There has been a lot of misinformation about the Affordable Care Act -- better known as ObamaCare.
In the beginning, there were predictions that the healthcare reform act would die of its own account because mostly the elderly and sick would sign up and that it would be an albatross around the neck of the Democrats in an election year.
Instead, it will likely help the Democrats this year -- especially in states like Kentucky where they signed up over 400,000 applicants.
Nevada has had its own trials and tribulations with website problems, but still more than 38,000 residents have been signed up for policies on the Health Link through companies such as United Healthcare, Anthem, St. Mary’s and Nevada Health Co-Op. Of the 14 states who had more than 20 percent of their residents uninsured going into open enrollment (that started Oct. 1, 2013 and ended on March 30, 2014), Nevada ranked fifth among the 14 in the reducing its rolls of the uninsured (dropping from over 26 percent uninsured to about 19 percent uninsured).
Nationally, more than 8 million were signed up, while the Obama administration predicted 7 million would sign up.
As a broker on the Nevada Health Link, I have experienced ObamaCare first hand and can honestly say it has helped a lot of people -- many who never have been able to afford healthcare before, but can now.
I have personally written more than 400 policies on the Health Link and deal with the Health Link on a daily basis, working out problems on policies.
Unfortunately, some people didn’t know where to go and listened to rumors of the health insurance being unaffordable and did not check on getting a policy on the Health Link until it was too late for the current year.
In fact, it is very affordable for some of those who thought they could not afford it. I did a policy for one lady in Elko who pays $15 per month for a policy that has a $250 deductible. The policy then pays 95 percent until she has paid $750 out of pocket and 100 percent after that. The government pays $681 a month for her as a tax credit.
But it also helps middle-class families -- like a family of five I wrote in Elko. Their cost was $750 per month, but the government is paying $1250 toward the premium, which is $2000 per month. They make just short of $100,000 a year.
The Affordable Care Act came about as a result of skyrocketing healthcare premiums set off by the economic turmoil in 2008 that caused many to lose their health insurance. Those who lost it didn’t stop going to the doctor or the hospital. Instead, their costs got pushed off onto those who had insurance and they saw their health care premiums rise dramatically. As they went up, even more had to drop health insurance because they couldn’t afford it.
The costs were spiraling out of control and something had to be done to put them in check. The Affordable Care Act was the government’s answer and was based on a program developed by Mitt Romney when he was the Republican governor of Massachusetts.
Rebecca Montero, our owner, and I are still signing up people on the Health Link daily -- even though Open Enrollment ended on March 31 and the Special Enrollment period in Nevada ended on May 30.
If someone has a Qualifying Life Event -- loss of creditable insurance in the last 60 days, marriage, birth of a child or death of a family member, return from military service, moving into the state in the last 60 days, dramatic change in income or change in citizenship, among others, they can get a policy on the Health Link without having to wait on the next enrollment period -- which runs from Nov. 15, 2014 until Feb. 15, 2015. Plans for 2015 begin on Jan. 1, 2015, but someone who qualifies can get coverage for the remaining months of 2014.
The penalty for not being insured at least nine months in 2014 is $95 for an individual, $47.50 per child or 1 percent of your gross income, whichever is larger.
But that increases to $325 per adult, $162.50 per child or 2 percent in 2015 and jumps to $695 per adult, $347.50 per child or 2.5 percent of your income in 2016.
Anyone who needs help on the Nevada Health Link is encouraged to contact us at our office at 2307 N. Carson St., in Carson City or call our office at 775-883-3414 or call me personally at 775-224-7169.
Ron Bliss is a former long-time sports editor in Tennessee who has been involved in health insurance sales since 2009. He moved to Nevada in 2011 and helped Montero establish Carson City Insurance and Affordable Healthcare Pros in the summer of 2013. He is certified on the Nevada Health Link and also expects to be certified for Covered California this fall.