“Startling” observations on Obamacare 

The New York Times has made some “startling” observations. 

If you get insurance through work, you don’t have to worry too much about this news (Obamacare rising premiums). The health law is much bigger than just the Obamacare exchanges, and many of the new rules offer protections against having coverage that is too skimpy.

Your health plan must cover basic services, like drugs and hospitalization; basic preventive services provided by your doctor, like a checkup, a flu shot or a mammogram, can be free. But while you may feel as if you’re paying more for your medical care, premiums for employer-based insurance have been increasing at historically low rates.

Premiums for the average single person in the employer market are the same this year as they were in 2015, according to a large survey of employers from the Kaiser Family Foundation; prices for most family plans are rising by 3 percent.

What has probably changed is the size of your deductible, which has been going up steadily. Employers have been shifting costs to their workers, a trend that began long before Obamacare went into effect.

Of course, federal tax dollars pay for the subsidies for low-income people who buy insurance in Obamacare markets — about $32 billion this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. If premiums go up by more than 20 percent every year, that will put pressure on the federal budget.

There is that word free again. Nope, nothing is free and all that free new coverage adds to costs and thus higher premiums. 

And why have employer plan premiums moderated? Well because they have been cost shifting for years. Your premium may not increase much, but your out-of-pocket costs sure have and you are probably paying a bigger share of the premium as well, not to mention that overall inflation has been low which is also a factor in health care pricing. 

What has happened, with some justification, is that the users of health care are paying more while moderate or non-users are getting a break via premiums. This works for awhile, but can become a heavy burden on some families with high health care costs and takes money from potential savings for college and retirement. 

Oh, to clarify, Obamacare premium subsidies are not limited to what most people would consider low-income. A family of four in my zip code earning $70,000 a year (above the household national average) receives $159 a month premium credit under Obamacare. 

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