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Pros And Cons of Obamacare-Part II

ObamacareLast week I shared my thoughts on some of the cons of the Affordable Care Act know more commonly as Obamacare. Today I want to discuss some of the good points of Obamacare. As many of my commenters pointed out, any change in a major system is met with criticism in the beginning. I guess time will tell if Obamacare will become a major game changer like Social Security or Medicare.

 Pros of Obamacare


Improved Affordability for Many-If you read my post last week, you know I have a huge concern with the large Medicaid expansion for people who don’t work and have no desire to. That being said, for those who do work really hard but don’t make much money or don’t have an employer sponsored health plan, Obamacare rocks. If you make under the subsidy level (about $78,000 for a family of three) you get help paying your insurance premiums.

I know I have many readers, self included, who do not qualify for a subsidy. They are not happy about insurance premiums going up. However, after years of working in health care for a lower socioeconomic area, I have seen good people who are trying really hard that have not been able to afford insurance for their families. Maybe it’s because they have made bad financial choices in the past or maybe it’s because of things that are beyond their control. Regardless, it’s nice to see this demographic get a leg up.

Telling someone they need an operation or expensive diagnostic tests when they have no insurance ranks right up there with getting a root canal. As an eye doctor, I certainly don’t have to do that every day, but I have had my share of patients with weird eye problems that I know are probably from diabetes or multiple sclerosis or maybe even a brain tumor. It is surreal to tell someone they might have an awful disease, but all they ask about is how much it’s going to cost to go to the doctor.

One hospital stay or surgery could easily cost $50,000 without insurance. Even with the worst plan on the health care exchange, maximum out of pocket cost is $12,700 per year. Yes, this is a lot of money, but not a catastrophic expense. People pay more than that for cars. No one should have to be enslaved to medical bills for the rest of their lives.

No Pre-Existing Condition Exclusion– I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve talked with over the years who want to retire but aren’t to Medicare age yet. Most of them had some sort of pre-existing condition and could not have gotten a health care plan if they stopped working. God help you if you were diagnosed with type I diabetes as a child or if you had a minor skin cancer spot removed. You were uninsurable. Obamacare guarantees that insurances can’t exclude you based on past health history. They also can’t drop you because you get sick and have expensive medical bills.

 Better Medical Records– This one certainly needs some work, but eventually, all providers will be required to use electronic records and transmit information electronically. It is a huge pain and expense to implement an electronic health records system into a medical practice, but it is a much more thorough way to keep track of health information. Can you read a doctor’s handwriting? Also, eventually having all systems synched will cut down on patients who doctor hop and  over medicate, intentionally or not.

Affordable Health Care Premiums for Early Retirees– Perhaps this is my favorite part of Obamacare. If I retire at 50, as I plan to do, we should have monthly expenses of around $3000/ month, well below the subsidy level. If we have income from investments, rentals, and self employment, we can live one what we need and invest the rest. By doing this, we should have affordable health care until we hit Medicare age, currently 65. We will pay the price until then, but won’t be slaves to W2 income forever if we don’t want to be. No, this system does not encourage us to make lots of money as “retired” people. Hopefully by then, our money will be working for us, and we won’t have to.

Pros and cons aside, it doesn’t matter much if Obamacare gets revamped or thrown out completely, which could certainly happen.

Because I am healthy and make decent money, Obamacare is not doing anything for me right now. I am not super happy about probably paying more for health insurance premiums without better coverage. However, the Affordable Care Act does have the potential to aid in my early retirement plans and help me keep coverage if I ever do get sick.

Do you see any pros with Obamacare? Is it fair to raise prices for healthy people with a good income to help those who aren’t doing as well?



About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. Glad to hear that despite all the negatives this plan will make it easier for people like us who plan to retire way ahead of schedule. Let’s just hope that the next president doesn’t lock those opportunities back up for us 🙂

  2. I’m hoping that the early retirement benefit of Obamacare works in my favor, but I’m not very excited about the rest of it. I’m an IT Manager for an insurance firm and I’m hearing too many stories so far of unaffordable plans. We’ll see how it shakes out!

    • It seems like it depends on your state. It seems my plan may is good forever as far as ACA requirements unless the insurance company cancels it.

  3. I appreciate you covering both sides of this. I definitely agree that there are some very good things that come with Obamacare, most importantly coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Subsidies and guaranteed issue inevitably have made premiums increase, but I think everyone should have recognized that would happen long ago.

    • I’m sure that whenever it became a requirement to have homeowners or car insurance there was some outrage, but now it is just part of the plan of having a car or home. Maybe in 20 years, no on will thing twice about signing up for health insurance.

  4. The law certainly creates sets of winners and losers. The retire early angle is one I had not considered. The law creates an incentive for people to dial back income as they close in on Medicare age – at least on the surface. You may have to consider what type of deductible comes with an affordable plan at that age. If someone has ongoing medical issues (as many do as we age) the deliberate lowering of income may not work so well.

  5. Thanks for linking to my post….especially with the anchor text “not happy.” HA!

    This post is correct. There are certainly good things about the Affordable Care Act. As I said before, it seems to be working in some states better than others. Indiana seems to be having a lot of horror stories with plans, costs, etc. Some of the biggest hospitals in our state aren’t going to accept Obamacare or only certain plans.

