Prepare for War: Obama vs. the GOP

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Will the GOP Free Us From Obamacare?

You may view the Republican sweep in the recent elections as a response to Obamacare. Or you may see it as a wider protest against liberal policies and insane levels of government spending. Either way, it’s likely the GOP will make some changes to the Affordable Care Act.

Those changes could affect you directly. Especially when it comes to your budget and your access to healthcare.

You can count on the healthcare industry to be unpredictable in the foreseeable future. What the government requires you to do may change. And what they require from your insurance company may also shift.

That can be a real problem when it comes to planning for your medical needs.

But if you have an idea of what to expect, you can navigate the troubled waters a little better. So let’s look at what the GOP is likely to do and the impact on you personally.

Don’t Expect Repeal

The first thing to be clear about is that the Republicans won’t just repeal the Affordable Care Act. Obama would veto any attempt.

Also many aspects of the law are already entrenched in the system. Repealing it outright would be like pulling the rug out from under millions of people. The GOPs approach to undoing Obamacare and the damage it’s done will have to be incremental. Otherwise, the switch away from Obamacare will be almost as painful as the switch to it was last year.

A New Definition of the Work Week

Under Obamacare, you’re a full-time employee at 30 hours a week. At that point, if the company you work for is large enough, they must offer you a health insurance plan. They’ll pay a fine if they don’t.

The Republicans will probably challenge this definition and move to redefine the full-time workweek as 40 hours.

Under the 30-hour definition of full-time, many companies cut worker hours back so as not to have to pay for insurance. This inclination probably won’t change. But with a 40-hour workweek as the threshold, many Americans who had their work hours forcibly reduced may get more hours from their employers. That could lead to many seeing an increase in their income.

If you work a 35-hour workweek, though, this move could leave you without employer-provided healthcare. That puts a big expense on your shoulders that you weren’t carrying alone before.

They’ll Go After the Mandate

Some experts believe that the GOP will try to repeal the mandate. This is the part of Obamacare that requires everyone to carry insurance or to face a fine. The mandate isn’t popular with either party. And the potential fine is less popular because it essentially gets the IRS involved. Nobody wants that.

If the mandate gets repealed in Congress, Obama will never sign off on it. And if Congress somehow manages to get it through anyway, it will be devastating to the Affordable Care Act as a whole.

Without a mandate, but with insurance companies required to cover pre-existing conditions, you can expect your health insurance premiums to spike … at least in the short term.

Defunding

It may be that the Republicans go after Obamacare through its budget, rather than through outright appeal. They may choose to not fund the law, which could result in another government shutdown. This could also affect the exchange subsidies—meaning if your health insurance premiums are subsidized by the government exchanges … those subsidies may not come through.

It’s a Messy Business

If this all seems complex and messy … well, it is. That’s one of the problems with the Affordable Care Act. The legislation was thousands and thousands of pages long. There’s no easy way to implement it. And no easy way to shut it off once it’s in place.

This is why I recommend doing as much as you can for your own healthcare without the government’s involvement.

If you want to take good care of yourself and your family without shooting a hole in your wallet, here’s what to do:

Find a good doctor and get annual check ups: The best way to prevent expensive chronic illnesses is to see them coming and prevent them. You do that with the help of a good doctor. And by making sure that good doctor stays familiar with your health. Pay for your annual check up out of pocket if you need to. It’s $150 bucks that could save you thousands in deductibles, lost work hours, and heartache years down the road.

Concierge doctors are a great way to go!

Avoid the exchanges: The exchanges could save you money by transferring some of your health insurance expense to the taxpayers at large. But it could also hurt you in the long run, because those subsidies may very well be unreliable. It’s better to find a health insurance package you can afford and rely on … without counting on taxpayers to foot the bill.

Look local: In the face of Obamacare, many hospitals and medical groups are putting together reasonably affordable health insurance plans that are compliant and that take advantage of local resources. Find out what’s available. These can get you access to top-notch care and save you a lot of money.

Go for the high deductible: If you’re in reasonably good health, look for a health insurance plan that has a high deductible, but that pays everything after you’ve met your deductible. Your premiums will be lower. And you can set aside the amount of your annual deductible in a savings account, so you’re never left high and dry if something big happens. What this strategy brings to your financial situation is predictability … something you won’t get from Obamacare any time soon.

Obamacare messed a healthcare system that was already burdened by heavy government regulation. It’s going to be some time before this mess gets resolved. In the meantime, you can protect yourself by being proactive and self-reliant. When it comes to your health, it’s the best way to go.

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