Healthcare Rip-Off: Is It Affecting You?
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) For January 1, 2014, you will likely be required to purchase health insurance in the most expensive healthcare state in the world. Ignoring this mandate could result in a costly fine. That is the bad news. The good news is this mandate comes with a plan to provide healthcare to more U.S. citizens, and it's called the Affordable Care Act.
See the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation explain it in this informative cartoon .
Maribeth Shannon, director of the market and policy monitor program for the California Healthcare Foundation (CHCF), also explains that the Affordable Care Act opens up opportunities by "prohibiting health insurers from denying people based on their health status" and creating "a market place where people can choose from a number of options for coverage that seems to suit them."
Enrollment opened October 1, 2013, and if you haven't already, you will have the option to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace. Here's what you need to know:
- Every plan will cover core "essential benefits," such as hospitalization, prescription drugs and maternity care
- You will be able to compare the prices, benefits and quality of each plan before purchasing
- It will inform you of whether you now qualify for free or low-cost care through the Medicaid expansion
- Coverage starts January 1, 2014
Shannon also appreciates that the plan is an "attempt to try and control the cost problem." "There are things like innovative...delivery systems...where you have hospitals and medical groups and health plans all working together to try and take care of people in a more integrated, systematic kind of way," she said.
The Cost of U.S Healthcare
Concerns about national health coverage and cost predate the Great Depression, starting with Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party campaign in 1912. From the proposal for National Health Insurance with the New Deal to Bill Clinton's failed Health Security Act (which sounds similar to President Obama's plan), the topic of health costs has always been a hotly debated sore spot.
One thing that can't be debated...
Healthcare in the U.S. is expensive:
- Most personal bankruptcies are filed due to medical costs.
- The average out-of-pocket expenses for an uninsured person are $26,971.
- About 50 million Americans today are uninsured.
As to what makes U.S. healthcare so expensive, Shannon sees it as a combination of patients, doctors and other care providers "who aren't paying enough attention" to the factors that contribute to high costs. Health care providers should be educating consumers on possible cost-effective choices like taking generic medicine instead of the brand-name variety.
California Attempts Cost Control
The CHCF's home, the State of California, has undergone its own attempt to reform health costs for the uninsured, this one specifically aimed at hospitals: