Joan Carrico, a 60-year old registered nurse who has been fighting cancer for the past six years, shared her her Obamacare experience with CNBC.com in November. She liked her insurance policy but unexpectedly received a cancellation notice with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act despite the president's assurances that "If you like your plan you can keep it." And, like many others, she had trouble logging on to the HealthCare.gov website. Since then, the president has granted a one-year extension for those who received cancellation notices and the website has improved — but there's still a lot to sort out. Carrico shares an update of what's happened since then.
I had a lot of trouble early on. I didn't expect my insurance to be canceled, had numerous problems getting onto Healthcare.gov and gave up on the website. Since then, I have received assistance from an agent and a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan representative. I have been stressed and scrambling to find an affordable policy that will ensure that I keep my doctors, chemotherapy drugs, etc. that are literally keeping me alive.
Over six years ago, I was in a position where I needed to choose an individual health-insurance policy. After much research I chose a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO that I anticipated would be short term. My plan was to return to work as a registered nurse and be eligible for a group policy. But, for the first time in my life, I got really sick. I've been battling cancer and fighting for my life for the last six years. So much for my plans. I thank God that I am alive and am eternally grateful to Blue Cross Blue Shield and all my doctors, especially my doctors at University of Michigan (UM), who refer to me as their miracle patient.
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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all private health insurance plans offered in the Marketplace to offer the same set of "essential health benefits" in all their policies; mine did not. Recently, the president offered a temporary, one- year reprieve to Americans whose policies were canceled — but that didn't mean everyone affected would be able keep their policy.
I've been reading why insurance policies are often not renewed. The insurance companies spent the last three years trying to figure out the new actuarial rates since they were required to accept pre-existing conditions and other coverage obligations forced on them by the ACA, while trying to anticipate how many healthy, young people will sign on to the new program. So, with this new world, many insurance companies and state regulators are probably panicked at renewing an old policy.
I am told there is a long process of approval to get rates approved. If there was a will to re-install the policies, the timing to get the approval is nearly impossible in some states. In my opinion, it appears more like a move by the Obama administration to push the blame on insurance companies. But, they did not give them any time to get it done. Perhaps the goal is to get you off your insurance and into their program?
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I thought I was prepared for any outcome, but I wasn't. I can't begin to describe how devastated I am. Many people like me, who are in a difficult health crisis and fighting to regain good health, are finding it very difficult — if not impossible — to make sure that we can keep our doctors and receive the chemotherapy and other treatments and medicines that are keeping us alive. I feel stupid for not being better prepared. I'm scared and wondering what surprises are around the corner.
Here are a few more things I've learned: The policy I'm considering has approximately 10 percent state and federal taxes added to the premium. My out-of-pocket maximum will increase to $6,350 from $1,500. But, my monthly premium cost will decrease, which will offset some of that difference. I can say my total annual costs are increasing significantly — by about $3,000. Another change is many American taxpayers have historically taken an income-tax deduction for their medical expenses. In the past, this deduction has been limited to the amount of medical expenses in excess of 7.5 percent of a person's adjusted gross income. Beginning with the year 2013, that threshold will jump to 10 percent. This change will increase my income-tax liability.
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I'm coming to the conclusion that the government wants to treat all Americans as the same — rich, poor, old, young, black, white, sickly, healthy — one policy fits all. May sound OK, but is it? How inefficient is that? I personally feel that we are going backwards. Admittedly, our health-care system did need some adjustments to deal with issues like pre-existing conditions. But to re-invent it? I personally don't think so. What else does the government do efficiently? Wait, I'm still thinking ...
— By Joan Carrico.
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