My Family’s ObamaCare Ordeal

I recently wrote an article explaining that my family which includes me, my wife, and two small children, saw our health insurance canceled due to the new health care law known as “ObamaCare.” We had an “individual” health savings account (HSA) which covered the four of us and cost $344 a month. That plan was supplemented by a savings account funded by my employer with pre-tax contributions.

I have had an individual HSA through Blue Cross since I began with the Rio Grande Foundation in early 2006.

We were very happy with our plan. It wasn’t perfect, but it covered our family at a reasonable cost and it gave us strong incentives to control costs and prioritize our health care spending. Of course, things happen and we did use the plan. Earlier this year, for example, we had two emergency room visits within a short time period to take care of a gall bladder issue. Thankfully, because our plan had a savings account component, we had pre-tax savings in place to take care of these bills.

Unfortunately, like thousands of other New Mexicans, in early October, we got the news that our health insurance policy was being cancelled at years-end.

The cancellation of our policy meant that starting on November 15 we had to start the search for a new plan. We had heard the nightmares about the glitches with and, thankfully, didn’t experience any of those. That website and the others relating to our search for a new health insurance policy worked well.

The bad news is that when we finally did find health insurance policies that made sense for our family, the prices were far higher than our current plan. The “bare-bones” plans started just north of $500 (an increase of about 50 percent).

Ultimately, we settled on a Presbyterian HMO “Silver” plan costing $722 per month. The plan is better than our current plan in some ways and worse in others. Of course, with a price that is more than double that of our current plan, this represents a significant additional financial burden on me and my family.

The Rio Grande Foundation opposed “ObamaCare” and further federal involvement in America’s health care system for principled philosophical reasons. It was impossible to know at the time just how personally costly this law would end up being.

Unfortunately, our experience is undoubtedly not unique in New Mexico or across the nation.

Paul Gessing is the President of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility

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26 Replies to “My Family’s ObamaCare Ordeal”

  1. Man who gets paid by anti-government zealots, makes twice the median income of the state complains about paying for insurance. Film at 11.

    1. No, I’m fine paying for insurance. What I’m not fine with is seeing the price of my policy rise by 110% for no good reason but the political promises one man made to his left-wing supporters.

      And yes, I make good money because I have been successful in my work and not many people can do what I do.

      1. I think a lot of people can copy and paste national talking points pretty easily.

        You failed to mention that healthcare increases are actually curving DOWN for a majority of Americans. You may want to talk to someone outside of your high income bracket or economists paid by the CATO Institute.

        1. Richard, you talk about national talking points when I’m referring to personal experience. Which do you prefer? I have plenty of reasons to oppose ObamaCare and did so long before my plan was canceled.

          As to your second claim that ObamaCare has reduced price increases in health care, that is unlikely.

          1. I’m not sure how to respond to this, because the language seems odd to me.

            You state that you “had an ‘individual’ health savings account (HSA) which covered the four of us and cost $344 a month. That plan was supplemented by a savings account funded by my employer with pre-tax contributions.”

            How much went into your HSA and how much went toward your insurance policy? Because HSAs have both of those components, and they are done separately (and you can still get HSAs–that’s what I have.)

          2. $344 purchased the insurance policy. That is now $722 (post-ObamaCare). $500 was contributed to the savings account portion on a monthly basis and that will continue under the new plan.

          3. $86/person/month?

            Quite a deal. Hard to judge whether it was a good deal, considering the spotty information you’ve provided about the coverage.

          4. Yeah, our prior plan was pretty good. Our new ObamaCare-friendly plan is more robust in some ways, not as good in other ways, despite being more than double the cost. I’m not going to go into all the mundane details of the various various plans and it really doesn’t matter. Through an arbitrary and ill-advised law, my family is being forced to pay quite a bit more for our health insurance. We’d prefer to stick with our old plan, but this is impossible.

          5. Paul, is it creating a hardship for your family to pay the increased cost?

            Also, you haven’t provided any details about how your coverage has changed. Should a member of your family face a serious medical condition, how would your financial situation be different now compared to under your old coverage?

            You’re “talking personal experience.” What about the personal experiences of those who are now able to afford health insurance? Should we just ignore them?

          6. I can afford to put food on the table if that’s what you’re asking. But I could be out traveling or spending money in some other way, rather than dumping that money unnecessarily into health care. So it is not just me and my family that is being harmed, but the restaurant down the street etc.

            I am not going into incredible detail on how the plans stack up, but this is the basic outline of the new plan.

          7. Again, what about the personal experiences of the many people who now can afford health insurance?

            How about the people who will not go bankrupt because of their medical bills?

            It seems as though you want us all to care about your having to pay a few bucks more, and ignore the many people who are better off because of the Affordable Care Act.

          8. By and large people are not able to “afford” health insurance where they were not previously. They are either receiving Medicaid which is a second-rate welfare program with little to no proven health improvements or they are receiving other government subsidies to purchase insurance. These subsidies are paid for by taxpayers themselves or by removing resources from other areas of the economy.

