Ktismatics

19 December 2013

An Obamacare Testimonial

Filed under: Culture, Reflections — ktismatics @ 10:23 am

We signed up for Obamacare yesterday, and I’m a satisfied customer.

I’m here to report that the process of applying for and obtaining health insurance on the much-maligned website is much easier than applying for private insurance the old-fashioned way. We encountered an initial glitch in logging in, but it turned out to be our own fault, not the site’s. No questions are posed about hospitalizations over the past 5 years, prior surgeries, prescribed medicines, most recent blood pressure readings, diagnosed health conditions, and all the other data that the companies insist on collecting from you every time you change insurers. As I recall, the only health-related information we provided were age, whether we currently smoke, and whether we have difficulties in performing activities of daily living (eating, dressing, toileting).

To determine the amount of your government subsidy for covering insurance premiums, the site asks you to estimate your income for 2014. It’s possible to enter varying estimates offline to see how much of a price break you might get for varying income levels. The discounts turn out to be quite steep, even for income levels that don’t fall below the officially recognized poverty line. Since this is a program administered by the federal government, it will be possible at the end of the year for the Obamacare administrators to identify, via your income tax returns, how much income you actually made. If it turns out you make more income than you estimated, you will have to repay unmerited subsidies. If you earn less than you estimated, then you get the additional subsidy refunded to you or applied to the subsequent year’s insurance premium.

When you’re ready to buy insurance, you’re presented with a list of insurance plans offered by private insurers that have agreed to participate in the Obamacare program. I thought that maybe there would be two choices, but there were maybe 40, clumped according to comprehensiveness of coverage (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum, of course). For each option the website displays the basic features: deductible, coinsurance, copay, maximum out-of-pocket expenses, prescription prices. The price of each option is displayed: the unsubsidized full amount as well as the amount you would have to pay after your calculated subsidy. Even if you don’t quality for a subsidy, the site’s method of displaying comparative costs and benefits of various options is extremely helpful.

We selected a plan from the list that best suited our preferences for coverage and price, then clicked the button. Congratulations! You’ve successfully signed up for Obamacare-administered health insurance. Presumably we’ll receive an email from the insurance carrier within the next couple of days instructing us on how to pay. Coverage goes into effect on 1 January 2014 — a mere 14 days after applying.

In conclusion, Obamacare is the easiest and best way of buying private health insurance that I’ve ever experienced. The website lets you shop for features and compare competing products head to head. And the program does make private coverage much more affordable to people with low incomes.

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3 Comments »

  1. we did have some trouble with the site a while back but a simple phone call was all it took to get signed up. I think a central part of the problem here is along the lines of getting people to account/budget for “externalities” as is the case with say environmental pollution, and sadly I don’t think that our citizenry by and large is up to taking in such complexities and so like with secondhand smoke will need to be shepherded into taking care.
    The larger insanity of government subsidies for high fructose corn-syrup and soy fats to poison our bodies and bankrupt our government is likely to undermine such efforts as this health-plan but in the meantime I’m grateful for the shelter it provides our family.

    Comment by dmf — 24 December 2013 @ 11:43 am

  2. Hi dmf. I’ve bitched about Obamacare from the beginning, mostly because in it the government requires people to pay for a private-sector service without negotiating lower costs on the buyers’ behalf, which means that prices are almost certain to escalate across the board (what else is new?). In that sense it is a government subsidy for the healthcare industry, and so the mainstream Republicans are likely to let it survive despite their anti-socialist public rhetoric, especially if tea-partiers continue to fall in public opinion. Still, for people with low income and pre-existing conditions Obamacare is certainly a significant improvement.

    Comment by ktismatics — 25 December 2013 @ 12:00 am

    • don’t get me wrong I think that the Prez got what he could given the powers that be and let’s be frank he’s sadly not a socialist but than we on the ground have yet to really mobilize for socialist politics the way that our counterparts on the far-right built their empire brick by brick from the school-boards up, no voting block no right to healthcare and more federal taxpayer handouts to crony-polluters of body and soil like Big Agriculture…merry christmas, dirk

      Comment by dmf — 25 December 2013 @ 9:45 am


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