Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Practical Reforms Needed for Obamacare

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Practical Reforms Needed for Obamacare

Article excerpt

Kevin Finch can attest that the Affordable Care Act didn't help his family.

Finch gave up a reasonable health insurance plan in favor of the president's exchanges. He discovered his premiums would double. What was once a $440 premium would turn into a $950 premium with a $12,500 deductible. Because the premiums are not affordable, Finch has an exemption from the individual mandate.

Still, his family has been left without health insurance. Finch put aside money in a health savings account, gambling that his family will remain healthy.

After he sent a letter, the Times-Union consulted a health insurance agent, Angie Koury Lieb of Jacksonville. It became clear that navigating the complicated marketplace is too complicated for even well educated people.

Lieb's research revealed these important points:

- Rural areas have less choice of insurers. Finch lives in Welaka. Unfortunately, rural North and West Florida have less competition than urban areas. Lieb said that Finch probably could have found an affordable quality product if he lived in the Jacksonville area.

- Finch makes too much money to qualify for a subsidy.

"This health care act is a reversal of fortune. My family has been penalized," Finch wrote.

Finch now is trying to find a health insurance policy that comes closer to providing good coverage at affordable prices. He is currently applying to an insurer.

He is not alone. The New York Times has spent more than two years examining the high cost of medical care in the United States. The newspaper concluded that affordability is still an issue. Nearly half of all respondents in a scientific poll said affording basic medical care is a hardship, up 10 percentage points from a year ago. Many Americans still put off treatment due to cost and wish physicians would discuss costs with them.

This raises the question that this editorial page often has analyzed. How should the Affordable Care Act be reformed?

There is no need to kill it. It already has the basic free market structure that uses private insurance companies. Unfortunately, it has been overlaid with too much government control and complexity.

If the U.S. Supreme Court throws out subsidies in the states that use federal exchanges like Florida, then reforms will have to be made.

In any case, health insurance expert Robert Laszewski outlined reforms that fit with the Times-Union's views. His blog (healthpolicyandmarket.blogspot.com) includes his proposal.

"Obamacare is an overregulated monster of an insurance marketplace reform that violates a basic marketplace rule." Laszewski wrote. "It doesn't meet customers' needs because of its individual mandate and penalties, its limited choices, high deductibles, still high premiums and narrow provider networks."

Finch's case is a good example. …

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