There are major changes coming to health insurance in the United States. Healthcare systems have been under scrutiny for years and costs are spiraling out of control. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”, was passed in 2010. The jokes at the time were that the legislators had to pass the bill in order to read it because it was so long and complicated. The changes outlined in this bill will begin to go into effect in 2014.
At the time of it’s passage, not much attention was paid to it. But now that it’s getting closer to implementation, the Human Resources department at my employer started offering a glimpse of what was to come. My decision will need to be made fairly quickly as the open enrollment period will be over by the end of April.
Because of an excise tax on employers if costs go over a certain amount per employee, costs to employers are going to be limited and will be shifted to employees (see this article explaining the shift). Much of the changes involve state level decisions. Some southern states are trying to opt out of the law (see this article). Depending on each state’s system, the federal law will increase health costs. In fact, a recent study by statisticians showed that claims will increase on average by 32% with Ohio predicted to increase by 80% and Florida by 20%.
My employer is offering a similar health plan like I’m on right now but the premiums will cost me 29% more than I’m currently paying. Or I can switch to a high deductible plan, like a $4,000 deductible for a family, and start a health savings account (HSA) that is tax free. My employer said that they will put some money into the account to get started. These high deductible plans don’t include a pharmaceutical plan – they are included with all costs. This clearly favors those who don’t need to access expensive healthcare or medicines. My RA meds retail upwards of $30,000 a year. If I had an HSA, it would be eaten up in the first few months.
The bottom line is that I’m going to pay more for health insurance costs under Obamacare. In fact, my 1.7% raise that I just received will be completely eaten up paying for the increased premiums or out of pocket payouts. These may be difficult waters to navigate over the next few years for those who are “Medically Vulnerable” like those of us with chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.