    • I thought you’d appreciate that! That is a big fear when plans are really low in reimbursements to hospitals, like Medicaid rates. I am afraid providers will just drop all the plans, then we all have coverage but no one who accepts it. I guess the government could require doctors to accept so many plans or pay a fee. That might work for a while, but what you’ll see down the road is that nobody wants to be a doctor and any Joe Smo can get into medical school. Quality of care could go down for sure.

      • The town I live in now only has one hospital, for instance. This particular hospital is only taking the Anthem plans through the ACA. Of course, this is fine with me because I would probably choose an Anthem plan anyways. But, what about people who go to the other hospitals in Central Indiana for specialized treatment? IU Medical Center and St. Vincent Hospitals are refusing the Anthem plans and only taking plans through MD Healthwise (they’re more expensive). The whole thing is just leaving people with fewer options in my state and I’m reading about many cases where people won’t be covered by the hospital that is literally next door to them.

  6. Is it fair to raise prices for healthy people with a good income to help those who aren’t doing as well? – In my opinion, No, we are not a socialist country. Yet…

    Nice breakdown of a highly contentious topic Kim. The numbers coming out that bother me is that we are going to end up with less people insured with Obamacare. A healthy dude in his 20’s is just going to pay the fine instead of paying for an expensive policy with a bunch of add-on’s he doesn’t need.

  7. I think the hardest thing was seeing people who couldn’t get insurance because of pre-exisiting conditions. Or have to pay an outrageous premium. LIke I said before, I think there will probably be some growing pains, but I hope in the end it works out best for the people.

  8. Not allowing exclusions for pre-existing conditions is my favorite part of the Affordable Care Act. It’s scary to think that a surgery way back when, or 2 months without insurance, would mean that no one would insure me.

    • I know lots of people in that situation who were very limited in job options because they had to work somewhere with a health plan.

  9. I think that, as with most things, there are immediate gains for some and immediate losses for others. Whether it comes out to be a net benefit for our country as a whole remains to be seen. We simply cannot know the answer to that yet. My hope is that it helps the people who really need it now, and forces the marketplace to get creative in offering higher quality, lower cost services over time. We’ll see.

  10. My father is a cancer survivor and a contract employee currently near the end of his COBRA beneftis from his last job. At his age and in his career, he is unlikely ever to get a salaried w/ benefits job ever again. Because he has to take some $3,000/month anti-cancer medication for the forseeable future, the ACA is a god-send to him. We also live in a state with a health-care exchange so I don’t know if that makes our plans more affordable than states without one.

    • Glad to hear a positive experience. Colorado also has an exchange and I think it has been positive except that you have to get a Medicaid denial to get other subsidies, even if it is obvious you don’t qualify for Medicaid. I know some people who signed up Oct 1 but are still waiting for that denial letter.

  11. As you pointed out, Kim, there are definite pros and cons. Understandably for those experiencing premium increases, they are probably not thrilled at all. On the flip those who can now afford coverage or are can no longer be denied because of a existing condition, it is probably a godsend. I have no doubt it will continue to evolve and hope they can work out all the wrinkles and make it work.

    • I certainly hope so to. It would be a kick in the face to take it away after people who didn’t have insurance before have signed up.

  12. The one “pro” that I see is that people with pre-existing conditions have more access to healthcare at a reasonable rate. However, I don’t think that Obamacare as it currently stands is the longer term solution.

    • I think it’s a good start. Anything that produces change is not well received at first, especially with all the political undertones involved. You can say what you want about Obama, but he is the first to ever make any sort of try at fixing the health care mess. Clinton gave up, and Bush never tried at all.

  13. The pre-existing condition portion of the law is both awesome and also the reason people are seeing premiums rise. If insurance companies have to insure everyone, they’re going to raise rates to ensure profitability.

    • It only makes sense. In a way, it makes me not happy because I don’t have a pre-existing condition, but the way skin cancer goes in my family, I probably will at some point, so I won’t be so unhappy with it then.

  14. I’m not in the market to look for my own health insurance, as it is provided by my employer. That being said, our enrollment period is about to begin and I’m interested in finding out what our options are, and how much the prices are going to change due to the implementation of the ACA.

  15. Kim,
    In 20 years Obama Care will be immensely popular and untouchable. In Hawaii we have the highest rate of insurance coverage due to the fact that all employees who work more than 20 hours is entitled to employer sponsored health care.

  16. Thanks for listing the pros and cons. I haven’t really been reading up on Obama Care as I have generous health benefits from my employer and not much as changed. I’m lucky. I do think that it’s a good thing that more people will be covered and that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage, but they probably need to make some reforms to it. As for healthy/young people subsidizing the older/unhealthy population, I understand the need…especially for elderly/unhealthy people (due to pre-existing conditions), but I feel like there should be an incentive to leading a healthy lifestyle and a disincentive to lead an unhealthy one. For example…if you smoke: you should be paying a higher premium.

    • I agree 100% that you should get cheaper premiums if you are healthy, but that would wreck the whole system because it assumes that healthy people will subsidize the unhealthy. I don’t think you should be penalized for something you can’t help, like genetic illnesses, but if you smoke and weigh 500 pounds, yes, you should pay more.

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