It has become increasingly clear that nobody understands how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) works, except that it absolutely does not make one single thing more affordable. There is another fun fact that no one seems to be talking about: right now, if you don’t already have it, you cannot go buy health insurance.
Let me repeat that. The average American, may NOT purchase health insurance until January 1, 2015.
But what happens to the people who can’t buy insurance? Isn’t this law supposed to fix the gaps that people can fall into? They really don’t have any options? No they do not.
After having several people call me asking how much insurance costs it dawned on me that no one has publicly acknowledged this effect of Obamacare.
It is easy to bring the subject up and dismiss it by explaining the new mechanism which prevents year-round purchasing of health insurance: pre-existing conditions.
If someone who just found out that they have cancer can go apply for instant health insurance, it ceases to be insurance. When sick people can feasibly sign up and pay a premium of a few hundred dollars for a $40,000 overnight stay in the hospital, we enter the realm of subsidization.
However, if we restrict the window to purchase insurance to a certain time during the year, we can still technically call it insurance. This is done so politicians can still be technically correct in saying that the ACA “removed” pre-existing conditions, a huge selling point of the law, though in effect pre-existing conditions still exclude people from buying insurance due to their unalterable existence.
A more general (and honest) way to look at what the ACA did is rather than use the word eliminate, to simply say that it shifted the problem of pre-existing conditions. The insurance companies were the bad guy saying “No insurance for you!”, but now the bad guy comes in an abstract form.
It isn’t a person or even a company, but a period of time. Since we can’t blame time itself, we are left only with ourselves to blame. The government, who is ultimately responsible for inventing the new time-based restriction, can and will throw it right back in your face: “You should have bought it when we told you to. We control all, we are legion.”
The law has in effect mixed up the puzzle pieces quite a bit, but ultimately changed little. Those who continue to avoid health insurance will get sick and will continue to be bankrupted by the outrageous costs associated with medical care in our country (of which there is also little mention).
What no one seems to want to talk about is that there is nothing that can be done for the people who are in this gap. They must go without insurance for up to 8 months of this year; the first real year of the ACA.
The law is not utterly merciless however. It does account for huge life changes such as having a child, marriage, or losing employment (including, not limited to). But if you missed the April 15th deadline and do not have a qualifying life event? Shit outta luck.If you go to the hospital without insurance you’ll probably be out about $40,000 too.
If you try calling an insurance carrier, they will tell you to talk either to your states’ health insurance exchange (i.e. Covered California) or to call a local insurance agent. The exchange might also direct you to an agent, because they know they cannot help you and don’t want to take the blame (so they trick agents into telling their potential clients the bad news. thanks, jerks.).
For agents dealing in individual policies, it means no more selling individual plans during 2/3 of the year. Open enrollment puts a cap on earnings and once it has closed, revenue can only drop or stay the same.
Oh and if you don’t have insurance (which you can’t buy, no matter how healthy you are) you will be fined by the IRS come tax time. Surprise!
This obviously vicious cycle is where Americans now find themselves and nothing is being done to even address the issue, let alone fix it. It is an inherent flaw in the design of the ACA that will be around as long as the law itself.
Politicians continue to steal the future of this country from my peers and I, wasting their ignorance-laden breath talking about enrollment numbers. What does the law actually do? What was it meant to do? What will/can it do? Does it solve any of the problems we had before it was around? None of these questions are being asked and especially not answered by our “leaders”, which is a travesty.
Although I am a licensed insurance agent, I’m gonna go full South Park and say no one should make decisions based on what I have to say, ever, in any circumstance.