The Kansas City Star put us on warning yesterday: Obamacare is just around the corner.
It’s the biggest unknown domestic program that the government has sent our way in decades.
So, how are you feeling? Anxious, fearful, disgusted, hopeful, excited? However you feel, it’s time to start preparing. Personally, I am hopeful and excited. Here’s why. For the last three years, our 25-year-old daughter Brooks has suffered from anorexia nervosa.
She has been in and out of treatment facilities and transitional living places. Blue Cross Blue Shield of KC has covered perhaps $200,000 in medical bills, and Patty and I have shelled out perhaps $50,000 for uncovered bills and housing. (There was one bill alone for $17,250, which I appealed to the state insurance division but lost.)
Brooks and our 23-year-old son Charlie, who’s healthy as a horse, are on my individual plan — which is a supplement to my Medicare coverage.
The problem is, as most of you probably know, after Brooks turns 26 next St. Patrick’s Day, she can no longer be on my plan; she will be on her own.
Naturally, that is worrisome. As things stand now, without the Affordable Care Act, Brooks undoubtedly would have great difficulty getting medical insurance because of her costly “pre-existing condition.” If she did find an insurer that would take her, I’m sure it would be very, very expensive.
A Huffington Post article in March said that because the Affordable Care Act outlaws discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing or chronic condition, as of January 1 next year, “no one can be turned away by plans in the marketplace or charged more because they’re in poorer health…And every health insurance plan in the Marketplace will cover a standard set of essential health benefits that includes, among other benefits, hospital stays, prescription drug coverage, preventive services, oral and vision care for kids.”
So, just as Brooks is about to fall off of my plan, it appears that Obama and the ACA are riding in to the rescue…At least, that’s the way I hope, and foresee, it coming about.
The Star’s story, by medical writer Alan Bavley and business writer Diane Stafford, noted that yesterday, June 23, was the 100-day mark (Oct. 1) “when uninsured people can begin applying for health insurance and premium subsidies through the law’s new state and federal marketplaces.”
The story said that the goal was to reach the estimated 30 million Americans who qualify for enrollment through the marketplaces. If all goes according to plan, people like Brooks should be able to go online, compare plans and prices (hopefully there will be at least two plans in any given jurisdiction) and sign up. Coverage starts Jan. 1, but enrollment will continue through March 31.
Meanwhile the government is mobilizing to educate U.S. residents about the program. Much of the heavy lifting must be done by the Department of Health and Human Services. Among other things, the department is set to announce a redesign of its HealthCare.gov website, and in August it is supposed to announce which insurance plans will be offered in each state and the various rates.
One reason I think this is going to go better than many people believe is that I have a lot of confidence in Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Yes, she probably should not have approached health industry officials, asking for financial contributions to help with the effort to implement the ACA, but that seems to have blown over. And, besides, she did so only after Congress repeatedly rejected the Obama administration’s requests for start-up funds.
To me, Sebelius has always been a serious-minded, effective public servant. She’s energetic, authentic and not looking ahead, in my opinion, to her next professional or political position. I think she’s committed to getting Obamacare off to a good start, and I think she will handle the inevitable glitches professionally and even-handedly.
…Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I am counting on relatively smooth implementation of the Affordable Care Act, until and unless I see it not happening.
And that, unfortunately, is what a lot of Obama haters want — a big disaster — so they can say, “I told you so.”
If the program succeeds, as I expect it to, it’s going to further marginalize politicians like Senator Mitch McConnell and representatives John Boehner and Paul Ryan.
It’s not the Democrats who need to be worrying now; it’s the Republicans.