Should something be done about the Affordable Care Act's (Obamacare's) numerous problems? Should lawmakers stand aside and let the Administration take care of problems like website malfunctions and people whose insurance was cancelled? Or should Congress pass legislation to fix the problems? Neither, says the majority of seniors responding in a new poll. Some 69 percent favor repealing Obamacare and starting over, according to a poll released today by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a nonpartisan seniors group.
"Congress take notice," says TSCL Chairman Ed Cates. Obamacare cuts more than $700 billion from Medicare through 2022, including $156 billion in lower payments to Medicare Advantage plans. "Seniors enrolled in some of the nation's biggest Medicare Advantage plans are beginning to feel the impact as health plans end contracts with doctors and major hospitals to cut costs in 2014," Cates says. "Now, with the start of Obamacare affecting all Americans under the age of 65, enrollment glitches, high costs, loss of access to doctors, and employers dropping coverage could turn Obamacare into a financial albatross for seniors," he warns. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, voting rates increase with age, particularly when income and healthcare benefits are at stake.
TSCL estimates that 10.7 million seniors age 50 through 64 don't have insurance through an employer and are either uninsured, attempting to enroll in a new healthcare exchange plan, or have older health plans that will be ending in 2014. While uninsured seniors may have the most to gain under Obamacare because they are more likely to have health problems and need insurance, TSCL is particularly concerned about the affordability of premiums and the "super sized" deductibles that many of the new plans require – especially for middle-income seniors who may not qualify for subsidies. "The so-called 'low-cost' plans offered to 62-year-olds can come with a $475 per month price tag in premiums and astonishing $6,000 deductibles," observes Cates. "Seniors who enroll in those plans could find themselves paying for most of their healthcare completely out-of-pocket before ever exceeding their deductible. Some seniors who are losing lower-costing health plans this year may end up worse off than they were before," he adds.
Unlike Medicare, Obamacare subsidies leave substantial numbers of middle-income Americans completely on their own to foot the full cost of pricey new health exchange plans. Under Medicare, the federal government pays a subsidy of 75% of the Part B (doctor and outpatient) premium for the majority of beneficiaries and 100% of the cost of the Part A (hospital premium). The government's Part B subsidy starts tapering down starting at income levels of $85,000 (individual) and $170,000 (couple), but never completely phases out. Obamacare's premium subsidies, on the other hand, completely phase out at $45,960 (individual) or $62,040 (couple) – about the national median household income of $51,100.
TSCL is concerned that Medicare could be next for "super sized" deductibles, as well as changes that would cut the Medicare Part B subsidy and increase the portion of Medicare premiums that seniors must pay. Major deficit reduction proposals are under discussion that would do both. "Obamacare cut government spending on Medicare by more than $700 billion but that money isn't being used to improve Medicare solvency," Cates explains. "We urge seniors to let your members of Congress know how Obamacare affects you,” he adds.
Are you affected by Obamacare? Let us know by participating in our annual 2014 Senior Survey.