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In the eye of the 'Obamacare' storm?

February 11, 2013

By Steve Boggs, publisher of The Saline Courier

President Obama’s health care reform effort plan had some good things in it, and some bad things in it. We’re already seeing the good parts of it – like the elimination of waiting periods and lifetime benefit caps – and it’s making a profound difference at street level.
The bad parts of it, including how to pay for the 30 million Americans who do not have medical coverage, go into effect in 2014. That’s where things get very gray when it comes to "Obamacare." Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as much during the fight on Capitol Hill to pass this sweeping overhaul of our health care system, when she blurted out, “We have to pass it to see what’s in it.”
Indeed. It’s been more than three years since it passed, and there remains a lot we don’t know about it. At the consumer level, employers really do not know how it will impact existing insurance plans. The insurance exchanges are still in their infancy, and the nuts and bolts of how to use them haven’t even begun to trickle down to the masses.
There are aspects to "Obamacare" that make sense. Eliminating exclusions for pre-existing conditions was a good thing. There are too many chronic diseases in this country to count, and excluding coverage of those diseases for anyone who had gone more 63 days without health insurance was/is a travesty.
Eliminating lifetime benefit caps also makes sense. One million bucks doesn’t go far in health care these days. Those dealing with cancer know this reality all too well.
Taking out the waiting period also made sense. How many of us have sweated for 90 days, hoping we didn’t get sick, or break a leg or something? Yeah, been there myself.
Extending health care coverage for dependents to the age of 26 was fairly controversial, but it has been a godsend to many families. Most young people graduate from college at 22 or 23 years of age. In today’s economy, finding a job is difficult to do, and finding a job at company that offers health care coverage is even more difficult. Having a two or three-year window to keep your kids on your health insurance isn’t ideal, but it’s better than having tens of thousands of college grads out there without coverage.
Right now a growing number of people are looking at Obamacare in a new light, because the benefits of the law have kicked in first. We’re looking around and thinking, “This isn’t so bad, is it?”
While I find myself in the same boat, I’m watching with interest as the other side of the bill makes its way to the surface. I want to know how much the rest of us are going to have to pay to subsidize health care benefits for those who do not have them. I’m also curious how many out there without coverage elected not to pay for it, rather than simply can’t afford it.
In most plans, the company you work for pays up to two-thirds of the health care premium each month, and you pay the other third. How will those ratios change? What happens to Medicare? More specifically, how much will that deduction line on your check change?
Until the bad stuff hits, we’re all basking in the glow of good "Obamacare." Check back in a year, after the bills from bad "Obamacare" start hitting our collective mailbox, and see if it was all worth it.
Until then, enjoy the eye of the storm.

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