Boomers and Obamacare could be a blessing

While we have our differing opinions, Boomers and Obamacare could actually be a good fit.

Routine blood pressure check

You’ve heard the hype from both sides, some of it true, lots of it not so true. And yes, there have been some serious computer glitches in the first few weeks of the market exchanges. It's enough to spike your blood pressure.

But obviously, millions of Americans see some value in the changes to health care. That’s part of the reason for the computer problems – so many people started logging in to the market exchanges as soon as they opened on Oct. 1 to see what’s available.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – the official name of what has been dubbed Obamacare – became the law of the land in 2010 and requires everyone to have health insurance. The law applies to all Americans, not just Baby Boomers. The individual mandate to comply with the law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014.

And there are some exceptions as always, such as for members of religious groups that disavow all forms of insurance and people with income so low they can’t afford coverage. 

If you’re covered by an employer’s health plan or on Medicare, Medicaid or certain military and veterans plans, you don’t have to do anything.

But if you’re not covered and don’t get health coverage by March 31, 2014, you will pay a penalty when it comes time to file your income tax return for 2014. It won't be much, but will still be a penalty. For the first year, penalties include 1 percent of yearly income or $95 per person, whichever is higher. It rises each year -  in 2016 the penalty will be 2.5 percent of income or$695 per person, whichever is higher.

Some people - including many young invincibles - are opting to pay the penalty rather than purchase health insurance. But they also don't have health insurance if they should need it. That's probably not the best way to approach things.

Most of us Boomers may not like having to pay for health insurance in any form, but we certainly recognize the value of having it when the time comes. Even in our strongest commitment to healthy aging, all of us have medical issues come up occasionally.

Boomers 50-64 without insurance

If you do not have health insurance or feel like you’re paying way too much for what you do have, now’s the time to go shopping at the health insurance marketplace. By using this marketplace, you can find an affordable plan that works for you and can see if you qualify for a subsidy to help.

Individuals with income up to $45,960 and couples with income up to $62,040 may qualify for some kind of assistance.  You’ll find out at the marketplace. If your state did not host an exchange site, which some opted not to do, the federal government did.

You can no longer be turned down for insurance coverage even with pre-existing conditions and you can not be charged more than those without such pre-existing conditions would pay.

When you get to the appropriate marketplace, you can choose from basically four levels of coverage from bronze to platinum. The least expensive bronze plans pays about 60 percent of your health-care costs and the most expensive platinum plans cover about 90 percent.

You may or may not find plans that are more affordable than what you already have or can find on your own and the plans vary from state to state. But the U.S Department of Health and Human Services have found plans through the marketplaces are generally less than you’d find otherwise. You’ll need to explore and find out.

Already on Medicare

There is good news for those of us who have turned 65 and are on Medicare beyond the fact that we don’t have to do anything since we're covered. Boomers and Obamacare are already in a dance together. 

We no longer pay anything out-of-pocket for preventive services like annual routine examinations, specific screening tests for heart disease, diabetes, bone density and some types of cancer.

Also covered are flu shots, pneumonia shots and the hepatitis B shot. Pap smears, mammograms, glaucoma tests and lung cancer screenings are covered, too. 

Medicare will be gradually reducing the amount of money people with high prescription drug costs have to pay each year until the “donut hole,” or gap in coverage, disappears by 2019.

Boomers and Obamacare

Your best bet is to check out what's available for you under the Affordable Care Act and how it ACTUALLY benefits or harms you. You may be surprised - Boomers and Obamacare may be a match made in Heaven!