by Jim Tynen
North Carolinians are growing more outraged as they find out what the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is really doing to their finances and their ability to control their health care.
At the Civitas Institute, we have been compiling stories people have sent in about the new law. These stories do a better job of highlighting the problems than all the nation's politicians did before enrollment opened Oct. 1.
It starts with sticker shock. As one woman told us: "We cannot pay double the premium for less coverage in our budget. This is our grocery money."
Plus, don't forget the hidden costs, especially higher deductibles and co-pays, for flimsier coverage. People are paying more, but getting less.
One man told us of his family's policies, "First, the total premiums for the two policies, with less coverage and higher deductibles and co-pay requirements increased by $8,227 per year. We do not appear to qualify for any subsidies. While in the case of accident or severe illness, another increase in out-of-pocket cost of $8,350 brings our total cost increase and exposure to $16,577."
Also, people are waking up to the health law's collateral damage. One businessman told of how his plans to start a business had been stifled by uncertainties surrounding the law.
"The whole business sector is probably curtailed from making progress in this insecure environment," he said. "If someone wanted to delay American business or crush it, they could not do a better job than [the one] being done by this earthquake change."
Many also found that they are losing their freedom to make their own choices. For instance, one couple wrote, "We first received a booklet from Blue Cross/Blue Shield that said, 'You cannot stay with your current plan, so you have to be switched to a new 2014 plan.'"
President Obama and his fellow Democrats said over and over that "if you like your policy, you can keep it." But North Carolinians are finding out they can't, and they don't have much say in what happens. Many people are telling us that they are being shunted into a new policy without prior input.
In other ways, it isn't really your plan. When many saw their new coverage, they basically echoed one person who told us, "Oh, I see, I also get maternity and newborn care coverage (did I mention I am 50?), I get increased mental health and substance abuse services (I have never drank, smoked or used any drugs in my entire life), I get pediatric services including oral and vision (for the children I have never had.)"
In other words, you aren't covering your own health; you are putting your money into a pot to cover everyone else in the country. That makes the law fundamentally unfair: You are paying not for your own needs, but the needs of others.
That's especially true if you are young. One person reported: "My NC Blue Cross/Blue Shield went from $44/month to $255/month as a single, male, Asian 30 year old! Is there anything I can do!?"
The answer is - no. If you are young and/or healthy, you are subsidizing the health care of others. More and more people across the state are waking up to the unfairness of this scheme.
Finally, many objected to the way Obamacare will undermine their independence.
One person noted that if her family gets a subsidy, that comes out of their tax payments anyway. "Either way the government (subsidy) is wrong. We do not want to go on the government exchange anyway. We hope if we keep our private insurance, no matter how expensive, we might avoid the government intervention in our healthcare decisions."
Another revealed, "My daughter and her family are already in bankruptcy. Per the advertisements, they should probably qualify for a subsidy. However, they don't want to be on the government dole any more than most folks. Enough!"
These health-care horror stories can be found at Icouldntkeepmyplan.com.
Unfortunately, more stories will undoubtedly be rolling in about the new health care regimen - until the new law can be repealed and replaced with a free-enterprise solution.
— Jim Tynen is Communications Director at the Civitas Institute in Raleigh.