Editorial- Obamacare: Pay more, get less in 2017

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is not very affordable.

Raven Taylor/The Collegian
Raven Taylor/The Collegian

Starting Jan. 1, it will be even less affordable. The next president will have a lot of cleaning up to do.

First, premium rates are going up. Some people will get off with only a 25 percent increase, but others in Arizona are facing a whopping 116 percent increase. Most increases are hundreds of dollars, not nickels and dimes.

Second, many insurance companies currently on the exchanges have announced they will not participate next year, leaving customers with fewer choices. In some places, people will have only one insurance carrier − there will be no choice.

Third, most doctors don’t take Obamacare.

Open enrollment began Nov. 1, and people began getting letters from the government informing them of their fate: higher premiums, loss of carrier or both.

This is a rude awakening, a shock and may be financial ruin for many.

The promises of President Obama − “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” and “It will be affordable” − have both turned out to be untrue for most people on Obamacare.

After paying expensive premiums, people will be faced with huge deductibles of $3,000-$8,000 per person before the insurance will pay anything. So unless they have a major accident or some catastrophic medical event, insurance will not pay anything.

In other words, you better hope you are never sick enough to use what you pay for.

Families meeting certain income criteria qualify for subsidies, which means the government will pay part of the premium. They still have those hefty deductibles, however. So, many of the people this law was supposedly designed to help aren’t even going to the doctor.

One great thing about Obamacare is children can remain on their parent’s insurance policy until age 25. However, if a couple adds children to their plan, the price goes up − it usually doubles. It’s often cheaper for parents to pay the fine for their children than it is to add them to the monthly policy premium.

One problem with those “free” subsidies: They are based on projected annual income. If you are an unemployed college student from January-June, you will receive subsidies. Great! Then, in July, you get the job of your dreams, and your income goes up … wait for it … when you do your taxes next year, you will be horrified to learn that you must pay back those subsidies. Sometimes, it’s thousands of dollars.

Many people simply miscalculate their annual income. It’s just an honest mistake, so they receive subsidies. They, too, will discover next year at tax time they must pay it back.

Those who don’t sign up for Obamacare or prove they have private insurance can be punished with a fine. Many younger people are opting to pay the fine as it’s less than the premium. So, the government wants to force them to pay for something they can’t use, can’t afford and may not need.

Finally, taxpayers must attach a form from the exchange when they file their taxes. Thousands of incorrect forms were generated and mailed to people all over the country this year for 2015. For many, this meant late or inaccurate tax filings, resulting in penalties and, in some instances, higher taxes.

What started out as a good idea in theory has become a nightmare in reality. It’s now one big catastrophic mess.

The White House blames insurance companies for this mess, but businesses exist to make money. If a company does not make money, they will cease to exist. This fatal error in the policy was not taken into consideration when designed.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to expect that Obamacare will be fixed any time soon. Those who wrote and signed this into law will never use it. They are exempt from Obamacare. They have exempted themselves from the very law that will quite literally mean life or death for many Americans.

This whole situation is worse than a mess. It’s an outrage.