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Concern about premium cost as new Obamacare sign-ups begin

Advocates say financial aid should counter hikes
Posted at 6:50 PM, Nov 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-01 21:50:54-04
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Obamacare has become a contentious campaign issue with big jumps in  premiums and insurance companies dropping out of the program.
 
But millions of people still look to the program for their insurance and Tuesday is the first day to sign up for next year.  
 
Near the library at Pima Community College downtown, counselors were helping people find their way through the often confusing world of health insurance.
      
A shortage of younger policy holders is part of the reason Obamacare has had trouble.  
 
The idea that lots of young healthy people would buy in and increase the total pool of money to cover sicker people was part of the foundation of Obamacare.  But a lot of those young people are betting they will stay healthy. So they're staying away and eating the tax penalty instead.
      
But Levi Verdugo is buying in at age 26.  He sees buying insurance as in investment in himself.
 
"This is all brand new to me.  Before it was in the Marine Corps pretty much had all that covered for me.  My last job provided with health insurance and this is my first step on my own.  Craig: It's kind of an eye-glazing experience isn't it? Verdugo: " Yes, definitely.  It's eye opening.  It's really exciting and kind of thrilling taking hold of adulthood."
        
Costs for some Obamacare plans for Arizona are rising as much as 116 percent, the average is more like 74 percent.
        
But as premiums rise, subsidies do too.  So Obamacare advisors say what you actually pay may not go up very much.
 
Cynthia Estrada of Pima Community Access Program says, "Hopefully it'll balance out.   I don't know how much the actual increase in financial help is rising up to  but there is financial help and cost sharing reduction to lower not only their premiums that they're paying out of pocket but their out of pocket expenses like co-pays and deductibles."
      
 And organizers say they're concerned that talk about premium jumps will discourage people from even looking into Obamacare---and they'll miss the chance to leave about financial help that could help them afford good insurance.
 
People who do want help working their way through an application can visit www.coveraz.org/connector or call 1-800-377-3536.