Last year, I made the switch from Obamacare to private health insurance.
I made the change for a few reasons, which I’ll explain in this post.
If you’re thinking of signing up for Obamacare (or the Affordable Care Act) at Healthcare.gov, here are a few things you might want to think about.
I’m not a financial advisor, and this article is based on my own observations and experiences as a freelance writer and journalist who wants health insurance coverage. I hope you find this information useful in making a determination on what is best for you and your loved ones.
When I left the corporate world by my own choosing at the end of 2014, I gained several things, including control over my own hours and assignments. But I lost something important: health insurance.
While I was only 33 years old at the time, I’ve never been the kind to go without insurance — especially when I could afford to have it. I left a steady paycheck behind, but within months I was consistently earning more as a freelance writer and journalist than I ever had in my office job.
Obamacare did provide me with reduced-cost health insurance that covered all of my basic needs (including physical exams and prescriptions), but the deductibles were through the roof!
I still ended up paying more than $180 per month on a healthcare plan that ordinarily cost $220 per month. And the plan didn’t even include any of my usual doctors — the ones I liked and had built a rapport with over the years.
As my income increased, my health insurance premiums grew, too, and quickly at that.
Before long, I was paying full price. But, because my income varied from month to month, I still had to report my income on a periodic basis.
It became a hassle calling the customer service line each month, reporting my income to an associate, having to wait for 30 to 45 minutes just to report my income — which I knew wouldn’t even help me save money on my insurance because I was making too much (not necessarily a “bad” problem, especially as a freelance writer).
Once the general open enrollment period began toward the end of 2015, I decided to leave Obamacare and seek health insurance coverage with a private carrier.
I chose a major insurance company that covered me when I was still employed in Corporate America.
The plan allows me to choose from a wide array of doctors within a network — which includes the medical professionals I used to see before moving over to Obamacare.
When I left Obamacare to move over to my current PPO plan, I began paying about $30 more per month than I paid on Obamacare. But, remember, for that $30 extra monthly, I have been getting to see all of my doctors again and also had more control over what type of insurance plan I wanted.
Yes, I pay more for my private insurance coverage, but I get all of the benefits that I was used to enjoying.
I’ve heard it said that Obamacare insurance premiums are rising — so much so the prices are beginning to eclipse the premiums of some private healthcare plans.
Private health insurance premiums are rising, too. Mine will increase by $37 per month next year.
The point? Neither Obamacare or private health insurance is always better. Making that determination as it relates to you is only up to you!
I think if I had written this post a year ago, my advice would be different. That’s because Obamacare healthcare costs were lower and I thought the benefits were actually pretty good — just not the ones I was hoping for personally.
Surely, I believe the original intentions of Obamacare are good — the goal was to help more Americans buy and afford healthcare insurance while allowing those with pre-existing medical conditions to still qualify for coverage.
Before Obamacare, many Americans with pre-existing conditions were turned away from private health coverage or had to pay incredibly high premiums for very basic coverage.
I know this because my mom had cancer and couldn’t receive health insurance on an independent plan after she met her maximum expense cap on my dad’s employer-based healthcare plan. As I very quickly learned, my mom was hardly alone in her heartbreaking dilemma. Thankfully, my dad was able to switch to a new employer-based healthcare plan and my mom subsequently received the care she needed right until the end. Unfortunately, not all are so lucky.
But now that Obamacare insurance premiums are rising (because not enough healthy people are enrolling in the insurance marketplace exchanges to help balance the costs of providing care for those who have more severe health issues), it’s becoming difficult to say whether or not Obamacare is the best choice these days for those who want health insurance but are tight on funds.
Is it better to pay for private care? Go on Medicaid or Medicare? Seek local government programs that may supplement your healthcare coverage needs?
The answer that best suits your individual needs can only be determined with a thorough analysis of your financial picture, healthcare requirements, medical expectations, and what you feel is the best choice for you and your loved ones.
I’m sure for many, Obamacare is still the best solution out there. But for me, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t offer the healthcare solutions I want at a price point that lives up to the “affordable” name of the program through which I could buy the insurance.
As lawmakers, healthcare advocates, and others continue working to improve our nation’s healthcare system on both the private and public levels, I wish you all the best in finding healthcare coverage that suits your budget and meets your unique needs.
In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some additional resources to help you decide whether Obamacare is right for you:
I’m a roller coaster junkie, a weather enthusiast, a frequent traveler, and a numismatist. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I’m a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG). I’ve also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, food, and living green… on a budget.
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