Monday night at midnight, the deadline for applying for Obamacare ended. Sort of. Mostly. People who were unable to complete their applications to the federal website and some state websites will be allowed to finish up in the next week or so. People who are eligible for Medicaid can enroll any time during the year. And people who get divorced or lose their jobs or have a similar "life event" can still enroll after March 31. Everyone else will have to wait until Open Enrollment in November of this year for coverage starting in 2015.
The White House says over 7 million people signed up for Obamacare coverage. Despite the fact that the White House predictions actually came true, Republicans won't be silenced for long. I am pleading here for some respite. Could we all just shut up for awhile about this? Not a chance.
Why can't everyone shut up about Obamacare? Because now the real problems will start to surface. People who thought their monthly premiums were too high may drop out and stop paying, thus losing their insurance. The lucky ones will end up on Fox complaining about it. The rest will just "go bare," which is where they started in the first place. Those who chose a Bronze plan but have some serious medical expenses will face some pretty hefty costs before any insurance kicks in. The fact that there is a cap on annual and lifetime out-of-pocket costs will be small comfort when facing $5,000 or $6,000 in deductible costs. Then there will be people who go to their doctor only to find out he or she is not in their plan. Or they just didn't read the fine print and figure out they have to pay a deductible for their prescription drugs. The potential for keeping this thing alive until the November elections is nearly endless.
Even though I study health policy and consider myself a bit of a wonk, I am really tired of hearing about Obamacare right now. Even more tired than hearing about Flight 370. Despite the amount of chatter on TV and radio about health care, it was a little shocking to learn that a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 6 of 10 uninsured -- the people who really need Obamacare -- didn't know much about the deadline. And half of those who are uninsured said they plan to remain that way and not sign up at all.
The main reason we will never stop hearing about Obamacare is that most Americans know relatively little about how health insurance works, so the complaints are not likely to ever stop. And as Jimmy Kimmel found out last year, many do not know the difference between Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act, clearly preferring the ACA over Obamacare when asked.
So I am pleading with Huffington Post readers to educate yourselves about what you have or do not have in regard to health insurance coverage. Read the fine print. Hopefully by next year, if you have a choice of coverage (and if you are employed you probably do not), choose your plan with full knowledge of what you will pay on a monthly basis and how that relates to the deductible you have to pay before your insurance starts to work. In the meantime? Can we have a little peace and quiet between now and November when Open Enrollment starts again? Please.
P.S. Lest anyone doubt my support for the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) -- I firmly support it and believe it will continue to help many Americans who have been without insurance to have peace of mind at last. In my case, it's a case of "repeal fatigue". Repeal and replace? The Republicans have no credible plan to replace the ACA.
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