What happens if you can’t afford Obamacare?

We have all been inundated with the pros and cons of Obamacare. It has become so ubiquitous in our daily lives that most of us have simply tuned it out. We can’t afford to do that much longer.

As most readers know, Obamacare, formally named The Affordable Health Care Act, will become the law of the land on January 1, 2014. However, as early as October of this year, a new way of buying health insurance will be available to consumers through an online insurance marketplace. So decision time approaches.

But what about all those who have no health care and believe they can’t afford to buy it? What do they do? There have been times earlier in my life when I was unemployed.  I could barely afford to feed and house myself let alone worry about health insurance. Besides, I was young, healthy and felt I would live forever so what did I need to shell out a couple hundred dollars a month for unnecessary insurance?  Fortunately I had no family at the time. If I had, I would have been in a real bind.

So I can understand how many of us look at this national health care scheme with anger and even fear. After all, the law says that if we don’t join up and obtain healthcare we are going to be fined. What many lower and even middle income families fail to understand is that there is help out there. All we need do is ask.

At last count there are nearly 26 million Americans that could be eligible for a health insurance subsidy, but few know enough about the provisions of the health care act to apply. I’ll keep it simple. If you are a member of a working family with annual earnings between $47,100 and $94,200, you will most likely be able to apply for a subsidy. Over a third of those eligible to apply will be between ages 18 and 34 years old. Anyone who is not a member of a government health insurance program (Medicare or Medicaid) and does not have access to an affordable plan at their workplace can apply to the government to help pay their premiums. These subsidies will be paid directly to the insurance companies, so there are no out-of-pocket expense requirements.

Starting in October, we will all be able to buy insurance through one of the state-run online health coverage exchanges with health coverage beginning in January. You will be able to choose between four levels of coverage: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Each of the four plans will offer different premiums and out of pocket expense charges.

So let’s say you are a family of four earning $94,200/year and buy a silver premium plan. Preliminary estimates project that such a plan would cost $12,500, but that number could be higher or lower depending upon where you live. The government would pick up $3,550 of that. The exact amount depends on your actual earned income. The idea is to make sure that all individuals pay about the same percentage of their income for health insurance.

For those of us who already have insurance, you will have to decide whether to keep your existing plans or buy insurance on the online exchange. Naturally, you will be able to choose the provider you want based on who offers the most attractive package in terms of affordability and coverage. For all of us, be prepared for mistakes, misunderstandings and some confusion but that is no reason to stick your head in the sand. We are only three months away from making some important decisions so start paying attention.



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  1. Having a subsidy cover some of the cost is fine, but in the real world people can’t cover the unsubsidized portion of the premium or the high deductible that will likely be required of the lowest plan. Middle income families live check to check. The working poor (middle class) will start 2014 with a “cut in pay.” In our area, medical providers are telling patients to bring 1/2 of the deductible with them before treatment will be provided. Who’s going to have 5k of a 10k deductible laying around to do this?

    • This is precisely my point. It doesn’t matter if you subsidize $10000 a year and want me to pay $200 a month, we still can’t afford that. I never know from week to week if I have even money for food.

  2. What happens to someone that is self-employed, not married, paying child support, and earning less than $24,000 per year? If that person can’t afford any insurance now (I don’t believe the state offers any), how can they be expected to pay anything when it’s mandatory? I’m ok with coverage, but I’m worried about my brother.

  3. 1: You failed to mention that several million folks will not be able to get the “subsidy” if their job offers health insurance ( regardless if it’s affordable or not ) .
    2: You failed to mention the deductibles. The bronze plan is a 40%, the silver 30%. If you get a hospital bill for $30,000 ( very easy to do ), YOU have to pay $9,000 – $12,000 of that

  4. I make $24000/year, full time. I can’t afford this. That’s the reason why I don’t have insurance through my employer. Also, I’m in my mid-twenties and healthy. I live check-to-check. Even if I have to pay $1500/year, that’s over $100/month which I do not have to give. I am going to school to try to make a better life for myself, but even having a degree these days guarantees nothing.

  5. I don’t want to ramp up with a other “What If”, but as our family has dealt with unemployment, “what if” you have employer coverage, but become unemployed, are you required to purchase hyper-expensive COBRA or do you qualify (quickly) for Obamacare.
    Also, since we have 2 young adults living at home, working FT to pay college, do their incomes count in the total income? Only 1 of us can choose employer-coberage, but its too expensive (12k deductible).
    I don’t see how all of this is reducing the Cost of doctor visits–they’re more expensive than ever–and I can’t find a doctor who will tell me ahead of time what my bill will be.

