Obamacare: The Middle Class Continues To Get Squeezed

Recent Obamacare Horror Stories: Premiums Increased ‘300%,’ ‘Not Able To Keep Our Doctor’

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “In election after election, the American people have called for an end to Obamacare. In the last election, they made their voices clear once more. They elected a President and a Congress dedicated to bringing relief from this partisan law, and we’re determined to do right by our constituents by doing so…. Americans were promised costs would go down. Americans were promised choice would go up. Americans were promised they could keep their health care plans. None of it was true. Americans need relief. They deserve a new direction. That’s why we’re taking action to repeal and replace Obamacare with health care solutions that can actually work for the American people.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 3/6/2017)

“Is Obamacare really affordable? Not for the middle class … [F]or many middle class Americans -- a single person earning more than $47,520 or a family of four with an income of $97,200 -- the pricey premiums and deductibles mean health care coverage remains out of reach. ‘The middle class are getting squeezed,’ said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. ‘They aren't getting subsidies and these deductibles are hard to afford.’” (“Is Obamacare Really Affordable? Not For The Middle Class,” CNNMoney, 11/4/2016)

  • Under Obamacare: “While costs vary widely across states and carriers, the average national prices give some insight into just how steep Obamacare premiums and deductibles can be for the non-subsidized. A 30-year-old will pay an average of $311 a month for the lowest-level bronze plan for 2017, while a 60-year-old will pay an average of $744, according to a review by HealthPocket, which analyzes insurance plans. Both rose 21% from this year. And the average deductible on a bronze plan will top $6,000 next year for an individual and come in at nearly $12,400 for a family.” (“Is Obamacare Really Affordable? Not For The Middle Class,” CNNMoney, 11/4/2016)

OBAMACARE REALITY: ‘Medical Insurance Was Meant To Keep Medical Expenses From Driving You In Financial Ruin, Not For The Medical Insurance To Drive You In Financial Ruin’

Kentucky Student Pastor: “I am a full time student pastor at Johnson First Church of God. Since I became a pastor, I have been responsible for paying for my own health insurance. Prior to Obamacare, I had a manageable monthly healthcare premium that had enough coverage for myself with a reasonable deductible. Since Obamacare has been enforced … my premiums have increased each year significantly. For 2017, if I maintain my current coverage, my premiums (low premium, high deductible option) will increase 300% compared to my coverage prior to ACA and the general cost of healthcare has skyrocketed.” (Letter To Sen. McConnell)

Kentucky Resident: “As a resident of Fayette County, Kentucky, in 2017, I am eligible to purchase insurance from one and only one company … [A]nother part of the real, unseen story is the number of physicians, physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, laboratories, and hospitals that are not participating with this insurance in 2017. In Lexington, my family physician, ophthalmologist, and dermatologist are not participating with this plan…. In essence, we are paying for something that doesn't currently exist for residents of Fayette County, KY - beneficial nationwide individual health insurance coverage with a wide variety of providers…. Clearly, we have not been able to keep our doctors (or other medical professionals or facilities) or insurance plans.” (Letter To Sen. McConnell)

Minnesota Small Business Owner: “[Dirk Bak’s] business, SDQ Janitorial in Minnetonka, Minn., has been family-owned for 34 years and had been offering its nearly 200 full-time workers coverage even before the ACA became law. ‘We saw, two years ago, a dramatic price increase for our premiums,’ Bak says, adding that the hike was over 30 percent in one year.” (“Small-Business Owners Are Full Of Questions And Regrets About The End Of Obamacare,” CNBC, 2/28/2017)

Maryland Mother: “Take Irene Solesky of Towson, Maryland. A mortgage underwriter, Solesky and her husband earn too much to receive a subsidy. So next year, they will have to pay $1,351 a month for a CareFirst Bronze plan for themselves and their two sons. On top of that, they face a $13,100 family deductible…. Before the Obamacare exchanges opened in 2014, Solesky had an individual insurance plan that cost her $215 a month to cover herself and her two sons. The deductible was $5,000.” (“Is Obamacare Really Affordable? Not For The Middle Class,” CNNMoney, 11/04/2016)

