Thursday, December 19, 2013

Affordable Care Act


Let me just start this post with a simple statement:  I AM PISSED OFF!  Two things have made me incredibly mad in the past few days.  The first thing was that on Monday, I helped a lady register with healthcare.gov (in Alabama, we have to use the government's website because our governor would not allow the state's insurance commission to activate the website they had been designing which would have made it easier to sign up for insurance).  And the second is Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson's ignorant and unchristian comments in GQ magazines about homosexuality.  The former is the subject of today's post.  I will deal with Mr. Robertson when my blood stops boiling, and I can write rationally on the subject.   

Last week, I signed up for health insurance through healthcare.gov.  I have not had health insurance in a year because my insurance company nearly doubled my premiums last year, and I could no longer afford it.  I work for a small private school, which offers no benefits and a meager salary, so I had no choice but to let my insurance lapse. With the tax credit that I am qualified for, my insurance premium was cut in half by signing up through healthcare.gov.  I also have to tell you that I am constantly surrounded by Republicans who hate anything associated with President Obama.  I have heard many nasty and untrue remarks about the Affordable Care Act such as:
"The blacks are all for Obamacare because it's something else free from Obama."

"All Obamacare will do is raise our premiums."

"The insurance companies are raising rates because they are forced to by the government."

"I don't like the government telling me what I have to do."
The list of remarks go on and on.  I have consistently said that it would save most of us money.  When the government shutdown occurred, I did a massive amount of research on the affordable Care Act, so that I could explain it to my students and answer their questions about the government shutdown.  When the website officially opened, I did try to go ahead and sign up; however, there were numerous glitches.  Obama told Americans that it would be fixed by November 30, so I waited.  All websites and software have problems when initially launched, that's why updates are created.  If you have an Apple or Microsoft product, you will constantly have updates to be downloaded and installed.  If you run a blog, there will be issues from time to time.  It's the nature of technology; none of it is perfect.

When I did go to healthcare.gov to sign up, it was incredibly easy.  A few clicks and 30 minutes later I had the same insurance (actually slightly better) than I had before, and with the same company at nearly half he price I had been paying.  I could have taken a cheaper plan, but the deductible was so high that it was not worth having the insurance.  Since I know a fair number of people who are nearly completely computer illiterate, I have helped two other people navigate the website.  Mainly because they have no idea even how to use a mouse.  I read each question and typed in the answers for them.  For both of them, the registration process was easy.

What makes me angry though is that one of them is an older black lady who works at the school.  A gentle and kind-hearted woman who has very little education because the segregated school systems of her youth in Alabama failed her.  She works very hard to support herself and her daughter with no government assistance of any kind and an even more meager salary than I have.  One of the provisions that many people have complained about with the Affordable Care Act is that the poor, those that make under about $17,000 a year will get free health insurance through Medicaid.  They complain that everyone who has insurance will be paying for them to have insurance.  This has been a particular point for Alabama Republicans who want to get rid of all entitlement programs that assist the poor, especially entitlement programs that assist the poverty stricken African-American population of Alabama.

The woman I was helping register was far below the $17,000 mark and should have qualified for Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act.  However, there was a problem.  Alabama's Governor Robert Bentley (who's a doctor by the way, albeit a dermatologist) refused to expand Medicaid in Alabama.  Therefore, if this poor woman wants insurance, she will be forced to pay nearly four times what I will be paying for a monthly premium.  It angers me to no end that people will complain about who's getting what for free, yet they have no idea what they are talking about.  This woman works very hard for little pay to take care of a bunch of spoiled rotten little white kids (and thankfully their appreciative teachers) to be told sorry, we won't help you because we are afraid you might get something that we don't or that we might have to pay for you to have a little better quality to your life.  In America, we far too often don't care about the poor.

Her saving grace, though, is two-fold.  One, because Alabama refused to expand Medicaid, she is exempt from having to meet the insurance requirement of the Affordable Care Act, meaning she won't have to pay the penalty (or tax, as the U.S. Supreme Court declared it) for not having insurance.  Two, we are fortunate in this part of Alabama to have a healthcare company that caters to the uninsured and under-insured, so she can still see these doctors for treatment.  Truthfully, they have some of the best healthcare professionals in the area. I even use their clinics because of the superior health and dental care they provide.  They have wonderful social workers who work with people to get them the medical attention that they are unable to provide, and they work tirelessly to gain grants for community health to keep the cost of healthcare to a minimum at their clinics,  they are not perfect in many ways, they have some major problems with their administration; however, it does not affect the quality of healthcare provided.

