October 2013

Even though the online insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, went into effect on October 1, 2013, it seems very few people have actually signed up for coverage under the new law.  A recent blog in the Miami Herald stated that the paper had searched “high and low” for individuals who had completed the online application for the subsidized health coverage through the online marketplace, but that they had been unable to locate anyone who had successfully completed the process and obtained coverage.  The Miami Herald even went as far as equating ObamaCare enrollees in the same category as “legrechauns and unicorns”.  Apparently the goverment created website – Healthcare.gov – has suffered numerous technical issues which have confounded prospective enrollees and caused many to just give up on the process.

Others have set forth a different reason for the technical difficulties.  A recent Forbes article  noted that a growing consensus of technology experts – inside and outside the goverment – are of the opinion that the system is crashing because of the fear of letting people know the underlying cost of ObamaCare’s insurance plans.  Apparently, the website was initially designed to allow prospective customers to browse the available pricing options prior to registering, but that option has since been “delayed”.  When the Health and Human Services Department was asked why this (seemingly important) option was “delayed”, the HHS spokesperson stated that they wanted to ensure users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies before they started seeing the prices of the policies.   

Although this is contrary to procedure of other health insurance websites (eHealthInsurance.com, for one), the goverment’s apparent concern is that they want to see what subsidies you may qualify for prior to showing you the true cost of the insurance.  By forcing you to register and enter all of your personal and financial information first, the goverment can see if you qualify for any of their (heavy) subsidies.  The website can then tout these subsidies to you instead of just hitting you with the full cost of the insurance.  For example, instead of showing up front that your new monthly premium would be $400, they can show you that your premium “could” only be $30 – after the application of the heavy subsidies.  The only problem is that you have to be at or near the poverty level in order to recieve these subsidies and, otherwise, you don’t qualify for a subsidy.  Guess you are lucky enough to pay full freight! 

ObamaCare wasn’t designed to help healthy people with average incomes get health insurance.  The Act was designed to force healthy people to pay more for coverage  in order to subsidize insurance for people with costly medical conditions and/or those with incomes near the poverty line.  Fair enough – if that is what the voters wanted, then that is what the voters should receive.  BUT – the goverment needs to be upfront with the American people as to the true cost of health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act.  The very valid concern of the current administration is that, should the average citizen discover that the price of his new health insurance policy is going to skyrocket under the new law – President Obama’s incessantly repeated promise that “nothing would change” under the Affordable Care Act and that there would be savings of at least a $2,500 in their yearly insurance cost would come back to haunt him.

 

An essential part of hurricane preparation is having a plan for your family long before a storm arrives.  Once the storm arrives, it is too late to start thinking about contingencies and making plans for your family’s safety.  Your basic plan can be re-used each year, but make sure to review your plan each year and make any updates necessary.

Although every family’s hurricane preparation plan will be different, here are some recommendations to help better prepare for a storm:

– Know ahead of time if you will evacuate and if so, where you will go if you do evacuate.  Be familiar with evacuation routes and stay connected to local news broadcasts for the latest tropical storm information.

– Have supplies ready to go, or if you plan to stay and weather the storm, make sure your home is well stocked with enough hurricane supplies to get you through the storm and the aftermath.

– If you are going to evacuate, make sure you have any important papers – like home insurance documents, medical insurance cards and prescription medications.

– Make sure you have plenty of cash on hand and that your car has a full tank of gas.  If the power goes out for any extended period of time, you may not be able to access ATMs or re-fill your car’s gas tank.

– Make sure to pack all necessary clothes for the time you believe you may be away from your home, as well has personal hygiene products, cell phone chargers, and a list of any important telephone numbers you think you may need.

– Make sure that all of your family members have a designated contact person (outside the area affected by the storm) to make contact with after the storm.

It should only take a few minutes to make a hurricane preparation plan, but having a plan will provide peace of mind once the storm hits and may help protect the safety of your family.  If you have any questions about how to protect your family or property from storm damage, please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to assist you and to answer any questions you may have.