Obamacare has been one of the most talked about subjects in the United States this year. Capitol Hill has been battling for months and shut down the government about not only whether or not a debt ceiling should be increased, but also if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) should be enacted.
As of Oct. 1 the Health Insurance Marketplace has been opened to assist citizens in signing up for new health coverage and to help make sense of the law itself. However many are still puzzled about what the law means, especially in the state of Alabama.
The aim of the healthcare law is to make sure that all Americans are insured. The results since Oct 1. have been less than favorable. Amidst the website trouble, many individuals currently insured are receiving cancellation letters.
These letters from the insurance company alert the consumer that the current insurance plan is not up to standards of the new healthcare laws and will be changed as of Jan. 1 to a plan which does satisfy the requirements. In addition, the increases in the cost of coverage will, in some cases, nearly triple.
The recent spike in cancellation letters left many outraged. The original promise was if people liked their current plans they could keep them. On Nov. 14, President Obama addressed the issue, allowing Americans to keep their old coverage but with extreme caution.
“It’s important that we don’t pretend that somehow [previous coverage] is a place worth going back to. Too often, it works fine as long as you stay healthy. It doesn’t work well when you’re sick,” said the President in his press conference in November.
Since this statement has been made, the leading insurance provider in Alabama, Blue Cross Blue Shield, said on Nov. 20 they will not allow their customers to go back to their original plans. The company released this statement regarding their decision: “The temporary reinstatement of policies that are non-ACA compliant would create dual classes of policyholders and destabilize the state’s insurance market.” This destabilization would increase the cost of insurance across the board with their company.
In the first month of the Marketplace being open only 624 people in Alabama signed up for Obamacare, according to CNN. Also, the state of Alabama has opted out of Obamacare. This means that the state has decided to not expand Medicaid benefits to uninsured low-income people, which are mostly young adults without children.
All of this to say, if you are a young, childless adult unable to afford insurance, you are not eligible for Medicaid coverage in Alabama. According to Forbes, “in the exchanges, a young person will have to pay an estimated $250 per month for basic insurance.” The basic insurance coverage provided hardly pays for any doctors visits or prescription costs, and the deductible before the insurance will cover them is around $5,000 per calendar year.
These increases are causing students to wonder what options are available–if there are any. If you were to apply in the Marketplace for coverage, and are a female, 22, nonsmoker who makes $15,000 per year, the program will take your information and email you an Eligibility Notification. In the notification this is the information given, “You could be eligible for free or low cost health care through Medicaid. However, the state of AL has chosen to not offer you this new healthcare coverage at this time. You are not required to pay a penalty for not having health insurance because of your income and because the state of AL declined to expand Medicaid to cover individuals in your situation.”
These exact circumstances are now being called the ‘new donut hole’. New healthcare is too expensive to afford and government assistance is not being offered either. This new system has now created is a ‘hole’ in healthcare coverage. The healthy, young adults the government was relying on to balance out the medical costs of the elderly, are not getting the coverage they originally hoped for. 2013-40=1973
As of now there is not a solution for the individuals who fall in the new ‘donut hole.’ The positive side is you won’t have to pay the penalty fee for not being able to afford coverage. However, healthinsurance.net says if you are sick and need to go to the doctor, a typical visit, including antibiotics, will be around $300.