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My Health Care Gap

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyMarch 26, 2010 5:53 PM


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According to my understanding of the new reform, courtesy of CNN:

Citizens will be required to have acceptable coverage or pay a penalty of $95 in 2014, $325 in 2015, $695 (or up to 2.5 percent of income) in 2016. Families will pay half the amount for children, up to a cap of $2,250 per family. After 2016, penalties are indexed to Consumer Price Index.

Um, okay, so I will definitely have to buy health care by 2015 or so. That I get. After that, dodging it starts to hurt. Meanwhile, my current MIT health care ends in May with the end of the Knight Fellowship. At that point, it seems likely that I'll return to being a freelance writer, so for about 3.5 years, I'm not sure what I'll be doing for health care. My previous strategy was to buy something relatively cheap with a high deductible--catastrophic coverage, essentially. But I can't say the approach was particularly satisfying. I spent some $ 1300 per year (premiums increased each year) and barely went to the doctor, because I essentially had to pay 100 % for anything routine, like a check up or a bad cold that wouldn't go away. To obtain significantly better coverage, I would have had to pay considerably more, and never felt I needed it. And more than once, I was tempted to just eat small portions and go running a lot, and pass on the health care completely. So here's my question: Will the passage of the new law affect the price of real health plans significantly before 2014? Will they be getting more affordable over time, so that someone like me, a freelance journalist--or someone like my brother, a musician; or like my sister, an aspiring writer--can spend $ 1000-$ 1500 a year and get something significantly better than catastrophic coverage? Something that doesn't discourage doctor's visits? Or do we all just wait and hope we stay healthy til 2014, and only buy insurance to cover the worst case scenarios?

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