November 27, 2013 - BY ANDREA M. BEAUDOIN
Clarkston News Staff Writer
When the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, hit Independence Township, residents shared in nationwide confusion and outrage over cancelled policies.
"We had group insurance and we were sent a letter saying we would have to pay a penalty if we did not visit the ACA website," said one Clarkston resident, who wanted to remain anonymous.
She said her family was recently notified their insurance plan was cancelled. Although the plan was not the best insurance, the family who enrolled in the policy because of being self-employed, discovered their policy price doubled in premiums and deductibles costs.
"It is neither affordable nor fair," she said.
Clarkston resident Tandem Graves said she also carries a family plan due to being self-employed, and estimates she has paid $75,000 in deductibles since enrolling.
Graves said her insurance plan was pricey and didn't cover some costs, like office visits, but it worked for her family's needs.
Like many others, Graves said she is confused about her new options, but one thing she knows for sure is her already pricey deductible will rise in price.
"I am thinking about dropping the insurance and just paying the penalty," she said.
Graves said she would rather put the cash that would be paid in premiums into a health care savings account and have that money available to cover any medical emergencies.
Across the country millions of Americans, like Graves, received a notice that their insurance has been cancelled because it does not meet minimum requirements of the ACA and getting the same plan they had before ACA went into effect would could cost double the price in deductibles and premiums.
"What it will take people to wake up is when the money starts coming out of their pocketbooks," said Annamaria Evans.
"Eventually everyone is going to be hit by healthcare costs," said Joanne Sellers.
Both ladies agree a national healthcare system sets the United States on the road to socialism, a type of government in which major industries, such as health care, are controlled by the government and not the people.
Both Sellers and Evans have worked to fight the ACA by protesting and attending an event in Rochester Hills presented by the 8th Congressional District with other members of the Independence Township Conservative Club.
"Goodbye freedom," said the Clarkston resident.
"This is leading up to socialized medicine," added Evans.
All the ladies agree that the ACA is just another move by the federal government to take more control of the American people.
The Clarkston resident said she visited the website to explore healthcare options and found that the website will not provide any information until you enter all of your personal information.
"I'm just one in millions that was cancelled," she said. "We were willing and happy to pay what we were paying under their previous plan. This is America and freedom is supposed to be freedom," she said. "We should be able to make our own choices."
Americans insured through their employer were told they had to take no action under the ACA, but self-employed families with policies were the first to be canceled and forced to explore new health plans.
About 14 percent of Michigan residents are uninsured of which 476,244 are ages 19-34 years old, a population that is often health and sometimes decide they don't need insurance.
The group of ladies said a health savings plan is the way to go. Dr. James O'Neil agrees.
O'Neil expressed his opinion over the ACA in a letter to The Clarkston News.
"As the battle rages on about healthcare let us not lose sight of the fact that we have the greatest healthcare system in the world. So, let's not destroy it over funding," he said.
O'Neil said he believes ACA is riddled with bureaucrats and start-up costs into the billions coupled with continued costs.
"One of the great barriers to affordable insurance is per-existing conditions and catastrophic illness due to waiting too long to be seen for fear of huge hospital bills," he said.
O'Neil said the answer to solve the healthcare dilemma is really pretty simple.
O'Neil's solution, he said, is to give mothers access to a $1,500 health savings plan to manage health care.
O'Neil suggested the savings plan be age weighted per year per family member and they will pick the best physicians, the best hospitals and will authorize essential procedures, labs, imaging and hospitals as needed.
Like O'Neil, Evans and the anonymous resident said a health care savings plan would be a better solution.
O'Neil added that any funds left over in each family members health savings account should be rolled over into a special account with a bottom interest bearing tax free to fund senior care partially or completely as patients get older.
"Transfer the power of medicine from the government, doctor and hospital to the patients. Power to the people," said O'Neil.
O'Neil said private health care insurance companies as well as state and federal governments need to tow the line with costs.
"We also need to collect from private health insurance companies, state or federal governments $5 to $6 per month, per citizen, and put it in a box with a bottom interest bearing account and pay all bills over $30,000.00 per year per person for everyone annually," said O'Neil.
By collecting the fee from those entities, O'Neil said it will help stave off bankruptcies for low income hospitals and individuals.
O'Neil said 20 to 30 percent of health care costs are related to medical malpractice.
The ACA marketplace and website www.healthcare.gov website officially opened to consumers on Oct. 1.
Part 2 on the ACA in next weeks Clarkston News
Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.