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Thursday, November 13, 2014

A first look at buying insurance with the Maryland Health Connection

      I am one of the fortunate ones that has great health insurance but I wondered what my situation would be if I didn't have any coverage.  I decided to check out the Maryland Health Connection website today and see what my choices would be.  Enrollment will begin November 19th.  The low cost plans all seem to have high yearly deductibles.  For someone my age (old!) and not eligible for subsidy the monthly cost for Blue Choice would be $388 with a $6,000 annual deductible.   For a $405 monthly cost the deductible drops to $4,000 and for $722 a month there is no deductible.  I would assume that the plan you choose would be based on your health condition.  In good health you would probably go with a higher deductible and if you have health problems you might choose one with a lower deductible.   I wanted to see where the income point was for subsidy and it seems for an individual to be around $25,000- $30,000 a year income.
     I looked at the coverage for someone younger and picked the age of 35 with a $25,000 income and receiving some federal subsidy.  For Blue Choice the monthly cost was $153 for a $1500 deductible, $177 for a $700 deductible and $294 for a no deductible plan. When the income was raised to $35,000 the subsidy disappeared and the cheapest plan was $158 with a $6,000 deductible, $233 for a $1,300 deductible and $294 a month for a no deductible plan.  The co-pays were in the $10-$20 range.  For someone age 35 a payment of under $300 a month for a no deductible plan seems like a good deal.
    Of course the Affordable Health Care plan continues to be under attack by elected leaders who seem to be less interested in providing affordable health care then attacking the President.  Some governors decided to not set up state run plans and declined to expand Medicaid in their states to win political points with conservative voters.  The reality is that once people get the benefits of the Plan it will be hard to eliminate or greatly reduce the benefit without paying a political cost.  The recent decision by the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of the the Federal subsidy is another possible attack on the viability of the Plan.  While the ruling would not eliminate the Federal subsidy for Maryland, because we have a state run plan, the viability of the the entire plan might be jeopardized by a ruling that the subsidy should not go to states with federally run programs. Chief Justice Roberts may once again have to be the swing vote that determines the final ruling.  Chief Justice Roberts, who saved the program with his earlier vote, might want to get back in the good graces of conservatives but ruling against the subsidies this time.

    With a Democrat controlled legislature the election of a Republican governor will probably mean that we won't see much effort to roll back the health care program in Maryland.  But what happens at the Federal level could have impacts for Marylanders down the road.  If the program gets undermined at the Federal level it will be interesting to see which states, like Maryland, develop their own program the way Massachusetts did years ago with a Republican governor named Mitt Romney.  Stay tuned the next few months may get interesting in addressing health care needs in Maryland.

     With the meeting of world leaders in China now I thought it might be interesting to see a map of the world based on energy consumption per capita.  You probably don't need to know what a color of maroon on the map means for us.

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