- Health Care, Drugs & Insurance
The Noise Surrounding The Affordable Care Act
Health Exchange Problems
With the current Healthcare.gov website problems, the Obama administration has not done itself any favors. Instead, it has given conservative opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), much fodder to chew on. Knowing how much the Republicans, have been chomping at the bit, to destroy, kill, and repeal Obamacare, the administration should have spared no effort, to ensure that enrollment under the ACA was flawless. All the needed resources, technology, and the best management talent, should have been deployed to guarantee a successful enrollment period. No Excuses! It's an embarrassment.!
Having said that, it is important to put everything in perspective, and separate the noise from the facts. There are upwards of 35 millions of Americans who do not have health insurance, and do not have access to the health care system. The number of these uninsured Americans have been growing steadily over the last twenty five years or so, negatively impacting the US health care system, by driving up health care costs.
The ACA, signed into law by President Obama, has began to addressed this problem. Many provisions of the law are already in effect, and are benefiting many Americans. Dependents children are able to remain on their parents coverage until age 26. No one can be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Individuals on Medicare are enjoying a reduction in their prescription drug plans.
There are a little more than 4 month left in the open enrollment period. The administration has stated that by November 30th. the problems with the exchange website will be resolved, and individuals will be able to navigate the site to select and purchase their health care coverage.
Millions of American Losing Individual Coverage
The current noise surrounding the ACA is that millions of Americans are losing their individual health insurance coverage, because of Obamacare. And, that President Obama, in selling the plan, has consistently stated, If you have an insurance plan that you love, you can keep it.
The fact is, many of these plans were grandfathered in under the ACA, but some insurance companies, have chosen to terminate them, because they do not meet the essential coverage standard under the ACA. Additionally, many of these individual plans would have terminated anyway, with or without Obamacare, because that is the normal course of events in the individual health care market. These plans usually, have very limited coverage, and extremely high deductibles.
Finally! individuals, in this market have the opportunity to shop for real quality affordable health coverage on the health exchange, or elsewhere. Now they can select reliable comprehensive coverage, instead of the quasi coverage they had before. True, some ACA plans might be more expensive than their prior plan. However, that should be expected. The ACA plan is better value. Comparing the Obamacare plan with their existing plan, based solely on premium cost, is an unfair comparison. It's really comparing apples to oranges.
An increase in premiums should be expected, because you are getting full comprehensive health care coverage, with all the associated benefits. Some individuals, depending on income, eg. A family of four earning $94,200 or less, will qualify for financial assistance, to help reduce their premium cost.
Like many working Americans, I have and continue to enjoy employer sponsored health coverage, and have endured many open enrollments. Typically, between November and December of each year, your employer will have an open enrollment period, where an employee has the opportunity to review the company's health plan offerings. During this period employees can select their plans, review premiums, and make adjustments to their health coverage, for the coming year. Some employers do contribute to your health premium cost, while some do not. More often, than not, your health insurance premiums increases from year to year. Some companies, particularly, smaller ones sometimes have to change insurance companies, to help control health cost. When this happens, you may discover that your doctor or health provider does not participate with this new insurer. This is a major inconvenience. Unfortunately,that is the reality of the health insurance system we have..
So, as this massive open enrollment for the ACA continues, American who need coverage should ignore the noise, and misinformation, and seize the opportunity to sign up, on line, over the phone, by paper application. By all means sign up! This could be one of the most important decision you will make for yourself and your family.
Obamacare - A Big Drag on Economy?
Critics of Obamacare, have also complained that the program is a drag on the economy. This, despite the fact that there are no credible studies or reports to support that claim. Since the 2009 recession, the economy has been growing steadily, the private sector has added millions of jobs. The unemployment rate has been declining steadily from its recession highs. Based on the October release, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 204,000 non-farm payroll jobs were created, marking 44 straight months of private sector job growth, totaling 7.8 million private sector jobs. The report also show GDP grew by 2.8%. Proof, that the economy is growing, stronger than originally predicted. So much for drag on the economy. In fact, one could argue that, the opposite is true. Since the enactment of Obamacare, in 2010, health care costs have began to decline, which is one of it primary objectives of the law.
Risk of Adverse Selection
Some critics have also predicted the demise of the ACA, due to the risk of adverse selection; Opining that only older, sick people are signing up for Obamacare, at the exclusion a of desired pool of healthy young individuals, to help offset the higher risk, older sicker, insureds in the group. To date, we do not know, who has signed up. Some information is expected to be released sometime this week by the administration. These critics assume that most healthy, young individuals without health insurance, are irresponsible, and will not sign up to purchase health care coverage. I think that assumption is wrong. Most Americans, young or old, understand, that being healthy today, does not guarantee you will be healthy tomorrow. One accident, or an episode severe of illness, could have a catastrophic negative economic impact on their life, without the benefit health care coverage.
For now, the noise continues. But we know, this too, will pass. The best way to contain the noise is, for those who need health care coverage, to sign up for affordable health coverage.