The Wall Street Journal reports.
As enrollment picks up on the HealthCare.gov website, many people with modest incomes are encountering a troubling element of the federal health law: deductibles so steep they may not be able to afford the portion of medical expenses that insurance doesn’t cover.
The average individual deductible for what is called a bronze plan on the exchange—the lowest-priced coverage—is $5,081 a year, according to a new report on insurance offerings in 34 of the 36 states that rely on the federally run online marketplace.
That is 42% higher than the average deductible of $3,589 for an individually purchased plan in 2013 before much of the federal law took effect, according to HealthPocket Inc., a company that compares health-insurance plans for consumers. A deductible is the annual amount people must spend on health care before their insurer starts making payments.
[...]That means some sick or injured people may avoid treatment so they don’t rack up high bills their insurance won’t cover, according to consumer activists, insurance brokers and public-policy analysts—subverting one of the health law’s goals, which is to ensure more people receive needed health care. Hospitals, meantime, are bracing for a rise in unpaid bills from bronze-plan policyholders, said industry officials and public-policy analysts.
How high are the deductibles? The article says that “Total out-of-pocket expenses under bronze plans are capped at an annual $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families of four”.
Is the government really helping people with a plan that has that high of a deductible?
“They’re seeing sticker shock” in transitioning to the more-comprehensive coverage, and “once they start to use the policy, they will see a second sticker shock” of high deductibles, said Jamie Court, president of public-interest group Consumer Watchdog in California.
For example, the patient’s typical share of the cost of having a baby through normal delivery—$6,150, according to one insurer’s estimate—would be almost entirely an out-of-pocket expense for a person holding a bronze policy with the average $5,081 deductible.
“The anger is going to grow, because people are really stretched to buy these policies, then they’re going to have to reach into their pocket for another five grand before it does anything for them,” Mr. Court said.
[...]The average insured American spent $1,241 on out-of-pocket health-care expenses in 2012, according to Truven Health Analytics Inc., which analyzed medical claims from employers.
This article from the radically leftist New York Times explains that the Obamcare web site did not even DISPLAY the deductibles to the people who were shopping for plans.
For months, the Obama administration has heralded the low premiums of medical insurance policies on sale in the insurance exchanges created by the new health law. But as consumers dig into the details, they are finding that the deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs are often much higher than what is typical in employer-sponsored health plans.
Until now, it was almost impossible for people using the federal health care website to see the deductible amounts, which consumers pay before coverage kicks in. But federal officials finally relented last week and added a “window shopping” feature that displays data on deductibles.
[...]In El Paso, Tex., for example, for a husband and wife both age 35, one of the cheapest plans on the federal exchange, offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has a premium less than $300 a month, but the annual deductible is more than $12,000. For a 45-year-old couple seeking insurance on the federal exchange in Saginaw, Mich., a policy with a premium of $515 a month has a deductible of $10,000.
In Santa Cruz, Calif., where the exchange is run by the state, Robert Aaron, a self-employed 56-year-old engineer, said he was looking for a low-cost plan. The best one he could find had a premium of $488 a month. But the annual deductible was $5,000, and that, he said, “sounds really high.”
My guess is that most of the people who have been buying plans would have been comparison shopping based on the premium. They have no idea about this high deductible. So what they’ve really signed up for is to pay $300 a month or so for what amounts to no health care coverage whatsoever – they will probably not reach the limit of the deductible. Is it any wonder that the Democrats voted to exempt themselves (and their political allies) from their own health care policy?