Last week, while listening to the doom and gloom about what would happen if the Affordable Care Act wasn’t stopped dead in its tracks, and the other gloom and doom about what would happen if Congress failed to pass a “Continuing Resolution” to keep the government open, I had a few minutes to spare and decided to see what ObamaCare might do for me. Spoiler alert, there’s neither gloom nor doom in what I discovered when I visited Covered California at coveredca.com

I spent some time looking at the small business pages, because Derrick Kikuchi and I are both married AND we own a small business. We’ve been covered by a small business plan through Kaiser and can continue that coverage if we’d like. If we hire one more person we can get that same coverage, with tax credits thrown in to help us pay for it, through Covered California. Despite rhetoric from those who oppose the Affordable Care Act, there’s actually an incentive for us to hire someone as a Pa and Pa business! But, for now, with just the two of us, I needed to look at the possibilities of individual/family coverage.

The web site has a handy and simple calculator you can use to plug your projected income into and determine what plans might work for you, how much you will pay and how much of a subsidy (tax credit) you can get. Here’s what I found out. If our income is around $50,000 we can get virtually the same coverage we have today, with our monthly premium REDUCED substantially. If we want better coverage than we have now (lower out of pocket costs), we can get that for about a quarter less than we are paying now. Wait, what? Our coverage could cost less?

There were a couple of things I was wondering about for which I didn’t find instant answers on the web site, so I decided to try the toll-free phone number they provided. Two rings and a real human being answered the phone. She asked for a little information so that if I ever called again they wouldn’t have to start the conversation from scratch (brilliant) and then she asked me to tell her my questions. Here were my questions:

1. What do they mean by “income?”

She told me that I should look at line 37 on my Federal Income Tax form. I could use last year’s number as a guide, and estimate what I thought this year would be. BUT, she said it was really important to keep track of income and if I signed up for the exchange to keep them in the loop if my income increased or decreased.

2. How does the tax credit work?

The credit is automatically applied to adjust the amount I would pay each month for coverage. So, if the plan I chose costs $900 and my income is such that I can get a $400 tax credit, I pay $500 a month.

3. By when do I have to sign up / decide on a plan?

I have until March to sign up.

A Simple Calculator, Lots of Information on the Web, And REAL People to Answer Questions??????

Yes. That’s what happened. I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but www.coveredca.com answered all of my questions about the Affordable Care Act and whether I should use it for our health care coverage. By around the middle of December I’ll have a good idea of what our income for 2013 will have been. Based on that, I will either sign us up through Covered California or stick with the business plan we already have. Hmmmm….. “If you’re happy with the coverage you have now, you can keep it. If you don’t have coverage you can get it through the exchanges and maybe save some money. No more worries about pre-existing conditions….” Where have I heard all of that?

Spoiler alert! For at least this Californian, it turns out to be true.

Congress: People ARE hurting because of the government shut down and ObamaCare looks DARNED good to this small business owner. How about passing the Continuing Resolution and moving on with the people’s business?


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