By the way, while we are discussing the Affordable Care Act, I saw this on the blog Queer Landia about healthcare for America's LGBT:
Out2Enroll is a coalition of organizations who want to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people stay healthy by making sure that one of the major benefits of the Affordable Care Act — access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage — reaches LGBT communities. Get Enrolled is a holiday parody, produced by our friends at Full Frontal Freedom, which aims to bring awareness to the final week of health marketplace enrollment. For more information, go to http://www.out2enroll.org.
So I encourage you, if you have not done so and don't have health insurance, go sign up at healthcare.gov. It's not as bad as everyone has reported.  I have been through the process three times with myself and two others, and it is a very smooth process.  I know that some of my readers are not Obama supporters; however, I do not believe that the Affordable Care Act is the end of the world.  It is not what I would have done to fix America's healthcare problems, but it's what Congress passed.  I would have preferred that the government take on the rising cost of healthcare in other ways, particularly by not allowing doctors to charge patients without insurance more than the insurance companies pay for those who have insurance.

That is all.  That is my rant for today.  Be prepared for another one tomorrow.  I promise though that I will more than make up for my two days of rants with my Moment of Zen on Saturday.

8 comments:

Robert said...

It frustrates me to no end that there are people out there who will do anything to prevent people from having access to affordable health coverage.

I found it absolutely amazing that during the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony that they celebrated their National Health Service which provides medical coverage to everyone. It's a source of pride for the country.

Meanwhile over here we have people who rail against the government for "socializing" medicine when they themselves are on Medicare or Medicaid. Um. Yeah.

Instead of working to throw up roadblocks at every turn, Republicans should be working towards fixing the problems within the law.

Vilges Suola said...

I don't get it either. Here in England health care cost me very little. A visit to the doctor or nurse is free at point of contact. I'm in work, so I pay for my blood pressure meds. If I were unemployed or over 65, there would be no charge. Both my parents had hip replacement operations for which they didn't have to fork out a penny. My dad spent the last three years of his life in an excellent care home, all paid for by the tax he'd paid all his working life. I cannot see what objection anyone could have to such a system, especially after living for 15 years in Greece where health insurance is extortionate, and state-funded care for the uninsured squalid.

gp said...

Your Medicaid-eligible friend should be able to get a health insurance policy for zero, and certainly less than $100/month. Low income applicants are eligible for federal subsidies of their policies that come to at least $400/month; I'm not sure what the actual upper limit is.

Jay M. said...

I hope every damn Republican in the country reads this, but if they did, they'd call you a liar since their particular brand of Kool Aid prohibits accepting facts, working with others, and generally being agreeable to what's best for the country.

Peace <3
Jay

JoeBlow said...

GP, she should be able to, however, since Alabama refused to expand Medicaid coverage, she is not eligible for the subsidies, because she makes below the subsidy cutoff. The letter she was given stated that she was eleigiblef or $0 in subsidies because she should have qualified for Medicaid; however, since Alabama refused to expand Medicaid to those who make under $17000 (i do not know how little you must actually make to qualify for Medicaid in Alabama), she was exempt from having to have insurance. In other words, she was told she was too poor to get subsidies, but not poor enough for Medicaid.

Michael Dodd said...

The Affordable Care Act is saving me $6,000 next year for health insurance -- and I will still have to pay a lot for insurance and meet a $5,000 deductible. I could have done better, but chose the plan I did for personal reasons.
Why anyone thinks this is socialized medicine is beyond me.
It is not, IMHO, the solution to the health care crisis in this country. But it is a step in the right direction for getting people access.

Richard said...

Don't those idiot understand that they are already paying for the poor in a VERY expensive way? It's called the emergency room of their local hospital.

No hospital which receives Medicare or Medicaid payments for its patients can turn away people who show up at the emergency room door, whether they can pay or not.

Care at the emergency room costs several times what preventive care from a primary care physician would cost. Sure, the hospital writes off the cost if the patient can't pay, but they turn right around next year and build most of those losses into the price they charge everyone for everything at hospital.

Stew Adams said...

I find the term "Obamacare" to be derogatory. I also believe that the true problem is with what hospitals and doctors charge.
I live in Michigan and my husband is a state employee and has very good insurance. But because my state does not recognize my marriage, I too am forced to participate in the Affordable Care program. I run a small company with no employees. Even a small amount can seem monumental to me.