The Obamacare Monster is Alive – Are You Prepared For What is Coming?

The Obamacare Monster is Alive – Are You Prepared For What is Coming?

Like Frankenstein’s monster, Obamacare goes live today.  The behemoth will be alive, and it will take a lot of undoing to ever go back.

The upshot is that everyone will be forced to buy health insurance, or face a penalty tax, which starts at 1% of your annual income or $95 per person a year, whichever is higher.  That will increase over time, and by 2016 it will be 2.5% of your annual income, or $695 per person, whichever is higher.

So, we will all have to carry health insurance now.  Whether or not we get actual health care – that’s a different story.

Even as people are scrambling to decide what they can afford for care, looking on the exchanges, praying that they work enough hours to keep their employer health coverage, the tacit admission has finally come down from the media that President Obama lied – or, as Rick Klein so euphemistically put it, he made a pledge that was “never possible to keep.”

Generally, I would call that a lie.

The secret is out.  If you like your doctor, good luck on keeping your doctor.  If you like your health plan, good luck on keeping it.  Even if your doctor is still on your health plan, doctors are retiring at record rates to avoid dealing with the Obamacare monster.  Health insurance companies, now handcuffed by the regulations in the Affordable Care Act, are canceling plans right and left because these older plans are no longer “in compliance.”  Employers, faced with having to provide care for all full-time workers or pay penalties, are simply cutting employee hours or not hiring to avoid the impact on their bottom line – which, if they want to keep running a business and providing jobs, they absolutely must keep an eye on that bottom line.

And some of these plans on the exchanges are going to be a painful joke.  The deductibles for anything outside of your annual physical could be so astronomical that you won’t seek out health care, even when something is truly wrong, because essentially, your insurance won’t cover anything until you meet that deductible.  Which means every single health expense – every copay, every procedure, every lab test, and every surgery – is your responsibility until the deductible is satisfied.  So you have insurance, but it does you no good.  It’s little wonder that people are looking at the penalty tax, and then their wallet, to see if the risk of not having health insurance makes better financial sense.  And planning ahead?  Forget it.  Remember, your Flexible Savings Accounts are now capped at $2500.

I really hope the future of medicine does not turn into some kind of medical version of the DMV – someplace hellish, with long lines and terrible customer service where we are all required to go to and pay for the government services that we receive.  The only difference is that you can still choose not to go to the DMV.

As of today, you no longer have a choice about having health insurance.  And your choices about your health care are about to get severely curtailed.  I hope we all live through this.

UPDATE:  As of this afternoon, the computer servers handling the Obamacare exchanges, on both the federal and state levels, are experiencing either heavy enough traffic to crash, or are running into internal error messages. Don’t you just love government efficiency? They only had how long to prepare for this day?

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23 Comments
  • Miss Ladybug says:

    I am just waiting to see what impact this has on my existing employer-provided (or should I say “subsidized”) health insurance. Open enrollment should be this month, though I haven’t heard any mention of meetings on it yet…

  • kevin says:

    My experience (not the hyperbolic hysteria being passed around the internet and on Fox News) is … I have employer paid health insurance which will remain the same. I have the same coverage, the same co-pays and deductibles, and get to see my same doctor. Nothing has changed. I sit on my employer benefits committee and nothing will change … we will not drop coverage for all the employees (approximately 200 employees) to save the agency money, we will not force employees to find alternative coverage, we will not force employees to go to other medical providers versus the medical professionals they are used to.

    So, when you respond with all the hysteria being trumped up via conservative blogs and news outlets, ask for individual stories … not stories being passed around on the internet. Who do you know is losing their coverage? Who do you know is being forced to see other physicians? Who do you know is going before the death panel to advocate that their life is valuable and should be saved? (And, the definition of “who do you know” is not the anonymous blogger spewing incoherent data to create a smoke screen.) Who do you know is your husband, wife, children, co-workers in your business and people you actually see in person and engage in discussion.

    Stop the hysteria. And, if you encounter a problem (there will be hundreds of issues like with any massive mandate that affects millions of people), work on a solution.

    Please, stop the hysteria and work to make this a better nation; not a nation filled with fear, divisive behavior that leads nowhere, and spreading lies and rumors.

