ObamaCare Users Get Sticker Shock

The median deductible in many states is $3K
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2015 4:53 PM CST
A doctor examines a patient in his office.   (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard, File)
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(Newser) – ObamaCare users are loving the low premiums but agonizing over a surprise expense in many plans: "sky-high deductibles," the New York Times reports. In several states, the median deductible of plans offered on HealthCare.gov is $3,000, meaning consumers will often have to pay three grand before insurance covers any costs. "The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor," says a New Jersey resident with ongoing knee problems. "We have insurance, but can't afford to use it." Residents in other states said they either saved their plan for emergencies or dropped it altogether. "When they said affordable, I thought they really meant affordable," says a woman in Chatanooga, Tenn., whose deductible with her ailing husband is $10,000.

Sara Rosenbaum, a professor who supports ObamaCare, says the deductible issue is part of the "degradation of health insurance." As she explains, insurers have "designed plans with a hefty use of deductibles and cost-sharing in order to hold down premiums" for consumers with low or average incomes. Employers are also offering more high-deductible plans in order to keep costs down, Time reports. In theory, these plans will push consumers to seek better deals online, but a study shows they tend to just skip important treatments completely. On the plus side, health officials say, preventative services like colonoscopies and mammograms are now covered in all plans without co-payment or deductible. What's more, low-income users can get deductibles reduced with "cost-sharing reductions" in so-called silver plans. (Read more ObamaCare stories.)

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