Californians getting slammed by cancellations, rate increases

Quote of the year from an unknown woman writing to an insurance company exec:

Pam Kehaly, president of Anthem Blue Cross in California, said she received a recent letter from a young woman complaining about a 50% rate hike related to the healthcare law.

"She said, 'I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it,'" Kehaly said. (My emphasis)

If the only problem in California was low information voters being surprised that their "free" health insurance isn't free after all,the problems for the individual insurance market wouldn't be that bad.

But rate increases averaging 30% for the middle class as well as dropping half a million Californians from their current insurance plans spells big trouble.

LA Times:

All these cancellations were prompted by a requirement from Covered California, the state's new insurance exchange. The state didn't want to give insurance companies the opportunity to hold on to the healthiest patients for up to a year, keeping them out of the larger risk pool that will influence future rates.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said the state and insurers agreed that clearing the decks by Jan. 1 was best for consumers in the long run despite the initial disruption. Lee has heard the complaints - even from his sister-in-law, who recently groused about her 50% rate increase.

"People could have kept their cheaper, bad coverage, and those people wouldn't have been part of the common risk pool," Lee said. "We are better off all being in this together. We are transforming the individual market and making it better."

Lee said consumers need to consider all their options. They don't have to stick with their current company, and higher premiums are only part of the cost equation. Lee said some of these rate hikes will be partially offset by smaller deductibles and lower limits on out-of-pocket medical expenses in the new plans.

Still, many are frustrated at being forced to give up the plans they have now. They frequently cite assurances given by Obama that Americans could hold on to their health insurance despite the massive overhaul.

"All we've been hearing the last three years is if you like your policy you can keep it," said Deborah Cavallaro, a real estate agent in Westchester. "I'm infuriated because I was lied to."

Supporters of the healthcare law say Obama was referring to people who are insured through their employers or through government programs such as Medicare. Still, they acknowledge the confusion and anger from individual policyholders who are being forced to change.

Thank you for that clarification, LA TImes - except you're either ignorant or lying. There was no mistaking the president of the United States looking into the camera's eye during his speech to a joint session of Congress in September of 2009 and saying if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it. He wasn't referring to Medicare. He wasn't referring to insurance plans you get through your employer. He meant everybody.

As far as the newer policies partially offsetting the increase in premiums due to lower deductibles, that, too, is a crock. The Obamacare plans offer lower deductibles for the higher cost plans, not plans that most Californians will find the cheapest.

What solace is offered to those paying up to 300% more for a policy? "We are better off all being in this together. We are transforming the individual market and making it better." Soothing words that all statists use to keep people from revolting. She is going to eat those words in a few months when it becomes clear that the young, healthy people that Obamacare absolutely needs to participate would rather pay the small fine than sign up for expensive insurance they don't need. At that point, 30% increases are going to look pretty good.

Obamacare supporters are trying to convince us that all these cancellations aren't really "cancellations" because they're just a migration to a different plan on the exchanges. Few Californians would agree with that assessment.

Fewer still would prefer to "migrate" anywhere.

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