    • Deanna Fisher says:

      Kevin,

      My husband works for one of the major health insurance corporations in Washington state. I used to work (before my kids were born) for one of the other major health insurance corporations. My mother has worked in different OB/GYN offices for 25 years, and I worked alongside her for a period of time in college. I have a bit of experience with both the health care field and the health insurance field.

      The OB that my mother is currently working for is retiring, because she is an individual practice and there is so much paperwork involved with the ACA that it is not financially feasible to work independently.

      I have some friends who are on hourly pay. They work for a couple of large companies (Home Depot being one), and they are desperately hoping that their hours don’t get cut. Another friend is getting swept up in the possible local grocery store union strike. If that strike happens, one of the driving forces for it is the part-time workers being told that they will have to purchase insurance on the exchanges. So, yes. I know a lot of people. Some of them think that Obamacare will be great FOR THEM, even as they acknowledge that it won’t be great for other people. Others are deeply unhappy about it, because they are fearful for their jobs, their hours, and what plans will be available.

      For right now, all of your insurance may stay the same. I would anticipate that by the next time you have your insurance enrollment period (ours happens once a year) at work, some of your choices will look different. However, if you work full-time, you’ll have those options. We do, but our options have altered radically. Most companies are going to try to get their employees into HSA (health savings account) plans. These plans make sense for a lot of people, but for many, including me, HSA plans are a nightmare because we have a special needs child. We know that we have a fixed number of medical bills every week/month/year. Even the insurance counselors at my husband’s work admitted that they really do want people on HSAs, but acknowledged that it wasn’t going to be any use to us at all.

      I’m not trying to raise hysteria. I’m trying to raise awareness. The ACA is going to be unsustainable in its current form. I’m not sure this bill is going to be sustainable in ANY form. And when the AP (in the Yahoo Finance article linked above) has even admitted that the President made promises he could not keep (which I call a lie) when it came to people being able to keep their plans, then I don’t think calling this “Fox News- driven hyperbole and hysteria” is either truthful or fair.

      • kevin says:

        “The OB that my mother is currently working for is retiring, because she is an individual practice and there is so much paperwork involved with the ACA that it is not financially feasible to work independently.” I work in the mental health field. I don’t think your mother’s OB is retiring because of all the undue burdens being placed on her by Obamacare. The ENTIRE HEALTH SYSTEM FOR YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS has become burdensome for many people. Litigation, law suits, documentation, increased training has led to thousands of pages of requirements (all under Republicans as well as Democrats). I have a home in Mexico and love to be able to walk to a pharmacy and ask for whatever I want. That would be impossible here.

        “I have some friends who are on hourly pay. They work for a couple of large companies (Home Depot being one), and they are desperately hoping that their hours don’t get cut.” HOPING and ACTUALLY GETTING CUT are two very different things. When (if) they get cut, let’s understand why that occurred and how to proceed.

        “Another friend is getting swept up in the possible local grocery store union strike. If that strike happens, one of the driving forces for it is the part-time workers being told that they will have to purchase insurance on the exchanges.” I don’t know where you’ve been for the last 50 years, but almost every entry level industry I know (food service, non-profit, retail, service industry, etc.) if you’re part-time, YOU DON’T GET HEALTH COVERAGE. PERIOD. Now, you have the option of finding coverage at a reasonable rate.

        “For right now, all of your insurance may stay the same. I would anticipate that by the next time you have your insurance enrollment period (ours happens once a year) at work, some of your choices will look different.” You’re right. I can’t predict what’s going to happen in five minutes let alone the next open enrollment date. That’s happened for years. Sometimes my insurance goes up 2.5% and sometimes it’s gone up 12%. So, let’s all sit around and PREDICT the world is coming to an end?

        “And when the AP (in the Yahoo Finance article linked above) has even admitted that the President made promises he could not keep (which I call a lie) when it came to people being able to keep their plans, then I don’t think calling this “Fox News- driven hyperbole and hysteria” is either truthful or fair.” Did you watch Fox News this morning? I did from 6 am to 8 am PST. Every 5 minutes Peter Ducie would come on and say, “This website has collapsed, the wait is hours, no one can get on …” It was horrible. So my comment “hysteria” comment stands.

        • Deanna Fisher says:

          No, I wasn’t watching Fox News that early. I have kids that I have to get out the door and off to school. I try not to let them watch TV before school – it’s too distracting.

