NEW ORLEANS – Tens of thousands of people in Louisiana may be paying more each month for health insurance from the Marketplace, and they may be losing coverage to visit their regular doctors.
The White House announced increases in Obamacare costs earlier this week, and some in the New Orleans area said they are beginning to receive letters stating their insurance company is no longer offering coverage through the Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
Karen Hutchison, owner of Urban Suite Salon and Spa, was told her new coverage would cost thousands of dollars more each year.
"It's just astronomical for an independent worker like myself," Hutchison said.
Hutchison supports herself and daughter, and she said she doesn't know where the extra money will come from for her Obamacare health care beginning in January.
"I have a college student, you know, paying everything that any individual would pay, and now we're looking at this health care situation and yes I'm nervous. I'm concerned," she said.
Attorney Jackie Maloney is concerned too.
"I'm a widow. I have two kids. It makes it very difficult. It's unaffordable. It's completely unaffordable," said Maloney who owns a law office in Metairie. "It more than doubled, and we lost all the doctors that I had previously been using," she said about the first time she signed up for PPACA.
Maloney said she received a letter from her insurance company, Coventry, stating it is leaving the Official ACA Marketplace. Now, Maloney said she will have a choice of only three insurance companies and has been told her out of pockets cost will be much higher.
"I end up having to come out of pocket $20,000 before I see a penny of coverage. We can't afford to use the insurance. We can't afford to use it," said Maloney.
Pat Taylor, President of Benefit Planning Group in Metairie, said his phones are ringing with his hundreds of clients who know they only have 45 days to make a decision and sign up.
"The minute we saw the rate increases it scared me to death, and it scares me for my clients," Taylor said. "They all know that there's going to be a 30 to 40 percent rate increase, and they don't know how they are going to do it. Most people do not know how they are going to do it."
Additionally, Taylor said many people will be forced from PPACA to Medicaid because of the expansion signed into law by Governor Edwards, so they will lose doctor and plan choices.
Those eligible for Medicaid coverage include adults ages 19 to 64 with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level - about $33,500 for a family of four. The expansion is estimated to save Louisiana $180 million-plus in the new budget year.
BCBS has lost as much as $143 million since carrying Obamacare, and is expected to lose up to $200 million over a three-year period. These losses could one day be passed on to group or private insurance customers.