Tune in to The Willis Report tonight 6pm & 9pmET for your personal guide to coping with Obamacare. The new health care law has everyone on the run, it seems. Even the president this week apologized for the website problems, but he didn’t agree to delay the law. And, for that reason, you are going to have to deal with the law’s impacts, some of them harsh. Here is your personal guide to coping with Obamacare:
First off, millions of people are desperate to know whether they are eligible for health care coverage under Obamacare and what they might pay. They want to know whether they could get a subsidy to help them pay for coverage and how much that might be. Unfortunately, the government website, healthcare.gov, is often down, inaccessible. Lucky for you, there’s an option. The Kaiser Family Foundation has a subsidy calculator tool on its website, www.kff.org, that gives you real details. You enter your zip code, age, income and sex and you get detailed information about the price of coverage and how much you might get in subsidies to help you cover the costs. For example, a 62-year-old woman in western North Carolina earning $32,000 and living on her own would be charged Obamacare premiums of $7,284 a year but receive a subsidy in the form of a tax credit of $4,443 a year, leaving her to pay $2,841 a year in premiums. Out of pocket costs, such as deductibles and copays however, could total as much as $6,350 over the course of the year. Ironically, the Government used the KFF information is setting up the website, and though you can’t necessarily get on healthcare.gov, you can access kff.org. Better yet, you don’t have to give up personal information that can be tracked to you.
This week, we’ve heard a lot about the people losing coverage. By the latest count, some 4.3 million people are having their policies cancelled because they don’t meet Obamacare standards.
Those folks are in the individual market where they buy on their own because they don’t have employer coverage or Medicare. However, I also reported this week that insurance plans in the small business market will likely get cancelled late next fall. Small business owners were able to extend existing coverage because of a loophole in the law but that loophole only prolongs the inevitable for a year. Which leads me to my next suggestion; don’t wait to get medical procedures or tests. My doctor sources tell me that people across the country are getting in front of changes demanded by the law by proactively taking care of potential problems.
I know a lot of people, particularly those of you on Medicare, are worried that the millions of Americans that will be added into the healthcare system under Obamacare, could negatively affect your care. Many people talk to me about their worries that their doctors will stop taking Medicare patients and get out of the business or offer their services only to cash-paying high-end clients. You need to talk to your doctor directly about his or her plans, so that if your doctor is planning to change his practice you’ll know in advance and can find a new doctor.
And, finally, what’s clear about the way that health care is changing in this country is this: Getting affordable care that you have confidence in will become more and more difficult. The burden of responsibility for your health care is shifting to your shoulders. It’s more and more up to you. And, frankly, hearing that you have to eat better and exercise regularly isn’t all that satisfying anymore. One healthcare shortcut that I took recently was a test of my DNA on the website www.23andme.com. I got information, that frankly, my primary care physician has never discovered, namely that I have a good chance of having Celiac disease, an allergy to wheat, and that I am sensitive to specific blood thinners. After getting this information, I cut out the wheat, went gluten free and feel so much better. I’ve added the information about blood thinners to my medical records so that if any doctor ever prescribes one for me, he or she will know to reduce the dosage. To be sure, not all health care problems are caused by your genes. If you eat fast food every night and never exercise, you’ll probably have some health problems, no doubt. But, by using 23andme.com. I was lucky to find information that can help me be healthier without going to the doctor’s office. The cost for the service is $99 and I’d say you should probably talk to your doctor before you sign up, but for me it was a Godsend.