What happens if you build a web site and no one comes? That is a question that the health insurance marketplaces won’t have to answer. Deluge. Inundate. Overwhelm. Apt descriptions of what happened nationally and here in California as the health insurance marketplaces went live at the federal site Healthcare.gov and the California site, Covered California CoveredCA.com. The high volume of visitors was apparently unexpected because the deluge caused the online exchanges to slow to a crawl. The federal site had over 1 million visitors in the first hour while California reported over 1,000 hits a minute.
Five No-nonsense Reasons People Want Coverage
People understand just how crucial health insurance is, and are acting to protect themselves. Clearly, there is far more interest in the ability for individuals to purchase health insurance than anticipated. Who would have thought there would be any interest with the politicians shutting down the government to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) law.
1. Fear of Financial Disaster. In the U.S., the threat of injury or disease without health insurance is a serious concern. A three day hospital stay can cost $30,000. Not many families can afford to pay that out of pocket. So it is worrisome that an accident or illness could bankrupt a middle class working family.
2. Future Rejection. All of us know a family member, relative or friend who has had some sort of health issue. These can even be diagnoses that don’t affect your health. A woman told me that she had fibroids that were benign. The doctor said they would monitor them but they weren’t causing any problems so there was no need to remove them. When she changed jobs and had to purchase health insurance as an individual, she was denied insurance because of her pre-existing condition from the same insurance carrier! I know another person who suspects he has a sleeping disorder but won’t go to the doctor. He has insurance through his employer but is concerned that a diagnosis on his medical record could cause him to pay higher rates if he had to purchase his own insurance. For anyone who has ever been sick or diagnosed with anything more than a hangnail, there is always a fear in their subconscious of how could I pay for this on my own.
3. Free Preventive Care. This feature may be less well known of the ACA and subject to skepticism. All Marketplace plans and many other plans must cover a list of preventive services without charging you a copayment or coinsurance. This is true even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible and applies only when these services are delivered by a network provider. Families with young children will benefit with immunizations and screenings at no cost. The preventive care for adults is also substantial. See the list of preventive care services here.
4. Subsidy offsets cost. The exchanges determine how much of a government subsidy a family or individual is qualified for to reduce the monthly premium.
5. Core benefits. The ACA insurance exchanges must offer plans that provide essential benefits. That makes shopping for a plan much easier knowing there is a base level of coverage. Many people who wanted to buy insurance could not understand what they were getting because the insurance language and plans were complicated.
With all of the above, why would anyone not want to have health insurance? It’s a good thing for peace of mind. That’s why droves of people went to the health marketplace web sites on the first day they opened.
It’s way too early in the game to tell how the ACA will fare. But stay tuned. We’ll give you the play by play of how it affects you and your healthcare technology issues.
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