As it turns out, the Affordable Care Act is not exactly affordable after all.

With the third Obamacare open enrollment in full swing, consumers nationwide are reeling from health insurance premium sticker shock. Which explains why healthcare costs and access to healthcare remain the single most important issue to Americans.

A few weeks ago, we discussedthe issue of some health insurance markets suffering disproportionately under Obamacare. In the fourth largest city in the country, Houstonians will have the option of a grand total of zero independent Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans to choose from. Why? Providers say they can no longer offer independent plans for an affordable price.

Yet another Texas market faces the downside of Obamacare fallout. According to a new study, Dallas is the recipient of the nation’s largest premium rate hikes. Consumers not wanting to pay higher premiums for the same or less coverage are being encouraged to enroll in another health care plan. The Dallas Morning News reported:

Dallas County is the country’s major metropolitan area with the largest potential premium increase next year for people currently enrolled in the most popular health insurance plan on the Affordable Care Act marketplace, a new report shows.

Collin County residents who also are enrolled in the popular, lowest-cost silver plan through Healthcare.gov face an identical predicament as their counterparts in Dallas County, according to a Dallas Morning News review of the underlying data in the Kaiser Family Foundation report.

In both counties, a 40 year old adult who doesn’t qualify for subsidies and purchased a Blue Cross and Blue Shield “Blue Advantage Silver HMO” policy for 2015 will have to pay $1,116 more next year if he or she doesn’t shop around in the state exchange — and switch.

Forget about the commercials touting premiums as low as $22 a month for qualifying Obamacare enrollees. Many consumers (myself included), are in a situation where exorbitantly high premiums and deductibles are cause to wonder why we bother to cary health insurance at all.

Last week, the New York Times reported on this very issue.

But for many consumers, the sticker shock is coming not on the front end, when they purchase the plans, but on the back end when they get sick: sky-high deductibles that are leaving some newly insured feeling nearly as vulnerable as they were before they had coverage.

“The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor,” said David R. Reines, 60, of Jefferson Township, N.J., a former hardware salesman with chronic knee pain. “We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.”

In many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through HealthCare.gov, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more, a New York Times review has found. Those deductibles are causing concern among Democrats — and some Republican detractors of the health law, who once pushed high-deductible health plans in the belief that consumers would be more cost-conscious if they had more of a financial stake or skin in the game.

“We could not afford the deductible,” said Kevin Fanning, 59, who lives in North Texas, near Wichita Falls. “Basically I was paying for insurance I could not afford to use.”

He dropped his policy.

…To those worried about high out-of-pocket costs, Dave Chandra, a policy analyst at the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, has some advice: “Everyone should come back to the marketplace and shop. You may get a better deal.”

But for many consumers, the frustration is real, as is the financial strain. In employer-sponsored health plans, deductibles have also been rising as companies shift costs to workers. Still, the average annual deductible in employer plans, $1,320 for individual coverage according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, is considerably less than the deductibles in many marketplace plans.

Those self-employed and subject to the offerings of the marketplace are hit the hardest.

But, as we’ve mentioned more than once — rate hikes and ridiculous deductibles are not the result of a glitch in the system, they’re part of the design.

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