Whether you are a fan of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or not, the end of day tomorrow is the deadline for signing up for coverage effective January 1. You can sign up after this date, but to avoid the first year small penalty to have coverage under the mandate, you will need to sign up by end of March. I was one of those folks that lost coverage, but knew it was coming since I signed up for my existing plan back in May. I was able to go online and find similar, but cheaper or better, but slightly more expensive coverage under the federal exchange, even without factoring in the subsidy.
Keeping my policies was not an option, as we had to get a second special state high risk pool policy, as one of my children was denied coverage when I first got my existing coverage due to a pre-existing condition. This last point is vital as this is one of the major selling points for ACA – you cannot be denied coverage now or in the future for a pre-existing condition. When I signed up in May, we had to give family medical history, etc. and on the exchange we need only provide demographic data and all five of us are now on the same plan effective January 1.
For the past two years, I have been a broken record that law is imperfect, complex and, beginning October 1, has been rolled out poorly. The President deserves every criticism for the poor rollout and he has jeopardized a needed law as it moves the ball forward in a huge way for those uninsured and folks who cannot get affordable coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Its opposition deserves every criticism as well, with not expanding Medicaid in 20 states, not doing state based exchanges in 36 states and not enabling better communication of how to use the system. Voting to repeal the law over 40 times, while misusing the time to not make it better, was unfortunate.
Even with the balky rollout, as of November 30, almost 1.2 million Americans (803,000 for expanded Medicaid and 365,000 for the insurance policies had signed up on top of the 3 million young adults who were able to stay on their parents’ plan as a result of an earlier implemented part of the law. In December, the numbers are significant and I am eager to see the results. Note, we are not out of the woods on the implementation issues, as I am positive we will see some poor handoff and billing issues arise in January. Yet, we need to work through those as well, as at the end of the day, more folks are getting insurance (and guaranteed coverage) who could not previously.
One final comment and I wrote a post about this three months ago. As a retired actuary, benefits consultant and former director of compensation and benefits, young people should be evaluating their own risk/ cost profile as they make their decision whether to sign up. For someone (especially a politically motivated person) to advise you not to sign up for coverage without knowing your circumstances is inappropriate. As a parent, all I can say is I am carrying my age 22-year-old and age 20-year-old children on my policy. In my opinion, the catastrophic risk is too great, plus even if healthy, they do need to see the doctor for preventive care.
A copy of this post can be accessed with the following link: https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/advising-young-people-not-to-have-healthcare-insurance-is-imprudent/
The major phase of the Affordable Care Act, with all of its imperfections, is here. If you don’t have coverage, look at your options and talk with people who know what they are talking about and not trying to make a political point – this is too important for you.