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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hospitals will still have a 'free rider' problem under Obamacare -- By Philip Klein, The Washington Examiner

President Obama and his allies have consistently argued that his health care law was prudent, because without it, uninsured individuals would continue to show up at hospitals and receive care without paying, thus driving up costs on everybody else.

But now, the Wall Street Journal has reported, hospitals are concerned that the law could exacerbate this problem, known as uncompensated care.

The reason stems from the high deductibles in health care plans offered on Obamacare's new government-run exchanges. A deductible is the amount that individuals must pay for care before the benefits of a health insurance policy kick in.

As both the Journal and the New York Times reported on Monday, consumers may be surprised to find out how high the deductibles are on many of the plans offered on the new exchanges.

For instance, the Journal article noted that the average individual deductible for the exchanges' lower-cost bronze plans is $5,081 per year, or 42 percent more than the average deductible on the individual market in 2013, before Obamacare went into effect.

Now, in fairness to Obamacare, it isn't really proper to single out the cheapest plans on the exchanges (which will have the highest deductibles) and then compare that to all the plans on the pre-Obamacare market. An apples to apples comparison would have to look at the average for all plans on the exchanges, which would include more expensive plans with much lower deductibles and thus bring the Obamacare average down.

Also, it's worth noting that prior to Obamacare, individuals could purchase plans with deductibles of $10,000 or even $20,000, but now total out of pocket costs are capped at $6,350. In fact, one of the criticisms of Obamacare among conservatives has been that it is raising premiums, in part, by depriving individuals of the freedom to buy catastrophic insurance with very high deductibles.

That having been said, it's also true that many of the millions of Americans who are having their plans cancelled may end up in plans with higher deductibles because they want to limit their increase in premiums. Younger Americans, now forced to purchase insurance, may also opt for the cheapest plans available without paying attention to deductibles.

This is why, the Journal reported, "Hospitals, meantime, are bracing for a rise in unpaid bills from bronze-plan policyholders."

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