Thursday, November 21

Fun Facts with Obamacare

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Right now, I'm looking into signing up with an Obamacare family health insurance package. At the moment, I'm fortunate enough to be covered under a "Cobra Plan" from my latest employer. On the other hand, I'm unfortunate enough to be a recent job departee, who got notified in 2011 he'd get cut off of his "retiree" insurance effective January 2014, as noted below

. "If you like your health insurance, you'll be able to keep it." Well, that is true as long as those controlling your health plan won't go to prison for cancelling it...

Starting out, with my current Cobra and its soon to increase premium as "1," here are the things I've found out after EXTENSIVE internet investigations, without Dem or Rep propaganda, and presuming that I'll not get any subsidies (it is unclear if I could simply declare a low income without backup, but that seems offensive to me in any event, though it might prove desirable simply to no longer declare my kids as dependents so THEY could get subsidies):

The "healthcare dot gov" site really didn't work for most of October, but it has improved to the point that one can get some projections. Fortunately, third parties, including places like Costco and my current Cobra supplier have popped up entirely outside the government site. A caveat: there ARE a lot of traplines I haven't run yet, such as the Washington State Exchange, which is different than the one you'd find in Texas through the Feds.

Regardless of all that, here's what I've found so far:
  • Cobra that will run through next November has a value of 1.0. This plan is current and active through UHC Insurance and is administered by Fidelity. That's the default choice.
  • Healthcare dot gov reference to Kaiser Family Foundation estimate of how much things are likely to cost for a "bronze plan" with no subsidy as a value of 0.47 (Yippee!!! Where do I sign up?)
  • Kaiser Family Foundation (referred to by healthcare dot gov) estimate for a "silver plan" as a value of 0.686 (More Yippee!!! Still, WHERE do I sign up?)
  • Costco offer for a HDHP plan through Aetna at a "bronze" level as a value of 1.783 (Holy Moly Batman, "affordable" really HAS changed!)
  • "healthcare dot gov" offer for a "bronze plan as a value of 1.57 through Aetna.(it tells me, however, that my wife's info differs from theirs and so we can't actually sign up and we've got to send off a bunch of documents)
  • "healthcare dot gov" UHC offer - NONE available
  • "healthcare dot gov" HDHP plans offered - hard to determine since that part of the website isn't working right, but figuring out a workaround, I concluded there were four "HSA Eligible" plans offered, which range from a value of 1.153 to 1.574, three of which are "bronze," but one of which is "silver." (the contrast with the government-referenced Kaiser numbers really IS as great as it appears)
  • UHC private plan, not available from "healthcare dot gov" and not the Cobra as a value of 0.992, though that value might only work until the end of 2013. I'm calling UHC to see if I can sign up starting in January and drop the Cobra that also comes from UHC. Keeping my fingers crossed.

FWIW, 1.0 is more than double what my employer-subsidized healthcare premiums were so this whole process is not real pleasant.

Any suggestions as to where to go to find better? Ideas about why these estimates vary so wildly? Please do NOT inject any partisan ideas into the theories. FYI, the nondimensional values quoted are based on things as of today. It seems things are getting more complicated. Regardless, I feel fortunate that I've got more put away than I thought I'd need...


Ian Brett Cooper said...

I don't have any answers for you. The same happened to us when we lived in Massachusetts when Governor Romney's plan (which was essentially the same as Obamacare) came into effect - same coverage, higher premiums, insurance companies laughed all the way to the bank. This is why I wanted a single payer system.

John Romeo Alpha said...

Steve, this may help you, the site offers an apparently little-known ability to download all the QHPs (qualified health plans) for states using the Federal Exchange in Excel format. This at least gives you a way to compare plans and see the base rates without jumping through a lot of hoops.
Also, and I can't vouch for the service itself because I haven't tried it, but it does look like a viable alternative, HR Block put up a service called (unfortunately) Helpth that let's you go through the comparison and enrollment process fairly painlessly. If you don't expect subsidies then you can definitely enroll through any licensed insurance agent. You also want to consider the tax provisions of the ACA too, though, which seem complicated in their own right.

Steve A said...

I will check out JRA's link. I hope it clarifies things, though the healthcare dot gov site has so far been much better on PR than on any real useful info. It is getting better, but it is still pretty bad.

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