Friday, March 28, 2014

HHS Invokes 'In Sickness and in Health' to Push Obamacare

    For the latest installment in Department of Health and Human Services Obamacare "My #GetCovered Story" series, HHS has borrowed a line from the traditional wedding vows: "In sickness and in health."  In a blog post of that title, a "theater artist" from Chicago, Illinois tells the story of how her own experiences have put a "new light on the phrase 'in sickness and in health'" for her and her fiancé, a writer and adjunct professor:
As a theater artist working part-time jobs to support myself, I couldn’t afford to buy health insurance. And that didn’t worry me – I’m 32 and never had any health problems. I’ve always taken good care of myself: I do yoga, I ride a bike, and I eat well. 
Honestly, I decided to sign up for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace because I support the goal of expanding health coverage in this country, not because I thought I’d need it. I also convinced my fiancé, Diego Báez, who is a writer and adjunct professor, to enroll. 
My insurance started on January 1, and it’s a good thing, too. Soon after, I started feeling ill but didn’t think too much of it. Then on January 29, I was admitted to the hospital with a ruptured appendix and ended up having to stay in the hospital for 12 days. 
Without my new Marketplace plan, I don’t know how I would have been able to pay the cost of my care... 
My ruptured appendix was a wakeup call – for me and Diego. 
We’re getting married in September. This experience for us puts a new light on the phrase “in sickness and in health.”
    Hecht was able to find an HMO plan for only $56/month.  She assures others that signing up is "really easy to do," and urges them not to delay since the deadline is coming on March 31.  Healthcare.gov has had difficultly attracting healthy young people to enroll in Obamacare to widen the risk pool and keep premiums down.
    Ironically, it may be enrollees like Hecht that may lead to vastly increased Obamacare premiums in 2015 and beyond since her $56/month premium will cover only a tiny fraction of her 12 day hospital stay.  If Obamacare is going to have any chance of living up to its promise, the government will need to sign up a lot more young people in Hecht's under-35 demographic who spend a lot more time in health than in sickness.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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