Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
When the Affordable Care Act goes into effect, some people will barely notice a difference. Other people will see big changes, hopefully for the better. Whatever your situation, a little foreknowledge will make the transition less bumpy.
For example, what do you do if someone calls you claiming to be from the government and saying they need information from you because of the Affordable Care Act? The Federal Trade Commission says, hang up. It’s a scam. No one in the government, federal or state, will call you for personal or financial information because of the Affordable Care Act.
Scammers have been calling people all over the country asking for information such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and Medicare IDs. Whatever you do, don’t give information like this to strangers over the phone, no matter who they say they are. There’s nothing in the Affordable Care Act that would cause anyone in government to call you and ask for financial information.
The fact that such phone scams must be working tells us that there is a lot of confusion about what’s going to happen when the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” goes fully into effect. People who have insurance now worry that they will lose it. People who don’t have insurance worry that they’ll be forced to buy a policy they can’t afford. Seniors worry that their Medicare benefits will be cut. People with severe health issues such as mesothelioma wonder if anything about their treatment will change.
A lot of people are nervous about the mandate to purchase health insurance, which will go into effect in 2014. There will be programs such as the insurance exchanges plus subsidies and tax credits in place to make insurance more affordable, but the details of exactly how individuals will apply for subsidies or use the exchanges, and exactly what insurance will cost, are not yet spelled out.
The Obama Administration has promised that if you already have insurance through your employer, you won’t lose it because of the Affordable Care Act. True or false?
Some politicians and pundits say false. For big companies the fine for not offering insurance will be $2,000 an employee per year. But an employee benefit insurance policy currently averages $15,000 per year for each employee. Therefore, it is argued, employers will save a ton of money by dumping health benefits even if they are paying fines.
However, other politicians and pundits say the Obama Administration’s claim will turn out to be true. They point out there are no penalties for dumping employee benefit health insurance now, yet most employers offer it when they can. They do it because it helps them get and keep good employees, and that won’t change after 2014.
Massachusetts has had something like “Obamacare” in place for a few years now, and employers offer health insurance at the same rate as before. “Companies can still get more bang for their buck offering compensation as health insurance rather than wages,” says Sarah Kliff at Washington Post.
There are no provisions in the ACA that cut Medicare benefits; in fact, some new benefits have been added. If you already are receiving treatment for a medical condition, there is no reason to think your treatment will change because of the ACA