The self-employed have been screwed on health insurance for years, particularly since the Obamacare (Affordable Healthcare Act) was introduced. Private insurers stole every dollar they could in premium increases, denied claims, and created backroom foul ups that discouraged those seeking legitimate reimbursement.
When the Obamacare insurance exchanges open up October 1, there will be some real relief across the board for the self-employed. Unlike 80% of the marketplace covered by either employer funded health plans or Medicare, the self-employed buy direct from the insurance companies.
This can be anywhere from draining to ruinous financially. Those low premium, $200 a month plans carry with them a $20,000 or so annual deductible. The $2,000 to $3,000 a month plan premiums have a lower deductible $500 to $2000 annually. Unfortunately, it all ends up the same – you’re screwed by the costs or forced to become truly at risk by dropping health insurance altogether.
The chart above presents some scenarios for the Obamacare Silver Plan (see coverage), the third of four levels starting at the top with Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Run your own numbers at the Kaiser Family Foundation Obamacare simulator. But consider these premium costs, with a $2,000 deductible.
Self employed or uninsured workers making $30,000 a year will pay just $209 a month for the Silver Plan coverage. A family of four with a household income of $65,000 a year pays just $477 a month. This is a huge departure from current rates.
If you are a consultant with an income of $120,000 a year, you pay just $377 a month for your coverage. The same income for a family of two independent workers is just $671 a month. That’s well below current premium rates.
The Silver plan has a $2,000 deductible before you get reimbursed and you are required to stay in the insurance company preferred provider network.
Many states have their own health insurance exchanges. California’s site is a transparent view of meetings, policies, and information on the program. Virginia’s governor was too busy taking tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and cheap loans to spend any time on a health exchange. If you’re in a state without one, there will be a federal web site to perform the same function.
Problems and Improvements
The immediate upsides of Obama care are simple – insurance coverage for those without and the ability to obtain care at a comparatively affordable rate rather than a rate that requires you endure the victimization and tricks inflicted by largely unregulated health insurance companies.
There are two drawbacks that will play out over time. The health exchange plans do not allow out of network coverage. If you or a family member has a complex condition requiring a university hospital, you may be out of luck. The insurance companies putting the plans together don’t want any of that at all. For most people, this won’t be a requirement but if it is, good luck.
Also, the Obamacare program provides subsidies to insurance companies. They get paid a subsidy based on your income. For what – working to give you as little care as possible just like they’ve done for decades?
There is a single payer program in place with very low administrative costs and highly satisfied customers. It’s called Medicare. At some point, we’ll get the message about the best universal health care plan – Medicare for all.
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