While four years of rhetoric by supporters of the Affordable Care Act stated that the program would broaden choices for citizens and enable those with health insurance to keep their existing plans, the upcoming reality for many in North Carolina may be just the opposite.
On October 1st, the Federal Government will open their managed health exchanges in states across the country, including North Carolina. When it happens, residents in the Tar Heel State will learn that only two health insurance companies will be participating in the program.
For residents of 61 North Carolina counties, the situation will be even more dire, as only one insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, will be providing coverage.
“We are now four days away from Obamacare’s implementation and each moment, we are receiving new reports as to how devastating this law will be for the men and women of North Carolina,” said NC Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-2nd District) in a statement released Thursday. “Yesterday, we discovered that health insurance rates are expected to triple for women and quadruple for men in North Carolina once this law goes into effect. Today, we were informed that virtual monopolies are now being created to sell this poison pill to our people.”
Earlier this week, an article at Forbes detailed research findings from the Manhattan Institute showing that health care premiums for 27-year-old individuals in North Carolina will increase an average of 151% for women and 267% for men. These are among the most significant increases to be experienced as a result of the setup of the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
“We were promised lower costs and more competition. Yet Obamacare is doing the exact opposite,” Congresswoman Ellmers said. “The whole point of an online marketplace was to provide options, so North Carolinians could go online, compare prices, and choose plans from different companies. That is how competition is supposed to work! Although seven insurance companies currently operate in North Carolina, under the new Obamacare exchanges, those options will dwindle down to one in the majority of counties.”
Congresswoman Ellmers joined the rest of the State’s Republican Delegation in the House of Representatives to support a bill last week that defunded the Affordable Care Act while providing a continuing resolution for other Federal spending.
The defunding provision will likely be taken out as the Senate considers the bill toward the end of this week, despite efforts by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and a handfull of others to point out the Affordable Care Act’s failures to live up to promised expectations.
Coventry Health Care, which is owned now by Aetna, will provide insurance coverage for residents in 39 counties. Locally, their map indicates coverage will be available to residents in Wake, Franklin, Nash, Edgecombe and Pitt Counties, but not Wilson, Northampton or Martin Counties.
Federal subsidies will be available to individuals making less than $46,000 a year and families of four earning less than $94,000 a year. According to reports, approximately 870,000 residents will be eligible for these subsidies, though levels of assistance will vary based on case-by-case characteristics.