Coverage Confusion

Navigating the current insurance landscape

Several weeks ago, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas attempted to sidetrack the funding of Obamacare with a 23-hour talkathon in the Senate, which included reading a well-known children’s story. He took quite a bit of heat for that, but truth is, he gave his colleagues a choice of hearing him read a book by Dr. Seuss or the entire health care bill. They chose Green Eggs and Ham because it was shorter and also because most of them hadn’t read that either.
But now that the Affordable Health Care Act has finally been enacted, it has proven one thing about Congress. The less they understand something, the more they’re either for or against it.
They’re not the only ones that are confused. The government is spending close to a billion dollars just for advertising that will attempt to explain how to navigate around the insurance exchanges that will be selling various coverages. The exchanges are the new way to buy health insurance that will let people not only compare coverages online, but also see if the federal government will spring for part or most of the premiums. It all depends on how much money you make. Now I know what you’re thinking, but these sites supposedly make sure people are being honest about their income and employment. You may not like the coverage you wind up with, but you’re going to have to be happy with it. It’s the same philosophy behind online dating. You’ll know it’s true love when you have no other options.
However, there was a recent article in CNN Money that made some pretty good points. First of all, the federal government will impose a minimum list of benefits that each plan is required to offer. People will have to pay for benefits they would never use. Connecticut, for instance, requires reimbursement for hair transplants. Scientists point out that this could even have a negative effect on the auto industry. Although they’ve discovered that monkeys and humans have the baldness genes, monkeys don’t go out and buy Corvettes to make up for it.
Secondly, there will be four tiers of coverage: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The bronze package will include the bare-bones coverage for people who think they’ll only need health care if they have an accident. I’m thinking that any additional medical consultations will be provided by someone in the health care field. This may include pre-med students. (Technically, anyone that’s not a doctor is pre-med.) There is also no prescription plan with this coverage. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you’ll have to just count sheep. If your problem is waking up, subtract them. However, if you do develop a serious ailment, you will definitely be administered some type of remedy. Unfortunately, the last words you may ever hear will be, “I’m sorry. You were in the placebo group.”
Finally, the health care law specifically bars insurers from charging different premiums based on the health of their customers. It protects people who have pre-existing conditions that previously excluded them from coverage. It’s a provision that sounds pretty high minded on first blush, but think about this. The law also bars rewarding people who maintain a healthy lifestyle. If the auto insurance industry took that same approach, you’d be paying the same premiums as your teenage daughter’s ex-boyfriend, who was doing donuts in your front yard over the weekend. Your driving record would never affect the amount of premiums you pay. On the plus side, you could finally try to become the first person to ever get a speeding ticket in a Honda Element.
In the long run, all the glitches that pop up may finally get resolved over the years. But for now, let’s face it: Although the Affordable Health Care Act professes to have a wider range of coverage than ever before, chances are you will not like it if you have this pre-existing condition. You’re a Republican.