Obamacare 'sticker shock' coming soon
We've seen health insusrance rates rise up to 20% in recent months for many plans. But this is just a drop in the bucket compared to what will happen when Obamacare is fully implemented.
Many young, healthy Americans could soon see a jump in their health insurance costs, and insurance companies are saying: It's not our fault.
The nation's insurers are engaged in an all-out, last-ditch effort to shield themselves from blame for what they predict will be rate increases on policies they must unveil this spring to comply with President Obama's health-care law.
Insurers point to several reasons that premiums will rise. They will soon be required to offer more-comprehensive coverage than many currently provide. Also, their costs will increase because they will be barred from rejecting the sick, and they will no longer be allowed to charge older customers sharply higher premiums than younger ones.
Supporters of the law counter that concerns about price hikes are overstated, partly because federal subsidies will cushion the blow.
The insurers' public relations blitz is being propelled by a growing cast of executives, lobbyists, conservative activists and state health officials. They increasingly use the same catchphrase - "rate shock" - to warn about the potential for price surges.
Aetna chief executive Mark T. Bertolini invoked the term at his company's recent annual investor conference, cautioning that premiums for plans sold to individuals could rise as much as 50 percent on average and could more than double for particular groups such as the young and healthy.
Meanwhile, supporters of Obamacare are hitting back at what they call a scare campaign by opponents.
Supporters of the law complain that the warnings amount to a smear attack by special interests and political partisans, akin to earlier claims that the law would allow bureaucrats to deny life-saving care to save money.
" 'Rate shock' is the new 'death panels,' " said Wendell Potter, a former head of communications for the health insurer Cigna who is now a critic of the industry. "They've chosen these words very carefully to scare people. It's the ideal term for what is, at its core, a fear-based campaign."
Yet even analysts who favor the law concede that it will result in higher costs for some young, healthy people.
Not just "some" healthy young people. Those who have insurance through their employers are likely to be dropped as a still unknown percentage of American businesses who offer insurance for their employees decide it will be cheaper to pay the fine for not insuring their workers than it would be to cover them. If a couple of million people are thrown into the insurance pools and have to pay for at least some of their coverage, the cost of subsidies will skyrocket.
The problems with implementation of Obamacare are beginning to build. Higher taxes, higher premiums, more confusion and chaos in figuring out the exchanges - the problems that most Americans are totally unaware will hit them shortly.
The blowback from the consequences of going ahead with this plan will affect the 2014 and probably the 2016 elections.