Despite the persistent tug of war, President Obama remains unwavering and crystal clear: Obamacare (the nation’s failed national insurance plan) is continuing. It’s here to stay, and state insurance exchanges will open for business Tuesday. Deal with it . . . I consider it my American duty to go explore my options on the exchange Tuesday. I earnestly hope that you will, too.
While out in Maine, I was cruising through the television channels one evening when a commercial began. A clean-cut, concerned face was looking right at me, imploring me, and all viewers to band together to unite in a massive “Defund Obamacare” action by making calls and writing letters. Indeed, Tea Party Senator Michael Shumway (Mike Lee), a lawyer and junior U.S. Senator from Utah, was on a mission.
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“What?! Are you out of your mind?” was about all my brain could put together in terms of a response to what I was seeing. Can you not give it up already, Republicans?
I went online to find an editorial in USA Today penned by Senator Lee that made my skin crawl. One line reads, “Congress holds the power to appropriate funds, so defunding ObamaCare is simple.”
You can imagine my relief when, driving in Vermont on Saturday, I heard a clip on NPR, in which President Obama said, “That’s a done deal.” That the exchanges will open on Tuesday.
Yes, on Friday, President Obama remained firm, every breath like the steadfast parent in the face of a defiant teen, saying the exchanges will open on Tuesday as planned. Even if the government shuts down. So Americans will need to acquire health insurance, and if they do not have it after Jan. 1, 2014, they will have to pay a fine.
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Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Democrat, of Nevada and Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat, of New York, told reporters Republicans need to “get a life and talk about something” other than Obamacare. But they can’t, and they won’t.
So here we are today. A house plan to delay Obamacare for one year threatens to shut down the government. Many say that this type of intense and staunch partisanship is sure to backfire for the Republicans and will even give Democrats a leg up in the 2016 presidential election.
The next six months will determine the success and viability of the Affordable Care Act. The decisions people make based on their experience of plugging their info into the online exchange systems and seeing which health coverage options appear, then deciding whether to actually purchase an insurance plan, will be what makes or breaks this ambitious law.
So, this is happening. The marketplace is making its historic debut tomorrow. The health insurance marketplace is the core component of Obama’s healthcare law. You will be able to go online tomorrow and look at the health insurance plan options in your state, type in personal information, and find out what a plan for you will cost. Trader Joe’s made headlines by announcing it will provide a $500 incentive to its part-time employees to go online to search the exchanges for health insurance.
In order for this to work successfully, people who are young and healthy need to enroll. The federal government is hoping to attract 2.7 million within this group. The trick here is getting the price and offerings right.
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A Sunday New York Times article provided a real-life example, a man aged 26, a Brooklynite, and Crate and Barrel part-time worker who shuffles in $15,000 annually. The source said in the article that he was aware that the law will require him to have health insurance, but also confided that he would do so only if it cost less than $100 a month. He was the picture of youth and health, and as the article stated, is “exactly the sort of person the Obama administration needs to enroll in the new marketplace if the federal health care law is to succeed.”
Here, a few primer notes:
* These exchanges are being put in place with the idea of health insurance companies having to compete for the business of the American people.
* Millions of Americans who currently do not have health insurance will have the opportunity to get on their local, state exchange to research the price tag of new health insurance plans, if they qualify for a subsidy, what the premiums and pocket costs will be as well as what their network of doctors will look like.
* Insurers will compete hardcore to attract as many healthy people as possible to counterbalance the cost of care for unhealthy people.
* Insurers are challenged with keeping pricing competitive while at the same time high enough to keep the plans sustainable.
* Can’t wait until tomorrow? Go now to the estimator tool created by the Kaiser Family Foundation nonprofit research organization.
The calculator is based on a silver-category plan and estimates costs based on age, family size and tobacco use (but not geography, which will significantly affect cost).
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HHS.gov has been doing a highly commendable job getting the word out on Twitter and other social networks about the four simple steps to take tomorrow to view your health coverage options. I consider it my American duty to go onto my state’s exchange tomorrow to see what the healthcare options will be for me. Because, more so than have any politician tell me how much I will save, or how much worse or better it will be, I must go on and see for myself. It is my earnest wish that you, too, will see going onto your state’s exchange as your American duty. Tell a neighbor, tell a friend, tell a family member. Give healthcare reform a fighting chance . . . and please remember, Rome wasn’t built in one day; health care won’t rapidly be patched up either. But we have got to start somewhere.
1. Go to Healthcare.gov for a four-step guide to seeing your healthcare options.
2. Today, use this checklist to gather the info you’ll need to plug in.
3. Tuesday, quickly create an account (establish a user name, answer security Qs, etc.).
4. Apply for marketplace coverage here.
Do not give up your quest to find your health insurance options if you do not currently have coverage, or if your coverage is too costly to be sustainable. Expect delays, and if you run into complications call 1-800-318-2596 for round-the-clock support. Go here for additional help in your area.