NEWS: Kalamazoo Gazette: Obamacare's impact on Kalamazoo residents: 'We're in the worst spot we could be'

November 26, 2013

Cancellations, Rate Shock, and Implementation Nightmare Hits Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo, Michigan, Residents on Health Law: “We’re in the worst spot we could be” … “Execution has been a nightmare. Really a nightmare.”

The consequences of the president’s broken health care promises have been felt by millions of Americans all across the country – including, as recently documented, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) on Thursday spoke with constituents via Google Hangout who are among the 225,000 Michiganders who have received cancellation notices and are left with more expensive, less accessible health care options as a result of the law. Among the participants was Kalamazoo’s Mary Swanson, who told The Kalamazoo Gazette, “We’re in the worst spot we could be… we were promised we would keep our doctors and we would keep our plans. Five million plus got our cancellation letters. And that’s just Round 1.” Following cancellation of Swanson’s “excellent” coverage, the family is bracing for health care costs to jump to $26,000 next year.

The Kalamazoo Gazette also reported over the weekend on the enrollment problems that Kalamazoo’s residents are facing. The Gazette reported “only 1,329 Michiganders enrolled in plans during October,” meaning more than 160 times as many folks have lost coverage than gained it in Michigan alone. As the head of the employee benefits department at Nulty Insurance in Kalamazoo describes it, “the execution has been a nightmare. Really a nightmare.”

Sadly, the residents in Kalamazoo are not alone as millions of Americans from coast to coast are facing similar challenges.

November 23, 2013

Obamacare's impact on Kalamazoo residents: 'We're in the worst spot we could be'

KALAMAZOO, MI -- Kalamazoo residents Mary Swanson and her husband are among the reported 225,000 Michiganders who received cancellation letters from their insurers because their plans did not meet the minimum standards of the Affordable Care Act. 

The Prudential Preferred Realtor, whose husband owns a construction business, said they currently pay $925 a month for a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan with a $4,000 deductible.

They combined the catastrophic coverage with health-savings accounts, she said, which worked well for the couple, who are over 55 and whose income tends to fluctuate with the housing market.

Supporters of Obamacare have argued that the insurance plans being canceled offered substandard coverage. Swanson said that was not the case for her family.

"Our coverage from before was far from substandard. It was excellent," she said during a phone interview. …

"We're in the worst spot we could be, because we're over 55 and we're too young for Medicare. And we are self-employed," said Swanson, who participated in a Google Hangout Thursday sponsored by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, who is a harsh critic of the Affordable Care Act. …

She has been quoted between $1,300 and $1,500 a month for coverage, she said, and the couple's deductible will jump to $6,000 each instead of $4,000 combined.

As a result, in 2014 they would need to budget $26,000 a year for health-care, Swanson said. In a down year for the housing market, such as 2009, she said, that amount would be difficult to reach.

While Swanson said there were "definitely concerns" with the way insurers operated prior to Obamacare, she said that, for her, the worst part is that "we were promised we would keep our doctors and we would keep our plans," she said. "Five million plus got our cancellation letters. And that's just Round 1." …

"I would love to have my former plan back."

Read the complete story online here.

November 23, 2013

Obamacare enrollment in Kalamazoo area lags, 'execution has been a nightmare'

KALAMAZOO, MI — Almost two months after the launch of the beleaguered HealthCare.gov website, the situation in Kalamazoo mirrors the national picture: low enrollment numbers, misinformation and a lot of confusion, according to insurance professionals and health-care officials.

"I get the concept, but the execution has been a nightmare. Really a nightmare," said Susan Culhane, who heads the employee benefits department at Nulty Insurance in Kalamazoo. …

"I think over the next six to eight months, there's going to be a lot of turmoil, but things will settle down eventually – they have to," Culhane said.

Read the complete story online here.

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