Saturday, July 7, 2012

Retirement Health Care — Insurance Screening Guide

The Supreme Court decision that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional has folks scrambling to figure out what that means for them. The concern for many is: Do I have to get coverage now if I want to avoid being penalized? Relax. I’ve put together a simple questionnaire that will help you know what you need to do.

Health Care Insurance Screening Guide

1.     Are you age 65 or over?
If YES, no problem! Medicare is for you, now and forever. Well, maybe not forever, if the Republicans get control of Congress.
If NO, keep going.
2.     Did you have four or more ailments that required medical attention in the past three years? (Do not include ingrown toenails, wicked bad breath or chronic post nasal drip in your count.)
If YES, good luck finding coverage before the 2014 changes take effect. But if you’re still alive then, your medical life will get a lot easier. (Unless the Republicans repeal Obamacare.)
If NO, keep going.
3.     Are you a devoted adherent of a religion that doesn’t allow you to have medical insurance? (This is the “religious conscience” exemption.)
If YES, go to question 4.
If NO, go to question 5.
4.     Have you ever taken an aspirin or used peroxide (on a cut—not to bleach your mustache)? OR: did you join this religious group the week after the Supreme Court decision?
If YES to any of these: Liar, Liar, pants on fire! You’re not so devoted and you probably have no conscience. Go to question 5.
If NO, you’re exempt from getting health care insurance on religious grounds.
5.     Are you a member of an Indian tribe? (Note to my in-laws: that’s Native American, not South Asian. You’re in the same boat I am.)
If YES, you’re exempt from getting health insurance. But you’d better plan to get your medical care at your local casino. Be sure to call ahead to see if the shaman is in. Also, at some point in the future, you may be required to live on the reservation to claim this exemption. You might want to put a deposit on a nice teepee while the real estate market is still soft.
If NO, keep going.
6.     Do you spend more money on vet bills and pet medications than you spend on your own health care?
If YES, I feel your pain. You’re exempt from getting your own health insurance on humanitarian grounds. But I strongly recommend that you get health care insurance for your pets, instead.
If NO, keep going.
7.     Do you have such puny annual income that you’re exempt from filing tax returns? OR: Would your coverage cost more than 8% of your household income? (The Department of HHS defines certain other hardships; contact them for details. I’m not that anal retentive to look into this.)
If YES to either of these, you can take small comfort in the fact that you’re exempt from getting health care insurance. I’d feel sorry for you, but I may be joining you, if the real estate and stock markets don’t recover soon.
If NO, keep going.
8.     Are you in jail?
If YES, our benevolent government is already providing your health care. Surprisingly, you're exempt from having to buy duplicate coverage.
If NO, keep going.
9.     Would you rather go to jail than buy your own health care insurance?
If YES, contact a Conservative talk show host or your local Republican lawmaker. Many of them share your opinion and can probably provide suggestions on ways to make this happen.
If NO, keep going.
10. Are you an undocumented alien?
If YES, go to question 11.
If NO, go to question 12.
11. Are you foolish enough to admit to this rather than biting the bullet and paying for health care insurance?
If YES, you're exempt from buying insurance. Have a nice trip back to your homeland.
If NO, keep going.
12. CONGRATULATIONS! You have completed this health care insurance screening guide.
The bad news is: you’ll have to get insurance coverage or be subject to the Individual Mandate Penalty. For most folks, that will be $95 in 2014.
The sort of good news: there are supposed to be State health care Exchanges to control insurance costs.
Even better news: In all likelihood, by the time all of this is sorted out, you’ll be eligible for Medicare. Fingers crossed that it still exists then.

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