Michigan Resident: “Midland, Michigan, resident [Clare Lee, 62] finds himself skimping on care even though he has coverage through Obamacare. Since he and his wife don't qualify for subsidies, they pay $1,200 a month for a Blue Cross bronze plan that comes with a $12,000 deductible. Lee, who is in retail sales, didn't go to the doctor when he had a cough in March. He didn't want to pay the full price since he hadn't met his deductible. The cough lasted a month.” (“Is Obamacare Really Affordable? Not For The Middle Class,” CNNMoney, 11/04/2016)

FLASHBACK: For Many Obamacare An ‘Obscene’ ‘Nightmare,’ ‘We’re Literally Siphoning Through Our Savings’

Kentucky Mom: “My family is being pushed out of the middle class by the Obamacare law. …how can we pay almost $1,200 a month on health insurance?” (Sen. McConnell, Constituent Mail)

California Man: ‘I cannot afford an additional bill’ “‘There's only so far one can dwindle a ramen-noodle diet,’ said Christopher Rael of Los Angeles... ‘I cannot afford an additional bill,’ he said. He paid a fine of about $150 for being uninsured in 2014.” (“Health Care Fines Press Millennials as Deadline Nears,” The Associated Press, 1/27/2016)

Florida Woman: ‘We’re literally siphoning through our savings to be protected’ “[Jules] Stewart and her husband, Kip Koelsch ... chose a silver plan from Humana. They were stunned by the $774 monthly premium, she said — especially because they had to meet a $12,000 deductible before most of the benefits kicked in. ‘We’re literally siphoning through our savings to be protected,’ she said. She also had to change primary care physicians. ... ‘My husband and I are solidly middle class and wonder how folks living just below our level manage to afford Obamacare,’ she said. ‘It doesn’t seem to benefit anyone I know.’” (“Tampa Bay Case Studies Of Obamacare's Costs And Benefits,” Tampa Bay Times, 11/11/2016)

Kansas City Retiree: “‘I’m a sickness away or my wife is a sickness away from going to the poor house I guess because the cost of the insurance is so great,’ said Goodman.” (“Obamacare Costs Up, Choices Down In Missouri And Kansas,” KSHB-TV Kansas City, 11/01/2016)

Florida Small Business Owner: ‘Fears his family will be “open to complete financial ruin”’ “‘Five years ago, small business owner Robert Lust and his wife, Michelle, decided to drop their health insurance. The $2,400 monthly premium was eating up nearly half their household income. The couple couldn’t wait for the launch of the Affordable Care Act. ‘We saw relief coming,’ recalled Lust, now 60. In 2014, the Lusts purchased a silver plan from UnitedHealth that cost about $1,000 per month. But they couldn’t see any of their longtime doctors, and were assigned to a primary care facility that did little more than provide referrals, Lust said. When the monthly premiums rose 40 percent, they decided to ‘bite the bullet’ and buy a platinum plan from Florida Blue that gave them more choice in doctors. In 2016 . . . the plan cost $1,872 a month. ‘Add to that the $4,000 out-of-pocket expenses and all the other things that the plan does not pay for,’ Lust said. . . If the premiums continue to rise like they have in years past, Lust fears his family will be ‘open to complete financial ruin.’” (“Tampa Bay Case Studies Of Obamacare's Costs And Benefits,” Tampa Bay Times, 11/11/2016)

Utah Family: ‘It’s obscene’ “Ana and Oswaldo Demoura got their letter last month: a notice from their health care provider that thousands will soon receive in the mail. ‘I thought that was a mistake. I think it’s obscene,’ said Oswaldo Demoura. Addressed to Mrs. Demoura, it outlines a new coverage plan from Arches Mutual Insurance, putting their monthly premium, with tax credits, at $416.59. The problem with that is they are currently paying $126.22. That means their insurance is going up about 300 percent. … ‘Nobody can afford that, absolutely,’ Oswaldo Demoura said.” (“Health Insurance Premiums Increase In Utah,” KTSU TV, 10/22/15)

Phoenix Senior: ‘The lack of choice is like having empty shelves (and) no food in a third-world country.’ “Phoenix resident Ken Hoag[‘s] wife, Margo, is enrolled in a marketplace plan that will be discontinued as of Dec. 31. He logged on Healthcare.gov to use the website's preview that listed plan details before the Nov. 1 start of enrollment, and he was surprised to find only four plans, all from Ambetter/Health Net. ‘There are no choices really for anybody in Maricopa County,’ Hoag said. ‘The lack of choice is like having empty shelves (and) no food in a third-world country. Do I live in Cuba?’” (“Rate Hikes, New Doctors: Obamacare Exchanges Open To Angst,” USA Today, 11/01/2016)

