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The advent of Covered California has been changing my employment law practice — and for the better.
It used to be that a terror among clients being wrongfully terminated was what they would do about their health insurance. In fact, negotiation over their ability to maintain their insurance would sometimes end up “driving the bus” — such that they would accept less money than they might deserve overall just so they could stay insured for longer. (This was particularly a problem for older workers and those with pre-existing conditions.)
Now that’s changing.
Losing a job, especially a long-term job, is still traumatic — but in terms of personal economics it is much more survivable. At least in California, the worse you’d face is that you’d have to buy your own insurance — and it’s available, regardless of preexisting conditions! For some, it might cost more than COBRA; for many (and I’d guess most) it will cost less — often far less — and, unlike COBRA, it won’t expire.
The CoveredCA.com website — one of the best state sites in the country (although apparently Kentucky, home of Ft. Knox, is considered the gold standard) is now running smoothly. Reports keep coming in from people whose monthly insurance premiums will be under $100 — and in some cases under $10. (And, in other cases, free. Medicaid expansion, you know.) The terror of economic ruin due to health care costs is receding.
People who want insurance in effect by January 1 — whether long-term unemployed, freshly discharged, or just inclined to tell the boss to “take this job and shove it” — have to sign up through the exchanges by December 23. You can do so later — but it leaves you uninsured for a while — and why put up with that if you can avoid it?
One problem is that the message is getting out pretty well to the sorts of people who read this blog — ones who can speak English, for example — but not so much to others. If anyone out there would like to translate this post into Spanish — and Vietnamese, Korean, and Mandarin — I’d love to post them in other languages.
People need to know that the worst, when it comes to paying for health insurance coverage, is over. Go ahead and fight about Obamacare (or California’s version of it) if you want; it’s the law. Now we’re talking about whether people will get the benefits coming to them. Can we agree that letting them know what’s available is just morally right?