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Another Year of Rising Health Care Costs, Fewer Choices

Across the country, Americans are busy making holiday travel plans and shopping for the perfect gifts. But there’s something else on the minds of working families and small business owners: health care. Families are reviewing their health insurance options for 2017 and finding they will soon be paying more for less. And small business owners—gripped by limited resources and tight budgets—are taking a hard look at whether health care is an affordable option for their employees. As real-world stories in local communities show, instead of the health care relief they were promised, Americans are seeing:

A “middle-class nightmare”

  • Loralea Grey, whose husband is self employed, says they are living a "middle-class nightmare" because of the law. They grew used to the necessary sacrifices to afford the premiums and out-of-pocket costs for their "catastrophic" insurance before the ACA, she says. This year they were facing a premium increase of nearly 40% with a $7,000 deductible per family member. — USA Today 

  • Insurers are set to raise the premiums for plans sold through by an average of 22 percent in 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a report. This is approximately triple the percentage increase from 2015 to 2016, when premiums increased by 7.5 percent.— ABC News 

  • [T]ime is not a luxury for people in Minnesota facing huge increases in health care premiums through the individual coverage market. Those not covered through their employers are facing 50 to 70 percent increases in premiums and giant jumps in deductibles. — The Journal editorial board (MN)

  • Families in Texas are feeling the pinch as they pay more for employer-sponsored health plans. A new Commonwealth Fund study finds that rising premiums and deductibles are outpacing incomes … This open enrollment season, individuals and families are urged to choose employer-based health plans carefully. The Dallas Morning News (TX) 

  • Thousands of Minnesotans are in limbo. They're worried over how they'll pay for health insurance to cover their families … Right now, Dierkes and her husband pay $596 a month. The couple is facing a proposed rate increase next year of $200 more a month. KSTP-TV (MN)

“Fewer choices”

  • Connecticut’s health insurance exchange is preparing for its fourth open enrollment period, but this time customers will find fewer choices … There were a high of four insurers during last year’s open enrollment, but United Healthcare and HealthyCT are no longer participating. — FOX 61 (CT)

  • For independent contractor Brian Morris, of St. Marys, only one provider, Anthem, had a plan available for purchase in Auglaize or Mercer counties … “Our premiums have increased and the plans have gotten worse over the years,” Morris said. “You handle it, but now we’re stuck with this only option, according to my insurance agent, which doesn’t cover my local hospital or the Grand Lake Health System.” The Lima News (OH)

  • Gary Damm, a small business owner who lives in west Cobb, said he will not be able to see his longtime WellStar physician after Dec. 31 as his Humana insurance plan — a subsidized plan through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace — will no longer be accepted at WellStar — the largest health care provider in Cobb. “This is going to put thousands of people in Cobb County at risk,” he said. — The Marietta Daily Journal (GA)

  • Small business owner Trey Xander was one of the many Texans disappointed to learn their insurance company dropped out of the federal marketplace … “It was just very unfortunate because it made me feel like my options and my choices were becoming more limited, leaving me to go and start from scratch,” said Xander.— KXAN (TX)

  • State officials say Kentuckians shopping for health insurance on the exchange should expect higher prices and fewer choices during the open enrollment period. — WDRB (KY)

“Out of reach” costs for small businesses 

  •    Alison Dodson Anderson, who owns three home décor and gift shops in Virginia, said she was just looking into purchasing health insurance for her 21 full-time employees when the ACA was passed. Offering health care is essential for her business to offer competitive benefits with big-box retailers — to which she often loses employees — but over the past six years, it has been out of reach, she said. – MarketWatch 

  • Mike Mavec thinks it's great that more people have health insurance coverage. The challenge is paying for it … As a small business owner who provides health insurance for his employees, his premiums have increased substantially in the past few years, especially after the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect, even as coverage remained about the same. The Pantagraph (IL) 

  • Raquel Paulus, employee benefits consultant at commercial insurance agency Peterson McGregor and Associates, said she’s seen a “shift to higher deductibles and higher co-pays, and asking employees to contribute more, as well.” And, Paulus added, “I know that the employers I work with really struggle, because they don’t want to pass it on.” Traverse City Business News (MI)

  • Eugene resident and entrepreneur Shula Jaron learned in the summer that her insurer, Moda, was quitting Lane County and that she would need to find a new health plan. After recently browsing options at the website, she estimates that her premium will be $150 to $160 higher each month in 2017 — about a 40 percent increase over what she paid in 2016. — The Register-Guard (OR) 

  • Jane Shauck, owner of Iris Photography in West Hartford, said her family pays more for healthcare under Obamacare than they did under their prior plan. "Honestly, our rates totally doubled when we went to Obamacare," said Shauck. FOX 61 (CT)

The American people deserve better. They deserve relief from a failed law and real health care solutions that will deliver more choices and lower costs. That’s what A Better Way is all about.

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