Oklahoma Woman: “When the health insurance premiums got to the point that they were higher than her mortgage, Renee Powell started to become cynical. ‘There was something in me that just kind of switched,’ said the mother of two from Bartlesville, Okla. ‘I was okay with paying $750, but when it became about $100 more than my housing costs, it upset me.’” (“Politics In Real Life: Rising Health Care Costs Weigh On Voters,” NPR, 5/3/16)

Ohio Small Businesswoman: “My premium should be based on my personal health and my personal health is very excellent, so to see this go up year after year after year and have to choose less desirable coverage every time, then it doesn’t make sense.” (WKRC-TV Cincinnati, 10/28/2016)

Montana Retiree: “Michelle Harris, a 61-year-old retired waitress in northwest Montana, has arthritis in both shoulders. …pays $338 a month for the BlueCross BlueShield plan. Yet with its $4,500 deductible, she says she's doing everything she can to avoid seeing a doctor. Instead, she uses ibuprofen and cold-packs. ‘It hurts, but we don't have that kind of money,’ Harris said in an interview. ‘So I deal with it.’ ... Harris is one of many people with Obamacare plans that feature high out-of-pocket costs that can put health services out of reach... The cheapest plan available to them costs $1,400 a month, with a deductible of about $13,000. If premiums keep rising, Harris says, they probably won't buy coverage in 2018.” (“Some Find Care Unaffordable, Even With Obamacare Coverage,” Bloomberg News, 11/04/2016)

Utah Woman: “Stephanie Haltinner, 30, has an insurance plan with a $13,000 deductible for her and her husband under Obamacare. Her husband is currently looking for work. She’s looking for a different plan for next year. ‘I’m hoping we’ll be able to get something that actually has benefits, so I don’t have to be afraid to go to the doctor for fear of paying hundreds of dollars I can’t afford,’ said Haltinner, who lives in Farmington, Utah and works part time while going to school. For Haltinner, that means being insured, but still having large financial risk.” (“Some Find Care Unaffordable, Even With Obamacare Coverage,” Bloomberg News, 11/04/2016)

Pennsylvania Retiree: “Richard Dean of Bethlehem Township, said he can no longer afford insurance on Healthcare.gov. The retired bank employee said . . . though he has health insurance through retirement benefits, his wife does not. For 2016, Dean found separate coverage for his wife on the exchange. But that plan, which cost $572 a month, is to be discontinued next year and the nearest equivalent he can find would be $917 a month, or $11,004 a year, he said. The deductible would also go up, to $6,800 from $4,500; and after meeting the deductible, the co-insurance would be 30 percent — meaning his wife would still have to pay 30 percent of her bills. ‘I’m praying this is a mistake,’ he said. ‘Who can afford that?’” (“With Obamacare Options Slim In The Lehigh Valley, Many Feel Priced Out Of Health Coverage,” The [Allentown, PA] Morning Call, 11/05/2016)

Michigan Man: Premium increase ‘almost gave me a heart attack when I opened up the envelope,’ “In Michigan, those insured under the ACA can anticipate an average 17 percent premium increase, though many residents says they’re even far beyond those numbers. ‘It almost gave me a heart attack when I opened up the envelope,’ said Scott Winters, West Michigan radio personality and realtor who is self-employed.” (“Health Care Plans To Increase Nationwide Under Affordable Care Act In 2017,” Fox17, 10/18/16)

Florida Retiree: ‘The only reason I'm working is to pay the premiums’ “After a decades-long career as an insurance claims adjustor, Dave Beveridge fulfilled his goal of retiring at 60. He never imagined the cost of health insurance would drive him back into the workforce. But Beveridge, 63, had to take a temporary position with a Tampa insurance company, he said, because the monthly premium for his Affordable Care Act plan is so expensive. ‘The only reason I'm working is to pay the premiums,’ he said. In 2016, he and his wife Nancy paid $868 a month for a bronze plan from Humana. In 2017, the cheapest plan available to them is a $1,267-a-month bronze plan from Florida Blue, he said. The deductible is $6,800.” (“Tampa Bay Case Studies Of Obamacare's Costs And Benefits,” Tampa Bay Times, 11/11/2016)

