Yesterday one of the larger portions of the Affordable Care Act (or as it more widely called: Obamacare) went into effect, requiring individuals without employer insurance (see: me) to purchase health insurance.
As many media stations covered, this was not a smooth process. Even today, there are still many frustrated people that were not well enough informed on what to do, or that kept running into problems.
So how did it work out for me, well it was a bit of a mess.
I live in Minnesota, one of the 17 states that chose to create their own health exchange instead of using the federally created one.
After mistyping a 0. Realizing there was no withdraw application button. Sitting on hold for 3 hours. Getting locked out of my account. Creating a new account. Typing everything correctly. Paying $136.10. And receiving my health insurance cards in the mail yesterday. I have health care through Health Partners of Minnesota.
Yes, after all of that, all I am doing is still giving my money to the same private heath issuer that existed before ACA.
Yes, these new policies are held to a higher standard
Yes, if I would have made less money I would have gotten a tax break (tell me how spending 6% of my income on health insurance is not “enough”).
Yes, it is a step in the right direction.
But there is the big problem now. That problem is everyone but me.
My generation signed up for health insurance at record low numbers.
We were supposed to be the healthy, young individuals that were supposed to pay for all of the old, sick individuals that jumped onto these plans the day they went available.
Without all of us, the whole model falls apart.
Why did they not sign up you ask?
For a few it was the atrocious websites that made them simply give up. In Minnesota the exchange website has “business hours”. Yes, a website that closes from midnight to 6am.
Many others got lost in the health care system mumble jumble that ACA never cleaned up:
Words that entry-level employees trying to pay rent, meet a cute guy or girl, and drink on weekends don’t have time to study and learn about.
But of course the biggest problem of it all: We’re young. We’re healthy. And we’re in 26.
Why the hell do I need to waste $100-$300 a month on something that doesn’t even prevent me from paying hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of medical bills anyway.
If I break it, I’ll buy it. That’s how my generation lives.
We’ve heard the argument that it’s no different than car insurance. We were told to take advantage of the perks that come with the ACA changes: free healthy checkups, free birth control, rebates on gym memberships.
We didn’t buy it.
For a generation that is young and liberal, we stuck our noses in the air at what Fox News called “the most liberal attack on our country, ever”.
And that is because it didn’t go far enough.
Most people in my generation already pay into Medicare and Social Security either through our paychecks or self-employment income. A chunk of income that we wish we could have, but is simply something is just goes away.
ACA should have been part of that.
Close a few business tax loopholes, increase the medicare tax by a percent or two, and tada, a national health care system.
Not another day of googling what co-insurance means or which deductible won’t break the bank.
Not another bill in the mail.
We are one of the only first world countries in the entire world that does not have this, and it’s not because we are better off. When was the last time you heard anyone brag about our “amazing” heath care system?
I am sure it will only be a few months until people are shouting at each other in Washington DC and on cable news that ACA is not working and these private companies are actually hurting from all their new, sick clients.
And it will be all those politicians and news pundits fault.
Eventually the health care system will need to undergo a true transformation. Something that actually helps everyone, rather than something that pads pocketbooks and fulfills speaking points.
Somehow we will put “healthy” in front of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, without another monthly fee.