Obamacare Year three

This time Healthcare.gov did what it should have done the first year. It delivered what it said it would. I could seem plans and premiums before identifying myself. In North Carolina, there are three active insurers – Blue Cross/Shield of NC (Not Anthem), Aetna (formerly Coventry) and United Healthcare.

By reviewing the providers I can see
– Blue Cross is offering an overpriced total crap plan with only desperate providers
—– aligned with Carolina Health Care hospitals
– Aetna is aligned with Carolina Health Care, generally the lower quality hospital
– United Healthcare is aligned with Novant, the other health care oligarch
—— my family doctor works for them
—— my niece also works for them
—— the hospital is downtown, not quite as convenient
—— seeing a specialist requires a referral

By estimating my 2016 “income” at $35,000 the generous federal government money fairy offers $580 a month “subsidy”.

The “gold plan” from United Healthcare will be about $450 a month with the subsidy – a little over $1000 a month if I paid the whole premium. Annual deductible is $1000 instead of $5000 for the $815 a month Blue Cross bronze plan.

The magic to the subsidy is if I claim it now, but then don’t qualify, I don’t have to pay it all back. Nancy Pelosi loves me. If I actually “earn” $0 in 2016, I am not eligible for any subsidy for 2015 (because NC did not expand Medicaid), but I don’t have to pay a penny of the ~$7000 back when I file taxes for 2016 in April 2017, if I live that long. If I “make” less than $22,900, I have to pay back $300 of the $7000 (ouch!).

I clicked “I accept”.

The Republican debate convinced me there is no chance Obamacare is going away. Not one of the candidates appreciates the institutional inertia they face. Fighting to end abortion, impose a no fly zone over Syria, keep the King of Jordon in power for a thousand years, rebuild the 6th Fleet or promising to implement a flat tax will not create a groundswell that puts 60 Republicans in the Senate. Anything substantial Republicans will try to do even with a President and filibuster proof Senate will be immediately thrown out by the Federal Courts. They don’t need a reason. They have power.

2016 will likely become the year I “fix” things I’ve put off like getting a hearing aid. Even though I think it is a sham, I even signed up for dental insurance through Delta Dental.

What’s your story?

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11 Responses to Obamacare Year three

  1. JayMar says:

    My thoughts on your “hearing aid”. Don’t get one. I got the top of the line, bluetooth Starkey with Surflink attachment. Yes, it’s wonderful direct connection answering my phone, listening to my computer, my TV and my internet radio. But, I found out the world is too noisy for me. I’ve tried it a few times out of my home and it is unbearable. I had it “adjusted” to filter noise but by computer still feels like an F-100 on afterburner.

  2. JayMar says:

    Another point on the hearing aid. I got a “Tronfy” single ear headphone. Bluetooth. After pairing it to my iPhone and using an app called “Ear Spy” I can use my iPhone as an amplifier and turn it on-off as needed. Another app called “Petralex” gives you a hearing test and will amplify based on the variables obtained during the test.

    • Fred Stiening says:

      Thank you – that’s really helpful information.

      I might have written about it before, but my first dipping my toe in the water experience went poorly. I told the salesman I was going to follow the FDA advice to see a doctor – I knew I had an ear infection at the time, and suspect I may have blocked eustachian tubes. It’s at least worth checking before dropping $5k on a hearing aid.

      The various iPhone/pad apps give me a very clear picture. I have zero hearing above about 7500 hz. That means I don’t hear consonants which rely on high frequency sounds.

      Your brain works very interestingly. I find that even relately soft noises are annoyingly loud (with no aids). Presumably, your brain “turns up the volume” as it detects the hearing loss and takes a month or more to accept that something changed if you start amplifying the sound or otherwise changing it

      I suspect how the hearing aid works is it lowers the high frequency sounds by an octave or two so the brain picks up the cues, but I really don’t know. The Cadillac version he pushed to sell me had dual hearing aids that cooperated, but it was in a quiet office with a male voice with no background noise. I have no problem with that – which is why the GPs blow off my complaint as not needing help hearing. Put me in a restaurant with a waitress asking me a question – now I have a problem – especially if I can’t see her lips. The dual hearing aids “ping ponged” a couple times – meaning in response to a sudden noise on one side, one hearing aid turned down its sensitivity. Your brain is an amazing thing – you “know” which direction a sound is coming from based not only by comparing the volume in each ear, but the very tiny difference in arrival times. Based on that, the brain triangulates the source of the sound

    • Fred Stiening says:

      I played with an app similar to ear spy once using the iPhone earbuds. The problem I had was the iPhone is deliberately directional and the noise cancelling is very effective.

      What about Bluetooth earbuds that have a microphone built in?

      I’m not at all concerned with how I look. One reason I left the job in Chicago was that despite my explaining the problem, my boss insisted on holding meetings with 4 or 5 people in the huge conference room with the video system. The 5 people would spread out all over the room and I couldn’t hear them. If I hinted I didn’t understand, they spoke even softer. Talking on a conference call dialing into a speakerphone was impossible.

  3. JayMar says:

    That “Tronfy” single ear bluetooth I mentioned has a mic in it also. I think I paid less than $20 and it works just fine with my iPhone. It’s rechargeable and good for 4 consecutive hrs.

    I had the same problems with meetings, and restaurants. This little ear piece has eliminated some of these concerns and embarrassments.

  4. JayMar says:

    But… at 75 with poor vision, bad hearing, low bone density, my only happy thought is that old age doesn’t last long.

  5. Fred Stiening says:

    At the end of the process, it announced that the insurance company would contact me in a few days. That was a week ago – not a peep. There was a button to pay the first month premium, but it didn’t do anything (from the iPad).

    Finally got motivated to login from the desktop – same result – except it mentioned a popup had been blocked. The healthcare.gov link was not done so it looked legitimite. Clicked OK and submitted my payment info. Being a pessimist, I haven’t yet told Blue Cross they are losing a “customer”.

    I’m confident in the Insurance Industry database, I’m flagged as a looser [sic]. What kind of person is 60 years old and not on at least 5 lifelong medications..

  6. Fred Stiening says:

    My United Healthcare premium was just processed.

    United Healthcare says they want out of Obamacare


    So do Aetna and Blue Cross.

    Game Over. All going according to schedule. Bernie Sanders has the method to Repeal and Replace Obamacare. Open enrollment of Medicare to all.

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