Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Obamacare Hits Home


Back in March of 2008, I had to make a decision about my health insurance. The coverage I had back then was getting very expensive. My insurance company offered me some less expensive options. In order to lower my premiums, I would have to be willing to accept much higher deductibles and copayments. As I began doing the math, it occurred to me that the money I was saving on premiums could be set aside in a Health Savings Account, and by the end of the year would add up to more than the amount of the higher out of pocket expenses I might incur. In fact, if my family had a good health year, and didn’t use it much, I might even turn a profit on the deal.

I’ve been doing this for the past five years now, and I must confess, haven’t turned much of a profit, but I’ve been happy with the results nonetheless. My premiums have gone up since I started with the Health Savings Account, but modestly. Overall, I have been happy with this arrangement. It was my choice. For me, in my financial situation, it is a perfect system. I buy health insurance to protect me and my family not from the cost of doctor’s visits, checkups, and prescription drugs. I buy health insurance to protect us from the possibility of a $250,000 heart operation, in other words, catastrophic coverage. If I can comfortably write a check for it, I don’t need to insure it.

Well now. Along comes the Affordable Care Act, and I discover that my current plan isn’t good enough for me. Someone in Washington has decided to save me from the consequences of my foolish decision to self-insure the small stuff. Not only are my deductibles and copayments much too high, my current plan doesn’t cover oral and vision care, not to mention the all important “wellness services,” whatever the hell they are. What was I thinking?

Yes, but no problem since my plan is “grandfathered,” right? I bought it prior to March of 2010, so my plan is grandfathered…only not really. When Nancy Pelosi told us that we needed to pass Obamacare first so we could find out what was in it, she wasn’t kidding. On page 34560 of the regulations(I am NOT kidding about that page number, you can look it up), we discover that if your deductable goes up by more than $5, then your plan can no longer be grandfathered. Hmmm, let’s see now, two years ago my insurance company raised my deductable by $500 dollars. I’m screwed.

But Doug, but Doug, your new plan will have much better coverage with lower deductibles and lower out of pocket costs, and you will have oral and vision care and the highly coveted “wellness services”. Yes. But how much will this new coverage cost me? Ah, there’s the rub. I’ve been trying to find the answer to that question through Healthcare.guv for weeks now with no luck, but my trick knee tells me that I’m in for a sizable premium increase. That’s usually what happens when you purchase more of something. But what if I don’t WANT more? Suppose I’m perfectly happy with my current plan? My President assured me on a thousand occasions that if I liked my plan, I could keep my plan. Actually, his exact words were:

That means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

What he meant to say was, “if WE like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.”

So, a voluntary arrangement I entered into as a free citizen of my country is about to be nullified by people in Washington who think they know better what kind of health insurance I should have than I do. These are the same people responsible for a $650 million dollar website that doesn’t work, a 17 trillion dollar national debt, a National Security Administration that monitors my phone calls, and an IRS that targets the government’s political enemies.

What could possibly go wrong?