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Claudia Buck of the Sacramento Bee attempts to explain “Why Covered California’s rate hikes are lower than the rest of the U.S.” The rate increases for California’s Obamacare division have gone up double digits for the first time, 13.2 percent compared to the national average of 25 percent. Covered California boss Peter Lee expects that next year’s hikes will be “down to single digits.” This year eleven carriers offer policies and Californians will have, count ‘em, “at least two to choose from.”
Mr. Lee does not discuss problems outlined by Emily Bazar of the Center for Health Reporting. For example, the $454 million Covered California computer system proved dysfunctional, but Covered California bosses blamed it when Californians’ policies were canceled when they reported changes in their income, changing their eligibility for tax credits. On the other hand, those turning 65 and going on Medicare found it find it practically impossible to cancel their Covered California deal. As Bazar reported, others who dutifully applied got letters saying they did not qualify for tax credits. Four people in one household received four different eligibility decisions in the same notice.
Emily Bazar concluded that Covered California may have helped “multitudes” apply for health insurance but “it also is responsible for countless glitches and widespread consumer misery.” As we recently noted, while these problems continued, the state auditor also slammed Covered California for widespread cronyism.
In her latest column, “Five Ways to Reduce Your Obamacare Sticker Shock,” Emily Bazar warns that “minimizing damage won’t be painless.” If Californians opt for a bronze plan, “be sure you can afford the high out-of-pocket costs that come with it.” If Californians don’t like their Obamacare plan and don’t want to keep it, Bazar recalls Obamacare’s punitive side. Next year, the basic penalty for not having health insurance will be “$695 per adult (half of that for kids) or 2.5 percent of your adjusted household income, whichever is greater,” and that “means a lot of money.” It’s all part of the misery inherent in the Obamacare system, what Bill Clinton called “the craziest thing in the world.”