Thursday, November 21, 2013

Adventures with the ACA, Part 2

This week, the media frenzy over the federal website, Healthcare.gov, has thoroughly disgusted me.  Talk about losing any kind of perspective!  And it wasn't just one media outlet, either.  Everywhere I turned, the problems this website had been experiencing were equated with "the failure of Obamacare."  Oh, puleeze!  Calm down and get real.  Take a deep breath and a big step back.

Considering what the Healthcare.gov website is expected to do to serve all those people whose states refused to participate in the ACA and create their own insurance exchanges online, I'd say things have gone about as usual for the launch of any giant website that hadn't enough time for development, endured last minute revisions, and has been under intense focus with unrealistic media expectations. 

Above all, it is NOT the failure of Obamacare.  It shocks me that I hear that phrase pass the lips of any journalist much less those who are highly respected in their field.  The ACA is a law that so far has been quite successful.  The federal website is only one part of the implementation of that law.  If there's been any failure, it's been in the development, creation and launch of the website and the people responsible for it.  It's not Obama's fault.  It's not the ACA's fault (a law cannot be at fault, reasonably speaking).  Focus criticism where criticism belongs -- on the website designer and software developer who created the site. 

Be patient, people!  I do not understand why there's suddenly such an urgency in the media connected to the federal website.  It's not at all helpful.  To anyone.  I've been especially surprised that no media outlet that I have seen or visited has bothered to research website design, development and implementation and compared the federal website with something comparable.  It's not like other websites haven't had problems, glitches that have taken months to fix.  Hello!  Stop and think about this, people.

Meanwhile, I am moving ahead with my own project to shop for new medical insurance for myself.  My meeting with my insurance agent a couple days ago proved to be extremely helpful.  He explained some things I didn't understand (copay plans vs. deductible plans, the meaning of metals, how the tax credits work) and also described the steps at the MNSure website that I'll be taking to apply for tax credits and then buy my plan.  I wish MNSure had included a tutorial for people to go through before actually filling out their applications, etc.  It helps to know what to expect.... 

As we talked about the application for tax credits, I realized that I needed to return and change some of my answers.  Talking it through with my agent helped me to see how I needed to approach it.  The estimate of income in 2014 is more important than I realized before.  The percentage tax credit is based on that income figure.  If I underestimate it and actually make more, I may have to repay some of the tax credit I received.  If I overestimate it, then the government will need to pay me more.  The goal is to get as close as reasonably possible with the estimate. 

Once I've found out my tax credit, i.e. submitted the application, I can then proceed with buying a plan.  After my meeting with my agent, I concluded that I needed a deductible plan, not copays, with a broad network of providers and comprehensive drug formulary.  None of the plans I was looking at had the deductible I wanted, i.e. $1K.  One was $2K, the other $750.  Out of pocket was the same, respectively, as the deductible amounts.  The monthly premiums were between $400 and $500.  Even without the tax credit, I'd save money on the premium compared with what I'm paying now.  With the tax credit, the savings could be substantial.


I researched the plans from another company whose national network would be good if I planned to travel a lot, which I'm not.  All I have left to do is finish the application and the purchase at the MNSure website, pay the January premium, and....drum roll...that task will be done.

How are you all doing with your participation in the ACA?  I'd love to hear your stories in the comments section below....

1 comment:

Daughter Number Three said...

Love this:

"Considering what the Healthcare.gov website is expected to do to serve all those people whose states refused to participate in the ACA and create their own insurance exchanges online, I'd say things have gone about as usual for the launch of any giant website that hadn't enough time for development, endured last minute revisions, and has been under intense focus with unrealistic media expectations."