Should I sign up for Obamacare given the uncertainty of repeal?
January 28, 2017 1:37 PM   Subscribe

I have been living abroad for over a year and plan on returning to the United States to work in a few months. I'm aware of the not quite ideal timing. I am a US citizen and have been considering applying for health insurance. January 31st is the last date to apply for coverage beginning in March.

I hope to find work by then and would apply for catastrophic health insurance. I am, with great fortune, 31 and in excellent health. I have never applied for Obamacare previously and have been uninsured for several years.

Does it make sense to apply for it now, considering its uncertain status? If I do apply, should I get the least expensive health insurance plan as a safeguard for catastrophes? Around what would I expect to pay? I am currently unemployed with low savings and in debt.

Thank you very much.
posted by bodywithoutorgans to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would go ahead and apply; you won't know what'll happen, both in terms of your health and in terms of the ACA.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:59 PM on January 28, 2017 [7 favorites]

i just signed up for coverage starting Feb 1. The cheapest premium I could find was about $325/month with a $5,000 deductible (although remember that fortunately, much preventative care is not subject to the deductible and there is a separate smaller deductible for prescriptions.) I didn't qualify for any subsidies, so you will probably find a better deal than i did. I consider this catastrophic insurance, as I hope I never reach the deductible.

I need insurance and have pre-existing conditions, so in order to have continuity of coverage, signing up was the right choice (and cheaper than COBRA).

When i first got health insurance after college, more than 20 years ago, i paid $35/month for basically the same policy.
posted by jindc at 2:17 PM on January 28, 2017

Yes, you should apply now. Should the ACA be repealed, you don't want to have a coverage gap. If it is repealed, that wouldn't go into effect until 2018, anyway. It's difficult to know how much you'll be paying without knowing what state you're in; if you're in a state with Medicaid expansion, you will probably qualify for completely free medicaid with no income.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:22 PM on January 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would encourage you to apply. It sounds like you are counting on enrolling in your future employer's group health plan when you return to the US. Please keep in mind that not all employers offer group health insurance, particularly smaller businesses. Also, there may be a waiting period. Having your own health insurance will give you more flexibility in choosing between job options.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 2:30 PM on January 28, 2017

Sign up! The Orange One and his henchmen are counting on the numbers being down and, to that end, tried to torpedo all the advertising leading up to the deadline. The outcry caused them to walk it back, although not all the advertising was restored. If nothing else, just signing up is an act of resistance.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 3:40 PM on January 28, 2017 [7 favorites]

In DC a catastrophic coverage plan would be $95 per month, but you can't purchase it because they will not sell them to people your age. The cut-off appears to be 30 unless you have a hardship exemption, but you'd have to apply for that and/or subsidies. I think this is a universal thing and not just this one insurance company. What's available ranges from 200-something for a lousy plan to 400-ish for an ok one.

Does it make sense to apply for it now, considering its uncertain status?

Yes? if you can afford it. It wouldn't make sense to deliberately go without health insurance this year just because we probably won't be able to have any next year.
posted by queenofbithynia at 4:07 PM on January 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

You absolutely should get the insurance. A single, fairly minor ER visit could run you around $10,000. The ACA may be repealed, but for this year you will have coverage.

By the way, jindc, the $35/month plan you had 20 years ago was not the same policy as you have today. It covered a 20 years younger person, did not cover 100 percent of core preventative care, would not have covered you if you had had preexisting conditions, almost certainly had an annual and lifetime limit, was not available to women, etc, etc, etc.
posted by rockindata at 5:18 PM on January 28, 2017 [7 favorites]

Rickindata, you are of course correct.
posted by jindc at 6:13 AM on January 29, 2017

Definitely look into signing up. Options will vary quite a lot depending on your state. As mentioned above, you may be eligible for free Medicaid, in which case you should be able to get some services like an annual physical that you have not had in some time, and which would be best to take advantage of while the program is still in place.

There are online tools available for you to see what kind of coverage you are eligible for. Try searching for the program specific to your state to jump past the step of having to first register at the federal ( site. Although ACA will remain in effect for 2017, outreach programs for new subscribers will not be, so it is good that you are being proactive and still have a few days to get enrolled before the next deadline.

The coverage requirement is still in effect for 2017 as well, so getting covered as soon as you can could allow you to avoid non-coverage penalties at the end of the year.
posted by obloquy at 4:04 PM on January 29, 2017

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