Sticker shock and dropped insurance coverage equals stressed out consumers

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Recent criticism of the Affordable Care Act has focused on website glitches and enrollment problems. Dropped coverage and enrollment problems are also causing stress.

"I thought it was going to go up maybe 10 or 15 percent," said retired mail carrier Warren Harper. "Fifty-eight percent is crazy." Harper did the math on his United Healthcare insurance policy. His $481 insurance premium is about to jump to $742 per month. Harper says President Obama's Affordable Care Act isn't affordable for him.

"When Obama came in he stressed a lot of importance about the middle class being protected, how things affected them," said Harper. "I'm taking a big hit. So he's not helping me. He's hurting the middle class with this."

Linda Kline recently received a letter from her healthcare provider. Anthem Blue Cross said her insurance will be cancelled Dec 31.

"It's pretty nerve-wracking. Because I'm really anxious about it," said Kline. "It's a big deal for me to have coverage."

But, a day after Kline's interview with NewsChannel 5, she learned a new policy will save her $361 a month and will allow her to receive care from the same physicians. That's part of the message Saint Louis University law professor Sidney Watson has for stressed out consumers. She says just because you receive a cancellation notice or a rate increase doesn't mean hope is lost.

"People have until Dec. 15 to get their coverage. Maybe that's an important message to share with your audience, that you don't have to pick a new policy this week," said Sidney.

Watson says there are several reasons for America's anxiety about healthcare. The cancellation of hundreds of thousands of health insurance plans because they don't provide minimum benefits required by the new law is causing concern, along with hefty increases on insurance bills to offset the costs of covering the long-time uninsured. And there's the infamous, malfunctioning website,

"If we could go on the website and see both the premiums being offered and the premium tax subsidies that's going to make insurance more affordable for the middle-class, people would understand better what their options are," said Sidney. "Without good information we all get scared that's the situation we're in now."

Right now, around 14 million people have individual policies. But many of those policies don't meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. For example, they may not cover maternity care or prescription drugs. Initially, that was okay because old policies could be "grand-fathered" in. But if the plan is significantly altered, like a change in deductibles or co-pay amounts, the policy isn't acceptable under the new law, so 50 to 75 percent of people with individual insurance can expect to receive a "cancellation" letter. The White House admits many will lose their current coverage, but officials say people will be offered better coverage in its place.

Warren Harper plans to start insurance shopping and hopes he'll find an affordable policy. One other thing is on his to-do list.

"I think I'm going to have to write Obama a letter and let him know I'm not too happy about this," he said.


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