Illinois Insurance Broker: “We expected they [insurance premiums] would go up. I didn’t . . . expect it would go up 75, 80 percent,’ said Tina Gallagher, an insurance broker in Columbia, Ill. ‘We have a lot of folks — small business owners — who don’t qualify for tax credits, they’re really going to feel the pain of this.’ (“3 Metro East Counties Down To 1 Insurer On Affordable Care Act Exchanges,” St. Louis Public Radio, 10/26/2016)

Mississippi Woman: “‘I can’t afford to get sick after paying for the health insurance,’ Ms. [Laura M. Schlett, 44, of Brandon, Miss., a suburb of Jackson] said.” (“Some Health Plan Costs To Increase By An Average Of 25 Percent, U.S. Says,” The New York Times, 10/24/16)

Alaska Teacher: “Juneau Montessori School teacher Laurie Clark loves working with toddlers. But the 61-year-old is not sure how much longer she can afford to do it… [S]he’s paying $1,500 per month for individual health insurance, three times what she paid last year in New Mexico. ‘What choice do I have? ...’ she said.” (“Alaskans Endure Rising Insurance Costs,” Alaska Public Media, 9/21/2016)

Maryland Woman: ‘I am being priced out of the market’ “We are the ‘individually insured’ who don't qualify for a subsidy under the Affordable Care Act, and my premiums are dreadful ... After the 20 percent hike last year from CareFirst, I went from the least expensive silver plan to the cheapest plan of all. This year, it looks like our premiums will rise again — at least another 20 percent. I am guessing my premiums will be hovering around $500 per month. My deductible is the out-of-pocket maximum of $6,500... I have maintained my own insurance for most of my adult life, but now I am being priced out of the market.” (Letter to the Editor, The Baltimore Sun, 9/19/2016)

Illinois Woman: ‘The cheapest health plan she examined … came with a $7,000 deductible’ “Chicago resident Eva Saur, 32, is exactly the kind of healthy person insurers would like to have on their rolls. Saur hasn’t had coverage in nearly a decade, but she takes good care of her health. . . Saur’s tax penalty for being uninsured was a bit more than $600 last year, while the cheapest health plan she examined cost about as much for three months in premiums — and came with a $7,000 deductible.” (“Health-Care Exchange Sign-Ups Fall Far Short Of Forecasts,” The Washington Post, 8/27/2016)

North Carolina Pet Sitter: ‘She's paying the tax penalty and out-of-pocket for doctor visits rather than the ‘unaffordable premium and ridiculously high deductible’ she faced in 2015 of $900 a month with a $5,000 annual deductible’ “Margaret Brawner of Charlotte, a pet sitter who does some contract work, says the rates were already too high. She's paying the tax penalty and out-of-pocket for doctor visits rather than the ‘unaffordable premium and ridiculously high deductible’ she faced in 2015 of $900 a month with a $5,000 annual deductible for a Blue Cross Blue Shield silver plan.” (“As Obamacare Choices Dwindle, Feds Face Consumer, Political Backlash,” USA Today, 8/29/2016)

Kentucky Woman: “Our President lied to us. Not only are we going to lose our insurance but when go to a different policy-we have to pay more. We will never be able to retire-we are 58 & 56 years old-we will have to work the rest of our [lives] just to pay for our insurance.” (Sen. McConnell, Constituent Mail)

North Carolina Woman: “It’s been aggravating to have to see the policy that you were perfectly happy with doesn’t exist anymore and you can’t keep it.” Reporter: “For the past three years, Ruth-Anne Grimes says the health insurance plan that cost her $381 a month served her well. Then this letter…” Grimes: “It says you’ll no longer – the plan will no longer be offered in 2014.” Reporter: “Because it does not meet the qualifications of the Affordable Care Act. But there’s another plan available: for $562 a month.” … Grimes: “It’s been aggravating to have to see the policy that you were perfectly happy with doesn’t exist anymore and you can’t keep it, you have to go on another plan. … the Affordable Care Act did not make it very affordable for me.” (WRAL-NC, 11/7/13)


Related Issues: Middle Class, Health Care, Obamacare