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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Lack of Competition, High Rates in Alabama

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Aside from ads urging people to enroll, BlueCross, an independent nonprofit, is saying little except that existing plans won't comply with the law in 2014 and that new requirements such as accepting consumers with medical problems are affecting premiums. CEO Terry Kellogg declined to grant an interview.

KHN's Examination Of Cancellation Letters

Kaiser Health News reviewed nine cancellation letters sent to largely healthy consumers from ages 22 to 63 across the state who buy health insurance directly from Alabama BlueCross. The company offered new plans at price increases ranging from 38 percent to 100 percent - before government subsidies are factored in.

Consumers with incomes of up to about $46,000 for individuals and $94,000 for a family of four get tax credits to help cover the premiums. An online calculator showed Robin Cotton, a Democrat and real estate agent who lives outside Huntsville, that her family's premium for a medium-level silver policy would slightly decline next year after subsidies are included to $282, she said.

Insurers may offer several types of plans under the health law ranging from a bronze policy, which pays 60 percent of an average patient's costs for essential benefits, to platinum, which covers 90 percent of average costs.

With an income of about $76,000 for a household of two, Beth Biggs, 49, a nonprofit executive in Montgomery who describes herself as a political independent, said she won't qualify for subsidies.

Under the replacement silver plan offered by BlueCross, her monthly premium would rise 38 percent to $345 and her deductible would increase from $750 to $2,000. She's not especially mollified by the health law requirement that plans cover essential benefits, eliminate caps on claims and limit annual out-of-pocket costs to $6,350 for single coverage.

"Those of us who were hoping this was going to be a good thing are now realizing we're going to be helping a few people, but we’re going to be hurting so many middle class families," she said. "We just never thought we would be dealing with this. It wasn't even on our radar."

Fri, Nov 1 2013

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