, Kingston, NH

October 31, 2013


Carriage Towne News

---- — Obamacare

I have followed the discussion of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly called Obamacare, among the Carriage Towne News letter writers with a lot of speculation about how much health insurance policies will cost, whether the plans will be affordable, and if the new health care plans offered in our state will be better than the insurance available before the passage of the law. All those questions can be answered now, because the health insurance companies offering policies in New Hampshire have now published their prices and policy terms.

I received the cancellation notice for our family’s policy from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield on Friday. We have been paying $1,047 per month for our family of four, with a $10,000 deductible. Like many people, we chose a high deductible policy to keep our monthly payments affordable, and to provide us with insurance in case somebody in our family became seriously ill or injured.

Anthem, which is the only company available through the health insurance exchange, and therefore the only company for which federal subsidies are available, provides quotations for their policies, along with the terms and conditions of the policies on their web site. You can see them there for yourself.

Using their website, I obtained quotes for their new Obamacare compliant policies, which we have to switch to in 2014. The prices were high, so I started out by dropping one of our children, since he can get less costly and better coverage himself. With my wife, myself, and one child, the least costly “Bronze” level policy will cost $1,359 per month, a 30% increase. The plan still has a $10,000 deductible, with a $12,000 out of pocket maximum.

But the fine print tells a much more alarming story. The plan and all the other Anthem plans offered through the exchange to individuals, does not provide any benefits for out of network hospitals or physicians. That means that you have no insurance for when you need it most, when you have to see doctors at or be admitted to the major hospitals in Boston. In fact, many hospitals within New Hampshire aren’t included in the new Anthem plans either, so the policy won’t pay for you to be admitted to those hospitals either. But that’s an inconvenience, not a life or death matter.

We have many talented physicians in New Hampshire, and quality hospitals too, but apart from the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, we don’t have any large research and specialty hospitals. For many complex medical situations, patients are referred to the major research hospitals in Boston for care. It is not a pleasant thing to think about, but the kind of illness or injury that you really need insurance for often requires very specialized care.. An insurance policy which doesn’t cover many Boston-area hospitals and doctors, puts families in a position they should never be in, which is essentially without the benefit of any health insurance when it really matters.

The politicians who voted for and supported Obamacare promised us a lot of benefits, like lower premiums, no caps on benefits, and that we could keep our doctors and even our health plans. None of their promises are true for the plans offered in New Hampshire by Anthem, the only provider available through the healthcare exchange.

And nobody would have believed that as part of health care reform we would end up with more expensive insurance policies that don’t pay for the truly critical lifesaving medical care provided only at major research hospitals.

Obamacare was supposed to protect middle-class families from bankruptcy due to high medical expenses. But no family should have to make the choice between taking a sick child to Children’s Hospital and bankruptcy because their insurance company now refuses to cover treatment at Children’s Hospital when they used to cover treatment at any hospital before Obamacare was enacted.

We’ve reached the point in time where we can see what Obamacare will actually do for us, and so far it seems to be a giant step backwards.

Robert Dezmelyk