Yes sir, ole Caleb was madder than a hornet this year…
Because, through an unfortunate series of events I’m now having to deal full force with the fiasco that is OBAMACARE.
To make a long, painful story short: had a bit of a mixup early this year that caused my insurance to get cancelled … and then … I recently tried to re-sign up with my insurance company, only to discover to my shock & horror:
1. The insurance that, you know, the Feds MANDATE you buy (a.k.a. King’s decree punishable by fine, imprisonment and eventual death if you refuse)
2. I can’t even BUY right now!
Yup, only the boneheads in Washington could come up with such a plan … the “open enrollment period” and it is now closed.
I’m in the ridiculous position of having to “beg” someone to let me buy something I NEVER wanted or (in reality) needed in the first place.
In short, the Feds have once again created a sh*t show.
So we’re going to talk about what they’re offering…
There has been a lot said about Obamacare providing better insurance than what people had available to them before.
According to various proponents of Obamacare, those “sub-standard” insurance packages (which people were perfectly happy with) didn’t provide all the healthcare services that people needed.
To make sure that everyone receives at least a minimum level of coverage, Obamacare requires that all insurance policies cover these ten areas:
1. Outpatient care – Healthcare services given to patients, without the need to check in to a hospital. This includes healthcare services at a hospital or doctor’s office.
2. Emergency services – Trips to the emergency room for whatever reason are covered under Obamacare.
3. Inpatient care – The cost of hospitalization, including hospital services and treatment that is performed while the patient is in the hospital.
4. Pre-natal and post-natal care – Medical care for the mother both before and after the baby is born, to include the cost of childbirth itself.
5. Mental health and substance abuse – Any mental health services, including behavioral health treatment, counseling and phychotherapy. This also includes treatment for substance abuse.
6. Prescription drugs – All medications prescribed by a doctor.
7. Disability and injury therapy – If therapy is needed for pre-existing conditions or due to an accident, the costs of therapy are fully covered. This not only includes physical therapy, but speech or language pathology, psychiatric rehabilitation and other types of therapy.
8. Lab tests – All lab tests ordered by a doctor, whether performed in his office, at a hospital or by a separate laboratory.
9. Preventative medicine – There are a wide variety of preventative healthcare services covered, including vaccines, counseling and screening. Basically, anything to keep you healthy or care for a chronic disease.
10. Pediatric services – All medical costs for children. This also covers dental and vision care for children, which are not covered for adults.
This exhaustive list is included in all health insurance policies issued since Obamacare was implemented, which has caused many insurance companies to cancel pre-existing policies.
The patient has no choice about purchasing these, as they must be included.
Catastrophic policies, which just cover major medical expenses have been largely eliminated, except in very specific cases. This eliminates the most cost-effective option for the self-employed and low income families who are still above the maximum level to receive Medicaid.
And again, the young people suffer …
Most young people would do better with a catastrophic policy because they don’t get that sick often and don’t need much medical care. They simply need “insurance” in case the unthinkable accident or life threatening injury happens.
The Plan Tiers
While the actual deductible varies by policy, company and the state you are living in, we can see a definite difference in the deductible as we look at the plans offered on the exchange for any one part of the country. The following is a fairly good basis of comparison of the deductible levels for a family, looking at the various tiers:
• Bronze plan – $7,000 – $12,700
• Silver plan – $3,000 – $9,000
• Gold plan – $2,500 – $6,000
• Platinum plan – $0 – $2,000
As you can see, the deductibles for the bronze plans are very high.
That means that if you select a bronze plan, your family will be expected to pay somewhere between $7,000 and $12,700 of your own medical expenses, before your insurance company pays for anything.
So, all those “freebies” that people have been talking about receiving under Obamacare are really a lie.
They’re only free, once you’ve paid for a lot of your own healthcare expense.
Is there any way to make it through the next few years with your wallet and you life intact in the new world of Obamacare?
I’ve got some ideas for you…
While Obamacare requires that everyone in the United States have health insurance, not everyone is going to obey that law.
In fact, many are choosing to not buy health insurance. Those people are going to have to pay the IRS a fine for not buying health insurance.
However, the fine is much cheaper for most people than paying for the insurance could ever be.
The fine for not buying health insurance in 2014 is $95 per person or 1% of your income, whichever is higher. This increases to 2% of your income or $325 per person in 2015 and 2.5% of your income or $695 per person in 2016. After that, it increases incrementally to match the inflation rate.
While these fines may seem steep, especially after a few years, they are considerably cheaper than paying health insurance premiums.
People are justifying choosing to opt out of Obamacare based upon the high cost of the premiums, along with the high deductibles.
To most people, the high deductible means that the health insurance would only be applicable in the case of a catastrophic health problem.
Of course, if one doesn’t buy health insurance, then they have to cover all of their own healthcare costs. Depending upon the health of family members, this could end up being quite high.
So, taking the step of not buying health insurance is something that should be thought about thoroughly before deciding.
Other Options if You Don’t Buy Health Insurance
There are a number of options you can use to assist with your healthcare costs, should you decide to opt out of Obamacare and not buy health insurance.
While none of these options are for everyone, you can probably find a system that will work for you.
• Join a health care sharing ministry – These organizations are made of members who voluntarily help each other out by sharing each others’ healthcare costs. Each month, members send their membership dues to another family who has applied for assistance from the ministry.
• Purchase short-term health insurance – Some companies are still offering short-term health insurance policies. As these policies don’t last over a year, they are not subject to the same regulations as Obamacare. Since they do not offer the same level of coverage, they are considerably cheaper.
• Buy an alternative insurance plan – These plans pay cash to you, the insured, in the case of a medical emergency. The amount they pay doesn’t always cover medical expenses fully, but can help. A related option is to increase the medical insurance portion of your automobile insurance, so that it pays for more of your medical expenses in the case of an accident.
• Use cash-only clinics – As Obamacare has been being implemented, cash-only clinics have been sprouting up around the country. These do not accept insurance, only cash customers.
• Go out of the country – Many medical services are available in Mexico (and other countries) for considerably lower costs than here in the United States. There are many private hospitals and clinics which offer excellent care. You are expected to pay cash for whatever services you receive and a family member needs to stay with the patient. The cost savings more than makes up for airfare in most cases.
For example, my wife once got sick in the Dominican Republic and we spent three nights in the hospital there. She had constant care including IV’s and medicine. My total bill was slightly over $1,000 USD at the end of the stay. I doubt $1,000 would cover one hour in the U.S. much less three days.
• Negotiate fixed price rates for hospital stays and surgery – The additional costs are often the worst part of any hospital bill. Negotiate a fixed price or use a negotiation service to do this for you. That lowers your overall cost and provides you with a real number that you can work with for planning your budget.
The real risk in going without insurance is if something catastrophic happens to a family member.
While hospitals are still required to accept all emergency patients, the cost of an emergency room visit can be quite high. Without insurance, you will have to pay this yourself.
Again, before Obamacare, you had the option of paying a low price to receive protection in case the “worst” happened and you had to go to the emergency room for catastrophic care … Now, that’s not really an option for most folks.
Now, in 2014 we saw a serious outbreak of Ebola…
And as you know, this is one of those things I think can happen in 2015, too