Are you getting anything out of the health care bill?

The health care bill, signed into law last year by President Obama, doesn’t fully kick in for awhile, yet. The most noticeable changes so far have been (a) higher premiums in private health insurance because adult children can be carried on the insurance and because pre-existing conditions can’t be denied coverage and (b) lower FLEX account caps.

Tomorrow, Gov. Mark Dayton will sign an early Medicaid expansion for Minnesota, which requires the use of some matching staff funds. The Tea Party says it will protest the event, which was moved from today at the request of new House Speaker Kurt Zellers.

The blog, Minnesota Budget Bites sees it differently:


It’s good for the people. Under the Medicaid option, close to 100,000 very low-income Minnesotans will gain access to a full set of benefits, won’t face enrollment limits and will be able to get their care closer to home. This is extremely important to this group, because research looking at the original GAMC population has shown that 30 percent had one or more chronic medical conditions and 60 percent suffered from a mental health or chemical dependency problem. This is in sharp contrast to life under the vastly scaled-back GAMC program, where only four hospitals in the state (all in the Twin Cities metro area) have been offering a limited set of services – and these hospitals have closed enrollment at times to control costs.

It’s good for the community. Under the Medicaid option, health care providers will get higher reimbursement levels than under the limited GAMC program, and those reimbursements won’t be capped. That will minimize the financial risk for providers, which is good for the people they employ and the communities they serve. Compare that to life under the modified GAMC program, where funding for care has been capped, placing the financial risk on health care providers. When the money runs out, providers go uncompensated for their services.

It’s good for the state budget. Under the Medicaid option, the federal government will pay for half the costs of health care for this group. Right now, GAMC is a fully state-funded program. Taking the Medicaid option will bring more than $1 billion in federal funds to Minnesota during the next biennium and does not add to the state’s budget deficit. And remember, no matter what action Minnesota takes now, the Affordable Care Act will expand Medicaid to include these low-income adults and many others starting in 2014 when adults with incomes up to 133 percent of federal poverty guidelines become eligible. At that point, the expansion will be fully funded by the federal government for a period of time. This is a chance for Minnesota to get a jump-start on better health care for this population and bring more federal dollars into the state.

Next week, the U.S. House will vote on a bill to repeal the health care bill.


JOB-KILLING HEALTH CARE LAW.–Effective as of the enactment of Public Law 111-148, such Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted.

HEALTH CARE-RELATED PROVISIONS IN THE HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION RECONCILIATION ACT OF 2010–Effective as of the enactment of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-152), title I and subtitle B of title II of such Act are repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such title or subtitle, respectively, are restored or revived as if such title and subtitle had not been enacted.

The House will pass the legislation, the Senate will try to bury it.

Here’s the question: What does it mean to you? Have you carried your over-age-21 students on your health insurance? If not, why not?

Tell me your personal story below.

  • Bob Moffitt

    So far, I’m getting the satisfaction of hearing my conservative friends cry like little girls about it.

    Both my wife and I have “pre existing conditions.” Almost anyone 50 and older would likely have some reason an insuance company could turn you down — such as a bad back. My wife has already been turned down for health insurance, but thankfully found another job that offered benefits.

    Eventually, insurance companies won’t be able to do that. And some 32 million Americans who are not covered today will be.

    That’s change I can believe in.

  • Terry

    I hope the health care bill does NOT get repealed. Although I have not yet personally benefited from it, in 2014, when insurance companies can no longer deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions, I will be able to purchase insurance anywhere and not be stuck with the state high risk pool and it’s horribly high premiums. Right now it costs almost $600 per month to have a $2,500 deductible. I can’t afford that so had to raise my deductible to $10,000 per year. I still pay $300 per month for what is basically catastrophic coverage – with a deductible that high there’s no way it will cover prescriptions, office calls, or any other routine health care. I wish that the full bill came into effect sooner than 2014! I’ll be terribly disappointed if it does end up being repealed.

  • alison

    All the new policy changes to health care have benefited me entirely. I’m a 23 year old who graduated from the U this summer and would have been dropped by my parents insurance by now. I also have asthma so any private plan I could purchase would have been unaffordable, if they would cover me at all. This means that while I’m working at my first full time job this spring I will be able to go to the doctor when I need to go, rather than waiting for an emergency and needing public assistance paying for emergency room bills. Everyone benefits!

