A neat calculator from the Washington Post that walks you through what health care reform means for you. For me, it said the following:
Your insurer cannot set a lifetime limit on benefit payouts. Any annual limits will be phased out by 2014.
Your insurer cannot cancel your plan after you get sick based on a technicality, or discriminate against your children if they have a pre-existing condition.
You may also be entitled to coverage of preventive services without out-of-pocket charges.
If you are an adult under age 26, and one or both of your parents have a health plan, they may be able to put you on it. If you have adult children you can probably keep them on your plan until they are 26.
Starting in 2014:
You will have the option of buying a health plan through your state’s exchange. Based on your income, you probably would not qualify for federal assistance to offset the cost of that plan.
Insurers cannot discriminate against you for having a pre-existing condition, and can only vary rates within a narrow range.
And that’s spot on. I have several pre-existing conditions, from asthma to retinal problems, that would make an insurance company shudder (remember, these are folks that consider being a woman a pre-existing condition). If I move to another state, good luck getting any insurance at all without ObamaCare, because insurance is state to state in the US – so if you move states, unless you’re with a big company, you can’t bring your insurance with you.
And since I work for myself, I tend to pay more than most for my coverage (in part because my employer isn’t kicking in any portion of my premiums (for Congress, we kick in up to 75% of their premiums), and in part because I’m apparently very dangerous as sole individual, so they have to charge my class of people more. Thankfully, ObamaCare is requiring the insurance companies to spend 80% of their revenue on services, so BCBS was forced to reduce my premiums this year (they won’t admit why, but why else could there be for them to reduce my premiums by 10% for the first time ever?)
Then there’s my annual limit on prescriptions which should be outlawed by 2014 (there are some exceptions, I can’t seem to figure out what they are). Currently, BCBS gives me only $1500 a year in prescriptions. That’s the same amount they gave me 13 years ago when I started with them, and it’s the same amount they’ll give me up until the day I die, regardless of inflation. Nice people.
And if you’ve ever lived past the age of 40, you know that $1500 a year in prescriptions really isn’t that much. My asthma drugs are currently costing me around $500 a month (it’s been a bad spring for asthma). So, I’ve pretty much already reached my paltry $1500 a year limit, so I’m on my own for the rest of the year.
Oh, and I recently looked into getting a health savings account, or something similar, and I can’t because – get this – my insurance is TOO GOOD, so I’m not permitted. So none of this is deductible unless I spend over $7000 out of my own pocket, then only the money BEYOND THAT AMOUNT is deductible. I have no idea if this has been fixed in the law.
Do we live in a great country or what?
ObamaCare isn’t solving everything – for example, it’s criminal that we are continuing to let Big Pharma charge 5x the price in America for the same drugs it sells in Europe for 1/5 the cost. You see, we Americans are subsidizing low pries in Europe, and our government is in kahoots by refusing to permit the importation of drugs from abroad, and refusing to negotiate with Big Pharma like European governments do.
Still, ObamaCare is a big improvement, and it will help a lot of us. But the administration still needs to do a much better job explaining all of this.