I’ve written a bit about Obamacare and its front end, ObamaMart. I thought I’d revisit this with the new enrollment period just getting under way.
My test case was a 62-yr-old husband and his 61-yr-old wife in a Dallas suburb with a combined income of $83,000, not previously enrolled in an ObamaMart plan but now looking for a PPO because they like their doctor and don’t want to risk losing access to her. I just looked at the health plans; I eschewed dental. In looking at plans, ObamaMart offered to estimate my medical costs; I accepted the offer and took the middle road of a Medium (out of Low, Medium, High) level of medical expenses for both the husband and the wife.
There were only Bronze, Silver, and Gold plans available.
There were only two Bronze plans, and they were available only through a single health plan provider—so much for increased competition. These two plans had monthly premiums of $1,500 and $1,570 and deductibles of $10,000 and $13,200—that is, our nearing retirement couple had to pay all those premiums and those deductibles before either of these plans began paying even a fraction of the couple’s medical costs. For all that, ObamaMart estimated annual medical costs above $23,000.
There were only three Silver plans, again only offered by a single provider—the same one as providing those two Bronze plans. Again, so much for increased competition. These plans had premiums ranging from $1,500-$1,800 with the lower premium associated with a $10,000 deductible, the higher two with a $5,000 deductible. Those combinations, though, work out to roughly the same annual premium plus deductible cost. ObamaMart estimated total annual medical costs under these plans ranging between $21,000 and $27,000.
Gold plans, all four of them, also were offered by the same provider, and it was the same provider that offered the Silver and Bronze plans. Competition? Perish the thought. The premiums were $2,000 or more in all cases, with deductibles ranging from $3,000 with the lowest premium to $1,000 with the highest premium. Again, the annual total from premium and deductible payments were essentially identical across the plans. ObamaMart estimated annual total medical costs between $26,000 and $28,000.
There are three takeaways I see here. One is that health plan costs have not at all gone down over the three years we’ve been afflicted with Obamacare (although ObamaMart has gotten considerably better and easier to use, as far as I went. I did not explore the ease of ordering up a plan). Another is that there is none of the promised competition. Not even a Progressive would attempt to masquerade a single provider as competition. This is, though, a step toward the Progressives’ goal of single provider nation-wide. The third takeaway is the biggie: it doesn’t matter much what plan a (two-person) family might buy, their annual total medical costs with all this health plan protection doesn’t vary much. And neither do the totals of premium and deductible.
Looking at the Bronze plan – $1,500/mo for 12 months is $18,000. Add in the deductible (even assuming the lower of the two, which does not make sense) and you have paid out $28,000 … toward an estimated annual medical costs of $23,000. One-time Good Deal, GI …
Checking Silver in the same fashion, I get the same total, from the same numbers, spent, for an estimated medical expenses of $21,000-27,000, Again, a net loss for this couple. BTW – why did this cost number change? Did the couple’s behavior change due to the different plan? Did life hand them a different bowl of cherries?
As for Gold, spending $27,000 in premiums and deductible for estimated expenses of $26,000-28,000 is a wash.
Wow – you have to go Gold to have a chance of breaking even.
That’s a really One-time Good Deal.