Yes, there you have it folks. I've been a happy New Yorker all my life and within a month or so I will be a Florida resident.
How did this happen? It's quite a story -- but first I want to make a statement.
I have never before referred to The Affordable Care Act as Obamacare. I consider the term to have been crafted and ably implemented by ACA opponents. It's a euphemism used to defeat our President's attempt to get vital healthcare coverage for millions of Americans.
Now even the press and The President refer to it as Obamacare! Big mistake in my opinion.
Using terminology thoughtfully is important. Years back Republicans morphed the term "liberal" into a dirty word. Yet the term we now hear -- "progressive" -- has a positive ring to it.
Here's a depressing fact. In the last Health Care Ranking by WHO (2000) the US rated #38 in the world despite being #1 in expenditure per capita. Clearly something's not working and it's been this way under both parties.
Now back to why I am being forced to become a resident of a state where I must smile at everyone to ensure they don't find me intimidating and resort to state-approved means to allay their fears.
I have been living very happily in New York State all my life and have been self-employed for over 25 years.
I went into business with $6,800.00 to my name. I figured worst case scenario I'd lose my meager savings and go to work for a company.
Thirty years later I'm still self-employed and living the American Dream more or less.
During the intervening years I have spent well over $150,000 to pay for private health insurance.
As a result of the ACA and perhaps other factors of which I am unaware my insurance company a "union" of the individually self-employed decided not to participate in the Health Care Exchange. It offered me a variety of poor options.
I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. The only logical choice was to select an ACA health plan. Without the "union" my purchase would be as an individual not as a group member.
I have always opted for top level health care with provider networks offering physician access across the country.
Suddenly this option seemed to have disappeared.
Individually New York residents are given no Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans through the ACA or privately offering PPO's or any covered out of network benefits other than for emergencies.
I can't say why, but Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield of New Jersey who in the past offered individuals a PPO national network is no longer doing so.
Yet somewhere there is a disconnect. In New Mexico and Florida the ACA offers individual BC/BS PPO plans. How is it they are able to do so yet New York and New Jersey are unable to accomplish this? Is it the ACA, insurance companies or some unknown intervening factors?
The bottom line -- I am being "exiled" to Florida. Let's call it a positive concatenation of events. Sort of!
I've been lucky enough to live in New York, own a pied a terre in New Jersey and through the foresight of my wonderful Mom have a Florida home as well. I have options that most don't!
I'm self-employed and have the luxury of working virtually. I travel a great deal on business and want the security of knowing that quality healthcare coverage is available when I'm on the road.
If I remain a New York resident, other than for emergencies I have no plan with out-of-state benefits available. Legally changing my residence to Florida there are at least three major insurance carriers with physician networks across the nation.
The choice -- though frustrating -- is a no brainer. I have signed up for insurance with a Florida carrier effective January 1st, 2015. By that time I will have updated my passport, insured and registered my vehicles in Florida and made sure that I have fulfilled all requirements incumbent upon a new resident.
There is of course an upside for progressives. It's the ability to cast your 2016 presidential vote in Florida rather than New York where it likely has less influence. Not such good news for conservatives.
Am I happy -- absolutely not! Do I feel I had an option -- most decidedly not!
Is the system broken -- you bet! The ACA definitely needs to work on making more comprehensive and flexible benefits available to consumers. But it's a darn good start.
Was signing up through the government's website easy -- NO! It was a nightmare.
I don't blame the President personally -- though do hold his administration responsible for not hiring computer firms that are able to handle the huge volume of applicants.
For those who claim the signing up system is working well -- Hah. I've kept records and print screens of everything I've gone through. It's all documented.
I'm a fairly well educated native American speaker, good communicator with an active and agile mind -- used to navigating difficult situations and I had a really tough time.
I shudder at the thought of those less well versed in dealing with the system who have to sign up for the ACA.
Here's a positive way to think about it -- it's simply another life challenge -- sit at home -- put on music -- have food and drinks available -- prepare to spend hours and decide you'll be relaxed. Life is way to short to get stressed over health care.
Another possibly better option -- there are insurance agents who are licensed to work with you in signing up for the ACA. There is no charge for their service. They will walk you through the process and can be of great assistance. Be aware -- they may not be eligible to enroll you for some plans.
***Something about which you hear little. This is very important! Ask for information on "cost saving reduction" which is only available if you sign up for a "Silver" plan. Many people think they make too much money but in actuality are eligible.
So, as I get ready to bid a fond farewell to my lifelong residence of New York I can only ask the great politicians of this state -- what the heck is going on?
I'll be leaving for Florida shortly -- smiling at all I meet, enjoying its weather when I am not traveling on business and bringing my unique dialog and perspective to The Sunshine State:)
Life change is important -- so perhaps this has all happened for a reason -- but you still might want to check with your state's national politicians and find out what's really going on.
Attention baby boomers -- many of you are opting for self employment for the first time or not retiring simply to maintain medical benefits. It's important to research and know all your options. The ACA has changed the landscape. It's worth investigating.
I want to mention that even with the incredible difficulties signing up with the ACA the employees working under incredible pressure were among the most pleasant customer service people I've ever interacted with. The administration does get credit for that!
Most importantly -- despite all the glitches -- the ACA is helping ensure countless uninsured and medically untreated Americans finally have access to health care. That's something as a nation of which we can be proud!
P.S. California offers 17 PPO's -- some as part of the ACA. What a consumer friendly state!
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