Quantcast

Obamacare is killing the middle class. True or False

Mamaknows 2013/12/21 06:55:15
You!
Add Photos & Videos
Ginger Chapman and her husband, Doug, are sitting on the health care cliff.
The cheapest insurance plan they can find through the new federal marketplace in New Hampshire will cost their family of four about $1,000 a month, 12 percent of their annual income of around $100,000 and more than they have ever paid before.

Even more striking, for the Chapmans, is this fact: If they made just a few thousand dollars less a year — below $94,200 — their costs would be cut in half, because a family like theirs could qualify for federal subsidies.

The Chapmans acknowledge that they are better off than many people, but they represent a little-understood reality of the Affordable Care Act. While the act clearly benefits those at the low end of the income scale — and rich people can continue to afford even the most generous plans — people like the Chapmans are caught in the uncomfortable middle: not poor enough for help, but not rich enough to be indifferent to cost.

“We are just right over that line,” said Ms. Chapman, who is 54 and does administrative work for a small wealth management firm. Because their plan is being canceled, she is looking for new coverage for her family, which includes Mr. Chapman, 55, a retired fireman who works on a friend’s farm, and her two sons. “That’s an insane amount of money,” she said of their new premium. “How are you supposed to pay that?”

An analysis by The New York Times shows the cost of premiums for people who just miss qualifying for subsidies varies widely across the country and rises rapidly for people in their 50s and 60s. In some places, prices can quickly approach 20 percent of a person’s income.

Experts consider health insurance unaffordable once it exceeds 10 percent of annual income. By that measure, a 50-year-old making $50,000 a year, or just above the qualifying limit for assistance, would find the cheapest available plan to be unaffordable in more than 170 counties around the country, ranging from Anchorage to Jackson, Miss.

A 60-year-old living in Polk County, in northwestern Wisconsin, and earning $50,000 a year, for example, would have to spend more than 19 percent of his income, or $9,801 annually, to buy one of the cheapest plans available there. A person earning $45,000 would qualify for subsidies and would pay about 5 percent of his income, or $2,228, for an inexpensive plan.

In Oklahoma City, a 60-year-old earning $50,000 could buy one of the cheapest plans for about 6.6 percent of his income, or about $3,279 a year with no subsidy. If he earned $45,000, with the benefit of a subsidy, he would spend about $2,425.

While the number of people who just miss qualifying for subsidies is unclear, many of them have made their frustration known, helping fuel criticism of the law in recent weeks. Like the Chapmans, hundreds of thousands of people have received notices that their existing plans are being canceled and that they must now pay more for new coverage.

In an effort to address that frustration, the Obama administration announced on Thursday that it would permit people whose plans had been canceled to buy bare-bones catastrophic plans, which are less expensive but offer minimal coverage. Those plans have always been available to people under 30 and to those who can prove that the least expensive plan in their area is not affordable. But the announcement does not address the concerns of those who would like to buy better coverage, yet find premiums in their area too expensive.

David Oscar, an insurance broker in New Jersey, another high-cost state, said many of his clients had been disappointed to learn that the premiums were much more expensive than they had expected.

“They’re frustrated,” he said. “Everybody was thinking that Obamacare was going to come in with more affordable rates. Well, they’re not more affordable.”

Many of the biggest provisions of the Affordable Care Act are aimed squarely at the poorest of Americans. Under the law, states have the option of expanding Medicaid to a larger pool of people with the lowest incomes. To those earning more, the law provides subsidies to people earning up to four times the federal poverty level, or $45,960 for an individual and $62,040 for a couple.

Ninety percent of the country’s uninsured population have incomes that fall below that level, according to one recent analysis. As a result, the subsidies “are well targeted for people who are uninsured or underinsured,” said Sara R. Collins, an executive with the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that finances health policy research. “That is really where the firepower of the law is focused.”

Federal assistance is based on the cost of premiums for the second-cheapest silver, or midlevel, plan in a person’s geographic area and are set so the amount the person must pay for coverage does not exceed a certain percentage of income, ranging from 2 to 9.5 percent.

Even before the announcement on Thursday giving people with canceled plans the option of buying catastrophic coverage, the law permitted people to select such plans if the price of premiums in their area exceeded 8 percent of their income. The catastrophic plans are often less expensive and include three doctor visits and free preventive care, but require someone to pay almost all of the medical bills up to a certain amount, which is usually several thousand dollars.

That is the option that the Chapmans say they are likely to choose when their current insurance plan, which costs $665 a month, expires in September. Anthem is the only insurer offering plans in the marketplace in New Hampshire, and prices there are higher than in many other parts of the country.

Some experts dismissed the varying effects of the income cutoff, saying the law’s main elements benefit most of those who could not previously buy insurance.

