ObamaCare is destroying the private individual market for health insurance by design, not accident. For hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of self-employed job creators, three fundamental ObamaCare truths are becoming as clear as Obama's growing nose: 1) You can't keep it. 2) We're screwed. 3) The do-gooders don't care.
Like an estimated 22 million other Americans, I am a self-employed small-business owner who buys health insurance for my family directly on the individual market. We have a high-deductible PPO plan that allows us to choose from a wide range of doctors.
Or rather, we had such a plan.
Last week, our family received notice from Anthem BlueCross BlueShield of Colorado that we can no longer keep the plan we like because of "changes from health care reform (also called the Affordable Care Act or ACA)." The letter informed us that "(t)o meet the requirements of the new laws, your current plan can no longer be continued beyond your 2014 renewal date."
In short: Obama lied. My health plan died.
Remember? Our president looked America straight in the eye and promised: "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also lied when she pledged: "Keep your doctor, and your current plan, if you like them."
This isn't just partisan business. It's personal. Our cancellation letter states that Anthem is "not going to be selling new individual PPO plans." When we asked whether we could keep our children's doctors, an agent for Anthem told my husband and me she didn't know. The insurer has no details available yet on what exactly they'll be offering. We either will be herded into the ObamaCare federal health insurance exchange regime (launching October 1), a severely limited HMO plan, or presented with costlier alternatives from another insurer. If they even exist.
My family is not alone. Across the country, insurers are sending out ObamaCare-induced health plan death notices to untold tens of thousands of other customers in the individual market. Twitter users are posting their ObamaCare cancellation notices and accompanying rate increases:
Linda Deright posted her letter from Regency of Washington state: "63 percent jump, old policy of 15 yrs. cancelled." Karen J. Dugan wrote: "Received same notice from Blue Shield CA for our small business. Driving into exchange and no info since online site is down." Chris Birk wrote: "Got notice from BCBS that my current health plan is not ACA compliant. New plan 2x as costly for worse coverage." Small-business owner Villi Wilson posted his letter from HMSA Blue Cross Blue Shield canceling his individual plan and added: "I thought Obama said if I like my health care plan I can keep my health care plan."
Few among Washington's protected political class are paying attention, because they enjoy their lucrative government benefits and are exempted from ObamaCare’s destructive consequences. But one of my state's congressional representatives, GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, also lost his individual market plan. Unlike most politicians on Capitol Hill, Gardner chose not to enroll in the federal health insurance program. He told me that he opted to participate in the private market "because I wanted to be in the same boat as my constituents. And now that boat is sinking!"
Gardner points to recent analysis showing individual market rate increases of 23 percent to 25 percent in Colorado. "After my current plan is discontinued," he wrote last week, "the closest comparable plan through our current provider will cost over 100 percent more, going from roughly $650 a month to $1,480 per month." He now carries his ObamaCare cancellation notice with him as hardcore proof of the Democrats' ultimate deception.
Maryland announced that its post-ObamaCare individual market rates could also rise by a whopping 25 percent. The National Association for the Self-Employed is recommending that its small-business owners and freelancers plan for at least a 15-percent increase nationwide. One of the reasons for those rate hikes, of course, is that ObamaCare's mandated benefits provisions force insurers to carry coverage for items that individual market consumers had deliberately chosen to forgo.
Americans who had opted for affordable catastrophic coverage-style plans now have fewer and fewer choices. This includes a whole class of musicians, photographers, artists, writers, actors and other creative people who purchased health plans through the individual market or through small professional organizations. As St. Vincent College arts professor Ben Schachter reports in the Weekly Standard, groups like the College Art Association, Modern Language Association and the Entertainment Industry Group Insurance Trust are dropping their plans. Young, healthy members of these groups "are far more likely to see their rates go up -- or to face the individual mandate penalties."
Thanks to Obama, access is down. Premiums and health care spending are up. Research and development on lifesaving drugs and medical devices are down. Hours and benefits have been cut because of ObamaCare costs and regulatory burdens by at least 300 American companies, according to Investor's Business Daily. And the ObamaCare layoff bomb continues to claim victims.
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Michelle Malkin (firstname.lastname@example.org) is author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies" (Regnery 2010).
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