Here’s to your health

Published 3:04 pm Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The ten people, myself included, who attended the healthcare overview seminar on Thursday night at the Prentiss Library learned a great deal about the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, the health insurance Marketplace, and the Exchange. While it may seem these are four separate topics, they are in fact one and the same – more evidence that the US healthcare overhaul has been a convoluted debacle.

Nevertheless, with the final extension of March 31 to apply for coverage approaching, I felt compelled to hear Humana agent Karl Twyner give an overview and answer some questions.

The extraordinarily punctual Mr. Twyner who began at precisely 6:30 convinced me and I think others in the room in one hour that this plan, as flawed as it may be, could actually work. In fact, those who have not seen a doctor in years may finally be able to afford a checkup.

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The youthful Mr. Twyner and his wife are retired educators. Coverage for both of them along with their daughter totaled $1,041 per month under their old Blue Cross Blue Shield policy. Now, with Humana (the only company that is allowed to insure residents of Jeff Davis County), he pays only $378 per month for the Platinum plan that covers all three of them.

I count myself lucky to have a job that offers insurance. My monthly portion of my company-sponsored Blue Cross Blue Shield plan is $196. But I was curious to know what the Marketplace could offer, so I signed on to, answered questions such as age, location, salary, etc. and within minutes I was shown results of five plans for which I was eligible, all of which cost less than the $196 I currently pay.

The Humana representative said once a person enrolls, an insurance card arrives in a week and the newly-insured individual is encouraged to see a doctor for a checkup – the idea being to go while the lump is small and before your body is ravaged by cancer. A morbid thought perhaps, but preventative care makes not only for a happier, healthy life, but also a cheaper one.

No doubt, the Affordable Care Act was rolled out poorly and has become a national embarrassment, and if you have insurance, stick with it. The penalty for having no insurance is $95. However, for those who have not previously been able to afford insurance or have been turned down for pre-existing conditions, the Marketplace could be the answer.

One of the most interesting points raised on Thursday night was the possibility that sudden workplace retirements may begin occurring. Lots of Americans hate their jobs but endure the drudgery for the sake of insurance. The Exchange is a game-changer for job haters everywhere.

There is no way to explain all the details of the mammoth program in this small space, but I encourage you to attend the Town Hall meeting on Thursday, February 6 at 6:00 p.m. at the Jeff Davis County Courthouse and get your questions answered.