Juan (name changed) used to have health insurance. Over the years Juan had been covered by his employer, his wife’s employer, and for the last several years he had been insured through an individual health plan that he had paid for himself. Juan dropped his policy in March 2013. It doesn’t matter why. He just did. And he has been uninsured since.
On Wednesday, August 6, 2014, Juan decided to buy a policy. He called his agent (me!) and asked to get a policy like the one he used to have. And I was forced to say, “Nope, not today”.
Four years since the passage of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and eight months into 2014 and all of this year’s changes and we still have a large number of Americans unaware of the law’s basics. Here are a few of the most important:
- It’s all Obamacare. The good. The bad. On or off the government’s online sale’s portal. Whether you are celebrating the success of Kentucky’s Kynect or flailing about with healthcare.gov, it is all Obamacare.
- You no longer have to answer health questions.
- Preexisting conditions are now covered.
- The premium is determined solely by your age, your address, and whether or not you smoke.
- We now fully cover annual physicals and preventive care.
- Maternity is covered the same as any other medical condition.
- Since we don’t ask questions, the only time most of us can buy a policy is during the Annual Open Enrollment Period.
- If you lose your policy or have a major life event, you are granted a Special Enrollment Period and allowed to buy a policy.
- Medicaid was expanded to help the working poor acquire needed coverage.
- There are tax credit subsidies to help a surprisingly large portion of our country pay for their policies.
- You will be fined if you don’t have coverage.
There’s more. Of course there’s more, but the above hits the high points and covers most of what you really need to know. What Juan needed to know was that he couldn’t simply wake up one morning, dig out my card, and buy a comprehensive major medical policy.
Nope, not today
Juan was able to purchase a short term policy to cover himself for the rest of 2014. He and I will talk again in the middle of November during the Annual Open Enrollment Period.
Everyday used to be a great day to buy insurance. Those days are gone…