I am 26 years old, and I don’t have health insurance — despite the individual mandate.
My brother, 24, doesn’t have health insurance — despite the mandate forcing insurance companies to allow Americans to stay on their parents’ plan until they’re 26-year-old.
When my father ventured out on his own to start a small business last year, my parents were put into a box: they could not easily afford to keep any of us on their health insurance any longer.
Moreover, the insurance my parents now have for the two of them is “not an approved plan” where they “feel the need to avoid going to the doctor’s,” my father reports, because of the cost of the deductible for one visit on top of the $620 monthly premium they already pay, despite the promise of healthcare affordability.
This was not their expectation. When my parents first looked onto the Obamacare exchange here in Colorado, they hoped to find a plan that would at least cover my brother and sister. (I was about to turn 26, so it wouldn’t make sense to obtain coverage for me.)
What they found was a premium of about $8,000 for a year — and a deductible of around $12,000. With a $20,000 minimum before any insurance benefit would kick in, the family plan was simply not affordable.
Fortunately, my sister was able to sign up for an affordable, quality insurance plan through her school, saving my parents that huge headache and difficult hurdle. My brother, on the other hand, was not so lucky.
Consider the solemn promise of President Obama that health insurance would be more affordable under the so-called “Affordable Care Act.” Consider the rule that the 26-year-old mandate would ensure that young people are kept on their parents’ plan until they turn 26. Consider the idea that the individual mandate would boost insurance rolls.
Now consider how all three of these objectives failed in my family’s circumstance.
“For all intents and purposes, your mother and I don’t have insurance,” my father told me. “The only person who has a good insurance plan is your sister.”
The principle of an “Affordable Care Act” is a veritable one, but once you fill insurance up with the ten “essential benefits” that must be covered, whether an individual or family needs or wants those benefits, you drive up costs dramatically. My parents’ story is an example of this.
The idea of the 26-year-old mandate is a nice one, but the problem is that just because Uncle Sam says an insurance company must cover your child until he or she turns 26 does not mean that that child will be covered. On the contrary, it drives up the cost of insurance plans at the expense of parents actually being able to find affordable coverage options for their families. My brother is an example of this.
The idea of the individual mandate is based on the premise that folks will buy insurance rather than face a penalty, lest they shrink the ratio of healthy people to sick people in the insurance pools. But the incentive just isn’t there when the cost-benefit ratio is too high. My brother and I are examples of this.
But my family isn’t the only case study. No matter the law’s veritable goals, there are millions of Americans who have been hurt and even crushed by Obamacare. As a new policy paper from the Millennial Policy Center demonstrates, the cost of care is astronomical for millennials and our parents.
The paper notes that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected in 2009 that premiums would decrease by up to 3 percent in 2016. In reality, the average premium for benchmark Obamacare plans increased 37.1 percent since 2014. Moreover, annual healthcare spending growth was 4 percent the year before the law was passed, rising to 5.8 percent in 2015. This failure to bend the cost curve has contributed to the lagging insurance rolls. The CBO predicted that 2016 enrollment would be 21 million; yet by June of last year, that number was projected to be 10.4 million.
Reasonable minds may differ on how exactly to repeal and then replace the ACA, but one thing is certain: Obamacare is a nightmare for millennials, small businesses, and families alike. It must be repealed and replaced.