Health care premiums skyrocket here

Published 10:25 am Monday, October 28, 2013

Nearly a month into the enrollment period for Obamacare, local residents are seeing their insurance rates skyrocket.

Plagued by criticism of glitches in the website and other early enrollment snags, the hefty price increases are just another issue with the health care law.

The Journal polled its Facebook friends to see what increases they are seeing.

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Brantley resident Kevin Gulley said his monthly premium went up from $352 a month to $664.42 a month. His deductible also increased.

Beth Higgins said her coverage has increased $250 in addition to the $473 she already pays for “bottom of the barrel coverage.”

“My yearly family deductible went from $1,500 to $4,000. Tax it or be taxed. Affordable health care? I think not,” she said. “It’s insane that we have to accept this ridiculous mess.”

Windy Smith said her monthly premiums went up 99 percent.

“My out of pocket and deductibles more than doubled,” she said. “I am glad some find it affordable. Maybe they can find the extra $6,000 in 2014 to pay for mine.”

Alabama’s primary provider is Blue Cross Blue Shield, which issued an explanation on Affordable Care Act premium calculator changes.

BCBS’s website explains that there are new regulations that govern how premiums are calculated.

“For the individual market, this means each person on an insurance policy will now be rated based on age, whether he or she uses tobacco, and the county in which the policy holder lives,” a statement on the website reads.

“For the small group market, this means each person on an employer’s plan will now be rated based on age and the employer’s principal business address.”

For family plans, most family members will now be rated individually, which is a drastic change. Blue Cross was previously able to offer one family premium no matter the size in some cases.

“Once each person has been rated, the amounts are added together to get a family’s premium cost. For children age 20 and younger, the oldest three children will be individually rated and included in the family premium amount. Any additional children age 20 and younger will not be added to the total cost.”

The health care law also eliminated health underwriting and waiting periods for preexisting conditions.

Previously, the state had allowed medical underwriting, which allowed companies to charge less for premiums for those who were younger and healthier than those who were older, and had health issues.

Still, many Americans will reap the benefits of the health care expansion since they are guaranteed coverage regardless of their medical histories.

Low-income families now have access to comprehensive coverage at little or no cost to them.

Still, there have been multiple glitches in the website and it is unclear how many people have actually successfully completed an application.

The Department of Health and Human Services said answers should released in mid-November.

The site’s most recent issue – its data services hub went down on Sunday.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the issues that have plagued the health care exchange website since its Oct. 1 launch.