Journolist founder Ezra Klein:
I looked for insurance in Irvine, Calif. — my home town. The average monthly premiums of the five cheapest plans is $114. So I took the middle plan, HealthNet’s IFP PPO Value 4500. It’s got a $4,500 deductible, a $2,500 deductible for brand-name medications, huge co-pays and a little “bestseller” icon next to it. And it’s only $109 a month — if they’ll sell it to you for that price.
That’s the catch, and it’s a big one. Click to buy the plan and eventually you’ll have to answer pages and pages of questions about your health history. Ever had cancer? How about an ulcer? How about a headache? Do you feel sad when it rains? When it doesn’t rain? Is there a history of cardiovascular disease in your family? Have you ever known anyone who had the flu? The actual cost of the plan will depend on how you answer those questions.
According to HealthCare.gov, 14 percent of people who try to buy that plan are turned away outright. Another 12 percent are told they’ll have to pay more than $109. So a quarter of the people who try to buy this insurance product for $109 a month are told they can’t. Those are the people who need insurance most — they are sick, or were sick, or are likely to get sick. So, again, is $109 really the price of this plan?
Comparing the pre-underwriting price of this plan to those in Obamacare’s exchanges is ridiculous. The plans in Obamacare’s exchanges have to include those people. They can’t turn anyone away or jack up rates because of a history of arthritis or heart disease.
They also have to offer insurance that meets a certain minimum standard. Under Obamacare, for instance, the out-of-pocket limit for someone making 100 to 200 percent of the poverty line is $1,983. Under the Value 4500, you could spend up to $9,500 before the out-of-pocket limit kicked in. Obamacare also has subsidies for people making up to four times the poverty line. The poor pay next to nothing. The rich pay full freight.
So is that $109 just for me, or does it include my family? Is that deductible apply to each of us, or all of us combined? What is the poverty line? How much are the subsidies?
$9,500 divided by 12 is almost $800 per month. Of course that assumes I actually use my health insurance. If I don’t get sick or injured it’s a lot cheaper. But “don’t get sick” is the health plan most working poor people had before Obamacare.
If you lie about those health questions or develop one or more of those conditions as you get older, be prepared to see your rates skyrocket. And they’ll know you developed them because your doctor will tell them. Once they get everybody’s information in the centralized database, you can’t lie because they’ll know what your family has too!
If you add 25% more people to the insurance pool and those people can’t afford to pay full premiums, the people who are already in the plan will have to pay the difference. That’s basic math.
Obamacare does nothing to control or reduce health costs. All it does is provide a huge windfall for the health insurance companies. If you don’t buy health insurance, the IRS will make you pay a special tax.
The Supreme Court said so.
“If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less.” – Barack Obama