The Affordable Care Act – Easy, Affordable Healthcare that is Difficult and Expensive, Part One

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”   – Douglas Adams

This past November 15th, open enrollment for health insurance began and runs through February 15th.  I finally decided to go through this process to start the new year with good coverage and started shopping around for plans.

Now, before I go any further, I need to let you know that everything I’m about to tell you is absolutely true.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

Shopping for Health Insurance, or “I guess we’ll eat Top Ramen from now on”
I haven’t had health insurance in a while.  I had to cancel the policy because I just couldn’t afford it any longer due to some rough times.  When I started looking around this time, I had an idea of what to expect.  Of course, I was wrong.  Wronger than wrong.  Probably the wrongest I’ve ever been in my entire life, other than when I said, “What the hell… she’s a bitch, but I’ll marry her anyway” back in 1994.

As it turns out, for the low, low price of a bajillion dollars per month, you can insure a family of four with deductibles as low as $100,000 per person.  I’m exaggerating, of course, but I just couldn’t believe how plans and pricing have changed.  The coverage is horribad and the pricing is outrageous.

Regardless, I need health insurance (especially since it’s ILLEGAL to not have it now – thank you, Comrade Obama), so I started the enrollment process.

Step One – Retrieve Inaccurate Information from a Provider’s Web Site
As with most research we do now, it all begins with a prayer to St. Google asking for guidance.  I clicked on the first result that came up and started looking at plans.  I found a few that looked good, but were extremely expensive.  I found a few more than were pretty crappy, but were only very expensive.  Then, I found the plans which were the worst possible, but were merely expensive.  And then I found the magic button that said “Subsidy Eligibility Calculator”.

Tax Credits to the Rescue!
Granted, I haven’t read the entire Affordable Care Act (I’m not sure anyone else has, either), but I guess the bottom line for me is that I can receive a subsidy to the monthly premium via a tax credit.  I’m not sure yet how this is going to work, and from what I can tell, I’m not allowed to know how it’s going to work until after I sign up for a plan.  This makes perfect sense… I mean, no one was allowed to read the bill until after it was passed, so why would this be different?

Step Two – Bask in the Sweet, Sweet Delusion of Affordable Care
I was surprised and pleased to find that I qualified for a pretty substantial subsidy to help offset my premium.  This actually brought down the monthly premium to an amount I could live with and I was getting really good coverage, too.  I was very, very happy… until it dawned on me.  With the subsidy, I was paying about what I paid a few years ago for the coverage I had a few years ago.  Basically, it seems like insurance prices have been inflated so the government can step in and pay for the price increase.  In reality, none of it mattered because I ended up not getting the amount I was “eligible” for.

So far, so good.  I’ve only spent a couple of hours doing research and finding the plan I want… the rest should be easy!

Or, not.  Tune in next week when we learn why I used the excerpt from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as the quote for these posts!

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