Midnight deadline for Covered California
California is said to be the model of how Obamacare was designed to work. Unfortunately, we won't know how well it's working until late summer or this fall. When we started down the Obamacare road last October, 6.9 million Californians were uninsured; only 1.1 million have enrolled in Covered California and about 20% of those still don't have health coverage because they haven't paid their premiums. The intent of Obamacare was to bend the cost curve and cover the uninsured.
“Have we really accomplished either of those two goals with the data we have so far? No,” said Dr. Ted Mazer, M.D. “We haven't really covered the uninsured, we're leaving a lot of people out – including some who were insured before and got thrown off. And we're not really seeing the cost curve come down.”
Dr. Mazer is the Obamacare specialist for the County Medical Society. For Obamacare to work, about 40% of enrollees need to be the young whose high premiums are needed to cover the cost of the older, sicker people who are signing up in large numbers. This may be the most important unknown.
“How many healthy people have signed up, how may people that have signed up are getting subsidies, and of those getting subsidies, how many are getting the subsidy because the percentage of their income that they're allowed to pay under the law is max-ed out?”
These are important numbers that have yet to be released.
“That's going to tell us a lot about what are the plans going to charge, who's going to be able to afford it next year, and what's the bill to the taxpayer going to be.”
Peter Lee, the director of Covered California, says premium spikes will be in the single digits. The insurance companies are in a flux because they can't see the landscape of health care and they have to set next year's premiums in two months.
“Most are talking about double-digit inflation on those premiums based upon the information they now know on the sign-ups on the exchanges,” continued Mazer.
We won't really know how Obamacare is working until July or August, but the signs are troubling.
“That's when you'll get a feel of when the hospitals and physicians start saying 'I can't collect on the bills, its all deductible, and the patient wasn't planning on paying the deductible.'”
And the deductibles are $5,000 and up. Yes, California can claim more enrollees than anticipated.
“They've done a good job of getting out there and bringing people in, but we still don't know what the population looks like, so I don't know that you can call that a success.”
The deadline to sign up for health coverage is midnight Monday night. Those who fail are subject to a tax penalty. If you are trying to enroll on the website, Covered California says do not hit that 'apply' button because the site is overloaded. You are better off contacting an insurance broker.