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We have been tracking Covered California, the Golden State’s wholly-owned subsidiary of Obamacare. Emily Bazar of the Center for Health Reporting has exposed glitches in the system’s $454 million computer system, problems with cancelation of policies when people turn 65, and difficulties in enrollment for others. For Bazar, these and other problems resulted in “widespread consumer misery,” and the misery index has now mounted a surge. As Claudia Buck notes in the Sacramento Bee, Covered California health care premiums will increase 13.2 percent in 2017, more than three times the 4 percent hike in 2016. Covered California boss Peter Lee explained that 2017 was a “transition year” and others blamed the increase on the cost of prescription drugs.
Californians now forced to pay more might compare the current reality with the rhetoric when Obamacare was being imposed. They might also note the spending of $1.3 million on an absurd promotional video featuring exercise guru Richard Simmons, and $184 in contracts, without competitive bidding, to firms and people with ties to Covered California bosses. As we noted, California’s state auditor Elaine Howle slammed Covered California for that kind of cronyism. Meanwhile, the highly dysfunctional system will cost consumers 13.2 percent more now, but this is not only a California problem. According to Claudia Buck, the average increase of the 36 states that have posted rates for 2017 is 22.7 percent. On the other hand, if consumers don’t like their plan, they pretty much have to keep it.