“Prior to the ACA law’s passing, I had an HSA plan with a premium of around $150/mo with 100% coverage on most things once the deductible was met. That provider left the state in anticipation of the passing of the ACA. My primary care physician also closed his private practice and went to work for a hospital system.”
-Anonymous in Columbia
Health insurance premiums increased 10 percent across all plans on the federal exchange in South Carolina from 2014 to 2015, upon full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Premiums on the silver plan increased three percent simultaneously, one national group found. The silver plan is most commonly selected, according to healthcare.gov, and it charges “moderate monthly premiums and moderate costs when you need care.”
Thirty-one other states saw increases in premiums across all five plans on the exchange, according to data reported in July by the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. Premiums on silver plans increased in 31 states.
In a study to prove a slowdown in premium rate increases following the 2010 enactment of Obamacare, the independent health care research foundation, The Commonwealth Fund found growth of health insurance costs is outpacing income growth. People spent a greater percentage of their incomes on insurance in 2015—10.1 percent—compared to 6.5 percent in 2006.
The authors of the report wrote—
“Middle-income families continue to see a growing share of their household budgets going to health care. Where employees have less generous health plans as well as lower median incomes, the combination is particularly toxic. People with high deductibles relative to income are far more likely to avoid getting needed care than those with more affordable out-of-pocket costs. For those who do get health care, large medical bills can quickly exceed assets.”
Americans—including many South Carolinians—have mixed feelings about the law’s impact and about what will happen to them if the law is eventually repealed. The (Charleston) Post and Courier’s February roundup of personal stories illustrates this perfectly.
But with numerous Obamacare success stories, the trends show the law is pricing middle class customers out of the marketplace.
One interview by National Public Radio illustrates this perfectly.
“If employment changes had not happened/provided the plan I’m on now, I’d still be without regular health insurance,” one Columbia resident wrote to us by email. He asked not to be named in this story.
“I make a great salary but simply cannot afford to dedicate that much of my income to health coverage that is worse than what I had pre-ACA.”
Following the law’s implementation, his rates would have increased from $150 per month to between $250 and $375 per month with a deductible of up to $6,500 and up to a mere 80 percent coverage, depending on the plan he chose. Prior to receiving coverage under a new employer, he chose to pay the penalty and carry an unapproved catastrophic policy, instead.
Health care has become unaffordable for customers like this in the years since Obamacare was fully implemented.
And it’s not going to get cheaper.
Insurers have been trickling out of the marketplace—public and private—in South Carolina since Obamacare’s implementation. The state Insurance Department lists those insurers here.
Customers now have only one option on the exchange—BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. A lack of competition is going to put upward pressure on prices.
And while many insurers are fleeing the exchanges nationwide due to the uncertainty of the law’s future, countless others began leaving long before the 2016 election. Many of those companies said they would no longer sell on the exchange because sick people were more expensive to insure.