I’m self-employed and I’ve always had health insurance. I’m one of the lucky ones — I never get sick. I haven’t been to the hospital in 25 years, back in the days when the hospitals were keeping costs low by whisking newly delivered mothers out the door, baby in hand, within 36 hours of their arrival. A second night in the hospital? Nope, it wasn’t covered back then.
In any case, buying insurance on the individual market is easy enough if you never actually ask the insurance company to spend any money on you. I had a policy, I was happy. Just to make sure, I gave them a call in July to verify that my policy was ‘grandfathered’ and would would be there for me after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in January. No problem – I was assured that I would be able to keep my policy.
Not so. Contrary to the confident but deeply mistaken assertion of the insurance company’s telephone support agent, my policy expires as of December 31, 2013. Come January, my insurance company will either automatically roll me into a new policy of its choosing, or else I will buy my own. The insurance company sent me a letter explaining all this on September 30. Fortunately, the exchanges were set to open the following day.
Well, of course it hasn’t been all that easy. I live in California so my state’s exchange – CoveredCa.com was up and running. Except the part where you actually sign up for insurance was, er, having a little bit of difficulty when it came to actually functioning.
In the past week I’ve steeped myself in learning just about everything I can about the actual process of signing up for insurance, figuring out eligibility for subsidies, and making sense of various options in my state. And the first thing I’ve learned is this:
Nobody knows very much about anything.
A good deal of the information out there is wrong. (“Out there” means what is on other web sites and blogs, what my friends say, what my enemies say, what the common man on the street things — and most important, what the agents who work for the insurance companies say.)
So I decided to set up this blog to help guide others through this maze.
Please don’t take anything you find on this blog as gospel. I’m pretty good at figuring things out and explaining them to others, but I can make mistakes just as others can. The reason that there is so much misinformation out there is the details are still very fuzzy and much of the information is late developing. Many of the details will be ironed out in the weeks and months to come, but in the meantime you and I are likely to get contradictory information and advice. I just help that this guide helps some people make sense of their options.