Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Not So Affordable Care Act

AFFORDABLE. Defined by the Webster's College Dictionary as: Considered to be within one's financial means.
Guess what?! A $72.68 increase IS NOT within my financial means. So already, this government program designed to "affordably insure" the vast majority of Americans has Pissed.Me.Off.
Normally, I try to stay blissfully ignorant when it comes to all things governmental, especially since Obama was elected and then reelected. If you ask me what party I associate myself with, I proudly say "Republican" but will walk away should the conversation delve any deeper into politics. Not because I can't defend my allegiance, but because I refuse to argue with an Obama loving liberal. No one ever wins, friendships can be compromised, and Obama will still be President. I would rather move to Canada then vote for a Democrat or a woman. Should I have ever have to choose between voting for a Democratic Man or Republican Woman, I will move to Canada. Playing ice hockey without a helmet sounds more appealing than enduring 4 years with either as President.
Silver Lining: Should I return, any residual injuries or side effects I suffer from my helmetless adventure would have to be covered under the new ACA.
I digress.
Prior to receiving the letter, I was unaware and slightly unconcerned with how "Obamacare" would effect me. After all, I have great insurance that I am able to afford on my own and will cover me in the event of an accident or medical emergency which, I know now, is exactly what the Affordable Care Act(ACA) is offering to everyone. So even though I hand picked my old plan because it worked for me, it fails to comply with the new regulations set by the ACA. And these new regulations are exactly what is now making my new plan totally unaffordable. According to an article in Forbes, there are many others who will be affected in a similar way:
 Middle-class Americans face the double-whammy of higher insurance premiums, and higher taxes to pay for other people’s subsidies. Most people with average incomes will pay more under Obamacare for individually-purchased insurance than they did before. The overall results make clear that most people will not receive enough in subsidies to counteract the degree to which Obamacare drives premiums upward.
Remember that nearly two-thirds of the uninsured are under the age of 40. And that young and healthy people are essential to Obamacare; unless these individuals are willing to pay more for health insurance to subsidize everyone else, the exchanges will not serve the goal of providing coverage to the uninsured. For months, we’ve heard about how Obamacare’s trillions in health care subsidies were going to save America from rate shock. It’s not true. If you shop for coverage on your own, you’re likely to see your rates go up, even after accounting for the impact of pre-existing conditions, even after accounting for the impact of subsidies.
Rates are going higher. And if you’re healthy, or you’re young, the Obama administration expects you to do your duty and pay up.
Many 27-year-olds will face steep increases in the underlying cost of individually-purchased insurance under Obamacare: rates will go up for men by an average of 97 percent; for women, 55 percent.
HealthLawHelper estimates that around 51% of all Americans are confused about how the new health laws affect them. Well Duh. Because this is the first thing I read about the “Affordable Care Act”:
According to ObamaCareFacts:
ObamaCare's goal is give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance and to reduce the growth in health care spending in the U.S
The ObamaCare fact is the average American will save money under ObamaCare. In fact, many Americans are already paying less for health care services.
Wrong. An EIGHT HUNDRED AND SEVENTY TWO DOLLAR ANNUAL INCREASE in my insurance is not AFFORDABLE. This also means that I am NOT SAVING MONEY and clearly NOT PAYING LESS for my health care services. WTF.
I am aware that prior to ObamaCare, over 48 million Americans were uninsured and I believe that they are entitled to receive affordable health care. But this is not the way to do it.
The premise of the ACA,which I will now refer to as the NSACA (not so ACA,) is to provide nearly every American with affordable health insurance with a focus on preventative care. The NSACA even names ten essential health benefits that all plans must cover. However, there are roughly 315 million people in the United States and of those, 154.7 million adults and 23.9 children are overweight or obese. Data from the National Survey of Childrens Health shows:
The obesity epidemic is disproportionally more rampant among children living in low income, low education, and higher unemployment households.
Statistics from PfizerFacts show that the uninsured share similar demographics:
  • Low income is a risk factor for not having insurance.
  • Service workers, along with blue-collar and farm workers, make up the bulk of the 24 million uninsured employer-based workers.
  • One third of uninsured children live in families with annual household incomes below $25,000; 19% of children living in such households are uninsured.
Would it be wrong to assume that many of the uninsured now covered by the NSACA will need far more than just preventative care? Meaning that, from the statistics, it could be assumed that a significant amount of uninsured people are also overweight or obese and will require secondary or tertiary care that is far more expensive than preventative care. According to the CDC:
The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are staggering. In 2008 dollars, these costs totaled about $147 billion
What will it cost now?
Concerned about my increase, I called the lifelong family friend from whom I bought my insurance. When I discussed the letter and the increase with him, he laughed sarcastically but told me that $250 was incredibly reasonable. He encouraged me to take it because premiums were expected to triple. I discussed with him the "marketplace" but we both knew that it was not a reasonable alternative because of the limited number of doctors and medical networks.
Also, currently, I am not eligible to receive the "subsidies" that makes the NSACA so attractive to many of the currently uninsured. Why? Because my employer offers health insurance but I chose to buy my own. I work for Longhorn Steakhouse which is owned by Darden Restaurants. Even before the NSACA, they offered their non salaried employees a very limited list of insurance options. I tried it, but the coverage was inadequate and it affected my taxes at the end of the year, so I chose to find my own independent insurancee, which prior to the increase, was only 30 dollars more  and I was well covered.
Although I am not sure how the Darden insurance has adapted to the laws of the NSACA, I have no desire to receive coverage from my employer. Because of this, under the new laws, if I were to buy from the marketplace, I can't receive any subsidies and decrease my premium.
Another law under the NSACA states that full time equates to 30 hours or more. Many people who relied on 30 hours or even overtime are finding themselves unable to make ends meet because they are no longer able to work more than 28.5 hours. According to an article from the TheBrennerBrief:
With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), one of its most lasting and far-reaching (and unintended) consequences is already emerging. Employers who have numerous, relatively low-pay employees are changing their practices to employ these workers only 30 hours per week. This keeps them below the threshold for full-time employment, and relieves employers of the economic burden of paying for health insurance — or paying a penalty for not doing so.
There are over 13.1 million food and beverage workers in the United States. Many of them work well over 30 hours. However, their hours have been cut so that their employers do not have to offer them health insurance. An article in Forbes describes Obamacare's Acute Affliction on Restaurant Workers:
Put plainly, the ACA undermines the flexibility of scheduling that has helped ensure a quality dining experience for customers, not to mention provided employees the convenience of flexible schedules and the ability to earn more income as their time permits.   Employees throughout the restaurant industry have embraced and enjoyed this benefit for decades, and they are about to lose it.  As it stands, the net effect of these requirements will be a limitation of the earning potential of the millions of Americans who work in the restaurant industry.
It just keeps getting better and better. Increased premium rates but less hours to earn the money to pay for it.
After discussing it with my insurance man further and lots of exhausting and confusing research, I decided to lock myself into the increased rate of $250 good through January 2015. This is currently my best option as it is obvious that rates will go up far beyond this as early as May 2014.
Congratulations: You survived Bush, but will our wallets survive Obama?

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