What You Should Know About Government Health Insurance
Many people have issues with government health insurance. While the plan is still on track to have everyone on some sort of health insurance program, many are reluctant to take advantage of Obamacare. Some simply do not feel that the government should have a hand in their insurance choice.
Those who do not secure some sort of health insurance plan soon may be forced to pay the $95 fine for the first year. When calculating the cost of health insurance premiums, it may seem that some would be better off, financially speaking that is, to simply pay the fine and avoid the high cost of insurance. Many cannot afford health insurance premiums every month. One of the largest aspects of the 2010 Affordable Care Act is the online health insurance exchange. This marketplace is designed to provide consumers with a way to purchase health insurance from providers with a government subsidy. Some however, feel that the exchange is simply not what it is cracked up to be.
The purpose of the exchange, and the Affordable Care Act, is to help the approximately 15 percent of consumers who do not have insurance with an affordable way to get it. The belief is that when someone does not have insurance, they typically neglect visiting their doctor. Neglecting their health can cause a need for emergency room services and higher medical bills, which could force some consumers into financial distress or bankruptcy.
Most consumers however, are a bit out of their element when it comes to understanding the Affordable Care Act and how to access and navigate the marketplace.
“Polls show clearly that people are confused and worried by the issue. A majority say they don’t really understand what the law is supposed to do.” – NBC News
Some are angry about the law and the force by the government to gain health insurance. Many consumers feel that if everyone had health insurance, medical prices would skyrocket. While many who do not have health insurance take steps to ensure that they are in good health, some government workers feel that this is simply not enough. The government believes that everyone should have access to and purchase health insurance of some kind and the marketplace is designed to give those who do not have insurance a chance to get it. Supposedly, the insurance companies providing services in the marketplace are not looking at pre-existing conditions and are offering lower than average rates so that consumers who cannot typically afford insurance should be able to find a plan that is affordable.
When the marketplace opening on October 1, 2013 however, there was a slight problem. Millions of American consumers went to the online marketplace to find the affordable government insurance that was promised and many found glitches and difficulty in navigation instead.
During the first three days alone, there were more than 8 million visitors to the federal government’s insurance website.
“In New York, the state-run exchange had an astonishing 30 million visits in the first two days, although a large share almost surely consisted of repeat visits by people who were blocked by balky computer systems.” – NY Times
Surveys done just before the marketplace opened showed that most consumers had no idea that it would even be available on the 1st of October. They also had no idea of just what the healthcare reform law is supposed to provide. Some consumers still believe that the law is still in the planning stages and not yet fully incorporated into a law. Officials are not offering numbers to show how many consumers actually have chosen a healthcare plan but numbers are not nearly as high as many expected.
It makes sense that consumers will want to think about their options, particularly those who feel they are being pushed into choosing a healthcare plan. The goal of the administration is to enroll approximately 7 million consumers in healthcare plans by 2014. There are specifics to the consumers that the administration hopes to target, which also does not set well with some consumers.
“They hope that 2.8 million will be young people between the ages of 18 and 34, whose participation is needed to help subsidize coverage for older and sicker people.”- NY Times
This again, spurs the belief that the government is simply looking for people to bear the brunt of the healthcare exchange cost. Studies have shown that many uninsured adult consumers plan to purchase a healthcare plan because they honestly want the coverage. Others however, will simply be doing so to avoid the penalty that they will incur if they are not covered by 2014. The penalty for each uninsured adult is $95 or 1 percent of their annual income, whichever is higher. This will rise however to 2.5 percent or $695 by 2016.
Officials are not really surprised that enrollment began slowly. In fact, they expected it. They do however, believe that there will be an upward trend by the middle of December, 2013. Another upward trend is expected as the March 31, 2014 deadline gets closer.
34 states in the nation declined to set up a state exchange and simply use the federal exchange for healthcare plans. The Department of Health and Human Services is tasked with running the marketplaces for the states that do not have their own exchange. Cigna is just one of the insurance companies selling plans in the state marketplaces and began receiving new enrollments the week day of open enrollment. Blue Cross Blue Shield is another provider who has seen several new enrollments in different states.
Still, some consumers are complaining that the cost of the promised affordable insurance is not as low as they had expected.
“Across the country, the average premium for a 27-year-old nonsmoker, regardless of gender, will start at $163 a month for the lowest-cost “bronze” plan; $203 for the “silver” plan, which provides more benefits than bronze; and $240 for the more-comprehensive “gold” plan.” – Wall Street Journal
For some buyers however, these prices are not nearly as low as what they can get on their own. The same 27 year old non-smoking male in certain areas could get a policy for as little as $41 per month on his own but have to pay around $114 per month through the exchange for the lowest costing option. That same male would have to pay around $195 per month in Philadelphia or $271 per month in some parts of Wyoming.
The Affordable Care Act forces insurance providers offer fair premiums to those with medical issues. For instance, a provider cannot charge a higher premium simply because their medical history indicates that they may be more costly to insure. They have to treat all consumers equally and have limited control over premiums based on age and whether or not the consumer is a smoker. They are also instructed to offer more generous packages regarding benefits. However, for consumers who are used to choosing a bare-bones plan that offers only the basic coverage, this could mean a much higher premium. Those who are relatively young and without any medical issues could be seeing higher premiums as well.