The day that all Americans have waited for over 3 years has finally arrived.
On March 22, 2010 the Democratic Party controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate. They were able to force a piece of legislation through, by using parliamentary tricks and political coercion, called the Patient’s Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). In the 3.5 years since President Obama signed that bill into law, it has come to be known as Obamacare.
Although the law is a complete over-haul of the U.S. health insurance system, it was broken down into 2 major phases. The law makes many changes to the entire health insurance system in our nation. However, in this post I will only comment on a few changes that affect all Americans.
Over the past 3 years, new “benefits” have been provided to Americans (whether they wanted them or not.)
- Medical underwriting for juveniles was eliminated
- Children were allowed to stay on their parent’s health insurance for an extra year
- The “Donut Hole” for some seniors started to close
- Medicare Advantage’s payment system was totally changed
- An annual physical right was added to Medicare B
- Insurance companies are required to pay 100% of Preventive Medical Services for those people with health insurance
- Insurance companies are required to refund any premiums in excess of 80/85% of actual health care expenses
- New taxes and federal fees were added to the financial responsibilities of insurance companies.
All of these new “benefits” sound wonderful, however, they had an adverse reaction when they were put in place.
Many insurance companies have closed their doors, and no longer offer coverage.
Many others have laid off workers.
All insurance companies have continued to raise their rates in order to remain compliant with state laws that require them to collect enough in premiums to pay all anticipated medical bills each year. (It does not take a Math major to understand that when an insurance company adds new “benefits” they will also increase the premium they charge to everyone in order to pay them.)
It also does not take a degree in finance to understand that when the government adds billions of dollars in taxes and fees to insurance companies, they will just pass those costs on to premium payers.
Now that the presidential election is in the past and Barack Obama has been re-elected, Phase 2 of the PPACA is going to happen. There is nothing that can be done about it.
Yes, I know that the House of Representatives has tried 40 times to repeal Obamacare. Certain senators have also flapped their jaws over the outrage known as Obamacare.
All those efforts are merely for show and to secure political points for future elections. As long as President Obama remains in office, his signature legislation, whether or not it benefits all Americans, will remain in effect.
Today is the first day of the National Open Election. Unless you are specifically exempted, if you do not get health insurance as a benefit at your work, you are mandated to enroll in a government approved health insurance plan for 2014.
A new marketing system, called the “Marketplace” opened today. (When the PPACA was forced on America, it used the term, “Exchange. Last May, the White House felt that “Exchange” was too politically charged. The president elected to change the term that congress approved to “Marketplace.”)
If you are responsible for your own health insurance, you can still buy it directly from your insurance company. However, if you want to claim a tax-credit to help with the costs of health insurance, you have no choice but to enroll through the government’s “Marketplace.”
Sixteen states, plus the District of Columbia, have elected to build and operate their own health insurance exchanges. The rest of the states have elected to allow the federal government to build and/or operate their exchanges.
Although, Americans in the states that built their own exchanges have had several months to review their health insurance options and make informed decisions, those Americans in the states that are relying on the federal government have not had the same opportunity.
Unfortunately, the federal government has been rather secretive about the details of plans in the “Marketplace.” The White House has given Americans average premiums and spoken in generalities about the different plans that will be available. However, today is the first time that Americans, who live in states with federally facilitated “Marketplaces, are able to review the details of the plans and know how much they are going to pay for those benefits.
The computer programs that the “Marketplaces” will use is brand-new. They have never been tested. It is expected that they will have plenty of problems.
In fact, last summer President Obama warned Americans that their will be “bumps” and “glitches” in the system. It is important to remember that the computer programs that run the “Marketplaces” are new. A government employee cannot just run down to Best Buy and get a box with a computer program that will communicate with several state and federal departments in real-time.
The Obama administration has known today was coming for 3.5 years. Apparently, 3.5 years is not enough time for the government to build and test a reliable computer system.
In light of the anticipated problems with Phase 2 of Obamacare, I propose Americans do the following.
STEP 1 – Review your options as soon as you can but do not commit to anything now.
STEP 2 – Determine if you will qualify for any federal subsidies.
STEP 3 – If you will not qualify for federal subsidies, buy you health insurance outside of the government’s “Marketplace.” It will cost you less for the identical plan that you would get inside the “Marketplace.” (If you live in TX, you can do this at anytime on the left side of this blog.)
STEP 4 – If you qualify for federal subsidies, and wish to claim them, enroll in a plan through the government’s “Marketplace.” (You will find instructions and a link to the “Marketplace” on the right-side of this blog.)
If you elect to get your Essential Benefit Plan through the federal “Marketplace” I urge you to wait to enroll until at least November. Ideally, you will wait until the week after Thanksgiving.
The longer you delay your enrollment, the less likely you will be to experience the “bumps” and “glitches” associated with the hastily thrown-together computer system that was made public today.
Remember, it does not make any difference whether you enroll on October 1 or December 1. The Obamacare plans do not start until January 1. You can afford to fight the urge to enroll today and get it over. This is one time when patience really is a virtue.
In some states, including Texas, citizens are allowed to keep their current plan until it renews in 2014 and not be subject to the “Shared Responsibility Payment” (Penalty). If that is the law in your state, you are able to delay enrollment in one of the Obamacare plans for several months. By the time your existing plan renews next year, and you use your Special Election, the “Marketplace” computers should be corrected of most, if not all, problems.
Delaying Obamacare with your current health insurance is just one strategy for dealing with Obamacare. Click the graphic below for a free copy of our e-book, “Alternatives to Obamacare.”