Young and healthy needed to make Obamacare mandate work

Under Obamacare, companies can no longer deny people with pre-existing conditions

Jen Christensen | 10/2/2013, 11:11 a.m.
Lauren Zanardelli and Graham Foster are the kind of customers the government needs to make Obamacare work.
Healthy young people, such as the owners of the Neue Southern Food Truck, are being encouraged to get insurance. Neue Southern Food Truck

— While Obamacare is federal legislation, the Supreme Court ruled that states could decide how they would handle the implementation. Leaders in South Carolina have been downright antagonistic to the legislation.

"Just because the Supreme Court says something is constitutional doesn't make it constitutional," one South Carolina state senator, who introduced an anti-Obamacare bill this year, told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

The senator's bill failed, as did others -- one of which would actually have made it a crime for a state or federal official to implement any provision of Obamacare -- but the state did successfully refuse to expand Medicaid. It has not set up its own health care marketplace.

Fortunately for the more than 726,000 people in South Carolina without insurance there are parts of the federal legislation that will help them. Many will be able to buy policies through the federal health insurance marketplaces. And many, such as the chefs of Neue Southern, will be eligible for tax breaks and subsidies to help them pay for any policies bought through these marketplaces.

The policies themselves will also be much more comprehensive.

All health insurance plans will now have to cover preventative health care and at least nine other kinds of care, including hospitalization, outpatient care, emergency services, mental health and substance abuse care, maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, lab tests, rehab, and pediatric care. Premiums will vary depending on the depth of coverage. Out-of-pocket costs for an individual are capped at $6,350.

When Zanardelli and Foster do get a break from work they say they will shop around and figure out which policy best fits their needs.

Health care coverage could come in handy right now for Foster, who has a cold. He says he's been struggling with an ear infection for weeks, but it remains untreated since doctor visits aren't covered by his current policy. Unfortunately, even if he were to buy insurance through the exchanges, the policies won't actually kick in until January 1.

Not having insurance, they say, is not an option -- even if the fine that all people who do not have insurance will face next year would be a lot cheaper than the least expensive policy option.

"I think of this as an investment in our future health care," Zanardelli said. "Most of the younger people we hear object to Obamacare are looking at the present and how it affects them now. We are relatively healthy, but in a few decades we will likely need medical attention."

"We feel optimistic it will be something that can work better for us health wise and be affordable," she continued. "That would be a beautiful thing."


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