Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Open Enrollment , Health Care Reform, and Taxes

Doctor VisitImage by Laura4Smith via FlickrI finally have received my information for Open Enrollment for my health insurance for 2011.  First, I was concerned because the company I work for was late sending anything out regarding open enrollment.  Then there was the letter that came from my company informing us of the dates of open enrollment and that our share of the cost would be higher than in previous years.

Perhaps because I was so concerned with the warning signs leading up to open enrollment, I have not fully decided if the final result is not as bad as I expected it to be, or worse that I expected.  Either way, it is not exactly good.  For me to keep my current health insurance plan, my share of the cost will go up 23% per pay period.  So when Barack Obama told us if we like our insurance we can keep it, he was telling some of us the truth, so long as we were willing to pay through the teeth for it.

The good news for our insurance plans is that they basically did not take anything away from us.  It looks as though the benefits for each of the available plans basically stayed the same. They have kept the choices available to us the same.  We have four choices available to us.  Two of which are more expensive than my current plan, and one that is less expensive.  The problem with the less expensive plan is that it has higher copays and a deductible.

Now the question for me is whether or not I can absorb the large premium increase into my already stretched as tight as it can get budget.  Unfortunately, it is not just the increased health insurance premium that I have to be concerned with.  As of right now, the Democrats and Republican continue to have a pissing match regarding whether or not to extend the current tax rates to avoid a huge tax increase on January 1st.

One thing I know for sure, if I have to spend an additional 23% on my current health insurance, it would be extremely difficult based on my current financial situation.  Combining that with a higher tax withholding would be devastating.  I suppose I could go down to the least expensive health care option, but then I would be faced with a deductible that I can't afford should anybody need anything that isn't covered before meeting the deductible.  Regardless of which direction I choose, it is not an ideal situation.  How's that hopey, changey thing working out? 
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  1. Dick, I know that you hate Obama and Democrats and want to blame everything that is wrong with the world on them, but I can’t help but stop and wonder if you are taking the easy way out. Is there more to the healthcare mess than Obamacare?

    If you look at the data, insurance rates have been sky rocketing from long before Obamacare came along. Independent research has found that at most Obamacare can be attributed to a 2% premium increase. Where is the other 21% in your case coming from? Is it unmitigated greed by insurance companies? Is it failure of insurance companies and the medical profession to control costs? Is it the desire not to have ‘death panels’ and allow everyone to spend as much insurance reimbursed money fighting off the final days as possible?

    It is true that Obamacare has not put an end to these problems. Some of this may be because of the vast amounts of money that the insurance companies have spent lobbying to make sure that the Obamacare bill protects their interests. I’m all for free speech, but I have to wonder if your speech and mine is as free as the speech of the heads of insurance companies and their lobbyists.

    As to controlling the unmitigated greed of insurance companies, it seems like we have two options, regulation or competition. As a free market advocate, I would like to see real competition. However, I don’t believe we have that. Insurance companies are protected from anti-trust prosecution. Do you have a real choice in which insurance companies you can get your insurance from? It doesn’t sound like it. So, can we change the laws which currently protect insurance companies from competition? Can we get real competition in the insurance industry? If we can’t, then we probably need some real regulation. Insurance companies shouldn’t simply be able to raise insurance rates without competition or regulation.

    Obamacare has been a failure in that it hasn’t addressed these issues. However it is a vast oversimplification to suggest that it is the cause of our current problems. So, no, for me this hopey changey thing isn’t working all that well, but I blame it more on the lack of real change.

  2. I find it rather hilarious that you are blaming President Obama for the greed of your corporate masters. ;)

  3. actually I don't blame the President entirely. I think the Pelosi and Reid deserve their fair share of it.

  4. not sure why Aldon, but you ended up in my spam comments. yes, insurance rates have been going up, but they have not been going up as quickly as they went up this year. For instance, my portion went up between 6-8% last year, and 23% this year. By most accounts, and most news articles, a lot can be placed at the feet of the health care bill.

    I agree, that we do not have good competition, which I think could keep health care costs in check. For instance, you can't buy insurance across state lines.

    I basically have 4 choices at work. If I stay with what I have, my share of the cost is $600/month. That is for my employer sponsored health care.

    Historically, the insurance companies make a very small profit margin, somewhere around 3%. So let's not make them the bogey man in all this. There are a lot of other companies making a higher profit on every dollar of revenue.

    The problem is that the reforms addressed by Obamacare don't address the real costs associated with health care. Things like tort reform, buying insurance across state lines. I agree that real competition would help immensely



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