About 290,000 Washington residents lose health insurance plans

By   /   October 30, 2013  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 57 of 97 in the series Obamacare

By Shelby Sebens | Northwest Watchdog

When D.J. Brooks got a letter in the mail from Group Health in Washington state, he wasn’t surprised his health insurance plan was being dropped and a new, comparable plan would cost a lot more.


DROPPED: About 290,000 Washingtonians will joins millions of other Americans hunting for new health insurance plans after being dropped from theirs.

Brooks wasn’t happy the cost jumped from $444 a month to $876. His rates were set to rise as he entered a new age bracket, but he didn’t anticipate them going that high. What bothered Brooks more was a feeling his ability to choose his health insurance was being stripped away.

Brooks, 55 a Seattle resident, considers himself a policy minimalist. He and his wife stay healthy and in turn bought basic individual insurance to keep costs down. If something major happened — cancer or a heart attack — he said they would have been covered.

That option of slimmed down, cheaper insurance is now gone, thanks to mandates set in place by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Like millions of other Americans, Brooks can either pay more for a plan that was comparable to his last or shop for new insurance in the private market or through the state based exchange,where he might find a more affordable plan.

But then he might have to find a new doctor, in a new network. And he likes Group Health. He likes that the company has a database of his family’s medical information and that he could choose not to pay more for more coverage.

“As an American, look, if I want to drive a Cadillac I can drive a Cadillac. If I want to drive a Corolla, I will drive a Corolla,” he told Northwest Watchdog. “That’s my choice. Don’t take away my choice. That’s the part that really, really pisses me off. My freedom, my liberty, my choice has been taken away .”

The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner estimates about 290,000 Washington residents will see their health plans dropped in the individual market. About half of those will qualify for government subsidies to help them pay for health insurance.

Now that Obamacare is in effect, insurance companies with plans that don’t meet the essential health benefits required under the law are dropping those to meet the mandate. Plans will cost more because they provide more. Many plans will include family dental, maternity care, vision, mental health, a higher percentage of medical costs covered, less out of pocket pay and prescription drug coverage.

“If you really use health care, its’ a good deal for you,” said Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman for the insurance commissioner’s office. “The idea is give people some basic benefits.”

She said she has encountered many Washington residents who thought they were covered under their individual plans for basic services only to find out they weren’t. She referenced a woman who became pregnant and found out she wouldn’t be covered by her insurance because pregnancy was considered a preexisting condition.

Under the new health law, an insurance company cannot deny coverage based on preexisting conditions.

Brooks gets it. He understands why his insurance cost could go up.

“It’s because you’re getting a beefier plan and the costs to insurance companies is going up because of all these people that weren’t in the pool,” he said. “Let’s face it, there are reasons why they weren’t in the pool. That’s going to cost money.”

Marquis said she empathizes with healthy people who want cheaper plans but said “no one’s immune from back luck.”

She said getting basic benefits to everyone only works if the pool is large enough to make costs go down. For example, if only pregnant women bought maternity health care coverage, no one could afford it, she said.

The change in his ability to choose a lesser insurance plan prompted Brooks to give his congressmen a piece of his mind.

“I just blasted them. I said this is ridiculous,” he said. This is not what you guys promised.”

Other politicians are feeling the sting of this part of Obamacare. President Obama is taking a lot of heat for his promise that Americans could keep their health insurance if they like it under the new law.

Clearly, not everyone can.

Contact Shelby Sebens at [email protected]

