October 3, 2013

WILLIAMS: Obamacare a barrier between security and disaster


---- — When I lost my job at the sheriff’s department at age 58, there was no way I could afford to keep my COBRA health insurance. I looked for a catastrophic care policy that would at least protect me from total financial disaster should I experience a serious illness or accident while I was unemployed. Even those plans would have taken nearly all my unemployment income.

So I went without any health insurance for nine months. I quit taking my prescriptions. I didn’t go to the doctor. Luckily, I made it through.

If you’ve always received your health insurance through your job, as I had, you may tend to take it for granted.

You complain because co-pays keep going up and coverage keep going down.

But, still, it was there – so that your kids could get treatment if they fell off their bike and broke bones, so you wouldn’t be heading to bankruptcy court if you had a heart attack.

There are people who voluntarily choose not to pay for health insurance. They are most likely young and healthy and believe themselves to be invincible. And who pays their medical costs if they prove not to be invincible after all? Well, that would be the rest of us.

Because we let people go without healthcare in the U.S. but we don’t usually let them go without treatment.

And now there is the Affordable Care Act better known as Obamacare. Who could imagine that this would be the issue over which they would be willing to bring down the entire United States economy, maybe even the world economy, if they actually let us go into default?

Of course, our very own Republican leadership in Indianapolis requested an exemption for a year and got it. That means we won’t expand our current Medicaid program, which covers 37,000 Hoosiers and has a waiting list of 53,000. (Obamacare would cover 400,000). Yep, that makes perfect sense. Let’s shaft the poorest people.

Indiana’s rates under the health exchange are out. There are many offers to choose from, just as you may have in your own job – a gold plan, a silver plan, a bronze plan, a catastrophic care plan. There will be many variations according to income and dependents. It is estimated that 60 percent of Hoosiers will qualify for tax credits. (Go to: to find out the rates for your particular situation).

Already through, under Obamacare, insurance companies can no longer refuse coverage if you have a pre-existing condition, lifetime caps have been eliminated, preventive care is free, your children can stay on your policy until age 26, the donut hole for seniors is being closed, insurance companies must spend at least 80 percent of premiums on actual healthcare or rebate that money back to insureds. If you get your health insurance through your employer, your life won’t change much. But if you don’t, Obamacare just may make the difference between security and catastrophe.

Vicki Williams is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached through the newspaper at