I’ve been wondering how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) might affect my dad’s healthcare and, as of this month, we have an answer.
First, some background. My dad, a skilled machinist in Detroit, was unemployed for two years from 2009-2011. After the critically important and helpful Obama COBRA subsidy ended, my dad and I found a high-deductible, still-quite-high-premium, emergency-only Blue Cross policy at $321/month.
My father found his current job in the spring of 2011, but it offered no benefits: no paid time off of any kind, no healthcare, nada. As a result, my dad has kept his Blue Cross policy from 2011 to the present, even though it is now $365/month. That’s $4,380/year, more than 10% of my dad’s pre-tax income (which averages $40,000/year).
Thanks to the Employer Shared Responsibility payment aspect of the ACA, my dad’s employer now has an incentive to provide a healthcare plan, which began Dec. 1, 2013. According to Employer Shared Responsibility, if an employer has “50 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees” they may have to make this payment if “at least 1 of your employees qualifies to save money on monthly premiums in the Marketplace.” My dad is just one such employee.
My dad’s new employer plan is an HMO that is far from perfect. So far, my dad has had trouble actually getting into any doctor on the HMO. We’re trying to get more factual information about what’s contributing to this as, right now, the new HMO hasn’t proven more usable in practice than the old emergency-only policy. The front-office people who answer the phones when my dad calls for an appointment mumble a variety of explanations for him not being able to get in, most of which are not very helpful or accompanied by any supporting information. These include “reasons” like “You should have a PPO instead of an HMO” or “We hit a quota of HMO.”
And before you fret too much about my dad’s poor, job-creating employer… He isn’t a particularly admirable fellow as it is. He calls himself a devoted Christian and has lunchtime prayer circle daily (yes, on the shop premises, inappropriate and possibly illegal though that may be), but hates to spend a penny to keep the shop clean. My dad and another guy do a lot of the cleaning to keep it safe for themselves. The boss man also makes sure he gets his monthly trip from Detroit to Las Vegas in for some serious three-day-weekend gambling, and heaven knows what else, since by his own admission his wife’s “not allowed to come”. He’s on his third wife anyhow, and by his own admission went from alcohol and drug addiction to video game addition to porn addiction and is now in a God addiction, but apparently there’s nothing wrong with the gambling, you get the idea.
We’ll see how this plan plays out!
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