Why the Affordable Care Act will be unaffordable

Religious and spiritual folks are big on compassion.  This has led the mainline churches and many others to strongly support Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.  See here for just one of hundreds of examples of this kind of argument.

To provide health insurance to those who don’t have it is the compassionate thing to do.  People assume it means imitating Jesus who healed people, who cared about their health.  People assume the ACA will be good for the poor, women and children. This caring motivation, though, needs a dose of reality now that the Supreme Court has ruled and the election is over.  The ACA is coming.  Will it really be that great?

A year before she reached medicare age, my wife, Betty, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  We had what is called a catastrophic health insurance policy.  It featured a really high deductible tied to a Health Savings Account.  The ACA will not allow such insurance.  It would consider us underinsured.  People hear about the really high deductible and react with “OMG, you had to pay that?”

The thing is, though, that once we reached the deductible, the insurance took care of everything.

What would have happened under the ACA?

Under it there will be four levels of coverage: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.  Insurance companies will not have to offer the bronze and platinum policies.  I assume most people will get silver or gold.  Silver is a 70/30 policy.  The insurance pays 70% of your costs and you pay 30%. The gold plan is 80/20.

This means that if saving your life costs $200,000 (a low-ball estimate), you will be obligated to pay either $60,000 or $40,000. Even though the ACA outlaws the insurance we have, we did not have to pay anything close to that. You can’t get a 100% policy under ACA.   Even if you can get the platinum plan (90/10), you will still have to pay more than twice what we did.

To me this is an example of how the churches and religious/spiritual people get misled and used. Who really benefits from the ACA?  The big medical corporations (also the insurance companies, since people have to buy their product).  Uninsured people get treated now.  But the hospitals usually have to eat the total cost.  But under the ACA, they get paid a large share of the cost, even as the poor still end up owing tens of thousands of dollars. Religious folks and their compassion get used by special interests.  This happens a lot.

So under the ACA churches or other religious communities will still need to support the poor who will continue to get buried under enormous health care bills. (OK, I  know about Medicaid.  There just are not many doctors around here who will take it.  I had to drive a parishioner about 100 miles to find a dentist who would take it once.) Cooperative arrangements with religious doctors might help.  I bet the Mormons do something like that.  Churches already have scattered programs featuring free clinics or parish nurses.  But catastrophic illness is really beyond most of this.

My advise based on having learned more than I wanted to know about health insurance is this: No matter how you come down on the politics of health care, please do not rely on ACA insurance without either a high five-figure savings account or a major supplemental, critical illness insurance policy.

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About theoutwardquest

I have many interests, but will blog mostly about what I read in the fields of Bible and religion.
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