  6. I am worried also, I can barely make ends meet as it is, I only make about $15,000 a year and thats just barely over minimum wage at 40hrs a week. My employer dont offer insurance. I am scared and outraged! How many more “rights” and “free”doms does Obama plan on taking from us? Just because he has his insurance and life and vacaions paid by “our” tax money doesnt mean he should make life harder on us who are barely surviving! Guess my family can sue Obama when I die cause I cant afford the outrageous deductibles these plans have that he is making me get. Alot of us cant afford to pay something that extreme so I guess this is his way of controlling “evolution”. Kill off all the poor hard working people by making them pay for something else they cant afford. Pretty bad when i work for a living and i will die due to lack of money for a deductable i cant afford cause i have to pay bills with what little i make and I can not qualify for medicaid cause i dont have a child 18 and under, before all these people who dont work and are on welfare will. Where is the justice in this? Please tell me, because at this point I would rather die then be forced into something I cant afford.
    America the Free? Not anymore we are just Obamas sheep! I bet there are alot more deaths after January due to his plan cause we cant afford it, and suicides and people breaking the law and stealing to pay for stuff cause of his Obamacare Plan. “Obamacare” may as well be called “Obamakill plan” cause he is going to basically be responsible for a lot of deaths now! But he is the President so who will charge him with all the deaths or should we say murders?

    • wow you said what i hope millions in the usa would say as well as myself im very worried

    • Wow you hit the nail on the head. I applaud you

  7. I have a question. I have cirrohosis, hep C, brittle diabetes along with hand that was injured at my last job and only have 60% useage I am in the process of trying to get my disability, but that can take 2 years or longer. I have tried to find some sort of insurance. I live in TN and am not eligible for medicaid. I am vertually uninsurable through the insurance companies I have checked with, which is a bunch. I have no income, I was layed off when I was injured at work, and my unemployment has ran out. I am very ill and my doctors say that I really need to be seeing my specialist and having regular test and scopes done. I will be going to the health dept. for basic medecal check-ups but they can’t give me the tests and meds that I need to keep my health from getting even worse. What will this Obamacare be able to help me with? I have nothing, lost my home and everything in the past 3 months. My husband passed away in 2003 my son just left for college this month. I am 49 years old and staying with my mother. I really never expected my life would turn out like this. I have worked sooo hard all my life, untill I was no longer able to. I can’t afford a pot to pee in, as they say, I can’t afford insurance and I can’t afford a fine. What will this do for me?

    • Dear Tammy,
      I find it hard to believe that you do not qualify for Medicaid. It appears your problem is not Obamacare but Medicaid.

  8. For the life of me I cannot understand how on earth this thing called Obamacare is suppose to be good for our country. The insurence industry was a major ripoff before Obamacare and now health care will be even more unreachable for a large number of people in the so called land of the free. We as citizens of the United States of America are being taken for a ride in an out of control political vehicle. It will be years before this mess will ever be turned around. I will more than likely be dead. I am 65.

  9. I am 100% disabled but only have Medicare Part A (in-hospital coverage only). I cannot afford Part B nor the supplement required for Part B. My husband has been unemployed on/off for 3 years; working as temp with agencies when work is available. How the hell can we afford even $10 a week for health care? We can’t! Most weeks we run out of food before weeks’ end and as he never knows when he’ll be working, do not know when our next check is coming anyway! Then having to read that if we can’t afford the “best” Obummercare we’ll have HUGE deductibles on top of it? This is beyond ridiculous and the fines instead of paying health insurance – just as ridiculous. If we could afford to pay fines, we could afford the health insurance. This plan is just NOT the answer for this country. Worried? Yes, we’re very worried.

  10. I’ve told this to everyone who was just so happy they were “at least doing something” about it. Saying “affordable” is totally subjective. What is affordable to rich politicians isn’t so great is it?

  11. I am very worried. I brought home less than 800 dollars a month at times this year.. finally my hours increased and I am getting between 32 and 40 hours a week on just over mimimum wage. I am SO confused as to what I am supposed to do regarding all this Obamacare stuff. My employer DOES offer health care, but it is about 100 dollas a month, and even with my increase in hours I can’t afford it because I had a student loan come out of deferment at the same time. If I don’t pay, they will garnish my wages. The only luxery I have is the internet I use with this computer I got as a gift.. I feel I work SO hard and it my one luxery for myself, I don’t think it’s fair if I have to give it up. Is Obama going to take my tax return..? I depend on that as a cussion for emergencies. Is he just going to take money from my paycheck..?? How much..?? I am SOOOO cofused!!!!!!


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