  • Christin

    So far all I have personally experienced is the higher premium and the lower cap on my flexible spending account. That being said, words do not do justice to the releif I feel knowing that my son’s dad can now purchase private insurance despite his pre-existing condition. Although the increased cost doesn’t feel so great right now (actually, it HURTS!), I am both hopeful and willing to work to insure that Health Care Reform will lead to improvement down the road both for my family and for the rest of our nation. It is gut-wrenching to be part of a system in a wealthy powerful nation that refuses to care for it’s sick and it’s poor.

    My husband is an artist (self employed) and my son’s dad is a musician (self employed and with a pre-existing condition). Our family has had a wide varietry of experiences with health insurance: the difficulty of being without insurance, the ability to use MNCare (when we were eligible), having insurance through jobs working at a non profits, and now our insurance is provided through my job at a medical device company.

    I am grateful that I work in a position that somewhat affordably provides benefits for our children; I look forward to the day when, “We all do better when we all do better” is fully realized.

  • nt

    I’m struck by how nice it is to read comments based on actual facts and not hyperbole. As for the health care reform bill:

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was appointed to the United State Supreme Court by President Theodore Roosevelt. Justice Holmes is well-known to have said, “I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization”

  • Adam Moore

    I am 24 years old and I am a working actor in the twin cities. I also have a serving job to pay bills. Being a newer actor in town I have auditions, rehearsals, and shows going on all the time.

    Unfortunately, I have no way of getting onto an insurance plan of my own through my job, considering the availability I have to work outside of theatre. I am currently benefiting from being on my parents insurance thanks to President Obama!

    I think its necessary to have that transition period where fresh college grads may not be able to find good insurance while struggling to make it in their careers. I know of other recent grads who are also benefiting from this development in health care.

  • Jennifer

    Where to begin? Health care is by far one of the most frustrating aspects of my life. I never thought it would be a problem. Nearly six years ago I was involved in a severe car accident caused by a distracted driver. I now have permanent injuries, chronic pain, and few insurance options. Car insurance covered at first. Then there was a fight between them and my health insurance, each claiming the other was responsible, refusing to pay, and kicking the bills back and forth. When I changed jobs, my new insurance kept asking for more documentation, to prove that I had had coverage for my injuries. It was a high deductible plan and I eventually realized that I couldn’t afford to use it. My employer tried to get me to rely on an HSA, but that was disastrous, because my pay was so low to begin with that there was no way I could afford to contribute an adequate amount to cover my needs and they stressed out about the economy and renegged on their promises to contribute to the account. Their stress about the economy eventually led to a reduction in the company’s workforce. I was laid off. That was nearly a year ago. The only type of insurance I’ve been able to procur since then is high deductible temporary insurance. I bought it under the belief that in case of major medical emergency, I’d at least have something. But as far as regular medical care goes, it’s pretty worthless. I can’t afford to pay up to the deductible and it covers very little. I had to sign an agreement that none of my pre-existing conditions would be covered. As problems have flared up over the year, I have to be completely dependent upon ice/heat packs, over the counter medication, stretches, and any other minor thing I can actually do on my own. It got to be so bad that I was off my feet for over two weeks because of the pain and swelling, but knew that I would never be able to afford the diagnostics, medication, and physical therapy resulting from a trip to the doctor. I’m stuck in this vicious cycle of neglecting to get treatment due to lack of coverage and financial constraints, only to be denied coverage when applying later due to my failure to receive treatment for those conditions. This is a not something that will heal, so it’s not something I just need to suffer through until it passes. It is something I will need to manage for the rest of my life. It was not something I was born with and it was no fault of my own. I was the victim of someone else’s negligence and because of that true health care is pretty much out of my reach. I’m only 28. The passing of healthcare reform was the first glimmer of hope I’ve had in years that eventually the industry would treat me as a human being deserving of care rather than just a financial liability. It was the first hope I had that I would once again have an identity rather than simply a stamp of “pre-existing condition.” Even though I will have to wait a few years, it’s nice to know that is on the horizon.

