March 20, 2014 | Borough of Manhattan Community College
BMCC Business major Subas Dhunten remembers what it was like not to have healthcare insurance.
“I’d had no coverage since 2010, and when I got sick and wound up in the hospital, it cost me a lot of money,” he says. “It was very bad.”
Dhunten’s situation has improved dramatically of late. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, he now has good coverage at a manageable cost, not to mention newfound peace of mind.
Dhunten, who will graduate this May, was one of more than 100 students who packed a Chambers Street lecture hall on March 5 for a workshop on Obamacare led by Patricia Gottier of the Financial Planning Association of New York (FPANY).
Entitled, “Why Care About Obamacare?”, the event was part of BMCC’s Moneyworks financial literacy seminar series and organized jointly by the FPANY and MoneyWorks.
Rising healthcare costs—but little to show for it
“It’s no secret that healthcare inflation is one of our most serious issues,” Gottier says. “Unlike many other countries, the U.S. doesn’t have a government healthcare system, so a lot of people are left out in cold.”
Meanwhile, soaring costs are squeezing physicians and hospitals as well as patients, she adds. “We seem to spend a lot more on healthcare than other countries, yet we aren’t any healthier.”
The good news is that, after last year’s bumpy rollout, Obamacare is working. In her presentation, Gottier provided a clear and compelling overview of the Affordable Care Act’s main provisions, including the rule prohibiting insurers from rejecting an applicant because of a pre-existing medical condition. “Insurers are now required to cover 10 ‘essential benefits,’ and they cannot place annual or lifetime limits on those benefits,” she told the audience.
Those benefits include inpatient, outpatient and emergency room care; lab tests; prescription drugs; prenatal, maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance abuse treatment; services and devices to aid recovery of skills lost from injury, disability or chronic condition; preventive services such as counseling and vaccines; and pediatric care.
Making it painless to sign up
Like many people, Dhunten was stymied by frustrating delays and technical glitches when he first tried to log onto healthcare.gov last year. But those early issues have since been addressed and, to date, more than 4 million people have signed up.
Following the MoneyWorks presentation, students who hadn’t yet enrolled had an opportunity to do so at a Single Stop table outside the lecture hall. In addition, the Single Stop office has a Navigator to assist students in applying.
“I’m really glad to have healthcare coverage again,” Dhunten says. “The MoneyWorks workshop and the Q&A session afterwards taught me a lot about how Obamacare works, and how to get even more out of it.”