By Patricia L Johnson
When was the last time you received medical care? How well informed are you on current medical costs?
Unless a person has been a recipient of medical care over the past several years, they are generally clueless when it comes to the costs involved for treatment. There are all sorts of statistics on medical costs available, but they’re pretty meaningless to someone unless the person has to actually pay for services.
Just to give folks a general idea of how important it is to have medical insurance I’m going to list my own actual medical costs for a three month period. You may click the link at the bottom of the page to see details. 
Normally I see my primary care physician once a month and a specialist once every three months for pre-existing conditions so my medical expenses are always going to be considerably higher than the average Jane/John Doe, but the fact remains that an injury or acute illness can strike anyone at any time.
The $435.00 charge on August 27, 2013 and the $820.00 charge on October 25, 2013 were unusual; the first visit was for an injury to my thumb, the second charge due to the fact my primary care physician was not available and I needed medical treatment.
The medical visits for the three month period billed to my insurance company were close to $1,800.00 and if you add the prescription charges to the mix, the total is well over $2,400. $2,400 in medical bills averages out to $800.00 per month for this quarter. In addition to the costs for actual treatment a person might incur additional charges in the form of transportation, snacks or meals if you’re away for a long period, and perhaps child care services, etc.
Can you really afford not to have medical insurance?
Many in the media have given folks the impression the penalty for non-coverage is $95.00 per month so it might be beneficial to some to pay the penalty rather than obtain coverage. It’s not quite that simple. The penalty for 2014 and beyond is based on household size and income. If there is only one person in the household, then yes, the fee would be $95.00 unless 1 percent of that person’s income is more, in which case the individual would pay the higher of the two figures. A chart indicating fees for 2014, 2015 and 2016 follows:
The above chart can be found on the healthcare.gov website
Misinformation being provided about the $95.00 fee for non-insurance has the potential of creating extreme financial distress for some familes. In addition to paying the penalty in 2014 and beyond, you are also responsible for paying any medical charges you may incur due to not having medical insurance coverage. So how is that any different than what happens now?
The primary cause of bankruptcy in the United States is medical expenses. An uninsured person or member of their family may incur catastrophic medical costs that the family is unable to pay so the family ends up filing bankruptcy to have the medical charges discharged.
The difference now is as of January 1, 2014, if you do not have medical insurance and you incur medical costs you are fully responsible for payment of the medical costs incurred, as indicated in the following:
The above statement is taken from the healthcare.gov website
The American public has been inundated with information about the Affordable Care Act for years that is simply untrue, so if you know of someone that does not have insurance coverage, please help that individual make the right decision. The following chart will provide you with a detailed analysis of the assistance an individual/family may obtain when signing up for coverage.
The above chart may be viewed on the healthcare.gov website
Some members of the Republican Party have been so bent on repealing the ACA they have gone as far as to blatantly lie to the public as well as do everything they can possibly do to make it more difficult for folks to sign up for healthcare. You can’t really blame them, the GOP historically looks out for big business and it doesn’t get much bigger than the insurance industry. In addition, lobbyists have spent tens of millions attempting to ‘encourage’ members of Congress to unsuccessfully repeal ‘Obamacare’.
Their last ditch effort is to scare people into not signing up for the plan and they’ve been doing a pretty good job in that area. Folks are scared, confused and frustrated, but there’s really only one thing people have to know. PPACA is the law and you must have healthcare. When the GOP starts paying the fees for not having coverage, and begin paying all medical costs incurred for those that don’t sign up; then they can certainly request people to follow their lead. In the meanwhile, use your own common sense and apply for coverage if you haven’t already. In order for your coverage to go into effect on February 1, 2014, you must sign up by January 15.
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© 2014 Patricia L Johnson