“I think that job one was to make sure that the people who clearly have the greatest difficulty affording premiums receive the greatest help,” said Ron Pollack, the founding executive director of Families USA, a consumer advocacy group that favored the law.

To avoid creating such steep cliffs, federal officials would have had to spend more money on the subsidies, said Larry Levitt, an executive with the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research group that is closely following the health care law. Subsidies would have been higher, and could have been more gradually phased out, he said. The design “was largely driven by budgetary decisions,” Mr. Levitt said.

The subsidy cutoff can seem especially arbitrary to people whose incomes vary from year to year, even if they stand to benefit from the law.

Christian Johnsen, a bakery owner who lives with his wife and two children in Big Sky, Mont., and has an income of about $88,000, will probably be eligible for subsidies next year. As a result, the family could buy a midlevel insurance plan for about $697 a month.

But if the bakery does better next year, the family could be asked to pay a lot more. Without any subsidy, the same plan would cost $822.

Mr. Johnsen, who is 47, said he would like to buy insurance for his family. They have gone without it for the last two years, paying out of pocket on rare visits to the doctor. But he said it is hard to justify those prices to prevent an unforeseen catastrophe when so many real-world expenses demand his attention first.

“I know absolutely that I’m going to need a new car in two years, but I don’t know that I’m going to have a catastrophic accident,” he said. “That’s the kind of debate that happens in our house.”

Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/21/business/new-hea...

Add a comment above

Top Opinion

Sort By
  • Most Raves
  • Least Raves
  • Oldest
  • Newest
Opinions

  • kelsieilesha 2014/02/09 07:54:55
    True
    kelsieilesha
    Seeing as most hospitals have this little thing called an "H-Cap" to completely cover or help pay their bills, health insurance isn't necessary for most middle class people.

    From the plans that I got to choose from, they were charging me $175 MORE than my ENTIRE monthly income because I live at the same address as my dad... which means they'd be taking money away from him... and he is disabled and has to use that money to take care of himself (ie, his surgery bills, medications, doctors visits, ect...). None of it goes to me, yet they don't care.

    Now don't get me wrong... I love what the ACA is SUPPOSED to do. Give healthcare to everyone, especially those with pre-existing conditions... but when it starts costing people so much money that they have to decide whether they want to buy food for the month or have health insurance... it's just sad and wrong.

    It's much easier to come up with the money after needing a surgery, or being in the hospital (because hospitals will allow you to pay payments. Small payments. They'll accept $20/month if that's all you have.)... than it is to be paying out the wazoo every month for something that you can't afford.
  • Avenged7 2013/12/27 00:11:51
    False
    Avenged7
    The right wingers will use any example where it may increase someones insurance, but not the majority of people that it helps. It is a lie that it is killing the middle class. If anyone wants to know what is killing the middle class then checkout the right wing and what they have been up to since Reaganomics. Union busting, big tax loopholes and tax cuts for the wealthy. Keeping wages deflated for the working class, including minimum wages for the working poor. People working for fast food make less than the people who worked fast food in 1968. These are the reasons for killing the middle class, not Obamacare.
  • Navin J... Avenged7 2014/01/09 16:38:15
    Navin Johnson (The Jerk)
    we have both sides doing it all of congress
  • JEFF 2013/12/23 02:36:06
    False
    JEFF
    Horse crap. BUSH DESTROYED THE MIDDLECLASS.
  • Zippcodey 2013/12/22 23:41:18
    True
    Zippcodey
    +1
    That's just one of the many reasons it was forcibly passed.
  • ConLibFraud 2013/12/22 23:05:11
  • rif81 2013/12/22 16:02:43
    True
    rif81
    +1
    Il ne fait que pousser un peu plus ite les gens au fond du trou préparé a
  • Mamaknows rif81 2013/12/22 18:35:45
    Mamaknows
    huh?
  • Red Branch 2013/12/22 03:18:54
    True
    Red Branch
    +1
    Yes, 0bama is killing the Middle Class, a process begun in the mid-1960s. Congress has also played a major role in this trend. However, 0bama was free to jump off the bandwagon and chart a new course, but he didn't.
  • jesse james 2013/12/22 01:19:23
    True
    jesse james
    WE WILL NEVER KNOW UNTILL IT IS IN FULL EFFECT HOWEVER.
  • goodnites boy 2013/12/21 22:07:39
    True
    goodnites boy
    what I can say is dumba**s!
  • Patent1 goodnit... 2013/12/22 00:47:57
    Patent1
    The repigs forced the republican individual mandate on everybody, and now we are stuck with it. The public option, which would have been much cheaper for everybody, looks pretty good now, doesn't it?
  • Frank 2013/12/21 20:19:08
    True
    Frank
    +2
    Socialism doesn't have a middle class, nor does a dictatorship.......
  • Patent1 2013/12/21 20:02:37
    False
    Patent1
    +1
    Most of the middle class are being helped by the ACA. You only hear about the richer people in the top 30% who are not eligible for subsidies, most of whom seem to be here on SH, or those whose employer has shifted medical costs onto them using the ACA as a smokescreen.
  • Dave 2013/12/21 17:31:53
    False
    Dave
    +2
    lol The ACA is what you Right Wingnuts wanted - and it's an insurance scam - plan. The ACA is Bob Dole's plan, Romney's - even Newt's. What would be best for all we can't have because you idiots would call it socialized medicine, though you are dumb enough to call Obamacare the same thing. My the way - ObamaCare is one great example of capitalism.

