First, I want to be very clear where I stand on the issue of The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). It has done more for local seniors than most other laws. My clients are middle class and upper middle class. Just plugging the donut-hole in Medicare has saved every one of my clients in nearby neighborhoods thousands of dollars.
My wife, a gerontological nurse practitioner, has a part-time job performing the annual health assessments on behalf of a well known local Medicare insurance company. She visits our neighbors to give physical exams. “Who would have thought,” she jokingly says, “a free physical exam today would save the insurance company $5,000 later by curtailing senior’s visit to the emergency room and hospital.”
Before the Affordable Care Act, most seniors had to pay about $300 for an annual physical exam–it was not covered by insurance. Now, an annual wellness visit is free. Some insurance companies have gone further and provide a free physical exam by a nurse practitioner.
Although I have no idea who my wife visits, and she has no idea who my clients are, we trade stories at the dinner table. Not a week goes by that her wellness exam did not uncover a condition for a local senior which could be treated easily and inexpensively now, and avoid a trip to the hospital a few years later.
A key component of the Affordable Care Act was the establishment of Insurance Exchanges, to make it easier to purchase medical insurance. It will be a market where Americans can one-stop shop for a healthcare plan, compare benefits and prices, and choose the plan that's best for them. Do people need this? Of course not.
Our office (using the services of my wife the N.P. and me as an accountant) performs this service for clients at a cost between $300 and $600, and we’ve been doing it for years. Is the Health Insurance Exchange the right thing to do? Yes, it is. We would much rather earn money doing other helpful things for seniors.
Although Gov. Corbett has opted out of Pennsylvania setting up an exchange, the federal government will do so. The only problem is that local insurance agents and companies will not have as much influence over the plans offered. We will also lose the opportunity to try innovative ways of saving costs, and you can be sure Obama and the current administration will take credit for setting up the exchange that is required by the new law.
Am I surprised that the acceptance or rejection of the plan falls on party lines? Of course not. Are you?
Bob Gasparro, Esq. is an Elder Law Practitioner (Accountant and Lawyer). He can be reached at email@example.com or 484-451-6612 with ideas about future posts.