Imperial Valley locals criticize the Affordable Care Act over costs
Dale Howard is frustrated with the Affordable Care Act because he said his insurance costs will increase greatly with a new health plan.
“I find it fascinating that they call it affordable care when everyone ends up paying more,” Howard said.
Howard, a financial consultant in Brawley, said he wishes that medical insurance was sold across state lines like auto insurance.
“Insurance policies would start to get a lot cheaper because of the competition,” he said. “It’s like Wal-Mart competing for your business against somebody else. The margins are so thin it keeps prices down to bring you in.”
The individual plan Howard was paying for cost him $1,100 a month including dental, and his deductible was $3,500. Insurance would then pay the rest of the costs.
The plan offered to Howard through the Affordable Care Act would have increased his premium to $1,800 a month and did not include dental. It also would have increased his deductible to $4,500 and he still would have had to pay 40 percent of the rest of the medical bill.
“It’s going to cost me more money this year for the same amount of care,” Howard said.
For a lot of people, the individual plans with the Affordable Care Act come with higher premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs.
“I am disappointed because I feel it could be better and the way it is structured, it has driven some insurance companies out of the state. I don’t have as many options,” he said.
As a business owner, Howard has to consider additional aspects of the Affordable Care Act.
Although President Barack Obama extended the time businesses are required to move over to the Affordable Care Act, Howard along with other business owners will still have to find a new health insurance plan for their employees next year.
“In my case or with other people I’ve talked to, costs have gone up 50 percent to 100 percent depending on what your health is,” Howard said. “They are spending money on medical policies they didn’t have to pay before that could have gone to other things … whatever it is, that money is not available to them now.”
With the business plans in the Affordable Care Act, businesses will have to make a choice. They will charge their employer more, absorb the costs themselves or cancel the policy altogether and pay a penalty of $2,000 per employee if insurance is not offered. The penalty would be $3,000 per employee if unaffordable or inadequate health insurance is offered.
“This year will tell how many people will get doctors and how many will afford the added costs of deductibles,” Howard said.
Dr. Jim Roach, recently retired doctor and president of the Imperial County Physicians Medical Group, is critical of the Affordable Care Act for entirely different reasons.
“From the medical community standpoint, every doctor I’ve talked to is against it,” he said.
The computer system, for example, requires doctors to have electronic medical records in place to help keep up-to-date with patients who are seen in a hospital or clinic different than their primary facility. It is a big issue for doctors because they cannot properly talk to their patients and input their information at the same time, Roach said.
There will also be a shortage of doctors because many of the current physicians are taking an early retirement due to the Affordable Care Act, he added.
Probably the biggest problem Roach sees is that the Affordable Care Act “will bankrupt the country.”
“It looks good on paper, but who is going to pay for it?” he said. “We’re already a nation in debt and we’re going to be more in debt.”