Sunday, October 27, 2013

Healthcare, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, ACA implementation, Glitches

By Mildred Robertson

It’s not like we didn’t know that there would be glitches in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as “Obamacare.” It is the most ambitious social program of its kind in the last 50 years.

With just 3 short years and much opposition to the implementation of Obamacare, it is no small wonder that some of the millions of Americans flocking to the website these last several weeks have had some difficulty. To launch a program of this size and complexity, it would be naïve to expect smooth sailing from day one.

But as we turn on the nightly news, we hear pundits from the right and the left criticizing the program; some who have never even ventured onto the site to navigate the system and examine options. When have you ever experienced the rollout of a new computer program without glitches?

Many want to pronounce the program “dead on arrival.” This pronouncement would be pre-mature at best and diabolic at worst. This program offers hope to millions of uninsured Americans, many of them the working poor, who are forced to go without the most basic healthcare because of staggering healthcare costs. This, in the most prosperous nation on earth.

According to Cheryl Smith, a senior practitioner at Deloitte, a research and consulting firm, nothing like this has ever been attempted on this scale. In an article published by “Stateline,” a daily news service of the Pew Foundation, Smith said that people might compare the ACA rollout to Medicare Part D or to Medicare itself. But she says there is no comparison. “Nothing like this has ever been done on this scale,” she says.
ACA’s aim is to enroll 16 million uninsured Americans into health insurance plans or an expanded Medicaid. Health experts such as Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institute remind us that, “When you’re dealing with tens of millions of new clients, mistakes are inevitable.”

Let’s give the administration time to work out the glitches. That can’t be done in three weeks, or even three months with a program of this magnitude. I personally believe it will be worth the wait.

If you listen above the din of the naysayers, you will hear stories of people who have done the comparisons, and found that the ACA offers them real cost savings. You will find that previously uninsured working poor can finally afford to buy health insurance. You may even hear that ACA has spurred economic growth.

I anticipate the five-year anniversary of the implementation of ACA. I daresay it will no longer be called “Obamacare,” because it will be a huge success.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, North Carolina, Health Exchange, Medicaid


By Mildred Robertson

Today marks the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare.” Under the Affordable Care Act, families with incomes falling between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level will qualify for subsidies to help them purchase health insurance coverage in the new health insurance marketplaces referred to as “exchanges”.

It is expected that up to 1.5 million North Carolinians will be shopping for health insurance on the new health exchange offered through the federal government. Although the state of North Carolina chose not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, officials estimate roughly 70,000 new North Carolinians may enroll in Medicaid through the program.

Consumers will not have to determine their own eligibility for subsidies, and the same application used to apply for private coverage in the exchange will be used to determine eligibility for Medicaid coverage. Therefore, if you meet the income qualifications and apply through the exchange, you will be enrolled in Medicaid.

Because North Carolina turned down Medicaid expansion and declined $27 million in federal assistance to inform citizens about the new healthcare exchange, North Carolinians will pay more and have fewer choices than people in states that embraced the Affordable Care Act. Only two carriers will sell subsidized plans in the state; Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas.

Also, the state’s most vulnerable will still be left without insurance. Some people with wages too high to qualify for Medicaid, but who earn too little to qualify for credits on the exchange will be left uninsured.

In order to get the word out about the new health exchanges, federal grants have been provided to non-profits across the state to dispatch “navigators” to help citizens learn about and enroll in the health exchange. In North Carolina, some county social services departments will provide office space for these navigators.

For more information on the Affordable Care Act, or to enroll, go to