Everybody seems to be up in arms about it, either defending it or trying to destroy it.
Ideally, it would have provided something called universal health care. A basic level of health care for everyone, regardless of income. It doesn’t do that. But, that’s what conservatives were afraid it was going to deliver, since that smacks of “socialism” and they drag up old Cold War phobias to make us fear the concept.
So, what we really got was federally mandated health insurance.
From what I can find out, it isn’t universal. If you are low income, you are likely to still not have any health care coverage, so you are still regarded as one of the “leeches” on the system and the reason that health care costs keep rising.
From where I’m sitting, in Mississippi, it looks like business as usual, but great for insurance companies.
Okay, I went through the enrollment process. The website everyone makes fun of worked just fine for me, and this was a couple of weeks ago when it was all new. We were offered very limited choices to start off. One company, that’s it, folks. Reminds me of the electric company, we’ve got another monopoly going on. Maybe we’d have had more options if we lived on the coast or in Jackson, but even so, we’re only 30 minutes from Hattiesburg now, and that’s one of the larger cities in Mississippi. So it’s one company with two plans, and they don’t include the highest coverage, the platinum level. (Not that it mattered, we couldn’t afford either one we were offered anyhow.)
The two lowest plans did not offer very good coverage, and it included a large deductible. To add to the injury, the crappy plans cost roughly $850-950 per month for a couple.
The state of Mississippi, like a number of other states that have vocalized their dislike of the “Obamacare” Affordable Health Care Act, has refused to consider expanding their Medicaid program. Likely it’s due to the impoverished state of the Mississippi economy to begin with. After all, where would the money come from?
They are being generous. They will not fine those below the income threshold, which I assume is the poverty line. Whatever that line is, we’re below it. So, it is status quo. No fine, no health care, and nothing has changed at all for us.
But let’s do some math. Let’s assume that a couple who is working 40 hours a week at minimum wage ($7.25 per hour). That would mean that they got an annual gross income of $30,160. They are paying an average of 26% of their income to taxes, Social Security, etc. That’s $7841.60 leaving them with $22,318.40. Let’s say that they select the lowest cost plan at $850 per month. Their annual costs will be $10,200. That leaves them with $12,118.40.
That sounds reasonable, right? Surely they can live on that, right?
Well, let’s experiment. The average rent is about $600 per month, totaling $7200. Their annual income is now down to just $4918.40.
But, they have to get to work, and most of Mississippi doesn’t have mass transportation of any kind. They don’t live close to work, but they are careful with managing their lone vehicle so they are both able to get to and from work. Even so, they average 25 miles round trip each day, their vehicle is older so the annual cost of license and tags, combined with the inspection, totals to just $45 per year. They carry the minimum insurance, but it still costs $90 per month. Being an older vehicle, it also does not get good gas mileage, coming in at only 20 mpg, at an average cost of $3.15 per gallon. It also requires two annual oil changes, which cost $35 each, for another $70 per year. On average, they have to buy tires every fourth year, which cost $400, adding another $100 to their annual expenses. They pray it does not break down, as they are already spending a lot on their transportation, a grand total of $2732.19. That leaves them with $2186.21.
But, remember, they are still left with bills to pay for utilities, clothing expenses, and their grocery bill. The real problem is that after getting their affordable insurance, paying their rent, and getting to and from work, they are left to figure out how to survive on $182.18 per month.
That won’t even cover their utilities, let alone let them cover their deductible, pay a co-pay, or buy a prescription. They won’t be able to eat either.
But, a couple earning minimum wage, in the eyes of many, is not below poverty level.
I’m not seeing anything affordable in this. I’m not seeing anything resembling universal health care either. I damn sure don’t see anything resembling socialism in it. The only ones who are actually going to have health insurance are the same ones that have it now, barring the ones who can afford it but are too cheap to pay their portion of the premium for their families through the plan offered by their employer.
I can remember those people well. Back in the “good old days” when I had an employer that offered health insurance and treated their employees as though they were a company asset (like good companies do), we had a giant hike in our health insurance premiums. They had a meeting with all of us, explained what was happening and why, as well as what their options were in terms of offering us health insurance plans. They listened to us, then came back with an option. The costs of extending insurance coverage to our families was going to have to be deducted from our paychecks, and we could elect to have coverage if we so desired. I desired–I had a kid with a chronic health problem (she was a type 1 diabetic who was often in the hospital). My co-workers, knowing that I paid about half of my paycheck to health insurance, asked me how I could afford it. For me it was simple. I could not afford to NOT have it. There is a vast difference in the kind of health care one receives with health insurance versus without it, and I had witnessed it first hand.
I also had pretty good insurance. I didn’t have a lot of out-of-pocket expenses. Sure, I had a co-pay at the doctor’s office, as well as for prescriptions, but it was reasonable and affordable. I didn’t have big bills for the hospital stays, and I had both dental and vision coverage as well.
Even if I could afford the insurance plans offered via the so-called Obamacare plan, neither of them included dental or vision insurance. The co-pays were reasonable, but the deductible was a serious issue. So was the percentage of coverage on procedures and hospitalization. With only 60% coverage on these things, how is someone with $182.18 per month to pay utilities and groceries out of, going to pay even a $1000 procedure (far less than a single emergency room visit) which is going to cost $400 out-of-pocket.
The Affordable Health Care Act may have had some great intentions, but some how, along the way, it got left with loopholes and giant black holes that once again put insurance corporations into the drivers’ seat leaving the rest of us clinging to the bumper and terrified. The worst part is, it hasn’t even gone into effect yet. We have sticker shock, as well as discovering that we’re ordered to choose from models X, Y and maybe model Z for health insurance, but we’re standing here realizing that the other shoe hasn’t dropped yet. What kind of problems are waiting to appear?
We, as a population, has little faith in the government in general and even less in the federal government. It’s notorious for favoring those with mega-money and tromping on the little guy without regard for the welfare of the masses. It’s all about special interest groups, with an ample seasoning of mismanagement and bureaucratic red tape.
It seems that there is only one escape from the tyranny of the Affordable Health Care Act.
Get elected to Congress.
Yep, they were smart. They made sure none of them would ever have to deal with this monstrosity that is neither affordable nor healthy.