Obamacare premiums rising

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Health insurance premiums are going up 13.2 percent next year for people who buy coverage through Covered California, the state’s health exchange.

And this comes as federal programs to protect consumers and insurance companies against excessive premium increases expires this year.

Premiums are what it costs to have insurance, deductibles are what it costs to use it. Both are going up. Premiums will rise more than 13 percent and deductibles, on average, rose 14.5 percent this year.

Obamacare began four years ago in order to bend the cost curve down to keep pace with inflation. It hasn’t worked.

1.4 million Californians are insured by Covered California and 90 percent of them get government subsidies. What might they do?

"Go to the next lowest level, which doesn’t actually help them a lot because a lot of that means higher co-pays and higher deductibles so it’s a short term gain to try to keep your premium the same, but you’re actually putting yourself at greater monetary risk," said Dr. Ted Mazer, who follows Obamacare for the county medical society. "If the premium is going up 13 percent for an equal amount of service the deductibles the same, but if you want to keep your premium low as last year and avoid the increase you’re going to pay the same amount but have a higher deductible and higher co-pay."

Dr. Mazer said the subsidies will dramatically increase what the federal government, i.e. the taxpayers will have to cover.

And the money the FEDS collected to cover the insurance companies that are losing money expires this year.

"That’s gone. Three years was all that was involved with that and even the money they collected did not support the loss," Dr. Mazer said. "And now we’re looking at those disappearing and double digit rises in premiums."

Which is why United Health Care will pull out of the exchange next year and why Blue Cross wants an increase of 19 percent and Anthem, 16 percent.

By tripling premiums, the Affordable Care Act may prove to be anything, but affordable to many Californians.

"It was supposed to be affordable and even though I’m getting a subsidy or I’m buying this affordable policy outside the exchange at my own expense its not affordable if its going to go up double digit inflation rate," Dr. Mazer said.

Obamacare has changed the entire health care marketplace.

Dr. Mazer said we can’t exchange the system overnight and we can’t go back to what we had.

"What this should be is an impetus for saying this doesn’t work the way its set up. It’s gonna cost a lot more to the public in taxpayer subsidies and it’s clearly costing patients a lot more out of pocket. We’re now over 10-thousand dollars a year per person in the United States for medical care," he said.

Those who have private insurance will also feel the pain with overall health care costs rising. Anthem and Blue Shield are raising their premiums by 19 percent and 16 percent respectively.

Categories: Local San Diego News