by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 


Articles tagged with: Obamacare

04 February 2014

Obamacare VS Undocumented Immigrants

Posted in Latest News

Obamacare VS Undocumented Immigrants

    It's tax season and 1 in 10 residents of Los Angeles are undocumented immigrants envied by their neighbors who have to visit H&R Block. A reminder US citizens will hear from their tax guy: get health insurance or get fined on 2014's tax return.

    The Affordable Care Act clearly states undocumented immigrants do not have access to Obamacare benefits or taxpayer-funded subsidies (tax credits) so they won’t be fined for noncompliance. Right?

    There's confusion about who's eligible for insurance under the new law, especially after the Senate refused to ban undocumented immigrants from receiving Obamacare and Medicaid benefits when they become naturalized citizens.

    In other words: the Affordable Care Act does not give undocumented immigrants Obamacare benefits...until they become naturalized.

   Opponents of immigration reform and/or healthcare reform believe Obamacare doesn't do enough to deter undocumented immigrants from seeking free emergency room access (the bills for which are paid by taxpayers).

    Undocumented immigrants have been granted emergency room access since the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986. While undocumented immigrants cannot apply for Medicaid, they are protected by the 1986 law, which entitles them to Emergency Medicaid benefits: child birth, renal disease, cardiovascular disease, etc, paid for by the government, i.e. taxpayers. 

     A 2007 report by the Journal of American Medical Association showed that 99 percent of Emergency Medicaid beneficiaries are illegal immigrants. This is especially alarming for California, which spends $6 billion annually to cover medical costs for undocumented immigrants, including $1.2 billion in child birth.

    The obvious outcome of these expenditures is more babies born from undocumented immigrants and granted automatic citizenship under the 14th Amendment. The trend has grown so popular that 7% of California is undocumented immigrants as of 2013.

    But there's a lot to appreciate when it comes to Obamacare's role in healthcare reform, even if the law doesn't immediately curb costs for illegal immigrants. Since its enactment in 2010, the law has allowed young Americans to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26, prevented insurance providers from dropping coverage to those who get sick, offered more rebates on drugs for seniors, and approved more generic drugs to increase competition and lower costs.

    By 2014, Americans (both naturalized and naturally-born) can buy health insurance offered by state-run Exchanges, like Covered California. To help low-income consumers, the government will offer tax credits to help cover the costs to buy health insurance.

    Everyone should have a fair shot to low-cost, high quality health care in this country. This may just mean getting your green card first. If you have questions about health insurance or want to see if you qualify for health insurance subsidies, call us at (818) 251-5000.

02 October 2013

10 Obamacare Tips for all Ages and Incomes

Posted in Covered California

10 Obamacare Tips for all Ages and Incomes

   Breaking Bad started with a man diagnosed with cancer whose health insurance was too expensive. Isn't it serendipitous how the series finale ended the same week Obamacare began*? You've waited long enough: let's get to the Top 10 Obamacare Tips!

   1) Obamacare is also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

    This is sometimes shorted to PPACA or Affordable Care Act or just ACA.

   2) *Obamacare has been the law since 2010.

    Some benefits (ex: kids staying on their parents' plan up to age 26) started sooner than others.

Other benefits start later: like on January 1st, 2014, all preexisting conditions must be covered by all insurance carriers at no added cost.

Most people say Obamacare began October 1st, but they really mean the biggest changes started.

   3) When someone mentions "Obamacare insurance" they probably mean new insurance plans in the exchange*

    Truthfully, Obamacare affects all insurance plans.

  4) *An exchange offers new health insurance plans, varied by state.

    Imagine an exchange like a call center for the DMV. The exchange will ask questions over the phone, enroll you in any insurance plan they offer, and mail you an insurance card.

Each state has its own exchange with its own name. For example, the exchange in California is called Covered California.

   5) Exchanges sell new plans. But they aren't the only place to buy them.

    Not everyone buys Coke from a vending machine. Likewise, not everyone will go to the exchange to buy insurance.

Insurance brokers and agents are more experienced than newly-hired Exchange workers, so most people will likely call an agent for faster, more convenient service.

