There has been a lot said about what will and will not happen at the start of 2014 when the Affordable Care Act firmly takes hold of the health insurance and healthcare industries. One thing's for sure, health insurance will never be the same again, for better or worse.
One thing we do know is that all health insurance plans will be required to meet minimum coverage requirements. That means your current health insurance could get stuffed like a thanksgiving turkey.
This might sound like a good thing, and to some extent it is, but just like everything else you buy, except at an all you can eat buffet, the more you get the more you pay.
With these new limits set for action, not all health insurance plans will survive Obamacare. Some will be modified beyond recognition and others will cease to exist entirely.
Let's take a look at what your options might look like after the dust settles.
The traditional “copay” plan is the poster boy for Obamacare, the shining example of what every health insurance policy should strive to be.
Simply put - It's not going anywhere.
I wish I had more details to share in the form of specific copay and coinsurance amounts, however they have not been released yet. The only thing we know is plans will be required to satisfy a certain, overall “actuarial equivalence.”
Platinum plans will pay 90 percent of all health care costs, gold 80, silver 70 and bronze 60.
While you or anyone else, myself included, doesn't like to pay more for something than they have to, these types of plans are what continue to reinforce irresponsible spending inside the healthcare system.
If you think I'm kidding.
Health care spending in the United States was around $2.6 trillion in 2010, or 10 times the $256 billion spent in 1980. According to the New York Times.
The Institute of Medicine estimated that in 2009, the most recent year information was available, we spent around $210 billion on unnecessary medical services.
When there is little incentive to monitor and manage the amount of medical care you receive, things tend to get a little out of control (see medical inflation).
...By the skin of their teeth.
That's what HSA's are saying to each other as they cling to life in a post Obamacare world.
Anyone who is vaguely familiar with me and or this site, knows I'm one of the biggest HSA cheerleaders out there.
I will pause a moment to let that visualization exit your thoughts.
Don't just take my opinion, A recent Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health surveyfound that 66 percent of large companies (1,000 employees or more) offered employees at least one account-based plan option this year, and that number is expected to grow to 80 percent next year.
HSA's are and will continue to offer the best bang for your buck. They are the full embodiment of what insurance was and is suppose to be.
So why are they clinging to life under the most radical piece of legislation the health insurance industry has ever seen?
It's actually very simple.
While HSA's represent everything insurance is suppose to be, those representations don't line up with - possibly yours and - what the rest of the country's expectations are for “good” health insurance.
For those unfamiliar with how a Health Savings Account plan works, they offer you the opportunity to pay for what you need instead of what you might need.
Sure the thought of having to come up with a few thousand dollars on short notice is no one's idea of a picnic, but it's the only way you are going to pay attention to what and how you spend your health care dollars on.
So for now, HSA's will remain a part of Obamacare, by just barely meeting the 60 percent requirement of bronze plans.
However, if they survive long enough to make it to the marketplace, they could become the go-to plan for those people who do not qualify for federal tax credits and subsidies.
If you ever wanted to see a dead man walking, short-term health insurance plans are it. These temporary, limited benefits options would need to undergo an overhaul a contestant on The Biggest Loser wouldn't want to touch.
If something is created to take it's place, I am not in a position to guess what that might be.
Health Care Reform will demand expect you to continuously carry permanent coverage. No more hopping, skipping or jumping from temporary policy to temporary policy.
The Bottom Line
Right now this is the best information we have on what plans will be available in 2014. As this information continues to evolve and the federal government and insurance companies begin to loosen their stranglehold on it, we will be sure to update you when they do.
In the meantime, if you want to discover ways to reduce your prescription and medical costs I highly recommend watching my latest Health. Care. Insurance. Hangout with Dr. John Stephens on how to live a heart healthy lifestyle.