Warning: The following in political in nature and should not be read by anyone.
We have all heard people whine – literally whine – about the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare): from politicians to “fake news” media sites to those on social media. I am not going to get into the reasons why here (although feel free to leave a comment below) but to say most, though not all, complaints about the ACA seem to revolve around political affiliation.
While I will agree that Obamacare is far from a perfect solution to the near-dire healthcare issues facing this country, it has proven to be – and I have used this term often – a godsend for my family and I in 2016.
I worked full time as a contractor for most of 2015 and 2016. The insurance provided through the contracting company was nothing short of abysmal. While it wasn’t overly expensive, it did not cover very much nor was it accepted at many labs, doctors offices or hospitals. My family and I forwent a lot of basic healthcare needs and prescriptions simply because they weren’t covered in any significant form.
At the end of 2015, despite the perceived (or perhaps preconceived) horrors of Obamacare, I had little choice but to look into coverage through the ACA Marketplace.
As a result, monthly premiums just about doubled and the deductibles (which, admittedly, I do not fully understand) were enormously high – though the coverage was so much better. For the first time in a long time, we could afford visits to specialty physicians, have extensive lab work done and receive specialty medications.
And comparatively speaking, monthly premiums and other out-of-pocket expenses were on-par with what I paid as a full-time employee with previous employers.
Nevertheless, problems began to bubble up for 2017.
For 2017, my healthcare provider is exiting the ACA Marketplace; a nice way of saying they have dropped my family completely and have forced me to find alternate healthcare coverage. On top of that, monthly premiums in Arizona for ACA plans have averaged a 50-75% increase (some as high as 116%) for 2017. Fortunately, I no longer work as a contractor and have the option to enroll in coverage through my employer.
However, I won’t be doing that.
It turns out that the lone, remaining, healthcare provider in my county provides similar coverage to that of the plan offered through my employer. In one important way, however, it is actually better when considering the specialty physicians and medication my family needs. The premium increase will be 27% more than I had to pay in 2016.
Yet is still a whopping $9.95 cheaper per month than what I would pay through my employer.
Yes, the provider is a company I have never even heard of prior to a month ago – whereas the provider available through work is a big-name player in the industry. And admittedly, once the lab tests start and medical procedures begins, we’ll have to see how service, coverage, pre-authorizations, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses are handled…
That is a bit scary but it’s comforting knowing we will be keeping our primary care and specialty physicians. And on paper anyway, our expected exams and services will be met.
What really scares me, however, is 2018. Although most Americans would rather see the flaws in Obamacare fixed, politicians seem hell-bent on a full repeal of the ACA.
Will premiums skyrocket again in 2018? Will they be higher than my employer’s options? What companies will be left to provide coverage? Will an alternative solution be in place by then?
There are a lot of unknowns moving forward and no doubt there will be frustrations experienced and complaints to be made. Right or wrong, the Affordable Care Act will continue to bear the brunt of the blame until it’s fixed or scrapped.
Speaking only for myself, however, for my family: Obamacare is two-for-two.