    6) You may recognize new plans in the exchange.

    Major carriers: like Anthem, Kaiser, and HealthNet, competed to showcase their plans in the exchange. To be in the exchange, plans must have 10 Essential Benefits and premium assistance if you're low to middle income.

  7) Premium assistance lowers the cost for insurance and acts like a voucher.

    This is sometimes called subsidized insurance, a tax credit, or a subsidy. If you're under 65, don't qualify for Medicaid, and don't get insurance an employer, you may qualify for assistance if you buy an exchange plan.

Ask an insurance agent to help you enroll in an exchange plan. If you qualify for assistance, your premium will drop the day you enroll. Click here to calculate how much your premium assistance amount may be.

 8) Obamacare makes you buy insurance or pay a fine.

    The fine is $95 the first year, then sharply increases each year you're not covered.

  9) Not interested in exchange plans? There are still private plans.

    Insurance brokers and agents still offer private insurance plans. Likewise, plans in the exchange are also available as private plans (which means they don't come with premium assistance). Call an insurance agent for more details.

  10) You may keep your old plan. Your plan may also change.

    The only changes some plans will see are more benefits. As the healthcare system gets an overdue makeover, some plans will be reviewed to become more efficient and affordable. Ask an agent to review your plan for more details.

13 September 2013

13 Worst Mistakes To Make On Friday the 13th (And How To Avoid Them)

Posted in Latest News

13 Worst Mistakes To Make On Friday the 13th (And How To Avoid Them)

    After popping a few Flintstones Chewable Postulateamins and cutting myself on the calendar, I compiled the 13 Worst Mistakes To Make On Friday 13th. And How To Avoid Them.

#1: Leave bed

    To avoid this, cover your room with legos or pointy pencil sculptures by Jennifer Maestre.

#2: Take Flight 666 to HEL(sinki)

    Instead, buy traveler's insurance first. Study Finnish customs second. They spell their airport like they play their ice sports: with no double hockey sticks.

#3: Vote to defund Obamacare.

    To avoid this, marathon the X-Files mythology episodes and discuss how alien abduction-related cancers are covered by the Affordable Care Act. And that's a good thing.

#4: Watch Miley Cyrus on Youtube.

    Instead of wasting valuable views on her, click here.

#5: Miss the sunset.

 Most people believe midnight tonight concludes the 13th, but if you're an ancient Egyptian traveling abroad, the sunset means Friday is through and the goddess, Nut will digest the sun-god, Osiris for his rebirth at sunrise. Instead, watch the sunset at 7 pm. Unless you have Time Warner.

#6: Reenact Pixar movies alone. And without insurance.

     Instead, stay grounded. Direct a boyscout to the recycling plant where he can find his own grape soda bottle cap and get off my yard!

#7: Start a successful marketing campaign.

     Instead, ease yourself into PR by engaging the public halfheartedly and save your good ideas for Monday. Again, click on this link.

#8: Give birth.

     These celebrities who were all born today cast the shadows your child will live in forever: Steve Buscemi, Summer Sanders, the voice of Spongebob Squarepants. And if you have twins: have mercy on their souls because their competition is: The Olsen Twins. Instead: fake it till you make it (tomorrow).

#9: Develop Triskaidekaphobia.

   This fear of Friday the 13th is covered by Obamacare, but most benefits to the Affordable Care Act don't kick in until January 1st, 2014. That's after another Friday the 13th in December (Can you handle it?). Instead, go on a blind date and if the night goes well, develop Stockholm Syndrome.

#10: Count your chickens before they hatch.

     Just wait until the egg timer goes DING!

#11: Drink less water.

    The First Lady is watching. And water is good for you but not everyone. Instead, drink more water when she's looking and fill your maw with Crystal Light when she's not.

#12: Rent Friday the 13th from the Los Angeles Public Library.

     I looked: they're all checked out. Instead, rent Rent on VHS. It's equally horrific.

#13: Do everything on this list just to spite me.

Instead, can't someone else do it?