Like Watchdog.org? Click HERE to get breaking news alerts in YOUR state

Part of 97 in the series Obamacare
  1. Obamacare compliance means less money for TN service agencies
  2. The mystery of Obamacare spending in Arkansas
  3. Obamacare raises questions for MD small business owners
  4. Kansas official on Obamacare: ‘Let someone else be the guinea pig’
  5. Obamacare insurance marketplace has plenty of kinks on first day
  6. OR’s Obamacare insurance marketplace hits technological snag
  7. Fail: Day 1 of the New Mexico Obamacare rollout
  8. Senator asks: Do you want this dysfunctional government taking over health care?
  9. Jobs, coverage at risk with Obamacare, MN union health official says
  10. Oregon’s Obamacare ads resemble middle school art
  11. VIDEO: Obamacare vs Affordable Care Act: Comedy triumphs in court of confusion
  12. Patience is key to navigating Illinois’ Obamacare marketplace
  13. Hawaii residents, lawmakers frustrated with health connector glitches
  14. Healthy young, key to Obamacare, aren’t buying it
  15. NM’s health exchange tries to lure ‘young invincibles’
  16. Obama drama: Senator blames governor for big rate hikes
  17. Progressive group navigates Oregon students through Obamacare
  18. Maddening: Trying to log onto federal health care site
  19. You know that one guy who successfully signed up for Obamacare? He didn’t
  20. What’s wrong? It’s been a week, and Obamacare website still not working
  21. HHS Secretary Sebelius back in FL after embarrassing Obamacare rollout
  22. Health centers enroll Floridians in Obamacare as application problems persist
  23. VIDEO: Stewart skewers Sebelius on Obamacare
  24. Obamacare effect? 9 companies exit Nebraska’s health insurance market
  25. Obamacare: Children of undocumented parents face an uncertain future
  26. Which way do we go? Obamacare navigator registration in TN in question
  27. NM health exchange tries to ease problems with Obamacare website
  28. CPA says hype over Obamacare small business tax credit is misleading
  29. Obamacare navigator under fire for arrest warrant
  30. Reports of Obamacare fraud emerge in Tennessee
  31. After two weeks, FL online Obamacare enrollees are hard to find
  32. Illinois state governor touts 100K Obamacare enrollees, all in Medicaid
  33. Kansas lawmaker calls for crackdown on Obamacare navigators
  34. WI health care exchange seeing few getting through
  35. Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange relaunches with more glitches
  36. We’ll know next month how many people in NM signed up for Obamacare — maybe
  37. Zero: Number of Nebraskans Obamacare navigators have signed up
  38. It took this Delaware woman 11 days to sign up for Obamacare – and she was the first
  39. How many people have signed up for health insurance in VA? Who knows?
  40. What else? NM federal health exchange ads stalled due to website problems
  41. Blue Cross hires temp workers to deal with Obamacare glitches
  42. If Obamacare is the next Medicare, will physicians leave en masse?
  43. Three problems that won’t be solved by fixing the Obamacare exchange glitches
  44. Plenty of Oregonians interested in Obamacare, but none can enroll online
  45. Criticize this: Obamacare premiums a near match to WI disclosures
  46. Report: Missourians will see sharp rise in premiums under Obamacare
  47. Kansas navigators say they’ve enrolled no one in Obamacare
  48. Obamacare too costly for rich Coloradans, Democrat congressman says
  49. Study: Kansas premiums to spike following Obamacare rollout
  50. Hang on to your candy: Creepy Uncle Sam is back
  51. Obamacare or bust: NM Watchdog turned back again
  52. Medical journals, experts refute claim that Medicaid cuts ER use
  53. Arkansas spends $4M on Obamacare ads, wants more
  54. LOL: In July video, HHS bragged about being ‘on schedule’ with Obamacare
  55. Illinois uses Day of the Dead to market Obamacare
  56. Sebelius denies GOP’s Terry ‘unreliable’ Obamacare info
  57. About 290,000 Washington residents lose health insurance plans
  58. Broken promise: Obamacare cancels almost 20,000 Kansas health care plans
  59. Top hospitals opt out of Obamacare
  60. Obamacare moves to intensive care
  61. Obamacare provision could lead to more Medicaid fraud
  62. Obamacare: Religious groups want to ‘move mountains’
  63. Obamacare hitting Wisconsin residents with double whammy
  64. Kansas AG: Obamacare threatens consumer privacy
  65. 1,500 in New Mexico have to move out of the high-risk insurance pool
  66. Cover Oregon website fiasco creates jobs, but costs millions
  67. For Florida’s Obamacare small business exchange, it’s crunch time
  68. Only 877 Wisconsinites have signed up for Obamacare, federal report says
  69. Just 172 in NM have completed Obamacare applications: ‘Woefully inadequate,’ says NMIX board member
  70. With only 346 Oklahomans signed up, leaders decry ‘Obamacare debacle’
  71. Defying Obamacare: ‘Send them the bill,’ NM insurance official says
  72. Kansas Obamacare enrollment dwarfed by nearly 20,000 cancellations
  73. Numbers don’t lie: In Illinois, Obamacare means Medicaid
  74. Wisconsin governor proposes insurance plan to address Obamacare rollout failure
  75. Tennesseans might know Tuesday if they can keep canceled health insurance
  76. People demand answers over Oregon’s Obamacare fail
  77. Calif. says ‘no’ to Obamacare freebies, makes own law
  78. HI health exchange violates federal law, League of Women Voters say
  79. Obamacare video winner: ‘Forget about the price tag’
  80. Harvard study finds ‘striking’ rejection of Obamacare by young Americans
  81. HI health exchange has signed up 574 people, for about $348,000 apiece
  82. Are the uninsured getting Obamacare coverage in Illinois?
  83. Secret Obamacare handbook the feds don’t want you to see is online
  84. Lost in translation: Once-supportive Hispanics turning backs on Obama, ACA
  85. HI Obamacare exchange not fiscally sustainable, lawmakers told
  86. Illinois’ latest Obamacare targets: gold diggers and momma’s boys
  87. Now Democrats are bashing California’s Obamacare exchange, too
  88. Obamacare: For $1.37M we get Richard Simmons in lurid web stream
  89. Obamacare: A welcome mat for IRS horrors
  90. California senator seeks audit of state Obamacare exchange
  91. Report: Hawaii ranks worst for Obamacare signups
  92. CA senator sues Obamacare exchange for causing policy cancellations of 1M
  93. Failure of Maryland Obamacare exchange could mean higher premiums in North Dakota
  94. Video: Watch Creepy Uncle Sam make it rain
  95. Five bright spots surrounding the Obamacare exchange failures
  96. Obamacare architect admitted in 2012 states without exchanges lose subsidies
  97. Architects of Richard Simmons Obamacare dance-off rehired in $156M PR campaign


Shelby formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.