No wonder President Obama and the Democrats are pushing so hard to raise the minimum wage. A customer could spend the equivalent of a minimum-wage income just buying Obamacare coverage.
The think tank I work with recently went through the challenge of looking at the Obamacare-qualified health insurance options and choosing one. The small organization covers insurance for employees but not dependents.
Since my wife works for a very small company that doesn’t, and isn’t required to, provide health insurance, we have to pay out of pocket for her coverage.
We could enroll her in the company plan as my dependent, but all the options cost more than $1,000 a month—or $12,000 a year.If she made the current federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, she would make about $15,000 a year. Take off a little for income and payroll taxes and she would in essence be working the whole year just to pay the Affordable Care Act’s premiums.
Since $1,000 a month for a very healthy, trim, and active woman seems outrageous, we will likely keep her in the individual health insurance market, where individuals buy their own policies. But that market has been going through its own turmoil, thanks to Obama’s ill-conceived quest to remake the U.S. health care system.
Last year, my wife had a Texas-based Blue Cross Blue Shield individual policy we were both satisfied with. The deductible was $2,500, and while the premiums weren’t cheap, we could live with them.
But then Blue Cross informed its policyholders last fall that everyone would have to switch to an Obamacare-qualified policy.
So we began looking through the health insurance options both inside and outside the Obamacare exchange. We eventually took our insurance agent’s advice and stayed with what was essentially the same Blue Cross policy she had—except the deductible leaped from $2,500 to $6,000, and her premium increased by 50 percent. Thank you, President Obama.
But the story doesn’t end there. Texas Blue Cross sent out a letter in July informing 367,000 policyholders who were part of the same PPO plan that the company would be canceling those policies at the end of the year because the insurer had lost $400 million on that group. In the letter Blue Cross explained its decision:
The law [Obamacare] requires that we set our individual plan rates based on all of our individual members’ claims history. This means that if the costs of one plan are high, it will raise the rates of all other plans, not just the high-cost plan. If we kept the Blue Choice PPO, this would have raised the rates so much for all our other plans that most people wouldn’t be able to afford them. By dropping the PPO, we can still offer our other plans at reasonable rates.
What was that again about “if you like your policy, you can keep your policy”?
Our agent has made it clear that the options this time are even worse than last year’s. Several of the plans are tightly restricting their physician and hospital networks to control costs—even as prices explode.
Obamacare defenders will claim there are subsidies to help low-income workers. But we file taxes jointly and are not eligible for subsidies—and we’re not alone.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 25 million Americans work part time, and their median annual earnings are about $12,500—roughly the premium we would be paying if my wife participated in my employer’s plan.
But as health insurance premiums continue to rise, how many of them will essentially hand their annual income to the Obamacare insurer? Alternatively, how many will quite working if that means the family can qualify for Obamacare subsidies?
While Obama arrogantly claims his law is working like it should, the rest of us keep wondering when the “affordable” part of the Affordable Care Act will finally get here.