If you don’t have health insurance or can’t afford what you do have, consider the Affordable Care Act’s just relaunched Healthcare.gov this weekend. You could find a new policy that costs less or one that costs a little more, but includes far more benefits. The best part: there’s no obligation to buy anything, and the web site is the polar opposite of the dysfunctional version that originally launched. Hey, we all have growing pains!
There’s a lot of bad information about the Affordable Care Act being spread by some people that have certain agendas. They refer to it as ObamaCare and suggest there will be death panels for aging seniors and free health care coverage for illegal immigrants.
Obamacare Death Panels
For the record, death panels were never considered–end of life counseling was originally included as a payable service. In the past, health care providers like doctors, nurses and therapists were answering questions about how patients could decide what happens to them should they become debilitated. They were not being compensated for that.
Under the Affordable Care Act, it was proposed to reimburse providers for their time if a patient requested consultation on what happens to them in certain medical conditions. In addition to answering questions, the patient could receive assistance filling out a Health Care Power of Attorney, where someone is allowed to carry out your wishes should you become unable to make those decisions. Ideally, the named person will have several conversations with you so they fully understand what care you want to receive. The POA can also specify your wishes in certain hypothetical situations, which helps shape your treatment.
Because of scared consumers, legislators removed this provision. That doesn’t stop these types of discussions with health care professionals. It just means they still can’t be paid for it, so they may not want to spend the time.
The ACA specifically states that a person shopping the Health Insurance MarketPlace must be legally in the U.S. in order to sign up for health care insurance. In fact, one of the reasons Healthcare.gov experienced so many problems when it first launched is due to the number of government systems it plugs into to ensure this is enforced.
For example, Healthcare.gov and the other marketplaces launched by some state governments, checks a person’s identity through the Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service. It verifies citizenship or legal status through the Department of Homeland Security, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the FBI’s National Joint Terrorism Task Force. This is just a sample of the multiple agencies electronically consulted before coverage is allowed and any health insurance premium reducing subsidies or tax breaks are offered.
How Obamacare Helps Healthcare Coverage
But the focus should really be on the opportunities that are now available.
Discrimination or price gouging of people who have been sick before (referred to as preexisting conditions) is now illegal.
There are thousands of health care plans that–for most individuals and families–will be at significantly lower cost and carry increased benefits, compared to insurance policies you’ve had in the past. Cost has been the biggest road block between access to care and improved quality of life.
Balancing Healthcare Benefits vs. Costs
Of course, not everyone will be a match for Healthcare.gov savings. You always have the option of shopping for health care coverage on the open market as was previously the case.
Why not give it a whirl? Millions of Americans now have access to health care through the ACA. The next Open Enrollment period begins November 15th (tomorrow).