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?

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