Affordable Care Act – Affordable For Whom?

041312_PresidentObamaWeeklyAddressI am going to come clean on this. I supported the idea of the Affordable Care Act. I believe people should have access to affordable medical care. Unfortunately, for those of us not fortunate enough to enjoy subsidies, I do not believe that medical insurance has so far been all that affordable. So, when my husband became aware this past week that tools had recently become available on the internet for estimating premiums under the soon to be implemented Affordable Care Act, he entered our financial numbers with great anticipation. Here are some of our thoughts about what he found.

The Promise of Affordability

Economically, we are soundly middle class. We had medical insurance for many years but we wound up canceling it a few years ago because we were healthy, we are generally not inclined to adopt conventional medical treatment except in certain circumstances so we never used it, and it was expensive. We take very good care of our health and the thought of paying $1200 to $1300 per month for the two of us for medical insurance with a reasonable deductible just did not make sense. We preferred to put our financial investment into good supplements, essential oils, and very healthy food. Yet, the threat of some sort of catastrophe requiring the special powers of modern medicine always lurked in the back of our minds. We were, therefore, excited to think a reasonably affordable insurance policy whose rates reflected our efforts as promised by the Affordable Care Act, would become available.

The Shock of the Numbers

Alas, my husband, Bill, got back to me yesterday with what he had found on the Minnesota state exchange.  According to estimates from our state site, our “affordable insurance” would cost us 20% of our annual adjusted gross income. Furthermore, this cost represented an estimate for what is called the Silver plan. It wasn’t even the Gold plan.

The number is as high or higher than what we would have been charged by private insurers prior to the Affordable Care Act. The difference is that now we are required by law to pay these high rates or be fined a significant penalty if we fail to do so. If these estimates are right, we both now feel that we were better off before this Act that we supported since we had the option to choose not to pay all this money. It would appear that, as with much that goes on in Washington, the devil was in the details and the details were too overwhelming to absorb. Without strong action, I fear we are already caught by this financial dilemma and the door is about to shut.

Locked Into Expensive Medical Carelocked door image th

Forgive me if I am starting to sound just a wee bit paranoid here. I am an alternative health care practitioner. My husband and I live as healthy a life as we are able, doing our best to avoid health issues. We don’t smoke. We exercise. We work to maintain a healthy attitude. We check our blood chemistry levels and perform other lab assessments to make sure we are what we plan to be – healthy! We see alternative practitioners for our health care. We pay out of pocket for these services. We also spend incremental dollars on quality organic food, essential oils and supplements.

If we are indeed soon locked into this coming insurance system, we would now be pressured into putting our money into these insurance plans instead of our good food, essential oils, supplements and alternative care. Hmm. This is rather interesting.

Where did the cost benefit of everyone in the country being involved in the new Affordable Care Act go? Where are the premium savings? They have got us now, forced to pay thousands and thousands of dollars yearly for a system we rarely need to use. In fact, while putting all of our extra money into the insurance companies we now will also have little left over to pay for alternative health care which may or may not be included. It is  truly an excellent deal for the insurance companies and the medical model of care. They make just as much for each policy they sell but now everyone must purchase one. Won’t this situation easily pay for those previously denied coverage? What an incredible windfall!

Of course, there will be some good for some of us.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know that there are many people who have lower incomes than I have who will actually receive insurance when before it would not have been possible. This includes folks who were not eligible for  Medical Assistance. In the state of MN these folks have been covered by MN Care. But throughout the entire country now these individuals and families will be subsidized by the government so they will have insurance. I am happy for them. And, I am happy for the individuals who have preexisting conditions who will now be able to get insurance to help them with their health care needs. And, I am pleased that those who like the insurance provided them by their employers, or for those who have sufficient wealth to obtain attractive coverage, will continue to be able to do so.

Stuck in the Middle

But those of us in the middle class, without a large company, or government agency to help pay for our insurance, are indeed stuck right in the middle, not able to pay for a high monthly premium, but making too much to receive help from our government.

I’m Willing to Pay 5%, not 20%

If our government was socialized I wonder what our taxes would be? I wonder what they would be in a country such as France, where health care is considered to be one of the best systems in the world?  I ask myself, “What would I be willing to pay in extra taxes, for instance, for a program such as that?”. I arrive at a sense that I would be willing to pay 5% of our income more in taxes, or 5% of our income toward coverage to pay for medical insurance. That seems reasonable to me. Would an across the country  increase of 5% extra be enough to cover the really sick folks in our country, the aging folks with health care issues and acute trauma care? I do not know. But if everyone  was paying this it seems it would add up to quite a bit of additional financial resource. And it seems an amount that I, for one, could live with.

I Refuse to Give up Healthy Food, Essential Oils and Supplements to be Able to Afford Medical Care Insurance

What ever happens, I do know this in the depth of my heart. It does not make sense for me to no longer invest in healthy food, essential oils or quality supplements just to ensure that I can afford the suggested continued high rates of medical insurance in this country proposed by the Affordable Care Act. For me, to do so, would be a prescription for the much more likely development of chronic disease requiring western style medical care. It is an easy choice for me. I feel it in my gut. If the estimates turn out to be accurate, I will go without the medical insurance.

But the question which I must soon answer, as the door closes, will be, “Am I willing to pay the penalty? What happens to me, as a law abiding citizen, if I believe this penalty to be unjust and I refuse to pay it?” That question, I have yet to answer.

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About Dr. Pat

I am a practicing natural health care physician and educator committed to helping others overcome pain and suffering, restore function, and lead healthier, happier, longer, and more spiritually fulfilled lives.

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