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Your Wallet: Has the Affordable Care Act changed your life?

Raghu Manavalan Aug 11, 2014

Your Wallet: Has the Affordable Care Act changed your life?

Raghu Manavalan Aug 11, 2014

We want to know whether or not the Affordable Care Act has changed your life in a negative or positive way. 

Health exchanges officially opened their doors at the beginning of this year, we thought it was a good time for a check up, to hear about your experiences.

If it has, tell us how by emailing us or tweeting us @MarketplaceWknd. 

Chad Terhune, health care reporter for the LA Times, joins the show to talk through the law affects your finances:

Sticking with a job for Health Insurance is something a lot of people did prior to the ACA. Has that made an appreciable difference?

Chad Terhune: “That was a very common story, that ‘job lock.’ People need to be reminded that the individual insurance market was not a very welcoming place before the Affordable Care Act.”

Some of the plans that we have seen under the ACA come with high out-of-pocket costs, or high deductibles. In terms of how comprehensive the plans are, what are you seeing?

CT: “On health insurance, the original main goal is to protect you, to keep you from going broke by medical bills. Kind of like that catastrophic coverage, ‘If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I will have health insurance if I’m in the hospital for weeks or even months.’ On these plans, on Obamacare, you will pay a fair amount of out of pocket before your insurance will kick in fully.”

What’s the reasoning behind that?

CT: “It’s a trade-off. If you have more first dollar coverage, if it kicks in right away, if you just have to pay $50, you’re going to have to pay a higher premium. And that’s what the insurance companies are going to say, because they’re going to look at this and say, ‘How much cost do I have to pick up?”

Has the Affordable Care Act changed the behavior of companies and the behavior of employers?

CT: “I think the major point here is that people are going to start to get all the notices at work that say, ‘Here are your new health plans in the workplace, we’ve had to make these changes.’ And many are going to cite the Affordable Care Act. And I think many experts will tell you, many of these changes were already in the works, they are really not driven so much by the Affordable Care Act. There was actually a survey out this week that talked about nearly a third of large employers will offer only high deductible plans to their workers.”

If you’re a consumer and you’re thinking, what’s in store for me next year, what should you be watching for? What’s coming next?

CT: “Price matters most to consumers, and the early signs on premiums are fairly encouraging. So we’ve had some evidence in California, the average increase for Obamacare policies for individuals will be 4% on average. In many other states it’s in the neighborhood of 8%. There are exceptions, in Florida, a big Blue Cross carrier wants to raise rates nearly 18% … so some people will be socked by some double digit increases depending on where you live, what health plan you have … now the good news is it’s easier to shop around, to pick a new policy.

And some people say, ‘Wow 8% doesn’t sound very good.’ But actually in health insurance, that’s fairly good because double digits have been the norm and we’ve even had some insurance companies, get ready for this, have decreased their health insurance premiums. That did not happen in the individual market before. So we’re seeing some impact of competition. Insurers are battling for new members.”

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