Rising healthcare costs break promise of affordable care

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — 1.3 million letters are in the mail to all Californians who have health insurance from Covered California and they probably won’t like its contents.

The letter is warning that premiums and out of pocket expenses are going up next year and price spikes will continue in the following years.

Obamacare provided promised, affordable healthcare, choice of doctors and more access to care. Turns out, you may not keep your doctor, you may have less access to care, but your insurance premiums will be increasing.

"It’s going jump anywhere from 5 to 24 percent in some parts of California," said Dr. Mihir Parikh, president of the County Medical Society.

Because San Diego has a good community clinic system, the price increase here will be no more than 10 percent.

Dr. Parikh said it’s simple economics.

"Some insurance plans are unable to stay profitable in their markets and they’re gonna view this as not profitable and drop out. As there’s less insurance companies in each market they have the ability to then dictate rates and they can increase the prices in their territories and that just gets passed on to the patient," he said.

Two of the largest insurers have already opted out of Covered California, others may follow and the federal government’s reimbursement plan to cover the losses of insurance companies has expired.

Covered California’s answer to the increases is to shop for a cheaper plan.

" … but sometimes you might already have the cheapest plan then there’s nowhere to shop," Dr. Parikh said.

If you have a silver plan, which most people have, you could drop down to a bronze plan.

"The consequence of that will be higher deductibles, higher co-pays, co-insurance so your monthly cost may decrease but if you become sick or ill and need medical care the annual fee might actually go up," Dr. Parikh added.

A lady in Los Angeles with a bronze plan discovered her monthly premium, after her subsidy, will actually jump from $162 to $254 next year.

Her deductible would go from $6,500 to $6,800.

If this were a family plan, the deductible would be $13,000.

These price spikes will continue to drive young people and others, out of the insurance pool, causing more losses for insurance companies and future prices increases.

People are not getting what was promised: healthcare at a cheaper price.

"We’re actually seeing the opposite trend right now, which is consolidation of the markets with less and less plans and a rising cost," Dr. Parikh said.

The open enrollment period to change your plan begins November 1 and ends January 31, 2017. 

Categories: Local San Diego News