Critics blame cost hikes on ObamaCare

Republicans are slamming the healthcare reform law after some consumers reported significant cost hikes in coverage offered by their insurance company.

Senate Finance Committee Republicans released a compilation of posts to the healthcare.gov Facebook account in which users argued that the law was markedly increasing the cost of their individual coverage.

"My family premium of $789/mo for a healthy family of five just went up to $1700/mo, for a plan that we were completely happy with. ... My premium is now higher than my mortgage," wrote Bob Kapolnek of Champaign, Ill.

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"I am all for affordable healthcare. I don't think going from a premium of $289 to $855 is affordable," wrote another user, Gail Williamson Schaal.

The Affordable Care Act requires healthcare plans to offer a basic level of coverage, a change the administration acknowledges will raise premiums for some patients.

But experts say it will take until 2014 and beyond before analysts can fully assess the law's impact on total out-of-pocket insurance costs.

Premiums also don't tell the whole story, experts say. Monthly charges might rise, but total per-family healthcare spending also depends on plan deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.

Citing the Facebook posts, Republicans blasted the Obama administration and painted ObamaCare as a major strain on family finances.

"This law must be repealed so that we can pass step-by-step reforms that ... [reduce] the cost of healthcare so that more people can afford it," Senate Health Committee ranking member Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said in a statement Tuesday.

It is possible that users posting on Facebook will be able to access cheaper plans on the new insurance marketplaces.

The healthcare law mostly affects patients who buy their coverage themselves rather than receiving it through an employer or a government program like Medicare.

The insurance exchanges opened for enrollment last Tuesday amid a rash of technical flaws that tested users' patience.

Federal health officials are urging calm as improvements take effect.

ObamaCare supporters, meanwhile, are pointing to anecdotes about sick patients elated at their ability to purchase coverage for the first time in years.

"We've had individuals weeping as they've found out that they or their spouse" were eligible for health insurance, said Barbara Gordon, a Kentucky-based social services worker who is helping with ObamaCare enrollment.