Obamacare – you can keep you healthcare except that you can’t always

I have debated telling this story. Some will say it’s not true as you will see I will not give the real name of my friend. But it is a true story.

President Obama campaigned for his signature healthcare legislature partially on the promise of keeping the healthcare plan you have if you like it. Here is some of what was said:

“Under the plan, if you like your current health insurance, nothing changes, except your costs will go down by as much as $2,500 per year.”
via http://change.gov/agenda/health_care_agenda/

“No matter what you have heard, if you like your doctor or you healthcare plan you can keep it.”
via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXqKp5B0ZLE

In my opinion, this was misleading, perhaps deception and at worst and outright known lie.

For me personally, my premium costs have gone up every year since the law was passed. Some will say the cost benefits don’t really kick in until the law if fully implemented. Well, unfortunately for many the costs may go up more than $2,500 before they come down.

As for my friend

For this story, I will call my friend Jane. I have worked with Jane for about 10 years.

Early in 2012, some of us were meeting and we were told the unfortunate news that Jane’s breast cancer had returned. Jane beat it once back in the 1990s.

First and most important, Jane is still with us and is back in remission.

Jane was able to still work some during her chemo treatments which means when she could she came to the office. I got to see the slow effects on her and it saddened me. For instance, I shave my head…I watched Jane cut her hair shorter and shorter as she went through the treatments to the day she came in saying we had the same haircut…none.

Then I was there the day she got the call of an “all clear” diagnosis and she came up behind me at my desk and just hugged me and then broke down in tears of joy. If that does not move you, you lack basic human emotions.

Another day she came into work and told me she finally had more hair than me. A good day.

Now, Jane is not on our company’s healthcare plan, but her husband’s as it provided better overall coverage for the cost and likely would be considered one of those “Cadillac” plans. She has been on that plan for years.

Jane told me that her cancer treatment costs were very minimal and covered almost everything 100% after reaching the deductible. This includes the surgery to remove the tumors, the 6+ months of chemo treatments, the ~10 months of drug infusions, the doctor visits, the MRIs, the follow-ups, etc. Great plan for her. It was a true benefit that her husbands company provided for it’s employees.

Jane does not have that plan anymore. Her husband still works for the same company. The company told them due to the healthcare law changes from ObamaCare they could not continue to afford to provide it to the employees. Why? Well, recall that ObamaCare will tax these health plans.

Jane no longer has the coverage she once had, she was lucky in a sad sense that the cancer returned last year when she had the full plan. Now, she has higher out-of-pocket costs and not as much coverage.

So, Jane did not get to keep her healthcare plan and believe me she liked it. She and her husband lost out.

We have to remember that while there are sometimes positive effects to new laws, there are also negative effects. My friend no longer has the coverage she once had, some will say that is fair. Honestly…I am getting tired of this “fair” concept about as much as I am starting to dislike the word free. Life is not fair, there are winners and there are losers. Life throws everybody lumps. One persons definition of fairness is someone’s unfairness and many want the government to impose fairness.

As for President Obama’s statements on keeping your plan, well that was only if you company and health insurance company was willing to keep it the same. I believe his statements were misleading.

As for me?

For me, my coverage has not changed, still the same plan as last few year, but my premiums have gone up a little every year since  2009.

Given the “fines” companies of a certain size will pay for not providing coverage for their employees…I expect some day in the future my company (given I am still there!) will pay those fines versus providing the coverage. Will they be the first or just follow suit after another major company does it? I don’t know. Of course, I may be wrong.

I admit I don’t fully understand all the details of the law (I doubt many do), but a $2K-3K fine is cheaper than paying $4K plus for a healthcare plan. Do the math, it potentially saves large companies millions in healthcare costs.

I do know from a purely financial point-of-view it makes sense to dump the employees into the medical exchanges. Which I personally think was a unwritten goal of ObamaCare…to entice companies to actually dump coverage and let the government take it over for them.

As for others

There is no doubt some will benefit from ObamaCare, I know someone who probably already has now that they can get coverage.  The other friend had some pre-existing conditions and could not get coverage. Yes, there probably should have been plans made for these people before, but yes they should also have been more expensive than a normal plan. Sorry, but let’s deal in reality people…people that require more healthcare, cost the system more and that entire burden should not be put on others to subsidize. Is that fair to the healthy people?

I find this Reason.com article a refreshing change and advocate the direction some doctors are taking against nationalized healthcare. The Obamacare Revolt: Physicians Fight Back Against the Bureaucratization of Health Care.

I know many will disagree with me and that is fine, I respect your opinions even if I disagree with them. The majority of of us will never be 100% happy with whatever plans our government forces on us, just a fact of life.