          So, this is all going exactly as a government run health plan should, on day one, right out of the gate? Or, did someone really screw up and decide to beta-test a brand-new system on the day that it was supposed to be live and available? And if they did, who exactly is going to be fired for the sheer incompetence and bad optics of having the system come up with error messages and missing security questions on day one? Should Sebelius be fired? They had THREE years to prepare for this, and this is best they could do?

          And Fox wasn’t the only one following the ACA site issues… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOjt35jgmz4

          And you are very, very wrong about part-time workers not getting health care coverage. In the current grocery store worker issue, that is one of the main things the UNION is planting themselves on. The UNION had negotiated health care coverage for their part-time workers. And now the companies are telling the UNION that they need to send the part-timers to the Obamacare exchanges. And strangely, the UNION is really, really upset about that.

          • kevin says:

            I’ve never paid much attention to other large employers but I do find it interesting that you cannot find anything about their benefits for “part time” employees. Here are some examples:
            Safeway Grocery Stores: Generally, the benefits listed below are for non-retail store employees. Retail store employee benefit offerings vary by location. Our part-time employees are also eligible for benefit packages.

            Kroger Food Chains: Full time employees are eligible for health benefits AFTER ONE YEAR OF EMPLOYMENT. Part time employees are eligible for benefits AFTER THREE YEARS OF EMPLOYMENT. Page 14. http://www.ufcw951.com/assets/contracts/kessel.pdf

            Albertsons Grocery Stores: Albertsons also offers insurance coverage to eligible employees. Albertsons insurance coverage includes medical, dental, and vision care plans – Part-time associates are eligible for health care based on the number of hours they work, and some plan changes could affect eligibility. They may have to work more hours to be eligible,” said Karen Ramos, spokeswoman for the supermarket chain.

            Nowhere can I find what the hour limitations are for “part-time” workers. Is full 40 hours and part-time is 38 hours? What’s the threshold? What does “eligible” mean? As an example, my agency has a threshold of 30 hours … if you work 30 or more hours your health benefits are covered. If you work 29 hours or less, your health plan coverage is pro-rated. It’s all very deceiving and to simply say, “All part time employees are covered.” is not a true statement. I stand by my earlier comment that part-time workers in many entry level/service entry positions do not get health coverage if they work less than full time.

        • GWB says:

          Hey, knucklehead, she answered with exactly what you asked for – “don’t give me scads of information from all over, I dare you to give me personal anecdotes”. And she did. You then try to tell her she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

          Reporting on an actual happening is also – sort of by definition – NOT “Fox News- driven hyperbole and hysteria”. The reporting might be “hysterical” (in either sense of the word), but it isn’t “hysteria”. And if it’s Fox reporting it, then it really isn’t “Fox-driven hyperbole”, no matter whether it’s hyperbole or not.

        • GWB says:

          “I don’t know where you’ve been for the last 50 years, but almost every entry level industry I know (food service, non-profit, retail, service industry, etc.) if you’re part-time, YOU DON’T GET HEALTH COVERAGE. PERIOD.”

          *calms myself, muttering “the ladies can handle shouting, they’re tough”*
          In actuality, knucklehead, you could *always* get health coverage – employed or not, part-time or full-time. Yes, government incentives made ~employer-provided~ health coverage the norm, but it is NOT the only way to obtain either “coverage” or healthcare. And, yes, there are part-time employers who provide coverage.

          • Deanna Fisher says:

            Thanks, GWB!

            A dear friend of mine (one of my bridesmaids, in fact) just said that her husband’s individual plan got canceled for non-compliance, and the new, ACA-compliant plan will cost double. I am seeing story after story pop up on Facebook, or hearing them from people I see more frequently, and none of them are good. I have not seen one person be totally happy with their new plan. This is the reality, and we are all going to end up paying for it.

            As for where I’ve been for the last 50 years, I must confess… I’ve only been around for 35 of them. 🙂

  • kevin says:

    Fox News is hideous. What do you expect when something begins and millions of people are trying to access it that day? Of course systems will be overloaded. Of course the wait will be a while. What in the f&%K do you expect? The Rolling Stones concert tickets go on sale and the site crashes due to the thousands of people trying to get tickets. The “reserve a campsite” site comes online and crashes because hundreds of thousands of people are trying to get their first choice of campsites. You see a URL link on a television show and you try and go to that link and get the message, “We are experiencing heavy traffic at this time, please come back later.” Does Fox News think we are all morons? Yes, the do. Most of the people that watch Fox are going to repeat the hysteria … OMG, people can’t sign up. OMG, the site is down. OMG, the f&*king world is coming to an end. You gotta stop, take a breath, and instead of trying to access the healthcare sites at 8 am on October 1, 2013, wait a few days for the hysteria to calm down then return to the sites. You have until March 2013 to make a decision; not October 2, 2013.

