Originally published November 10 2014
Even under Obamacare, most insured people can't handle medical costs
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) If you recall the great Obamacare debates of 2009 and 2010, you likely remember that one of the sales pitches being made to Americans by President Obama and backers of the Affordable Care Act was that, well, it would make healthcare more affordable.
As reported by The Associated Press recently, the passage of Obamacare and the various coverage options offered under state and federal exchanges still has not alleviated much of the costs associated with staying healthy in America. In fact, according to new statistics, one in four privately insured adults have said they don't believe that they could afford to pay for an unexpected illness or injury:
A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research may help explain why President Barack Obama faces such strong headwinds in trying to persuade the public that his health care law is holding down costs.
The survey found the biggest financial worries among people with so-called high-deductible plans that require patients to pay a big chunk of their medical bills each year before insurance kicks in.
'Plan costs more than just paying the bill outright'
And incidentally, because of the law's basic coverage requirements, that's why plans are increasing in cost -- which is why millions of Americans have plans with such high deductibles to begin with.
Those kinds of plans already amounted to a rising share of employer-sponsored coverage. But now, the AP reported, they are also becoming standard fare within the new health insurance exchanges created by the law.
Consider the case of Edward Frank, of Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania. The AP said he bought a plan that comes with a $6,000 deductible through the federal Healthcare.gov exchange last year. Granted, that figure is in the high range, as deductibles for the more popular Silver plans are averaging about $3,100 a year, but that is still a lot for average Americans.
"Unless you get desperately ill and in the hospital for weeks, it's going to cost you more to have this plan and pay the premiums than to pay the bill just outright," Frank, who ended up paying $4,000 of his own money for treatment of shoulder pain, told the AP.
"The deductibles are so high, you don't get much of anything out of it," Frank, who is in his 50s and looking for a new job, added.
Here are some of the other key findings of the poll -- mostly that Americans are responding to the high cost of staying insured (as required by law) in ways that are not necessarily conducive to health:
-- The poll found that 19 percent of all privately insured adults admitted to not seeing a doctor when they were sick or injured because of what it would cost them out-of-pocket. The figure rose to 29 percent among Americans with high-deductible plans.
-- About 17 percent said they decided against a recommended test or treatment; the figure rose to 23 percent among high-deductible plan holders.
-- Some 18 percent said they went without a prescribed physical exam or other preventive care; 24 percent of high-deductible plan holders said as much.
The AP further noted:
Sandra Chapman, a warehouse worker from Memphis, said she had to go without cholesterol medication last year because of issues with her prescription coverage. Instead of taking pills, she changed her diet.
HHS Secretary: 'Blame the consumer'
"They only cover certain stuff and, I don't know, the rules change all the time," Chapman, in her early 30s, told the newswire service.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the Health and Human Services secretary, blamed health insurance consumers (as did the president). She said consumers just didn't understand how to buy insurance or how to use plans once cards arrived in the mail. That kind of arrogance can only come from someone (like a government official or lawmaker) who is getting their insurance compliments of the U.S. taxpayer.
"People need to understand how to use their health care," said Burwell. "We need to spend time educating people."
More Americans would rather Washington spend its time getting rid of Obamacare and the government's involvement in the health insurance industry altogether; nothing of what Obamacare's proponents have said the law would do has come to pass.
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