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If someone came up to you and asked you what Obama Care is and how do they sign up — would you know the answer? If not and I am guessing you won’t, you won’t be alone and that includes the agencies that are supposed to be putting this law together. Senator Max Baucus, a key author of the law is worried that the Obama administration has done nothing to educate the public about what is going to happen and that’s not even the main problem. People are supposed to buy into health insurance exchanges starting this October — at least those who don’t get health insurance through their jobs, and nothing is really in place to make it work — like employees to run the thing. . Baucus, who announced this week he would retire from the Senate in 2014, told HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the administration hasn’t done enough to prepare for the law or educate the public about its provisions.
Baucus said in a statement, that he is retiring to spend time with his family and return to Montana, but I am willing to bet he real reason is, doesn’t want to be around for the blow back if and when Obama Care does fall apart. He admitted that Montana is nowhere near ready to have exchanges in place and the Federal government is doing next to nothing to help. Many other states are in the same predicament, as well those whose governors refuse to offer exchanges all together.
An email that was sent to brokers from Aetna claimed that the insurance company is working on a way to renew customer’s current health plans before the January 1st deadline. They believe this strategy will help them and their customers by locking in health plans, so they won’t have to follow the new rules for at least one more year. Among the new rules this approach could skirt are requirements that health insurance cover a minimum set of benefits, prohibitions on turning away people with pre-existing conditions, bans on charging higher rates to sick people or to women, limitations on how much extra older people can be asked to pay, and rules against insurance companies refusing to renew policies. Aetna isn’t the only insurance company working on this plan.
Meanwhile, it seems that there are certain special interest groups who think they shouldn’t have to take part in the new health care-for-all plan. Politico recently broke a story claiming that Washington lawmakers — from both parties– are attempting to exempt themselves and their staff from the health care exchanges — the same ones you and I are expected to join. So what’s the problem? Lawmakers in both parties are afraid that low-paid junior aides could be hit with thousands of dollars in new health care costs, and senior staffers might decide to find work in the private sector so they won’t get hit with a tax — I mean financial penalty. If Washington is worried about their so-called low wage workers, what about the average citizen? If they think it’s a financial burden for their staffers, won’t it be an equal burden for someone else — like the ones who bag your groceries?
I looked for any information about what kind of health care staffers receive now and I came up empty — I do remember a story about Ron Paul ‘s ex-campaign manager, Kent Snyder — this was back when Republican lawmakers were fighting to repeal Obama Care — Paul said Snyder died from pneumonia and did not have health insurance. He left behind a hospital bill for around $400,00.00. Paul suggested that church and family members could help pay the bill, which they did. But how many of us know anyone who can donate enough money to come close to paying off a debt like that? Let’s be serious. I’m sure the rules are different as far as who is considered a real employee when it comes to working for a campaign. That is Greg Diamond’s expertise. But even so, that leads me to believe that, for at least the lower paid staff — they get nothing — sort of like the employees at Target.
An article in Yahoo News reported that The United Auto Workers Retiree Medical Trust, which covers 806,000 autoworkers, is asking federal regulators for an exemption. They along with Boeing Co. ,General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler are required to pay an additional $63 fee, per person. I’m sure they will do what any good company does in such a dilemma — pass the cost on to the employees and the consumer.
In 2014, insurers will be able to tap part of the $25 billion to offset medical costs from high-risk individual-market consumers that total between $60,000 and $250,000 a year. Employers and other insurance issuers will pay $63 in 2014 for every worker, spouse, child and certain retirees they cover.
Insurance companies, which helped write the Affordable care Act made sure this fee was added to the new law. I find it so interesting that the very insurance companies, like Aetna who helped write this law are now looking for ways either to avoid or delay implementation and at the same time have their hands out to collect even more money from you and me. I guess that’s what happens when a bill is 15,000 pages long and no one reads what’s inside.
The exchanges will probably not do anything to end the monopolies in most states, according to Kaiser Permanente, Kaiser Health News. If a consumer has only a few insurance companies to choose from, there won’t be much difference in cost — which will be a lot. The consumer will either pay a high premium or have a high deductible. Last week, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield asked to raise rates an average of 25 percent on those who buy coverage individually — Maryland has four major health insurance companies to choose from. Want to guess who the players are? Kaiser Permanente, United Healthcare, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, and Aetna. If CFBCBS gets its way, you can bet the others will follow.
I found a company online, EHealthInsurance.com who is sort of the Travelosity of health insurance plans. I looked at the plans offered in Maryland — mainly CareFirst BlueChoice, who want to raise their rates because they are about to get more customers (that concept makes no sense to me). Here’s what’s on their menu: Network, HMO, PPO, Indemnity. They each have different costs but the consumer will pay the same in the end. No mention of what is not covered and believe me there will be a lot! They might have a lower premium, but the consumer will pay a higher deductible (I saw one for $10,000) and most of them have a network of doctors… meaning you cannot choose whomever you want. You have to choose among a list they provide. The indemnity plan looked the best until I read that the patient pays the bill up front and then submits that bill to the insurance company for reimbursement. Well good luck with that! If anyone has ever dealt with an insurance company they know what I’m talking about.
Employers will also be charged a 40% excise tax on “Cadillac” plans starting in 2018. I never heard of that term before, but in a nutshell it’s an insurance plan that is offered to employees with a low deductible and high quality care. You can read more about them here.
I didn’t find anything online about how much these new exchanges will cost…because no one knows! I spoke with someone from the Council on Aging, who is helping people with insurance issues… lately she gets a lot of calls about Obama Care, so after lots of digging she found the name of a person who is working to set this exchange up — she called this person and the only response she got was, “How did you get this number?” The person who is helping to set up the exchange doesn’t know what’s going on. Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy?
So to re-cap this is what Obama Care is, at least so far: It’s an insurance policy that everyone has to purchase, but no one knows how much it will cost, or what will be covered; insurance companies are looking for a big pay raise; employers with 50 or more employees will be required to offer them a plan for “minimum value” (there is no definition what that term means), so employers are deciding to either pay the $2,000 per employee penalty (a year), compared to an average (in 2012) cost of $5600 each — annually, or make employees part time, while unions, lawmakers and their staff are looking for exemptions.