Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spring Me!

Dear Mother Nature,

Please release me from the confines of woolens and polar fleece. Eliminate my need to huddle under blankets pulled up to my chin. Redirect the cruel winds that blow from the north. Temper the cold that leaves the landscape covered with frost in the morning. Give my heating system a break.

I appreciate the beauty of Winter, and the comfort of a roaring fireplace. The mountains covered in snow are a sight to behold. The desert needed the moisture. I am grateful for the home that shelters us from the cold. But I am anxious to come out of hibernation.

I yearn to open the windows and enjoy the fresh air. Sundresses and sandals are the garb of my daydreams. Bedding must be changed from comforters to light cotton blankets. My skin needs a kiss of sun. It's time to prepare patios for friendly gatherings. Flowers want to bloom. Stop being so cruel.

Never mind the date on the calendar. Spring me!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Affordable Care Isn't

Wow. It turns out that I applied and was accepted for health care under the Pre-Existing Condition Condition Insurance Plan just in time. Yesterday I made some phone calls to track down the insurance card I have not yet received, and discovered this website announcement by the Plan:

"Beginning February 16, 2013, the federally-run Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) is suspending acceptance of new enrollment applications until further notice. State-based PCIPs may continue accepting enrollment applications through March 2, and will then suspend acceptance of new enrollment applications until further notice. PCIP will continue providing coverage to more than 100,000 people currently enrolled nationwide."

The explanation is that the Plan has a finite amount of funding from Congress, and they have to suspend enrollment to ensure that there is enough funding to support current enrollees (about 135,000 of us) through 2013, after which the Insurance Marketplace will be available as dictated by Obama's Affordable Care Act.

How did this happen? Well, according to the Plan:

"Based on program experience and trends since the start of the program, PCIP enrollees have serious and expensive illnesses with significant and immediate health care needs."

Even though the enrollment volume has been much lower than anticipated, the government underestimated the expense that would be realized by people having to actually use the Plan.

Remember, the Plan is not free to enrollees (although it it partially subsidized by the federal government). We have a monthly fee, which is higher than what many people pay for health insurance through their employer. There is also an annual deductable, which can vary by state (mine is $2000 in Arizona). Coverage does not include dental or vision, which we pay on our own. Enrollment has not been as high as expected, because some people still cannot afford this health care option.

My concern is this... The federal government has miscalculated demand, what the public can afford, and the expense of delivering subsidized coverage. What other unfortunate surprises await us when Obamacare is fully implemented in 2014-2015?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Be My Valentine

Today I fly back to Arizona and spend this Valentine's Day with my husband, after three weeks away. I'm happy, and today I hope you have some of what is in my heart...


Happy Valentine's Day! I've got a plane to catch.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I'm Insured Again!

Back in June, I wrote about having to go without health insurance for 6 months in order to get insurance in Arizona. That was an unpleasant by-product of past health issues and the expiration of my COBRA 18 months after I retired from Hilton. If you missed that, here's the link.

That was a scary 6 months, as you can imagine. Fortunately, I made it through without a health incident. I applied for high risk pool insurance in Arizona last month, and my application was approved. I had to provide documentation proving that I am a resident of Arizona, my previous insurance had been cancelled, and that I had been declined for individual insurance. Now, as of February 1, I am covered by a state program that exists as required by Obamacare. My cost is about $350 per month, and the coverage is fairly good. It's difficult to describe how relieved I am to eliminate this financial risk from our retired lives. Let's just say very. VERY, VERY.

There are a lot of things wrong with how medical coverage is handled in our country. I'm no expert, but I know that those of us who can pay are paying for those who can't pay. Insurance is so complicated that it costs doctor's practices a ton of money just to process claims and payments. But I do believe strongly that everyone who wants/needs coverage should be able to get it. I need it, and I can pay for it. If Obamacare (or something similar) hadn't passed, I would have been out of luck. Uninsurable. I am thankful for what is available to me now.

I heard something interesting on CNBC the other day about trends related to health care deductibles. Because costs are rising, many are opting for higher deductibles. That tends to make people more selective about how often they go to the doctor, and for what. At best, that cuts down on unnecessary visits and expenses. At worst, it could keep people from going to the doctor when they should. Only time will tell the long term effect.

The moral of the story is... Do what you can do to maintain your health. Eat right, keep moving, get plenty of sleep, and pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you have insurance, appreciate it!