AJC Article: The rising cost of health care

My health insurance company recently dropped me a line to say that Piedmont Hospital – the source of most of my family’s medical care — may be dropped as an in-network provider.  An unsettling way to start the New Year.

I’m told that Piedmont and my insurer might still come to terms before the contract renewal date of Feb 1st 2014.  But for now, I’m one of thousands of Georgians that may be forced to find a new healthcare system. 

Is the provider/carrier standoff the fault of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?  Not likely, as these standoffs come contract time are fairly common, however with all of the changes around healthcare and this letter as a small wake up call, I thought this would be a good time to revisit some of our new healthcare system’s implications.

Retirement Calculator

By all indications, health care costs are going up in 2014 — way up, especially for younger people. According to SSR (Sector & Sovereign Research, LLC), the average monthly premium in 2013 for a 21-year old was $128. In 2014, it is predicted that the same plan will cost $240. That’s an 87 percent increase. However, the average monthly premium for a 40-year old in 2013 was $220 and in 2014 it is expected to rise “just” 40 percent to $308.

Of course, for the millions of uninsured Americans, the ACA may be a godsend. If you or a family member are considering applying for coverage through the ACA’s healthcare.gov website, I suggest that you first visit the online cost calculator created by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

This tool will give you a good sense of what a “silver level” plan will cost you, and whether you are likely to qualify for a subsidy toward your premiums.  Click here for a link to a past blog discussing a “silver level” plan.

Among the things I discovered on the Kaiser site:

  • Households without children in Georgia with income of $29,000 or more are unlikely to get a subsidy.
  • At $28,000 ($1000 less than my example above), that same household with no children will receive a supplement of 7 percent of the cost of a silver level plan.
  • A family with one adult and two children at the same $28,000 income level will see approximately 81 percent of the plan cost subsidized.
  • A family of four (with a $28,000 income) – two adults and two kids – could receive a subsidy of 93 percent of the cost of their plan.

 It’s been said that where you stand on an issue often depends on where you sit.  Clearly, for Americans sitting in low-income jobs that don’t provide insurance — especially those with kids — Obamacare certainly appears to be a good thing.  For the rest of the population, well, we’ll see how it plays out.

Certified financial planner Wes Moss offers financial and accessible investment advice to Atlanta Bargain Hunter readers. See his weekly column on AJC Bargain Hunter.