2012zombie_500Son, before we get to talking about LSU football, I’ve got a question about this Obamacare. We’ve got Medicare and I’ve still got that supplemental the state gave me after I retired. Are we safe from Obamacare mandates or do I have to buy another type of insurance?

My 85 year-old father, today.

So, for many of us, it is finally happening. Obamacare full implementation. The Y2K bug didn’t get us. The Mayan apocalypse was a bust. This, though, is different. When I was in the big box store buying garden vegetables to plant (well, OK, my wife was buying the vegetables but I plan on eating them) I flipped through a copy of The Preppers Cook Book. Written for folks who are keeping a 30 day supply of food for when the world ends, it offers delicious alternatives to eating Spam straight from the tin (consider cooking) and how to enjoy powdered milk (add chocolate and make REALLY cold, close eyes, and pretend it is real milk). I considered buying it because after Monday or Tuesday the storm troopers are likely coming to forcibly enroll me in a health care plan not of my choosing. Probably one with an active death panel, too.

Since my wife would not let me buy the cookbook, I decided instead to review what really was going to happen (I refer you to the video here and here for the best explanation) which I will synthesize below:

  • If, like my dad, you have Medicare, NOTHING happens to you. You continue to receive care as you are doing. Eventually, you will be given the opportunity to receive care that is better and more cost effective. In fact, insurance companies such as Health Springs are offering these options now and have been doing so for many years.
  • If, like myself, you receive insurance through a large group policy, NOTHING happens to you now. It is almost a certainty that your company will continue to take advantage of the large tax advantage given to companies that provide group coverage. As your policy is updated, mandatory changes such as preventive services with no co-pay will be added. Also, some policies provide coverage in excess to what is now allowed. This will now count as income. If you change jobs, you will not have a pre-existing condition clause.
  • If you are an undocumented worker, you will not be eligible for coverage assistance. You can still purchase insurance (as you can now) and the insurance exchanges might make the coverage a little more accessible. It is still unclear exactly how this might work.
  • If you CURRENTLY get care through Medicaid, NOTHING happens to you. If you live in a state that has accepted the Medicaid expansion and make below 133% of poverty (about $27,000 for a family of 4) and have no job related insurance, you can get insurance through Medicaid. If you live in a state that is not accepting the expansion, it is unclear what happens next.
  • If you work for a business that does not provide insurance, are self insured, or have money and are not working, you can buy insurance through the exchanges. THIS IS ONLY 7% of the population. In Alabama, the exchanges will provide competition for Blue Cross of Alabama and the cost will be lowered as a result. This will do for health insurance (in theory) what Expedia did for air travel. For families making under $90,000 annually, subsidized coverage will be available.

Mostly it seems, what “Obamacare” does is put some rules in place for health insurance and provides access to care for uninsured through an insurance vehicle or (in some states) Medicaid. Not quite the same as a  zombie apocalypse.

Maybe I don’t need delicious Spam after all.