Susan Davis from Wellington, FL: My husband is a prostate cancer survivor. Buying private healthcare insurance... if we can get it, will bankrupt us in a jiffy. The insurance costs us the same amount as ALL of our monthly expenses combined...pretty terrible.
Linda Davis from Olympia, WA: I'm 63 and uninsured since I could no longer afford my increased health insurance premiums in addition to buying the insulin I need as a diabetic. Having this "pre-existing condition" causes my insurance carrier to hike my rates, and my husband and I would now be paying more for health insurance coverage than it costs to put a roof over our heads. Truly.
Wayne Dinck from Baltimore, MD: My 12 month old granddaughter cannot get health insurance (affordable) because my daughter was laid off from her job in California and my granddaughter had an intestinal problem requiring a stay in the hospital for a day. The insurance company wants $1500.00 a month to insure her because of this pre-existing condition.
Cristina Albright from Miami, FL: I have chronic health issues and need a system that delivers into the future. I am still many years from Medicare, I’m not employed but am buying private insurance through my husband’s insurance and my prior employer. How long can we afford it at the horrible and constant exponential increase in costs?*
Americans are paying more and more for health insurance, but are getting fewer and fewer services. With one uninsured American dying prematurely every 20 minutes, this trend has to come to a stop so we can all access the high-quality, affordable health care we deserve. The Affordable Care Act has begun to address this trend and whittle down one of our biggest obstacles: cost.
We can list statistics about how expensive health insurance is, but it’s something we all see when we pay our bills, get our paycheck stubs, or try to purchase insurance. So, instead, let’s focus on the solutions provided in the Affordable Care Act:
- Rate hike reviews: Any rate hike at a State-specific threshold (set by each state) must be listed publically and reviewed/approved by either State or Federal experts. They will then determine whether or not that hike is reasonable. The rate-hike reviews have already saved Americans almost $1 billion in premiums.
- Rebates: Let’s say a rate-hike gets by, how do we hold insurance companies accountable? By requiring them to spend at least 80-85% of the premiums they receive on actual health care services. That means they can’t spend more than 20% of policy holders’ money on advertising, CEO salaries, and other non-medical care costs. If they do, policy holders get a nice rebate in the mail. 13 million Americans have already received $1.1 billion in rebates.
- Subsidies: Sometimes, even with the rate-hike reviews and rebates, health insurance can still be too expensive, but that’s where the subsidies come in. Starting in 2014, Americans can qualify for a tax subsidy to help purchase health insurance through their state-run health exchanges (these are basically marketplaces where consumers can compare and shop for private health insurance plans). You can see how subsidies might work for you here.
- Exemptions: If, even with the rate-hike reviews, rebates, all the small business benefits, and the subsidies, you still can’t afford health insurance (which means the cheapest plan through your state exchange would be more than 8% of your income), you’re exempt from the mandate. You will not be penalized for not having health insurance. If you have Medicare, Medicaid, insurance from your employer, or Veterans Affairs, you’re good to go as well.
Health insurance can be expensive, but the Affordable Care Act is taking the first steps towards limiting the out-of-control inflated premiums while providing Americans assistance in purchasing life-saving health insurance.
Because patients are more than just a piggy bank.
*These and all the stories we share are stories collected by doctors and medical students from people in their communities over the past year during their efforts to educate people about the Affordable Care Act.
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