The woes of the healthcare.gov website pale when compared to the healthcare turmoil facing the 2013 Georgia Bulldogs. 



With a half dozen skill position players sidelined along with our best defensive player, The Bulldog Nation can relate to the Old Testament’s Job. On the other hand it is sweet watching a third string tailback knock a Florida defender on his reptilian tail. The last time the injury bug bit the Bulldogs so severely was 1977 when Davy Sawyer quarterbacked in the Thanksgiving Day Scottish Rite game then the varsity game three days later.



The Sturm und Drang over the healthcare.gov website fails to surprise me.



For months, the Department of Agriculture’s website has been in various stages of disrepair. Trying to enroll in a program last spring, I discovered two other people “owned” my farm and couldn’t register in time. Last month, I went to the Decatur County Georgia’s Farm Service Administration’s office and much to my astonishment, the computer positioned my farm several miles to the west. 



Healthcare.gov’s problems are well-documented: So skip signing up and look for insurance options at www.healthcare.gov/find-premium-estimates. While you won’t be able to register you can scope out various options.



The website only asks a few questions and 77 plans available for a Walton County couple pop up. Unless you qualify for premium assistance, buy directly from the agent. Before you gnash your teeth over premium increases, individuals earning up to $46,000 will qualify for premium assistance. A family of four can earn as much as $94,000 and qualify, too.



One of my youth league baseball progeny worried on Facebook over pending insurance increases. So I found a single individual catastrophic policy for $190 per month. Yes it is better than his current policy.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) limits deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance and prescriptions to $6,350 per individual ($12,700 couples). I have never seen a health insurance policy with such a provision. If your group insurance has gone up consider using the federal exchange. 



Having health insurance is no magic bullet to avoid bankruptcy.



According to an American Medical Journal report three-fourths of bankruptcy filers had medical insurance.  I’m not surprised about that either. People often find out their insurance leaves them on the hook for substantial medical bills.  Even though she had medical insurance a client of ours incurred over $20,000 in medical costs.  



The ACA also eliminates the maximum amount insurance companies pay. Prior to the ACA, most health insurance plans had caps. Medical costs cause more bankruptcies than credit card bills or unpaid mortgages.



People struggle outside of bankruptcy, too. According to CNBC, 20 percent of individuals between 19 and 64 (Medicare age) face financial hardship due to medical costs.



Without some constraint on medical costs no one will be able to retire and buy homes in South Walton. Anecdotally, it appears our insurance premiums will drop substantially and/or our out-of-pocket costs will be lower. However, I’m not counting my chickens before the eggs hatch.



 



Correction: “Americans always do the right thing after they have exhausted all other options” is erroneously attributed to Winston Churchill. Churchill scholars confirm the legendary British Prime Minister never uttered those words. 



Buz Livingston, CFP has a Blue Mountain Beach based fee-only, hourly financial planning and investment management firm. For more information, visit www.livingstonfinancial.net.