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Arklatex still skeptical of Obamacare; Fleming warns of bailout - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Arklatex still skeptical of Obamacare; Fleming warns of bailout

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SHREVEPORT, La -

Less than two months to go to the deadline to have health insurance -- or else pay a fine -- we found people here in the Arklatex still confused and angry over the Affordable Care Act, and a Congressman with a gloomy prognosis for the law.

"This is insane," says Robert Schmidt, a rancher in Jefferson, Texas, as he scrolls down the options on his computer. His wife, Dalette, is on another computer in their home office. They're navigating healthcare.gov for the first time. They're facing a surgery and higher costs with their current private health insurance. They hope Obamacare can save them.

But the numbers their computers spit out are bleak. The best plan they could find has a lower premium, but much higher out-of-pocket costs.

"The deductible has gone crazy," says Mr. Schmidt staring blankly at the monitor. "$12,700 deductible -- that's a lot of money."

"Plus you're going to pay 20 percent," adds Mrs. Schmidt, noting that their current insurance pays full coverage. "Those are real big increases."

The Schmidts say they'll stick with their current plan.

Meantime, at a coffee house in Shreveport, Kenny Densmore takes a quick break before his next job. He has no health insurance.

"There's no need. I take pretty good care of myself," the 28-year-old says, adding that he has no plans to buy through Obamacare.

"I don't trust the government. I don't trust it whatsoever," Densmore says. "To trust them with something like my healthcare -- no, I don't think so."

With young, healthy Americans like Densmore opting to pay fines instead of premiums, Louisiana Republican Congressman John Fleming offers a bad prognosis.

"What we expect to see is a worsening of what is really a death spiral for Obamacare," Fleming says.

Why? The math may not work. Through January, the Obama administration said three million Americans had enrolled. But it hasn't said how many have actually made their first payment. Meantime, a study by the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. shows that only 11 percent of enrollees are new insurance customers. The rest have just switched plans -- many of them kicked off their old plans that did not meet the law's minimum coverage requirements.

Also, the administration says 75 percent of enrollees are older, sicker Americans. It's said that it needs 38% percent to be those young healthies, ages 18 to 34, who won't cost as much to cover.

And if insurance companies lose money on Obamacare, get ready for what critics like Rep. Fleming call a bailout from taxpayers.

"The problem is that the president doesn't need the congress to make that happen," he says. "It's built into Obamacare. It's baked right into it."

Section 1342 of the Affordable Care Act forces the government to cover up to 80 percent of insurance company losses through the year 2016.

But supporters point to a Congressional Budget Office report that projects that this so-called risk corridor designed to stabilize the new marketplace will actually result in a net gain of eight billion dollars for the Treasury in the next three years.

Meantime, the clock ticks toward the March 31 deadline to buy insurance without penalty. The fines are $95 per adult and $47.40 per child, up to $285 dollars per family, or one percent of your income, whichever is higher, for the first year. It goes up significantly the next two years, as you can see here.

If you buy through a government exchange instead of an insurance company, you could be eligible for tax breaks and subsidies. That help is for those who make up to four times the federal poverty level. This year that's almost $46,000 dollars for an individual, and $94,000 for a family of four.

The government estimated 48 million Americans without insurance.

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