Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Tale of Health Care

First, let me share with you this email that the President of the United States sent directly to my inbox (well, to mine and probably millions of others he spams nowadays) - click for larger view:

From the email:

  • "Doesn't include the 100 million folks who now have better health care -- who are receiving additional benefits, like mammograms and contraceptive care, at no extra cost." 
... yeah, that doesn't seem to apply to my family, who have LOWER coverage at nearly TWICE the upfront cost (monthly premiums), while having to maintain two separate health care plans with two separate insurers (one for the kids and me and one for my wife, and they're not even the same type of plan - the kids and I are on a high deductible plan while my wife is on a copayment style plan), with higher out-of-pocket costs and higher deductibles across the board. (And I know quite a few others in the same predicament.) In fact, we strongly considered NOT carrying insurance this year because of the increased cost (of the, you know, "affordable" health care plan). And our dental is now preventive only in order to try to keep the out of pocket costs reasonable (reasonable, haha, that's funny, except it's not).

  • "While our long-broken health care system may not be completely fixed, it's without question a lot better. That's something to be proud of -- and there's no good reason to go back."
... I can think of a good reason to go back. Well, over 600 of them, namely the $600+ that my former plan would have cost had I kept it. Well, not it exactly, something slightly resembling it, with higher copays, higher deductibles, and just generally higher cost and lower coverage. All for a "mere" extra small house payment per month. Even with having our plans all split up, we're out nearly $400 extra per month, just in premiums, with additional out-of-pocket costs whenever we make use of the "benefits" of our coverage.

  • "Something that's good for our economy and our country."

... well, it's good for someone's economy, namely the health insurance companies. And the government from the additional tax burden for those who don't comply. Not so sure it's good for my family's economy, as we're paying more and receiving less for something we aren't really seeing any major benefits from (like I said, our benefits are lower, and they're costing us more). Not so sure it's good for our local economy, as now we have less to spend on things like clothes, food, etc. Maybe it's good for our realtor's economy as we're getting our house ready to sell in order to buy a less expensive one to be able to afford this new insurance. (Anyone looking to move to Spanish Fort? I have a house that's less than four years old that will be on the market very soon.)

Oh, and consider this: the new, "affordable" health care is actually preventing health coverage for my family. How? Well, consider that every time I (or anyone in my family) go to the doctor now, it's going to cost more. And we're already dealing with less cash in our bank account due to higher premiums. Add it all up and we will, in fact, not seek medical care in instances where, last year, we might have. And the preventive only dental coverage has me thinking that maybe I won't get the fillings and crown that my dentist wants to put in my mouth (the build up and crown, by itself, is over $1k). Stomach pains? Eh, deal with it, it will go away, either that or it'll get worse to the point that you have to call 911 and take advantage of the great ambulance coverage in your new health care plan. Cold? Flu? Over-the-counter-only, baby. Broken arm? Well, we have some sticks out in the woods in the adjacent lot and an old ace bandage around here somewhere; it'll grow back eventually, I mean, they didn't have X-rays and casts to set those things back when they were still nailing people they don't like to crosses. (Well, I think they didn't, although I didn't actually live back then.) You cut your finger off? That's OK, God gave you 9 spares.

But let's look at some numbers from a different perspective. Per this article, which links this one regarding a RAND study, of those who signed up, only 1/3 of the signups were previously uninsured. And, based on other surveys, only about half of the previously uninsured have actually paid for the plans they selected on the exchanges. In other words, the majority of those who've signed up are previously insured people, and less than a million previously uninsured Americans have selected and actually gone through with paying for new insurance plans.

And if you happen to live in Alabama (like I do)? Terrible all around... per this Gallup study, 24% of Alabamians said in 2013 that they couldn't afford healthcare or medicine needed by their families (weird: I don't recall responding to that survey... I guess the results are extrapolated from a smaller survey set). And yet, BCBSAL, the one insurer in the gov't exchange for Alabama, cancelled their previous individual plans in order to offer the new plans. Which, for our family, were a nice $600+ per month more expensive than the previous plans, with lower coverage.

Thanks, ACA. Not to mention the stress around trying to 1) find a health care plan; 2) navigate the health care exchange (which STILL doesn't work for me); 3) get a house ready to sell; 4) move (if/once the house sells); 5) figure out whether to pay for college for the kids, mortgage, health or auto insurance, car payments, food, or utilities for maintaining the household... fun times!

I leave you with this:

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