    I’m hitting the end of my eligibility for temporary insurance. I dread the coming experience of trying to navigate the health insurance industry on my own, knowing how slim the possibility is that they will be willing to sell me a policy – if I can even afford it. I never knew this would be so difficult. I certainly hope health care reform isn’t repealed because I couldn’t imagine having to keep going through this mess for the rest of my life.

  • LK

    ,i.// The most noticeable changes so far have been (a) higher premiums in private health insurance because adult children can be carried on the insurance and because pre-existing conditions can’t be denied coverage

    Is there any reliable evidence that all or some of the higher premiums that we all experienced this past year were a result of the Affordable Care Act?

    Personally, my premiums started making significant annual jumps several years before the health reform law passed.

  • Vicky

    We are carrying our 23-year old daughter on my health insurance and have been grateful that this is an option. She is serving as a tutor with Americorps, and although she is doing some wonderful things, her stipend is definitely not big enough for her to afford any insurance on her own. Her health is good, but it’s wonderful to know that if anything happens, she is covered.

  • Luke Ferguson

    I spent about 6 months of last year uninsured. The job market being the way it is, I have only been able to find temporary employment, and most of those jobs don’t offer health benefits or pay enough for me to afford my own. Thanks to the Health Reform Act, I was able to get back on my father’s insurance as of January 1st.

    That makes a huge economic difference in my life. It allows me not to have to make the choice between rent and health insurance. And since I have become unemployed after the 1st of the year, being on my parents insurance also allows me to hold out longer and find a job I want, instead of grabbing the first job available just because I need the benefits. It is nigh on impossible to expect recent college graduates to immediately find a job that provides benefits. That’s just not how the job market works anymore. And I’m glad the Obama Administration and Congress understood that keeping the economic burden of health insurance off of young people for a few extra years can make a huge difference as we all try and find a career beyond the coffee shop.

  • BJ

    I am, after all the debate, still wondering why health management plans (it is not true insurance) is tied to your job.

    My job doen’t write a check for anything else in my monthly bills list.

  • Noelle

    BJ, I couldn’t agree more.

    I’m incredibly fortunate to have benefits with my job, so that my husband (a student who works a couple additional part time jobs) can also have coverage, but a career change is out of the question at this point since I wouldn’t dare jeopardize our coverage.

    The biggest impact for me personally will be the 100% coverage of preventative care. That will at least save me money on copays, and help us scrounge up the 25% we’ll have to pay for some surgery my husband may likely have this year.

  • David

    BJ,

    Work connected health insurance is probably one of the simplest ways get the risk pooling necessary to make insurance affordable and accessible to most people.

    There may be other methods, but the upheaval to make the transition would be significant.

  • Kyle

    Although I have yet to have a direct benefit of the healthcare plan. The provision to not deny coverage to a person with a pre-existing condition has made me and my family sleep easier.

    I have a 3 year old daughter with a genetic heart defect. She has had 2 open heart surgeries and will eventually need at least 1 more for a valve replacement. Now the valve replacement will (hopefully) not need to happen until much later in her life, but it will eventually happen. If she is denied coverage or is not able to get coverage when she is eventually supporting herself, something is wrong. I will do anything I can to make sure that she is covered by insurance through her childhood, but I can not do anything to extend that making another insurance company take her on once she leaves my insurance. That is not right.

    I just hope we as a country come to the realization that covering everyone is moral and correct. I hope nobody has to have sleepless nights worrying that they can be dropped by their insurance because they simply may cost too much.

  • Kassie

    Late to the game here, but yes, this will affect me greatly. I have awesome health insurance through my employer, but premiums, co-pays and deductibles go up a little bit each year. By having more Minnesotans with health insurance, my insurance company won’t have to pay hospitals for as much uncompensated care, which will keep my premiums and the like low.

    But having worked in the welfare office, and now for DHS in Health Care, I can tell you story upon story of how Medical Assistance (and its state run partners) have helped people. Literally saved people’s lives.

    But the story I like to tell was the one of what I saw almost every day. It goes like this: person loses job due to mental or physical illness. Person gets on MA or GAMC. Person gets illness under control and is doing great. So great they get a job. Person is now over income for MA or GAMC. Person loses health insurance. Person becomes sick again. Person loses job. This is what health care reform will hopefully stop.