Obamacare: old plan ending, what to do now

I have health insurance already through the company I work for but I can’t afford the deductible. I have had some issues with the hospital telling me I need to pay $2,500.00 since I have a $2,000.00 deductible and can’t afford it. It seems my insurance don’t cover much of anything to be honest so what are my options? I also got a letter from them stating that the coverage I have now will no longer be available in 2014. Any help would be appreciated thanks.

Arkansas Southern Gent

Dear Arkansas Southern Gent,

It sounds like that the plan that is ending in 2014 did not meet health reform (“Obamacare”) standards. That would explain why it doesn’t cover much, and has a deductible that is more than you can afford. It also sounds like your employer is not continuing the plan.
First order of business: find out if your employer is going to offer you a new plan that meets the standards. The standards include things like having a minimum “actuarial” value; in non-technical terms, this means that the plan cannot be too skimpy. It also cannot cost you more than 9.5% of your income to cover yourself. (There are a lot more standards that I won’t go into, such as covering preventive care, etc.) As long as your employer plan meets the standards, you cannot get subsidies to buy your own insurance. You will get a letter from your employer’s plan confirming that they meet the standards, if that is the case.
If you do not have an up-to-snuff plan from your employer, then you can go shopping on the exchange. On the exchange, you will get a plan that costs less than 8.5% of your income to cover yourself (and your family, if you have one). The deductible and co-pays will be lowered based upon your income, if you buy a “Silver” plan. Arkansas is partnering with the federal government to run its health insurance exchange, the Arkansas Health Connector. This means that you may have an easier time getting correct information from the site. No promises on that, however.
As for money you owe the hospital already, call them and ask for their Patient Assistance department. You may qualify for a break on your bill, if your income is in their range. Each hospital does their charity program differently, so I won’t guess about how they might set their income ranges. Even though you have insurance, you may still qualify for help. It’s worth a try!

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Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.