9 tips on how to use your new state health insurance exchange
Millions of insured, underinsured and uninsured Americans are being told by President Obama to sign up for very expensive health insurance plans that will be offered on states' health insurance exchanges beginning Oct. 1.
As expected, newspapers, magazines, broadcasters and cable TV networks are trying to win some new readers and viewers by offering advice on how to use the exchanges and how to pick the health insurance plan that will be best for them. Most of them are and will be misleading consumers.
My suggestions, which are based on years of blogging against and about ObamaCare and reading numerous articles and comments about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), follow:
1. Exchanges probably will give more choices of insurers in urban markets than in rural markets where only one insurer may be available. That could make rural insurers more expensive.
2. You will have a choice of deductible plans. Chose a plan that involves deductibles and copays that you can pay off in a year or so at your current income.
3. Many state insurance exchanges won't be fully functional on Oct. 1, and nobody can predict when they will be bug free and give you accurate price quotes on your premiums, copays and deductibles.
4. Health insurance brokers and people certified as "navigators' will be as intimidated by ObamaCare as you are. Don't rush to signup. Give the exchanges, brokers and "navigators" time to learn at the expense of other people.
5. While the government is inviting you to lie on your applications about your income and other variables, remember that sooner or later the IRS will come after you. Violating federal laws is a big deal.
6. Don't believe much of what you see and hear on ABC, NBC, CBS or CNN. They are in the business of selling ObamaCare and making Obama look good. They're serving Obama, not you. The article published recently by WSJ.com shows the same kind of pro-ObamaCare optimism that should be taken with huge grains of salt.
7. Carefully calculate whether you can go wiithout ObamaCare insurance until you have a catastrophic financial loss due to a sickness or accident. Enrollment periods last only six months. That could mean that if you need insurance outside the enrollment period, you won't be able to buy it when you need your free lunch.
8. ObamaCare covers a lot of worthless preventive care and wellness care services for the worried well. The literature warns that such services too often give false positives and result in unnecessary procedures that could do more harm than good. But if you have pre-existing conditions that require wellness or preventive care services, use them. See my previous post.
9. If your health insurance premiums and deductibles seem unaffordable, Obama will be happy to see you stop smoking, skipping your daily Starbucks, canceling your health club and cable TV contracts and keeping your old vehicles for four or five more years than you otherwise would. And you really don't have to buy that new home, appliance, smart phone, computer or mattress.
State insurance exchange blind spots: Unknown risks and unintened consequences, by Seth Kneller. The Health Care Blog.
Will ObamaCare Survive? Nine key questions, by Robert Lazewski. The Health Care Blog.