Barack Obama Signs the Healthcare ActSome months after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare -- was passed in 2010, I got a letter from my insurance provider. Blue Shield of California was kindly informing me that my rates were going up considerably, “due to new regulations in the health care industry.”
More recently, I got another letter saying that my doctor I’ve been going to for a decade no longer accepts my insurance. It did not say anything about Obamacare specifically, but I’m pretty sure that the President said that if I liked my doctor, I could keep my doctor, so that’s another promise broken.
Then recently, I read in the news that Blue Shield is looking to raise their rates again. This proposed 12-20 percent hike would affect some 300,000 customers starting in March. Some critics say the nonprofit company shouldn't raise rates while their reserves are at a record high of $3.9 billion, but Blue Shield claims it’s necessary.
Health insurance companies have to keep money in reserve to make sure they’ll be able to pay out any claims filed, and Blue Shield has made clear that this money “has been put aside for the future benefit of its policyholders.”
So why the rate jump? The company expects higher costs due to an influx of new participants under the federal healthcare law in 2014. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime change in the health care market that will bring a lot of volatility, and we need higher reserves for that,” said Blue Shield spokeswoman Lindy Wagner. Even then, the company expects to lose money in the individual insurance market in 2013.
Blue Shield is hardly the only company passing along increased costs to consumers. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has said that Obamacare’s provisions will likely double some customers' premiums. Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna, Kaiser Permanente, United Health Group, and more have all announced that they will be substantially raising rates in the coming months.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, average family premiums have risen 4.5 percent this year -- double the rate of inflation. And that comes on top of a 9.5 percent increase last year. That means that since Obamacare was enacted, family premiums have jumped up nearly $2,000.
Our healthcare system was already stretched to its limits before Obama decided to take it over. Now we have increased demand, higher costs, longer lifespans, aging Boomers, a doctor shortage ... it’s the perfect recipe for a mammoth financial risk for insurance companies. No wonder they’re charging more.
Have your health care costs gone up?
Image via Leader Nancy Pelosi/Flickr