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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 15, 2013 at 7:34 PM

Obamacare involves rate increases and other unmentioned costs

Employers won’t be able to cope

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler understates not only the impact on those who are losing their health plans under Obamacare, but also the number of people affected [“Your health plan and Obamacare,” Opinion, Nov. 13].

Kreidler states health plans have often canceled coverage. No, they discontinued plans for new sale and his office required the older plans be maintained for current subscribers. His regulators used to be aggressive against filed rate increases. Now, in the face of a 100 percent increase for a higher deductible, he sheepishly offers that we’ll get more. He says no one could afford coverage if you could buy maternity coverage only when you need it — but that is exactly what happened here 15 years ago, which led to the total collapse of the individual market. Kreidler supported easy sign-up then, and now he fears returns for those “checking in” during open enrollment.

The 290,000 residents cited as losing individual coverage is just the beginning. As a health-insurance broker, I know some employers just can’t cope with the added cost and overregulation. So they contemplate reducing hours below the eligibility threshold, or dropping group plans entirely. Some employees will find their way into the exchanges, many others won’t.

But the worst loss of coverage, which Kreidler doesn’t even mention, is in the small group market. We have had a thriving association market, serving hundreds of thousands of Washington residents. This is being virtually obliterated by Obamacare’s regulation. Many employers are forced off this market. Most of the association health plans will actually have to shut down in 2014. Sorry, you can’t keep your health plan after all.

There is no smiley face Kreidler can put on the rate increases, loss of coverage for so many and the decimation of our health-insurance market. Forget the bumpy rollout of exchange plans. This is truly ugly.

Hugh Hendrickson, Renton

Comments | More in Health care | Topics: health care, Obamacare

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