Sunday, February 7 , 2016, 10:11 am | Fair 68º

Gabe Dominocielo: The Unaffordable Care Act — How Obamacare Has Failed Me

By Gabe Dominocielo |

My health insurance is being canceled, and I don’t understand why, as a young professional in Santa Barbara, many of my peers are experiencing the same frustration as I am.

I am an unmarried male, 29 years old and in perfect heath. I am a responsible person who had insurance on my own and have been happy with the Anthem plan I selected and the price I was paying.

I am being forced into a new insurance plan that complies with the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. I was paying about $150 a month, or about $1,800 a year, before Obamacare. I spoke with my insurance broker to try to figure a way for me to pay the same as I was before with the same insurance coverage and deductible.

We discovered it is impossible.

What Is the Least Expensive Plan I Can Get?

I do not qualify for a government subsidy, a Bronze-Level (Core Direct Access — CACJ). The least expensive plan I can have costs about $272.36 (with dental) per month and the deductible is $5,000. This deductible includes all medical services, including prescriptions, checkups trips to the ER, tests, etc. Until $5,000 is spent on medical care, there is no benefit to having the policy. I am under 30 and healthy. I have never spent $5,000 on health care in my life, so this plan is not for me.

What Is the Least Expensive Plan with Full Coverage?

The least expensive Gold-Level policy with no deductible for me is a whapping $404.38 (Preferred Direct Access — CCAS). This includes dental and mandatory pediatric dental care, but I am not a child. This health plan is about $100 more than the lease payment for a new 2014 BMW 3 series or the same price as a lease for a 2014 Mercedes C250 Coupe. The most expensive policy falls just under the cost to lease a Porsche Cayman.

What Is the Penalty for Not Having Insurance?

By 2016, this will be $695 per person per year or 2.5 percent of income. However, the total penalty for the taxable year cannot exceed the national average of the annual premiums of a bronze-level health insurance plan offered through the health insurance marketplaces. For me, that is $2,580, and I was paying only $1,800 a year for excellent insurance.

Can I Just Enroll in a Plan When I Get Sick?

No. You can only apply for health insurance during an open enrollment period. For 2014, the period is Oct. 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014. This means that if you don’t have insurance by the deadline (emphasis added) of March 31, you have to pay out of pocket for health care until the next open enrollment period. This means if you get sick April 1 without insurance, you cannot get coverage until 2015 when the next open enrollment period opens. If you’re really sick, you will likely be dead broke or broke and dead by the time you can receive any health insurance.

The reason for the increased costs, in my opinion, is the push toward a federal individual mandate with a Canadian style, single-payer system that includes health care I will never and could never need. Called the “10 Essential Healthcare Benefits,” this mandate includes pediatric dental care, pediatric vision, maternity, newborn care and other "benefits," which I do not choose.

Is This Better?

It is not. I do not know a single person that Obamacare has helped. Obamacare is not health care; it is health insurance, a government insurance scheme. Before Obamacare, the sick, disabled and poor were covered by Medicaid and the elderly are covered by Medicare. Every single person in the United States received the best medical CARE in the world, regardless of their ability to pay.

Obamacare has failed me completely and has also failed millions of other responsible Americans who were happy with their doctors, insurance providers and their health care. At the end of the day, I’m paying $4,848 for the same amount of coverage for which I was previously paying $1,800 — and there is nothing I can do about it.

— Gabe Dominocielo is a local business owner, a member of the Santa Barbara Civil Service Commission and the Santa Barbara Living Wage Advisory Committee, and he serves on the Board of Directors at the Adelle Davis Foundation.

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