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4 Freedoms of ObamaCare
As of January 1st, 2014, one of the biggest game-changing benefits of the Affordable Care Act went into effect: NO MORE DISCRIMINATION BASED ON PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS. It deserves an all-caps, bolded treatment because it is the headline that keeps getting buried in all the silliness. This discrimination ban has been a feature of most employer-based group plans, but until recently it has eluded the individual insurance market.

REAL Health Insurance Freedom is not the freedom to continue to buy junk insurance or the freedom to free-ride by going without insurance until you get sick. No, REAL Health Insurance Freedom means...

#1 ...No longer being denied or charged more due to a pre-existing condition (or gender). Such discrimination has been a huge roadblock to coverage in the individual (non-group) insurance market. Now it’s gone, along with its evil and onerous step-child — medical underwriting.

#2 ...Having the option to switch insurance plans every year during open enrollment. Think about it — every year, you can ditch your insurance company and pick a different plan that suits you better: You are no longer held hostage because of a pre-existing condition. So if you’re still fretting about which plan to pick this year, don’t agonize too much. Just choose something that fits your needs now and especially make sure it covers you from catastrophic costs. If you later decide you don’t like your selection or you discover a doctor that is not in-network, you can easily change to another plan for 2015. Your choice is no longer a lifetime commitment.

#3 ...Consulting your doctor without fear it will ding your permanent record. Good-bye underwriting! Patients would actually refrain from sharing medical concerns with their doctor for fear of establishing a pre-existing condition. That had a chilling effect and impeded optimal medical care. How crazy was that? Gone!

#4 ...Finally being able to quit your corporate job to start your own business or retire early. No more job lock because of health benefits. That’s the labor market effect the recent Congressional Budget Report was referring to, not that the ACA would kill demand for jobs.

Remember: Open enrollment ends March 31st for 2014 coverage: If you enroll and pay by Saturday, March 15th, your coverage will start April 1st. If you enroll and pay by Monday, March 31st, your coverage will start May 1st. After that, you’ll have to wait for 2015 open enrollment, which starts Nov 15th, 2014. If during the year, you have a qualifying life event such as losing your job-based coverage, having a child, moving out of the coverage area, or getting married/divorced, you’ll get a special enrollment period to purchase insurance.

Happy shopping. Enjoy the FREEDOM!

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