Soaring Prices Making “Affordable” Care Act Anything But For Some (Central Valley Business Journal)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Surging costs for health insurance have gotten the attention of the National Association for the Self Employed (NASE). The group added its voice Tuesday to the chorus criticizing the Obama administration and the Affordable Care Act.

The new wave of criticism comes as the administration announced that premiums for mid-range-silver plans would rise by an average of 25 percent. Those on the act’s exchange program will also have less options than in the past as some companies have dropped out of the program.

Administration officials stress that subsidies provided under the law, which are designed to rise alongside premiums, will insulate most customers from sticker shock. They add that consumers who are willing to switch to cheaper plans will still be able to find bargains.

That hasn’t stemmed the criticism.

“Since many entrepreneurs earn too much and don’t qualify for federal subsidies, this rate increase will hit them in their pocketbook preventing them from saving, growing and expanding,” said Katie Vlietstra, vice president for Government Relations and Public Affairs of the NASE. “The Obama Administration’s position on tax subsidies ignores the reality that many Americans, including the self-employed, aren’t eligible. Therefore, at the end of the day this increase will likely result in our members and many others dropping to a less desirable plan or even doing something drastic by risking the penalty for no coverage.”

An estimated 5 million to 7 million people are either not eligible for the income-based assistance, or they buy individual policies outside of the health law’s markets, where the subsidies are not available. The administration is urging the latter group to check out

The NASE argues that the ACA must be changed to limit the hardships that small business owners face.

“While the original goal of the Affordable Care Act was to provide affordable and flexible health care to the American worker, the opposite seems to be true: less choice and higher prices,” she said. “We encourage the next president to work with the new Congress to rectify this hardship on the American worker and find solutions to ensure the ACA is affordable, flexible and works for everyone.”

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