthcare if you have no means to pay for it. Unfortunately, many in the United States are in the middle. They have enough assets that they can’t get care for free and they do not have enough to cover major medical problems without placing themselves into the category that has nothing.
When the U.S. Government enacted the Affordable Care Act, it was touted as a way to get nearly every citizen to be covered by health insurance. As usual, some important facts were left out of what the public was told about this new law. I saw nothing that said the middle-class, who had been paying for their own health insurance for so long, would see their insurance premiums double as a result of this law. This was my reality this week when I received a letter from my health insurance provider, Athem Blue Cross. The letter informed me that, due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), my current health plan would be discontinued and would be replaced with a plan that meets the specifications of ACA.
My wife and I are relatively healthy. We rarely go to the doctor. Our current health insurance plan is one that has a high deductible because my main concern is not going bankrupt should either of us end up with a major health problem. For a plan that has a maximum out-of-pocket expense of $15,000 per year, our monthly premium was $470. Now, this monthly premium was raised to $485 the first part of this year. I got a letter saying that it was determined that medical costs were actually a little less than anticipated, so they dropped the premium by $15 per month and sent me a refund check for my over payments. Not many people could absorb $15,000 in unexpected medical expenses in a year. It’s likely that I would have to borrow against my house for such an expense. With the few medical issues we have, this has been financially manageable.
The new health insurance plan that we will have beginning January 2014, which has roughly the same high deductible and benefits, will increase our monthly premium to $876. That is an increase of 87% over our old plan with the same coverage and benefits. I looked for a less expensive plan. There isn’t one. This is the least expensive plan they have under the ACA. Now I have to adjust our household budget to be able to absorb a more than $400 per month increase for health insurance.
It was my understanding that, by requiring everyone to have health insurance, there would be more money coming in to cover the costs of healthcare. It appears to me that the insurance companies have used ACA as an excuse to increase their bottom line. Congress won’t deal with this issue because they can’t agree on anything anyway. It’s likely that many members of Congress are indebted to the insurance companies for election support, so they won’t want to rock the boat.
I guess it’s time to get creative with my budget again. Too bad I can’t run my finances like the Federal Government. I could just print more money if I don’t have enough to go around.