October 1, 2013

Obamacare & Me.

I admit, I don’t have health insurance; I haven’t had health insurance in about five years.

When I would visit my general practitioner for an annual checkup many moons ago, I still had to fork over a certain large sum of money to pay for whatever procedure they needed to perform for a late-40s woman. It usually consisted of a mammogram (breast cancer history in my immediate family), often a blood test to check the thyroid levels, the typical pap smear, cholesterol test and throw in the usual kneading of my breasts searching for fibrocystic nodes, blood pressure check, lungs listened to, ears scoped, a glaucoma test because my eyesight was dwindling, and of course, listen to my heart beat to determine resting heart rate.

Oh, I forgot the standard weight and height measurement, which pretty much showed what I already knew as I approached my 50s—I was losing weight due to my height shrinking at my age. I didn’t even take my shoes off for these tests. It always seemed so silly to consider that my shoes would add to my weight. But, that was my brain rationalizing everything at that time.

After all this testing and prodding and manipulating of my body, I would exit the clinic paying the 80/20 copay amount, and feel relieved after knowing it only cost about $25.00 or so. I can’t honestly remember. It was so long ago, and my health has always been a priority of mine. I was fortunate enough to be on my husband’s work plan at that time, and I never quite educated myself to understand the ins and outs of basic health insurance.

Since I have always been an independent, self-employed participant in work, I had to get to the core of the matter once he and I were no longer together. One feature stood out: I could not understand half the jargon used in any one specific plan that supposedly catered to my needs, and I can no longer afford to pay big premiums while knowing that I visit a doctor once per year.

The same goes for dental and vision insurance; these two are the primary reasons I would even consider health insurance at my age, as my eyes need glasses all the time for close-up reading, and my teeth could stand to have some crowns replaced and the old mercury fillings removed. Both dental and vision insurance are largely supplied by employers, as they are the most expensive out of pocket costs for the average healthy person.

Now, as of October 1st, unless there is a major twist on ObamaCare or shutdown of such an ill-fated government, we are required to all have health insurance. I am a self-employed writer, who manages to market myself as a part-time dog sitter and wellness consultant extraordinaire. I eat right, exercise daily, keep my stress levels as low as my psyche will allow on any given day, and I am quite the vitamin popper to make up for the days that my nutrition might be lacking in some essential ingredient.

Here in Austin, I have found an awesome and certifiable clinic that has some of the best naturopath doctors on staff. Each one has been in the holistic medicine field for over 20 years. Fortunately, Central Family Practice does not take health insurance. They cater to people like me who are independent, self-employed and not part of a corporate structure. At the ripe old age of 54, I have now decided to learn a few points of this Obama Care plan, for the mere sake of “uh oh, the government wants to control this aspect of my health.”

I feel a bit ignorant not educating myself on Obama Care. During the whole political re-election scenario, I never paid much attention to how this could affect the self-employed worker. So, I did a little digging around on the internet, and this is what I found out. It’s more of a blanket synopsis, I understand, but these 10 points are taken in the context that this plan requires the same kind of reading as the War and Peace  novel.

Apparently, Congress feels the same way, as they have chosen to debate, filibuster and now a shutdown until both parties can see their way through this mess. Here’s my take on this whole debacle:

1. Insurance premiums are skyrocketing and will continue to do so.

2. Your 2013 income tax: new threshold for deductions—Uncle Sam determines what the “essential benefits” will be.

3. Long term care for the sick won’t be covered—good thing I’m not in a nursing home.

4. Health savings account changes, including a 20 percent penalty on health-related charges.

5. A possible doctor shortage as Obama Care threatens Medicare.

6. New Obama Care capital gains tax which begins in 2013 and adds a 3.8 percent surcharge on certain income groups.

7. Non-compliance waivers—if you run a business that can’t afford the mandate, you may be eligible.

8. New excise tax on “Cadillac” health plans—hitting employers with a 40 percent penalty over a certain threshold.

9. The powerful tax credit program for some small businesses.

10. You will have more responsibilities and penalties under the new laws.

If this doesn’t give you the impetus to seek out ways to nurture your good health, I don’t know what can. But, we will now all have to carry some sort of health insurance—unless the government stalls—because no one understands what the hell is going on.

Is this a surprise to anyone? Not really.

Congress ratings are at the lowest of the low. Not one person believes what anyone in the government is doing, or attempting to enact. It all is rather chaotic to me, as my delving into government issues are pretty sparse. It is not out of ignorance, rather more apathy and avoidance of conflict. I want to believe they have our best interests at heart; however, this Obama Care plan reminds me of the whole Patriot Act back in the Bush days. No one ever truly read that large tome of a bill, but it passed anyway. Did we understand it? No. Same goes for the now pending health care ordinance that is charging into our lives at the moment, and seemingly stalled over government egos and partisanship.

Until they can figure it out, I will continue to enjoy the outdoors, meditate, do yoga, eat organic and healthy, take my vitamins, play with dogs, look at the stars, and keep the faith that my health stays decent. Winding my way around all this new Obama Care jargon makes my head spin. If I had my druthers, I would continue to get my annual checkup and just pay for the services rendered at that time. It is simple. It works for me, and I’m almost positive that Obama Care and me might not be friends over the long haul.  Good luck sorting it all out, Mr. Government.

reference: www.info.com/obamacare, www.newsmaxstore.com/obamacare

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Ed: Sara Crolick

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