    • GWB says:

      Actually, with a well-run activity^, that actually shouldn’t happen. When you have *YEARS* to get it going, and you *KNOW* that you have to sign up millions of people, then you *PLAN* your deployment to account for that surge. Instead, they have been admitting for months that they wouldn’t be ready.

      ^Yes, I actually understand that there is almost NO government endeavor that can be described as “a well-run activity”. If you think otherwise, then I understand why you’re a progressive. And, that is not a compliment to your powers of either observation or reason.

  • kevin says:

    March 2014 …

  • Jen says:

    Kevin, why would someone wait until March 2014 to sign up for health insurance if they need it now?
    Many people have lost their insurance because they were moved to part time. They want insurance now, and are trying to access the exchanges to see if due to their part time income, they are eligible to receive a subsidy( payment of their insurance from the rest of us) and they can only receive that subsidy if they obtain insurance through an exchange.
    So maybe you should rethink your snarkiness and look at the hundreds of stories online from all kinds of media outlets regarding the 34 states that do not have their exchanges accessible to their residents today.

    • kevin says:

      “So maybe you should rethink your snarkiness and look at the hundreds of stories online from all kinds of media outlets regarding the 34 states that do not have their exchanges accessible to their residents today.” … Why? Because the Republican governors have done everything they can to block affordable healthcare.

      • Jen says:

        Really, such as what? Not expanding Medicaid coverage in their own state and therefore creating obligatory exchanges that they themselves must run? Both of which then must be paid for by their treasuries, which are funded by the taxes paid by their residents. The Federal gov. will still be offering the exchanges in those states, they aren’t banned.

        Affordable care? The only people getting “affordable” care will be the minimum care medicaid offers at virtually no cost to those with little income. All the rest of us are now paying premiums to cover their care and then care that is now regulated and demanded by the Federal bureacracy, such as Obstetric care for my husband and I, despite the fact that we will NEVER need it. Both of us, thankfully, are healthy, but yet our policies must offer us free check ups, free this and free that. No longer can we simply buy a policy to cover a catastrophe, no, we must have the ACA dictated policy which includes ten different services that I do not want and will not usse. No longer can I be rewarded with lower premiums because I am healthy and live a healthy lifestyle, instead, I must pay for all the alcoholics who have been readmitted to rehab ten or fifteen times, or the 300 lb couch dwellers whose blood pressure and bypasses have no increase in cost.(remember, the law now forbids insurance companies from charging more than a set percentage to the elderly, the ill, etc. over the rest of us.
        There is no insurance available anymore. All the insurance companies are now are collectors of payments and information for the government.

  • ROS says:

    Affordable to whom? A nearly 100% increase to a college senior is affordable? A 200% increase to a family of 4 (without coverage for the 2 small children) is affordable? Triple co-pays are affordable?

    Welcome to my circle of friends, sweetheart. Go ahead and dump your Kool-aid on your way in, just mind the doorway when reality hits you.

  • Peggy L. says:

    Exactly, everyone I know has lost their current plans because they are not compliant, their deductible has gone up 300%, their medications are no longer covered, pre existing injury deductible is now $15,000 (I know of no one who can afford that kind of money), and their premiums have gone up over 200%. These are groups of people I know of already. I dread to find out what mine will be. You, Kevin need to stop drinking the koolaid and face reality.

  • kevin says:

    I sit on multiple boards of directors in my local community. I am heavily connected to non-profit and governmental (schools, police, county and city employees) organizations in a large metropolitan community. I am a leader in my community. I have not heard of one person losing their coverage or that their insurance cost has quadrupled. Maybe you should move from Republican controlled States and come to the liberal west coast where the Democratic leaders respect their constituents. I haven’t drank koolaid since I was a kid (unlike the lemmings that watch Fox News). Here’s my prediction … I give Fox News about two years to stop calling the health care system “Obamacare” and move to calling it something else because it’s going to be so popular they don’t want to connect it to Obama.

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