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Obamacare in Alabama: Up to 90,000 may have policies canceled

By Scott Buttram

“If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period,” President Barack Obama told the American Medical Association in July 2009. “No one will take it away, no matter what.”

Later that year, in September, Obama told Congress, “Nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.”

Those promises now have tens of thousands of Alabamians, including some who supported the president’s plan, asking what went wrong.

USA Today says about 80,000 Alabamians will have their health insurance policies canceled, while the Associated Press pegs the figure at closer to 90,000. The one certainty is that people statewide will be scrambling for new health coverage at significantly higher rates as cancellation letters arrive in mailboxes and most will be paying more before promised government subsidies.

According to the newspaper article, Alabama’s limited insurance company participation — Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana —  is partially to blame for the increased premiums. However, Alabama had some of the lowest health insurance premiums in the nation despite a market dominated by BCBS prior to the Affordable Healthcare Act going into effect, according to a recent study published by the Society of Actuaries.

Tax credit subsidies are available to individuals making less than $46,000 per year and families making less than $95,000 per year.

Obtaining the tax credits to subsidize the higher costs also presents challenges due to the chronic failures of the government website. Recent reports by CBS indicate Obama and government officials were fully aware of the failures prior to rolling out the site. In addition, NBC reports that the president has known for more than a year that millions of people would not be able to keep their current insurance plans, but continued to state otherwise.

According to USA Today, Beth Biggs, 49, of Montgomery was a supporter of Obamacare, but is disappointed in the results.

“Those of us who were hoping this was going to be a good thing are now realizing we’re … going to be hurting so many middle-class families,” she said.

Another reason offered for the policy cancellations are the required coverages of Obamacare. Below are the 10 basic elements that every policy must now contain.

  • Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital)
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization (such as surgery)
  • Maternity and newborn care (care before and after your baby is born)
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment (this includes counseling and psychotherapy)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services


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