05 September 2013

Loophole in Obamacare of Godly Proportions

Posted in Latest News

Loophole in Obamacare of Godly Proportions

    In 3rd grade my best friend spent a week listening to the radio for our favorite songs. When they played, he recorded each on a blank cassette tape until our “Summer Mix” played awesome track after track back to back. It was a grueling experience, I’m sure, but it beat the alternative: buying music. In the digital era, my friend who I lost touch with most likely became a digital pirate. Who can blame him? As Americans, it’s in our nature to rebel against costs for something we can find for free.  So when the president orders us to pay for health insurance or tax us for disobeying, how do we react? We picket outside! No, that was our parent’s generation. Nowadays, we search online for loopholes.

    Big corporations usually benefit most from loopholes, which explains why they’re the first to discover them. Last year, Darden Restaurants, operator of casual dining restaurants such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster, slashed employee hours to avoid offering them healthcare. In 2014, the ACA (Affordable Care Act, “Obamacare”) requires all businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to provide government-approved health coverage for their workers or pay a $2,000 penalty for each employee after the first 30 workers.

    More recently, companies have allegedly found another solution to avoid imposing healthcare costs: go protean. This business strategy is named after Proteus, the son of Poseidon, who shape-shifted into anything from a lion or serpent to a tree or water itself to avoid gods who bothered him. To weather economic challenges, like Obamacare, a “protean corporation” shape shifts. It preserves core employees to manage the big-picture duties: business model, vision, and strategy, then outsources the business tasks to other employees, but labels them “corporations”. In other words, this is mutually beneficial as the company keeps its A-Team to itself, and names its B-Team owners of their own corporations. This shape shift is all perfectly legal, as long as the “corporations” don’t breach contract or commit fraud.

    If this strategy becomes popular, which it has not since the Wall Street Journal's original publication of the strategy, companies won’t have to worry about employing less than 50 to avoid paying for healthcare when the alternative is to “promote” the employee to a single “corporate entity”.  The only paperwork difference is substituting W-2 employees with 1099 contract relationships. Obamacare doesn’t stand a chance in Hades against the business model of a Greek god.

Update: Mandate for businesses with over 50 employees to provide coverage has been delayed until 2015.

27 August 2013

Covered California Takes Over Reddit, the Site Obama Crashed

Posted in Latest News

Covered California Takes Over Reddit, the Site Obama Crashed

    I was in a bar once when a guy approached me cautiously. He seemed to recognize me but wanted to make sure who I was. He asked if I was a Redditor. My friend beside me looked flabbergasted and asked, "A predator?" I hoped he meant the alien bounty hunter.

    Apparently the stranger was asking if I was a moderator on the site Reddit: combined the title is known as "Redditor". He was meeting one at the bar and apparently I looked the part. After a lot of laughs and drinks, the stranger-turned-acquaintance explained Reddit is becoming so popular (despite my unfamiliarity), the President hosted his own Q&A on its forum last election. And crashed the site.

    Today Covered California, the state marketplace offering new health insurance plans starting October 1st, hosted its own Q&A on Reddit. The forum of choice was "AMA" or "Ask Me Anything" which is a popular platform for professionals to introduce themselves and ask the world for questions in their specific field.

    The star on AMA today was Chris Patton, representing Covered California's small business health options program aka "SHOP" for small business owners looking to insure their employees. He hoped to clear the air regarding healthcare reform in California and raise awareness of the coming changes. At least he met one of his goals.

   Over 200 comments later, which is awfully short for a Reddit thread (a Breaking Bad episode discussion ranked up over 5000 comments), the session ended and Patton apologized to newcomers who couldn't figure out the website. At least it was a step up from when the Executive Director of Covered California, Peter Lee presented himself on AMA and gathered only 72 comments.

    Despite the small audience, there were interesting questions raised regarding tax credits aka subsidies and details of new SHOP insurance plans most business owners should know for their employees' sake: especially business owners still deciding whether to get a small group plan in 2014, when most healthcare reform changes kick in. Here are some of the highlights from this afternoon's discussion: