Real people Real Experiences

ACA…not so affordable

I had worked for a company from 2006 until June 2014 when I found I was being laid off.

The owner brought in a younger employee (I was 54 at the time), at a lower rate. It was time for a new Tesla and my salary was an impediment to his goal. As a result, I found myself unemployed.

At my age going without health insurance was foolish, stupid, and foolhardy. This was also the first year of so-called “Obama-Care.”

COBRA was prohibitively expensive however I was able to find a healthcare policy under Blue Cross\Blue Shield through the state-run marketplace. I had been paying roughly $28 per week pre-tax so $375 per month at a discount was a shock.

Fortunately being unemployed at the time qualified me for government assistance with the premiums. The first time in my life that I actually qualified for any sort of governmental concession! Little did I realize the coming ramifications of Uncle Sam’s “generosity”!

This being June, I was able to blissfully enjoy his “beneficence” for the remainder of the year.

Then in February the “1099” arrived. I sent it straight to my accountant along with the rest of my tax information.

A month later I discovered that I owed my generous “Uncle” $2840. Accustomed to a refund I was shocked. The IRS bill was painful. After grilling my suddenly incompetent accountant I came to understand that the government’s “generosity” was actually highway robbery.

The “subsidy” I had received became straight untaxed income for which I was now liable. Sort of like that cash “Christmas Bonus” that you should declare as untaxed income…Bonus becomes “Bone Us” and no longer so welcome.

Needless to say I immediately refused any further assistance as I was now liable for 4 months of the Taxable New Year much to the Marketplace representative’s consternation.

When I explained my reasons for refusing the subsidy he replied, “I didn’t know that.” Helpful. Sort of like “having to pass the bill to find out what’s in it”…Ala Nancy Pelosi. Based on that experience, my accountant suggested estimated payments for the next year to defray the tax bite for the subsidy I had received for the current year, (it now being April)

A few months later I was hospitalized for a week or so. The deductibles made me wonder if I really had insurance and if I did, then what was I really paying premiums for? It seemed that this and that were disallowed and I should have gotten “pre-approval” while I was in the hospital. In other words I should have questioned each pill and jab and gotten on the horn with the insurance company every time they drew a blood sample.

It took me a full year to pay off the $12,000 deductible.

Fortunately the next year I was able to itemize the disallowed expenses which helped defray my past out-of-pocket. But much needed money paid today in exchange for a refund next year hurt.

Thank God that it wasn’t anything really serious or I would still be hemorrhaging at the wallet.

In the end I learned my lesson: Should a stranger come knocking on the door bearing the message “I’m here to help, I’m from the Government”, don’t walk, run out the back door as fast as your feet can fly.
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