Critics say it’s almost impossible to understand the intricacies of Obamacare and its attempt to reform health care through the Affordable Care Act.
That would certainly be true if you tried digesting the full 955 pages of the Act, which was passed into law by Congress in March of 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court in June of 2012.
But to boil it down to a single sentence, the aim of Obamacare is simply to provide affordable health insurance to every American.
Additionally, Obamacare will encourage preventative care and regular doctor visits to minimize costly catastrophic care.
How? By encouraging good old-fashioned competition between insurance companies, rather than the virtual monopolies many companies now hold in their respective states.
And, although every citizen of the U.S. will be required to carry some form of health insurance under Obamacare or face a penalty of $95 per year, it’s also true that federal subsidies are available to help you pay for your coverage -- especially if you are young or on a low income.
HELP ON THE WAY
Judging by the millions of Americans who flocked to the new state and federal insurance exchanges on October 1, Obamacare seems poised to become a popular alternative for many uninsured citizens. Especially once its benefits are explained in an easy-to-understand manner.
For starters, Obamacare’s Health Insurance Marketplace offers four tiers of coverage tailored to your age, income and wish-list, with Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum plans available.
Currently, 13 insurers are participating in the federal Marketplace. Of those, Blue Cross/Blue Shield is the only mega-insurer in the nation to jump in as a participant in the exchanges, according to a report on National Public Radio.
Other major insurers are reportedly taking a wait-and-see approach to participating with Obamacare. These companies fear the risk of insuring large numbers of people who may suffer too many health problems to be profitable as clients.
But once major insurers get involved in Obamacare, brace yourself for a deluge of Geico-style advertisements hawking the benefits of various insurance plans in easyto-understand terms.
CAN IT WORK?
Tea Party radicals in the Republican Congress -- who have no alternative plan for health care whatsoever -- have framed Obamacare as an unworkable mess, even treasonous. But the nuts & bolts of the plan were created by former presidential candidate Mitt Romney during his tenure as governor of Massachusetts from 2003-2007.
Although Romney has disavowed Obamacare, the system he established has resulted in 98% of the citizens of Massachusetts being covered by health insurance today through a state exchange of insurers.
Unlike Massachusetts, Michigan is one of 34 states which has decided not to establish a state health insurance exchange. For the present, those shopping for insurance must go to the federal exchange, with info on how to sign up at https://www.healthcare.gov .
Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act was assembled like a Frankenstein monster by a Congress beholden to special interests in the healthcare, insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
As a result, there are likely to be numerous problems to be ironed out in the years ahead.
For instance, as of 2015, companies employing more than 50 workers will be required to provide health insurance for employees under Obamacare or face a fine. But many companies may decide that the fine is a lesser expense than the cost of providing health care. There is also the fear that some companies may shed employees, rather than pay for health insurance.
And, although no one in the country is required to give up their present health insurance coverage in favor of Obamacare, it’s also true that many small companies may decide to cancel their employee insurance benefits now that lower-cost insurance is available via the exchanges. Otherwise, small businesses will have their own market place for purchasing group coverage at competitive rates.
Following is a rundown on the new federal Health Insurance Marketplace from https:// www.healthcare.gov with open enrollment underway until March 31, 2014. You can apply for a variety of insurance plans on the site, tailored to your age, health, and how large a deductible you’re willing to pay on your policy.