    You Right Wingnuts truly are clowns. If you want to look at the reasons - note the "S" - the reasons for the destruction of the middle class then start with Reagan and continue through to Obama. Obama's part is pretty small, but he'll get there once the TPP is passed.
  • Peewee ~PWCM~ 2013/12/21 15:54:05
    True
    Peewee ~PWCM~
  • wildemanne 2013/12/21 15:33:38
    False
    wildemanne
    +3
    next year it will get right i wouldent be surprised to find out covert republican hackers trying to sabotage it
  • Peewee ... wildemanne 2013/12/21 15:51:15
    Peewee ~PWCM~
    +2
    How did you come to that conclusion? This thing belongs to the Democrats.
  • Patent1 Peewee ... 2013/12/21 20:09:58
    Patent1
    You obviously don't know anything about it. Here is a link to the original Heritage Foundation lecture no. 218, 1989, entitled "ASSURING AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE FOR ALL AMERICANS". Robme also praised Obama for wanting to implement it nationwide, because it worked in Mass.
  • Peewee ... Patent1 2013/12/21 21:02:54
    Peewee ~PWCM~
    +2
    The deomcrats didn't use it, did they. They make their own. Ask Angel Face how they fund their nat'l health care. Way different. Ours was written by bureaucrats. And yes, the democrats own that pos.
  • Patent1 Peewee ... 2013/12/21 22:10:58
    Patent1
    I don't understand your post. its disjointed
  • Peewee ... Patent1 2013/12/21 22:19:29
    Peewee ~PWCM~
    +2
    The democrats didn't use any model but their own. Australia has a totally different way of funding and operating their health system. Ours was written by bureaucrats, theirs was written by health care professionals. This ACA sucks.
  • Patent1 Peewee ... 2013/12/22 03:30:50
    Patent1
    Not for my wife and millions of others.
  • Peewee ... Patent1 2013/12/22 03:35:24
    Peewee ~PWCM~
    +1
    Count your blessings. Ours went up 250%. Hubby cannot afford to retire, now he has to wait another 5 yrs for employee insurance if it's still available.
  • Patent1 Peewee ... 2013/12/22 04:54:32
    Patent1
    I don't know anything about the Australian insurance system. Don't you have a single payer system? What does that have to do with the US system anyway?
  • Red Branch Patent1 2013/12/22 03:21:32
    Red Branch
    +1
    Are you aware that there is an inherent difference between a state government and the Federal government?
    Or are you just putting on a showing of a special kind of stupid with you as the star.
  • Patent1 Red Branch 2013/12/22 03:33:07
    Patent1
    You are an idiot. Read all about the ACA in the Heritage Foundation document. Its almost exactly what was put into law. And if you recall, the dems wanted the public option, which would have been a lot cheaper and more efficient.
  • wildemanne Peewee ... 2013/12/22 17:16:54
    wildemanne
    i know this is difficult for a rightie but try,,,,,,, think about it
  • Patent1 wildemanne 2013/12/21 20:06:11
    Patent1
    Tat's probably what happened to the website. GI were heavy repig contributors in the last presidential election, and even gave Daryl Issa $2,000.
  • joe keeney 2013/12/21 12:31:25
    True
    joe keeney
    +4
    He just go's flying all around in Air Force One party on your tax dollars. No big deal to Democrats just pay that new tax & shut up. Remember the government can't make you buy healthcare. Just Tax the hell out of it.
  • Patent1 joe keeney 2013/12/21 20:11:33
    Patent1
    Obama doesn't "fly around" any more than any other prez. And if he goes over his allocated yearly budget for travel, he has to pay for it himself.
  • joe keeney Patent1 2013/12/21 20:37:02
    joe keeney
    +2
    Take your lies some where else sheep.
  • Patent1 joe keeney 2013/12/21 22:12:38
    Patent1
    Look it up then. But if you don't look it up, you will never know, and if you never know, you are talking out your ass.
  • joe keeney Patent1 2013/12/21 22:18:14
    joe keeney
    +3
    Yea we all seen him in that so call African funeral. Hamming it up with the blonde bimbo. Real class act at a memorial. Becoming of any Democrat idiot.
  • JustTheFacts 2013/12/21 12:30:37
    True
    JustTheFacts
    +3
    Absolutely, positively, 100% true.

