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Letter: “Open Enrollment” is Open Season on the Majority

As we continue through the open enrollment period for healthcare many of us surely feel like it is open season on the working class.  Most of the articles I have seen focus on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and subsidies.  Sure ACA premiums rose a reported 34%, but evidently so did subsidies which will help negate that increase for qualified participants.  By many accounts, about 10 million US citizens participate in the exchange.  Our recent census shows total population at about 323 million citizens.  If you remove folks who are over 65 because they are covered under Medicare, that leaves about 264 million of us who need to fend for ourselves.  Let’s face it, we liked our old plans and doctors, but we were not able to keep them and now it is time to pay and pay again.

A more relevant fact is the increase to non-subsidized plans like most of us have.  In my local picture, the average increase for ACA compliant, non-subsidized plans was 44.5%.  Our personal plan (same one we have had for a couple of years) increased from $1612.97 per month to $2413.01 per month.  A friend of mine saw a jump to $ 33,000 per year for his family.  The increases have been most notable on the plans which will renew at the beginning of 2018, but fear not if you are in a group, your increase is coming.  These figures are roughly three or four times what comparable plans cost before the Affordable Care Act.  In Connecticut, we can only choose between a rock and hard place with no explanation for the increased rates.

As these increases become widely realized, hopefully they will be reported on as that is where a true breaking point will be reached.  Increases in premiums, with no real added inclusions and higher out of pocket costs will adversely affect the economy.  Businesses are sure to face higher insurance contributions and employees will be chipping in more as well.  Small business owners and others on Individual plans will likely see the most dramatic increases.  This prevents money from being used elsewhere in the economy.  For businesses like mine, when the cash is spent on increased premiums it won’t be available for wages, capital purchases or even other necessary operations.  Personally, consumers will clearly have less disposable income.  Those consumers who are not subsidized and already judged by the government to be able to spend more will, in fact, have less of their own money to spend.

The working, middle class is under assault by government policies in collusion with insurance companies.  We need less government intrusion to help remedy this looming crisis which will undoubtedly hamper any economic gains we hope to realize in the near term.  We need to stop being distracted by inconsequential political stories and focus our concern on tangible, necessary issues.

Phil Grande

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