            If ObamaCare were true “reform” it would have enabled patients to obtain high quality health care for the same or less REAL cost. That is not the case because the law was not real reform it merely shifted costs. It was a sellout to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

          9. Some of the increase in people who are now insured is because of the subsidies, to be sure. But there are other important factors, like the ban on blacklisting people because they’ve gotten sick in the past.

            Also, requiring health insurers to have premiums pay for actual health care is an important step.

            Could the law have been better? Of course. A better bill passed the House, but was blocked by House Republicans.

            You’ve stated that the ACA caused your family an “ordeal.” But that seems like a big stretch, especially since you’ve only provided one part of the equation — the extra cost.

            You are unwilling to compare the before and after of coverage, and you are unwilling to tell us how much your family earns. If you make $50k a year, then it’s a hardship. If you make $30k a year, you should be able to get some subsidies. If you make $250k a year, then it really is not a big deal.

          10. By the way, it’s a bit absurd to be complaining about an insurance subsidy. By it’s very nature, insurance involves subsidies. Those who have to use it subsidize those who don’t.

          11. It’s funny how right-wingers see subsidies that help others as bad, while ignoring many other subsidies.

            Air travel is subsidized.

            Car travel is subsidized.

            Home ownership is subsidized.

            I haven’t seen calls from so-called conservatives for air travelers, motorists, or home owners to pay the full cost of their activities.

          12. Not really. Some “right-wingers,” whatever that term means…

            Privatize the airports and air traffic control and eliminate the taxes on these areas. Get the government out of road construction and maintenance starting with the Interstate Highways. This is being proposed right now by conservatives in DC.

            Most definitely, get rid of the home ownership tax subsidy. Again, this has been discussed. You are just picking and choosing your arguments and haven’t actually researched these issues at all.

          13. Oh there may be some theoretical opposition to those subsidies, but how many bills have been passed by the G.O.P.-controlled House in the last 4 years to do away with them, as opposed to the 50+ votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act?

            How many blog postings have there been on prominent “conservative” sites proposing elimination of those subsidies, as opposed to the thousands proposing elimination of the ACA?

            How many posts (not comments) have you made proposing elimination of those subsidies?

          14. There have been bills introduced to return control of most federal transportation money to the states. This would be a huge start. Repealing ObamaCare is only a start to bringing needed reform to American health care. Also need to address tax treatment of health care that incentivizes 3rd party payment and insurance company involvement. Republicans are definitely not where they need to be, but at least they are not pimping a total government takeover.

          15. “Repealing ObamaCare is only a start to bringing needed reform to American health care.”

            Oh, that’s just ridiculous.

            Prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage just because people have been sick in the past is a HUGE improvement. Requiring insurance companies to spend the money they get from premiums on actual health care is a huge improvement.

            “There have been bills introduced to return control of most federal transportation money to the states.”

            Still a subsidy. You haven’t provided a single example of a bill to end any of those subsidies.

  2. In 2013 we were paying $194.45 per month for a Presbyterian 4,000 deductible HSA for my wife and I. In late 2013 we received our cancellation notice (in spite of Tom Udall’s promise) and our new premium for a similar plan is currently $678.24. As of next month our premium will be $897.82. I am not very good at math but Obama’s promise of saving $1,500 per year would imply that he too doesn’t tell the truth.

  3. My parents premiums have gone through the roof (more than doubled), and they are self-employed. So far my family’s premiums are up, but not that much.

    J.Q. claims insurance is always about subsidies, but comparing a voluntary insurance pool to a mandatory insurance pool is apples to oranges. If we, as a society, are going to subsidize medical care for the very poor, we should do just that. This Obamacare scheme is about manipulative cost shifting in order to create a new middle-class entitlement that is mostly off-the-books.

    1. That damned Obamacare:

      Also, all you folks are talking about your premiums going up, but that’s not the total of your health care costs. It also includes any out-of-pocket expenses, and none of you have compared those, nor have you looked at the financial impacts if you were to get seriously ill.

      If you are paying twice as much, but won’t go bankrupt if you get sick, I’d say that’s likely a positive.

  4. Very few of the Obamacare’s detractors seem to be considering that their “just as good” coverage that they were replacing, was likely riddled with loopholes and ways for the insurer to deny coverage, which have been closed under Obamacare. So just because you were being sold insurance which was so crappy that it’s now illegal, don’t blame the fact that you’re paying more now on some kind of liberal conspiracy. I don’t seem to recall such a vitriolic attack on Romneycare…

    1. I assure you that the Rio Grande Foundation was never a supporter of RomneyCare.

      Also, I’m not sure why mandating that everyone who buys health insurance must buy a more expensive type of policy. It’s like mandating that everyone who buys a new car buys a Cadillac or better. That’s hardly freedom. Insurance should be used for unforeseen health issues, not as “pre-paid” health care. Truly, this problem preceded ObamaCare, but Obama took us a big step or two in the wrong direction.

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