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I’ll Take This Health Care

As I’m waiting for my Nevada health insurance to show up any day now, I think I’ve got the hang of the system. I don’t like calling it Obamacare because I don’t like naming things after politicians (although I guess the obvious name, Medicare, is taken, and it’s better than a meaningless branding name like the Patriot Act), and it‘s a word that often seems to be uttered pejoratively (along with it’s namesake Obama).

Because, overall, I find the new system an improvement. Sure, the state-run health-insurance sites suck, at least the two I’ve looked at. In California, I made the mistake of checking the box, sure, let’s see if I qualify for a subsidy. Several weeks later after back and forth emails requesting more documentation, the open enrollment period was over. Nevada didn’t look much better, but in both cases I just stuck with using, which I’d been using anyway for at least ten years.

And that process has become easier. I no longer have to fill out a long questionnaire about my medical history only to get rejected by, say, Blue Shield, because I’m taking cholesterol medication. Now I just fill in basic info, pay, and I’m in. This is a big issue if you’re self-employed, and it seems to me it gets lost in discussions about O-care (“health care for the self-employed indie software developer!” is not a rallying cry you hear in town hall meetings).

More than once, I’ve been worried about losing health care because of that preexisting condition thing or because an insurer cashed my check but didn’t credit my account (the California consumer insurance agency came through on that one for me). And this was after following all the important HIPPA rules that every freelance should have known but didn’t about that theoretically guaranteed you health insurance if you maintained continuous coverage and maxed out your COBRA coverage from your last job if you had to. Now, you just have to remember to get your act together during the open enrollment period, and it seems like you really have to screw up to get kicked off your insurance, at least until the next open enrollment period.

On the other hand, I have to admit that restricting enrollment to an annual window seems weird and inconvenient, because sometimes it takes only a month before I get really annoyed with my insurer, and especially when you’re moving to another state, in which case you have to provide some documentation for the move to qualify for the new insurance (again, it seems going through ehealthinsurance made that easier for me — I tried going direct to the Blue Cross site, but my 33-page lease was too big to upload to it).

Also, my premiums supposedly went up due to O-care, but they’ve been going up every year with alternating excuses (rising health care costs, you’re older now, yada yada…). In fact, in the ten years it had already gone from $50/month to $300/month. So, just like that time they said it was my fault they cashed my check without crediting me (and then listed my name as “Ralph” on their non-apology letter), I don’t believe a thing they say. But I’m happy to be enrolled.