I tried not to get all caught up in the hype yesterday morning, waiting for the Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I posted on Facebook that it felt like watching the "Buckwheat Dead" sketch from Saturday Night Live, oh so many years ago.
And both of you know I'm not really happy with ACA anyway. Removing the public option weakened the bill considerably and left insurance companies in the mix. It's a fact that Medicare's administrative costs are 3 to 5 percent, while commercial insurance companies spend 30 percent just to process (or, more likely, deny) claims. Single-payer (Medicare for all) is the most economical, humane, just, fair way to deliver healthcare to everyone. Period.
So while I was a disappointed Democrat after ACA was signed in 2010, I'm still a devoted Democrat in 2012, and I wanted the Supreme Court decision to uphold the law.
I haven't benefitted from any of the ACA provisions yet. My insurance company (I pay
What the law didn't prevent, however, is my insurance company dropping all its individual policies. I learned this spring that as of July 1, 2013, I will no longer have health insurance. I'll be 62 at that time. It's not likely that I'll be able to find anything even close to the already expensive policy I now "enjoy." (Considering that this policy doesn't cover office visits, lab work, X-rays or diagnostic tests, and that I rarely visit a healthcare professional, Aetna has profited quite nicely from my premiums.) I've already started researching replacement policies.
Deductibles in most plans have gone from $3000/year (which is what mine is) to $5000/year. Most policies now cover office visits, with a $30 to $35 co-pay (my doctor charges $72 for an office visit for his uninsured patients). They typically offer 80/20 coverage – they pay 80 percent and the patient pays 20 percent – after the $5000 deductible has been met.
I'm grateful for my relatively good health. I'm glad I have a health savings account (which will pay for the upcoming dental work). I haven't contributed to the HSA since I originally funded it several years ago, and I still have most of it in the bank. I'd like to say my BMI is normal, but I'm beginning to believe it may never be. Obesity may be a pre-existing condition, but it's not going to keep me from being insured. Eventually.
I'm willing to go without insurance for the six months from July, 2013, to January, 2014, but my husband won't hear of it.
My hope is that West Virginia will begin setting up its insurance exchange well before the January, 2014, deadline, and that we will be able to opt into it ahead of schedule. I'll be making some calls to find out if that's being considered.
My other hope/wish/fervent prayer is that President Obama is re-elected in a landslide. Talk about a mandate. This signature legislation has helped and will help millions of Americans stay healthy or get treatment for conditions which were previously denied coverage. Once I'm eligible for the state exchange policy, I will save more than $2000 a year in premiums. And, truly, it's not all about me. It's about moving this country forward, eventually, to that ideal single-payer, Medicare-for-all system. Health reform in the United States will be a long slow process.
Yesterday's decision was a major step in the right direction.