What’s So Affordable About It?

That’s the question Shauntrel, a health insurance agent in Colorado, hears daily. Since September, her office has been getting calls non-stop from people who are infuriated by the skyrocketing rates.

“People in our area have started getting their health insurance notices about the new Affordable Care Act. They are very upset, and they have every right to be,” said Shauntrel. “The rates are so bad it’s hard to describe.”

Shauntrel sympathizes with those who are undergoing massive sticker shock, because she has personally experienced the unaffordability factor of Obamacare herself. Receiving employer coverage, the cost to cover her husband and two children jumped $300 per month with a new $6,300 deductible.

“The $2,500-promised savings is not happening for my family. Our premium went up $3,600 a year. American families are caught in the middle. People cannot come up with an extra $300 a month in this economy no matter how hard they try – people just cannot do it. This law is a middle-class disaster.”

Luckily, one of the insurance carriers in Colorado decided early on to extend their 2013 policies, which allowed Shauntrel to move some of her clients, and her family, to a more financially feasible plan. “If the carrier would not have chosen to do this, many would have dropped their coverage and gone without, including my family.”

For one of her clients, the affordability issue is just the tip of the iceberg; simply enrolling is an impossible task.

“I have spent hours with the people at the exchange trying to get a lady, who’s a breast cancer patient, enrolled. That was a week ago, and I still have not been able to get her signed up. I have her full application on my desk, because the website has been an issue,” Shauntrel vented.

Even for those who’ve successfully been enfolded into the system, the results have been nonperforming. For Shane Smith, it was his dog Baxter, not him, that received a letter stating that a Connect for Health Colorado account had been opened. Shane stated, “It was pretty funny. Typical Obamacare, that they would insure your dog by mistake.” It’s not so funny or comforting when you are a cancer patient, who is wishing to get coverage and hoping nothing goes wrong.

To make matters worse in Colorado, 90% of enrollees have opted for Medicaid. As NCBR reported, “Connect for Health Colorado has enrolled 3,408 people [private insurance] compared with 34,168 new Medicaid enrollees under the expanded Medicaid eligibility requirements.” This unbalanced enrollment could seriously threaten the entire system’s structure.

“Gail Wilensky, a former Medicaid director, said the numbers are causing concern in the insurance industry…”Either the private insurance enrollments come up somewhere around the expected amount or there’s going to be a problem. … You need a volume and you need a mix of people that are healthy as well as high users in private insurance, in order to have it be sustainable,” she said.”

Many in Colorado and across the nation share Shauntrel’s sentiment. “This whole thing is awful. I hope the law is thrown out, because it cannot go on like this. People simply can’t afford it.”