NBC News - Health Insurance Plans Canceled

Every day, it’s becoming clear that no one in the individual insurance market (who bought a plan after Obamacare passed) is safe from the dreaded cancellation notices.

Such was the case recently for “cradle Democrats” and self-described Obama supporters Lee Hammack and his wife, JoEllen Brothers.

According to ProPublica, the San Francisco couple had been paying $550 a month for health coverage from Kaiser Permanente. However, Kaiser recently told the couple the plan would be canceled at the end of the year because it didn’t comply with Obamacare.

The author of ProPublica’s story says he was skeptical of the couple’s account and tried to determine if they were truly worse off from the cancellation:

So I tried to find flaws in what Hammack told me. I couldn’t find any.

  • The couple’s existing Kaiser plan was a good one.
  • Their new options were indeed more expensive, and the benefits didn’t seem any better.
  • They do not qualify for premium subsidies because they make more than four times the federal poverty level, though Hammack says not by much.

For Hammack, his canceled plan had a $4,000 deductible per person, $40 copay for doctor visits, $150 emergency room visit fee, 30 percent coinsurance for hospital stays after the deductible, and an out-of-pocket maximum of $5,600.

The new Kaiser plans available to the couple cost nearly $1,300 a month, or $15,000 more a year. They will have a higher deductible of $4,500, higher out-of-pocket maximum, higher hospital coinsurance of 40 percent, as well as higher costs for doctor visits and drug coverage.

The ProPublica author found Kaiser has canceled 160,000 plans in California, with a third being in plans like the one Hammack had — one the writer noted wasn’t a substandard plan, as the President has alleged in recent remarks.

Perhaps the saddest part of this story is Hammack’s plan going forward. Rather than find patient-centered solutions, Hammack said he is leaning toward earning less so that his family can qualify for Obamacare subsidies.

We’re not changing our views because of this situation, but it hurt to hear Obama saying, just the other day, that if our plan has been dropped it’s because it wasn’t any good, and our costs would go up only slightly.

We’re gratified that the press is on the case, but frustrated that the stewards of the ACA don’t seem to have heard.