Friday, December 6, 2013

Signing Up for Obamacare was Fast and Easy

Just completed my application for health insurance. It was fast and easy. Didn't run into any lag or other problems. I ran into two very small user interface problems. First, when I tried to copy and paste my previous employer's phone number into the employer phone number box it cut off a digit. Easily fixed by manual input. Second, at the end of the application it gives a message that I will need to pay the first month's premium for the policy to go into effect and that the insurer will contact me for this. Below this my information is summarized and below that is a big green button that says PAY FOR HEALTH PLAN. This button does nothing, probably because of the information given above it. Not a problem, but rather silly.

Not sure how the back end of the site is running, I'll update when I get information from Humana.*

One thing that did jump out at me, unrelated to the website itself, was how much I HATE means testing. It's bad enough when looking at retrospective income but the PPACA requires estimating prospective income. I left my previous job because it was demanding too many hours to do a full time course load, and since I hated the work and wanted to change fields anyway I wasn't willing to drop a class. Since I haven't yet found the part time or in field work I am looking for I have no idea what I am going to be making next year. For lack of a better estimate I went with a bit more than half of what I would have made this year if I had kept my last job. But this does mean that my subsidy amount is most definitely wrong.

In my case this matters little. Since I will be getting married in August I am will probably not qualify for any subsidy. Though even this issue is a bit unclear, while our joint incomes will definitely put me out of subsidy range on a yearly basis I still don't know if this will be prorated or not to take account of the fact that I will spend eight months of the year at my lower unmarried income. This is helping with cash flow since I will get eight months of subsidized premiums and only have to pay this back at my tax return in 2014.

Issues like this make means testing far too complicated and a huge waste of effort. Better to just drop this nonsense and have higher dollar amounts flow through the state with less friction. There is little concrete evidence of problems with the state as a pass through entity, and a lot of evidence of drag when larger bureaucracies are necessary to do things like verify income. Better to just subsidize bronze plans 100% and let people with more money buy more generous policies. But nooooo we need to do this crazy Rube Goldberg machine because means testing is desirable, for whatever paper thin reason based on questionable assumptions is being advanced today.

* I really wanted to go with Blue Cross since I really don't like Humana. But since I don't have any outstanding health problems and my current income is non-existent, with next year's income very uncertain, going with the cheaper option just plain made sense.

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