BANKRUPCY ATTORNEYS ARE LOVIN’ THE UNAFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE ACT

A JOURNEY INTO FINANCIAL RUIN

BACKGROUND

This is the first public discussion I have entered into concerning a very private matter, that of one’s own health and financial status.  The stigma remains: health issues are perceived as a weakness and dramatically limit life and employment choices.  

 Why am I sharing my experiences now?   Legislators and the Federal government are assuring Americans the new ACA will make healthcare-related bankruptcies a thing of the past.  Not so.  Bankruptcies will increase. 

 Bringing this discussion into a public forum might heighten awareness into a very timely issue.  My commitment is to make a difference in the lives of others includes sharing personal experiences. The take away is others might learn from my mistakes and legislators might re-think portions of the new ACA.

In 2009, I underwent surgery for an advanced cancer.  At the time of my surgery, I enjoyed a healthy  savings account, had an excellent credit rating, and had every expectation of returning to work.  As a California resident, I received temporary disability to help with the expenses of daily living.  My hospital and healthcare expenses were in the thousands after the deductibles and co-pays were applied.  Yet I paid the bills from my savings. My health prognosis was very optimistic and my future was bright.

Then came the chemotherapy which moved recovery into 2010.  Then came the complications prolonging unemployment into 2011.  Then the disability ran out; then the unemployment ran out.   Then came a failed work attempt in 2012 that precipitated a relapse and further complications.  This cancer survivor cannot work 12 hour days, 7 days per week, but who can?  With my savings depleted, my retirement dwindling by the day, then came bankruptcy in 2012. And employment prospects did not exist eliminating any chance of a financial recovery. Fortunately I have started my own business and now employ myself.  And I am alive which makes it all worthwhile.   

HOW THE ACA WILL INCREASE BANKRUPCIES

The ACA imposes an ‘excise tax’ on supposed ‘Cadillac’ plans. The concept behind this tax is that consumers will stop and think before utilizing healthcare services.   Yet these plans offer employers the ability to ensure a healthy workforce. 

 A ‘Cadillac’ plan is the great internal equalizer offering the same level of high quality care to all employees’ at all socio-economic levels: the CEO and hourly employees share in the same access to healthcare services.  Deductibles are low which makes healthcare more affordable to lower compensated employees. 

 A ‘Cadillac’ plan means when an employee has chest pain, he/she can go straight to a Cardiologist with an immediate intervention that will save thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to the employer in lost work time as well as the employee.

 A ‘Cadillac’ plan means an employee with a cancer diagnosis will have every opportunity to fight and win against his/her cancer and return to a normal life.

 With higher deductibles and higher co-pays, the employee will incur greater out-of-pocket expenses.  If an employee earns $40K, $50K, $60K or even $80K per year, has a family, rent or mortgage, student loans, food, where exactly will the money for $10K, $20K, $30K or more come from?  A ‘pound of flesh’ as Shakespeare suggested?

 The result of the excise tax on ‘Cadillac’ plans will be employers will no longer provide adequate healthcare coverage to employees and their families, our workforce will be less healthy, and for those who have an urgent need for traumatic healthcare services, bankruptcy will ensue.

 The loss of revenue to healthcare providers will be staggering.  How long can hospitals remain solvent if consumers are not able to pay the difference between the insurance coverage, the deductibles and co-pays? How will collection work if consumers follow the path to bankruptcy?

 Is your doctor retiring? One other result of the ACA is experienced physicians who have earned a retirement will do just that, retire, leaving younger, less experienced physicians as providers.

 The much-touted exchanges will also result in a higher bankruptcy rate. Low income Americans are being offered a ‘bronze’ plan with a 60/40 ratio of coverage to deductible. Americans in this exchange are offered a ‘tax subsidy’ to offset the 40% deductible and co-pays.  Yet in Washington and other states, enrollees are being disqualified from the tax subsidy.  Where exactly will a low income American come up with 40% of cancer treatments, heart surgery, auto accidents, strokes, or general trauma?  The bronze plan with a disqualification from the subsidies will result in a higher bankruptcy rate. 

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