Obamacare: Is It Affordable?

In August 2014 I shared my thoughts about healthcare reform as seen through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

The law, adopted under the guise that they had to pass it to see what was in it, seemed to promote health insurance rather than health care. Insurance premium subsidies for individuals were much more generous than those for potential out-of-pocket (deductible and co-pay) expenses should one get sick.

After two years it’s clear the name “Affordable Care Act” is a misnomer.

President Obama continues to tout this legislation for prevention of bankruptcy for the sick. That interpretation depends on how you look at it, and is open for debate.

An hourly salary of $11.05 with a 40 hour work week yields approximately $24,000 in gross annual income. In Hall County, Ga., an individual Silver plan for 2016 purchased from HealthCare.gov comes with annual out-of-pocket expenses of up to $4,700-$5,200.

A personal budget of $1,680 in mandatory payroll deductions for social security and Medicare, $8,000 for shelter, a $2,220 minimum health insurance premium, $1,200 for gasoline (50 gallons/month @$2.00 each), $1,800 for phone and internet plus $3,900 in groceries leaves $5,200 for income taxes, essential clothing, car insurance and repairs, and possible healthcare out-of-pocket costs.

In its infancy everyone recognized the HealthCare.gov website to be user unfriendly. I found two very positive 2016 updates. Demographics could be changed without starting over completely (state). Network participation of a hospital, doctor or medication could be determined before picking a plan; green checks for yes and red Xs for no are hard to confuse. The terrible twos are better as far as the website goes, but other issues remain.

The Affordable Care Act made no attempt limit the bureaucratic process through payment reform. As such, a third party continues to act as mediator, writing checks to healthcare providers. How does the third party know what it is purchasing? What benefit does your premium purchase?