“I’m going to regret this.” – C3PO
I’ve deliberately avoided getting into the fray regarding the Affordable Care Act, i.e. Obamacare, as it has a tendency to arouse arguments of a political nature. I deliberately avoided posting my thoughts on Facebook to avoid a flame war between both my conservative and liberal friends, the former seeing the ACA as an intrusion of government, and the the latter as something whose time has come. I can only relate my experience with it, as I am on SSDI and needed health insurance in a big way.
First, having previously been in the healthcare field for 23 years, I had an insight as to both sides of the coin as both a patient and a professional. The insurance industry leaves much to be desired, and certainly reforms were needed. There were – and still are – too many uninsured people here in the U.S., which is the only major country that does not guarantee healthcare as a right. Whether it is specificall a “right” is usually a sticking point. Personally, I think at least basic healthcare coverage should be a right, at least for all citizens.
I was extremely skeptical of the ACA when it was first proposed. There were things about it that I did like (no denial of coverage because of a previous condition), and things I didn’t (penalties for not having coverage, either fines or taxes), but decided to wait and see how things shook out. As it turned out, I wouldn’t have to wait long, as in 2012 I lost my job of seven years and was forced to go on COBRA. Now mind you, I was happy that I had COBRA coverage for three years, but unhappy at the high cost of the premium that went along with it.
COBRA covered all of my medical expenses nicely, via the same local BC/BS entity that my former employer used. As the three year mark approached, I had to start looking at other options, and fortunately that same entity was participating in the NY State of Health exchange. I decided to forego the web application in part, and speak with a human being at BC/BS. This lovely representative found a plan for me that was equal to what I was covered via COBRA, plus a few extra perks. Because my SSDI income was below a certain level, I was able to get a tax credit that wound up lowering my monthly premium by about $400.
“Wow,” I thought, “This really works!” Well come the new year this year, and the tax credit went bye-bye, and while I would still be paying less for it as compared to COBRA, it was a little disheartening. Fortunately however, BC/BS came up with another plan that was even cheaper ($20 monthly premium), had the same coverage as the previous plan but with a few less perks. I would now need referrals for certain specialists, and the portability factor was not there. Small sacrifices at the end of the day, as I was now saving a ton of money both in premiums, and co-pays.
In short, for me the ACA has been a blessing. It fits in with my needs perfectly, and while I still have reservations about certain aspects of it, on balance, it is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. I’m not sure what will happen next year as far as this premium is concerned, or if I will need to switch plans again, but for now it’s a good thing. Those who are vilifying the ACA need to take a step back and realize that while it might not be something they would want for themselves, there are many others in my situation for whom it works well.