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San Francisco Obama Supporters, Cancelled by Obamacare

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Charles Ornstein, ProPublica

San Francisco architect Lee Hammack says he and his wife, JoEllen Brothers, are “cradle Democrats.” They have donated to the liberal group Organizing for America and worked the phone banks a year ago for President Obama’s re-election.

Since 1995, Hammack and Brothers have received their health coverage from Kaiser Permanente, where Brothers worked until 2009 as a dietician and diabetes educator. “We’ve both been in very good health all of our lives – exercise, don’t smoke, drink lightly, healthy weight, no health issues, and so on,” Hammack told me.

The couple — Lee, 60, and JoEllen, 59 — have been paying $550 a month for their health coverage — a plan that offers solid coverage, not one of the skimpy plans Obama has criticized. But recently, Kaiser informed them the plan would be canceled at the end of the year because it did not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The couple would need to find another one. The cost would be around double what they pay now, but the benefits would be worse.

“From all of the sob stories I’ve heard and read, ours is the most extreme,” Lee told me in an email last week. Continue reading

Why Some Are Seeing Premiums Go Up As Affordable Care Act Goes Into Effect

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

In late September, Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California — the state’s health insurance marketplace — was a guest on KQED’s Forum. It was just days until the Oct. 1 opening of the exchange. Lee touted the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, saying that many people would pay less for health insurance, but he cautioned that for some people, “rates may go up a little bit.”

Pretty soon Mark Brown of San Jose called the show to say his premiums were going up — and much more than a little bit. Brown, who buys health insurance for himself and his wife, said his premiums were going up a whopping 90 percent.

When I heard Brown on the air, I hurried to the control room to get his phone number and later got his full details:

  • In 2013, Brown’s plan with Kaiser has a $5,000 deductible and a $6,000 out-of-pocket maximum. It costs him $272 a month.
  • In 2014, Kaiser offered him a plan with a $4,500 deductible and a $6,350 out-of-pocket max. But the premium is $519 a month.

It’s very similar coverage for almost double the cost. Continue reading

Obamacare Downside: Reports of Premiums Going Up

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Luke Donavan reviews information from Kaiser, detailing how his health insurance coverage will change on Jan. 1. His family’s premiums are going up. (Lisa Aliferis/KQED)

The notice from Kaiser came in the mail about ten days ago.

Luke Donavan’s health insurance premiums were going up. A lot.

Donavan, 41 of San Francisco, is self-employed and buys his own health insurance. Currently he pays $841 per month for insurance for himself, his wife and three young children. But, Kaiser is canceling that policy and offering him a new one that fully complies with the Affordable Care Act. Effective Jan. 1, his family’s premium is going up to $1,000, with a higher deductible.

Donavan says he voted for Obama in both elections and calls himself a “big proponent” of the health law. He has a pretty calm demeanor and says he was “surprised” by this news from Kaiser.

“I just keep coming back to the name ‘Affordable Care Act,'” he said. “I thought I’d pay the same or less for better coverage.”

Subsidies are available for people to buy insurance, but they are dependent on income. Donavan says he earns too much to qualify.

Continue reading