As an artist now for over 40 years one of the greatest challenges my family and I have faced is affordable healthcare. Years of struggle trying to find success as a working artist; pales in comparison to the struggle of maintaining healthcare insurance.
Considering all the real and imagined threats we all face today. Terrorism, economic collapse, climate change and a low credit score. You name it? I can tell you with confidence the greatest economic threat; perhaps the greatest threat you will face in your lifetime is the lack of healthcare insurance.
Accidents and sickness will surely visit all of us. These threats are real and they can be upon us quick and without warning. A trip to the hospital can destroy your economic security in the present and well into your future. In fact, long after you recover from that unfortunate accident or illness. The lingering economic devastation may follow you the rest of your life. Medical bills are a real and present danger to anyone and everyone. From which there may be no recovery. Lost will be all your economic dreams at the worst. Perhaps best a long delay in recovering financially.
I can tell you this from experience. I don’t need any political arguments or need to engage in arguments about how the system should be. They system is what it is, it’s that simple. Just look around you at your life and the people in your life. Now you have the answer.
For years art organizations and artists have struggled to find some solution to the vexing and threatening issue of affordable healthcare. Today we have a solution.
Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act. It is available and affordable healthcare insurance for most of us. Yes there may be limits on the plans you can choose from, depending on the State you live in right now. It is not a perfect solution, but it is far better than the options most of us had before the ACA became law. Before the law, we really had few or no options.
So put all the bullshit aside and go to https://www.healthcare.gov and check it out. It is in your best interest to protect yourself and your family if you have one from the number one economic threat of our times.
This past December we again found ourselves without Healthcare insurance. So in short we signed up for Obamacare. Here is the rest of the story. I live in Montana. We have 21 different plans to choose from. That was the biggest challenge. Deciding which plan to go with. The website was somewhat a pain in the ass. First the amount of information, looking at and comparing 21 different plans. Then the added luck of the website experiencing technical problems. What’s new, these kinds of tech problems are all across the Internet, all the time. So it might take some patience. The saving grace of the website is the help desk or customer service. You can call them 24/7 and I can say we called several times all because the site was not working properly at that moment and a couple other hiccups particular to our circumstance. We talked to several different people through the process, all of who were helpful, skilled and truly very nice to deal with.
So what was the outcome? We choose a Bronze level plan; it has a $6000.00 deductible. Then pays 100% after the deductible. It also pays 100% of preventive type care. I compared the plan to the healthcare insurance I had just lost. Where the Bronze plan has the deductibles up front my old plan had about the same only spread out over a multitude of services. In the end we felt the real deductibles in both were about even.
We applied, we did get a tax credit based on our current yearly income, which does fluctuate and our monthly premium is today $44.95. Now be aware this premium amount can change if your income changes. You can settle up at the end of the year at tax time, which might be ok if the change in your income is minor. However any major changes in income need to be reported so your premium can be adjusted to reflect those changes as needed. This will spare you some potential financial burden at tax time. To make a change just requires a phone call. You will be given all this information when you sign up.
The deadline for Open Enrollment is February 15, 2015 https://www.healthcare.gov
It is important to keep in mind. After February 15, 2015 if you lose your employer based or other healthcare insurance later in the year. You can sign up immediately. You won’t have to wait until the next open enrollment. However if you don’t have Health Insurance NOW, you will have to wait until next year. Yes there is also the fine. It’s not horrible, but then again why not use that money to buy a plan instead of paying a fine that does you no good. Again, what should be and realities are two different things, aren’t they? The fine is a reality. Remember you might qualify for a tax credit that you can use to pay all or part of your premium. You have to apply to find out.
Medicaid: If your income is low enough, depending on the state you live in you might qualify for Medicaid. That is if your state chose to expand its Medicaid program. If your state chose not to expand the Medicare option you might be screwed because you won’t be able to buy through the exchange because your income will be to low. Thank you politicians and politics. The solution, increase the estimates of your yearly income until you qualify. Then get out there and sell some art! Or hope they raise the minimum wage or get a better job, one with healthcare if there is such a job anymore? You will just have to earn more money somehow.
By the way we are hopeful our income goes up in 2015 and will gladly address the issue of increased income. All I will say about my current income situation is this. It is the direct result of a lack of affordable healthcare. In 2008 my wife had a sudden, unforeseen, life threatening healthcare event. Her gull bladder of all things suddenly went very bad. It is the same thing that killed Andy Warhol. She went from being just fine eating lunch to potentially dying in an emergency room in just a few hours. Emergency surgery and treatment for the infection that spread throughout her body was a financial nightmare. Prior to this event she had had cancer, which is survived also and is still today cancer free. Unfortunately she was uninsurable at the time because she had had cancer before the new law took effect. So she was barred by the system from insuring against the other thousand and one things that can kill you.
You now have a choice, use it. It is for your health and your economic security.