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PPACA gets blame for out-of-pocket cost increases

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Many Americans who already have coverage are blaming rising premiums and deductibles on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

There are signs that the federal PPACA exchange enrollment system is working better, but about half of the Americans with private coverage who participated in a new Associated Press-GfK poll said their policies will be changing next year — mostly for the worse.

Employers were already moving toward leaner coverage before PPACA along, but 77 percent of the poll participants blame the upcoming changes on PPACA.

Sixty-nine percent said their premiums will be going up, and 59 percent said annual deductibles or co-payments are increasing.

Only 21 percent of those with private coverage said their plan is expanding to cover more types of medical care, though coverage of preventive care at no charge to the patient has been required by the law for the past couple of years.

Fourteen percent said coverage for spouses is being restricted or eliminated, and 11 percent said their plan is being discontinued.

Political leanings seemed to affect perceptions of eroding coverage, with larger majorities of Republicans and independents saying their coverage will be affected.

More than 60 percent of the participants said they disapprove of President Obama’s handling of health care.

But, when the survey firm asked participants which party they trust more to handle health care, 32 percent named the Democrats and just 22 percent named the Republicans.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Dec. 5-9 and involved online interviews with 1,367 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents.

The poll was conducted after Obama administrations said they had greatly improved the website and states said they had greatly improved their enrollment systems.

About 11 percent of the participants said they or someone in their household had tried to sign up for health insurance through the exchanges.

Among the people who had applied for coverage through the exchanges or knew someone else who had, about one-quarter said the applicants had managed to enroll in coverage, half said the would-be applicants had not succeeded at enrolling in coverage, and one-quarter weren’t sure what the result was.

Phyllis Dessel, 63, of Reading, Pa., made 50 attempts at getting enrolled online and said she believes she is finally enrolled.

The retired social worker, a political independent, currently has her own private insurance.

When Dessel described her experience, she jokingly asked, “Do you mind if I cry?”

Thanks to tax credits available under PPACA, she was able to save about $100 a month on the monthly premium for her new coverage. But she had to switch carriers because staying with her current insurer would have cost more than she was willing to pay. She hasn’t gotten an invoice yet from her new insurance company.

The premiums she found on the new insurance marketplace were “not at all” what she expected, said Dessel. “They were much, much higher.”

A supporter of PPACA, she said she believes changes are needed to make the coverage more affordable.

“I think with a lot of amendments or updates, it could be very, very helpful and beneficial,” said Dessel. “I know a lot of people who don’t have insurance. My hairdresser, my plumber don’t have insurance, and they’re not going to get it if it’s not affordable.”

AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius and Associated Press writer Stacy A. Anderson contributed to this report.

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