    The only thing worse than obamacare for the middle class is obama himself and all the other middle class destroying policies passed during the past five years. Dodd/Frank, stimulus, cash for clunkers. EVERY law he has put his signature to having ANYTHING to do with the economy has HURT the middle class, NOT helped it!

    obama sucks
  • cut and paste king 2013/12/21 12:16:52
    False
    cut and paste king
    +2
    There's one more big squeeze hitting households: health care. Since 2002, insurance premiums have increased 97%, rising three times as fast as wages, according to Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust.
    In Mississippi, Bruister now has an $1,800 deductible, compared to $500 a few years ago. When she goes to the doctor, the bill typically tops $100 -- so she tries to avoid going.
    http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/...
  • Patent1 cut and... 2013/12/21 20:16:48
    Patent1
    So how much of a premium credit does he get? How much of a deductible credit does he get? My wife got a $196/mo reduction on her premiums over her independent plan, and the ACA is paying for 73% of her deductibles in her Silver plan. Check for yourself at www.valuepenguin.com. what is available. You can look at all the plans and the credits, and it only takes a few minutes.
  • cut and... Patent1 2013/12/21 21:00:16
    cut and paste king
    You can also apply for hardship status and your rate will be reduced more
    The purpose of this program is to make you pay what you can afford
    And if you cant afford it just tell them apply for an additional Reduction
  • Mamaknows cut and... 2013/12/22 18:44:53
    Mamaknows
    " The top 20 percent of income earners account for about 40 percent of all spending in the U.S. When you increase the costs of health care and the new taxes associated with Obamacare, you can hear the wallets closing" "
    LOLOL my wallet was closed for the last year.

    Some people's costs have gone up 190% !! That's a lot of money the government is sucking out of peoples pockets.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news...
  • StarWarsBob 2013/12/21 12:16:16
    False
    StarWarsBob
    +3
    What is the Republican alternative to Obamacare? Doing nothing and allowing the health insurance monopoly to control everything?

    The CBO stated in 2007 that without health care reform, health care would cost 25% of GDP by 2025, just 12 years away.
    http://www.cbo.gov/sites/defa...
    The GDP is expected to be $20 trillion by 2025, so health care in this country would cost over $5 trillion a year. This country already has the most expensive health care system in the world, and do we have the best health care system for the money paid out? Not by a long shot. This country is 51st in infant mortality rates and 51st in life expectancy rates for 2013. Don't believe me? Look for yourself in the CIA World Fackbook.
    https://www.cia.gov/library/p...
    https://www.cia.gov/library/p...

    What Obamacare critics fail to realize is the out of control costs of health care in this country. In 1980, the total cost of health care was $256 billion. By 2010, that cost had grown to $2.6 trillion, or 915% in 30 years. Without Obamacare, that cost would be over $5 trillion by 2025, or a 1,853% increase in 45 years, or more than DOUBLE the cost increase from 1980 to 2010 in 15 years. Who really thinks those cost increases are sustainable?
    What is the Republican alternative to Obamacare? Doing nothing and allowing the health insurance monopoly to control everything?

    The CBO stated in 2007 that without health care reform, health care would cost 25% of GDP by 2025, just 12 years away.
    http://www.cbo.gov/sites/defa...
    The GDP is expected to be $20 trillion by 2025, so health care in this country would cost over $5 trillion a year. This country already has the most expensive health care system in the world, and do we have the best health care system for the money paid out? Not by a long shot. This country is 51st in infant mortality rates and 51st in life expectancy rates for 2013. Don't believe me? Look for yourself in the CIA World Fackbook.
    https://www.cia.gov/library/p...
    https://www.cia.gov/library/p...

    What Obamacare critics fail to realize is the out of control costs of health care in this country. In 1980, the total cost of health care was $256 billion. By 2010, that cost had grown to $2.6 trillion, or 915% in 30 years. Without Obamacare, that cost would be over $5 trillion by 2025, or a 1,853% increase in 45 years, or more than DOUBLE the cost increase from 1980 to 2010 in 15 years. Who really thinks those cost increases are sustainable?
    (more)

See Votes by State

The map above displays the winning answer by region.

News & Politics

2014/11/28 21:09:17

Hot Questions on SodaHead
More Hot Questions

More Community More Originals