Thanks to Obamacare, a family health insurance policy bought on the health-insurance exchange can cost the same or more than leasing a 2017 Bentley, Aston Martin, McLaren or even a Rolls-Royce.
Obamacare open enrollment for 2018 has begun, so a friend and tax policy expert living in Northern Virginia recently went looking at his family’s health-insurance options. A CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield silver-level family HMO plan with a $3,500 deductible would cost my friend $2,179 per month. The BlueCross gold-level HMO with a $1,000 deductible would cost $2,500 per month.
However, people tend to choose Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) when possible because they allow patients more flexibility. You don’t necessarily have to see a family doctor before contacting a specialist. But consumers pay for that extra flexibility — especially under Obamacare. The BlueCross silver-level family PPO plan with a $3,500 deductible would cost $2,729 per month and the gold PPO with a $1,000 deductible is $3,087.
Now compare those monthly health insurance premiums to one Connecticut-based company’s advertised monthly lease rates for several ultra-high-end 2017 cars. A Bentley Bentayga is $2,289 per month. An Aston Martin DB11 is $2,371. The McLaren 570GT is $1,995. And the Rolls-Royce Dawn is $2,750.
So my friend could lease a Rolls-Royce for less than a gold-level BlueCross family PPO policy. And those Rolls-Royce lease payments would be the same for three years, while that gold-level policy will likely be 25 percent to 50 percent more for 2019.
Of course, my friend could give up his Rolls-Royce in order to pay his health-insurance premiums, but he doesn’t have one. Only the richest people can afford a new Bentley, Aston Martin or Rolls-Royce. And only the richest people can afford Obamacare premiums — unless, of course, taxpayers are subsidizing them.
But couldn’t he shift to a lower-cost bronze plan? One whose premium is about equal to the monthly lease rate of, say, a high-end Mercedes?
Apparently, BlueCross in his area doesn’t offer one. Last May a subsidiary of CareFirst BlueCross announced it would no longer sell a bronze-level plan in Virginia — a growing trend nationwide. So a BlueCross bronze plan isn’t an option. But even if a BlueCross plan were available, deductibles would likely be $6,000 or $7,000 for one person — and double that for a family. And it might not help him that much anyway. Even though there were a few other insurers offering a bronze plan, health-care providers are increasingly refusing to take them. Some won’t accept any Obamacare plan.
For example, the world-famous, Houston-based M.D. Anderson Cancer Center accepts several insurance plans. But one type of insurance it will not accept: Obamacare. As the center explains on its website: “For 2017, MD Anderson and our physicians are not included as a ‘Participating Provider’ for any ‘Individual’ insurance plans on or off the marketplace in Texas (i.e., ACA plans).”
Unfortunately, there’s no way to “fix” Obamacare’s problems because Democrats ignored standard actuarial practices when creating it. Congress can only repeal it or dump more taxpayer dollars into the sinking system in an effort to keep it afloat — which is what the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill now percolating would do. In the meantime, people in the individual market will have to make a decision: health insurance or a Rolls-Royce. Didn’t Democrats name President Obama’s signature legislation the Affordable Care Act?