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Obamacare is a great bargain for uninsured

President ObamSpeaks At Prince George's Community College

President Obama Speaks At Prince George's Community College

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Updated: October 30, 2013 6:37AM

WASHINGTON — No matter your politics or life perspective — Tea Party, libertarian, conservative, liberal, progressive, socialist, nihilist, anarchist or independent — if you are young and uninsured, Obamacare is a great bargain.

Here’s some context for everyone: You’re hearing a lot more about Obamacare now for two reasons.

First, the federal government is supposed to pass an annual budget by Monday. It hasn’t yet.

A group of Republicans who oppose Obamacare want to defund or delay it by linking it to a vote continuing to keep most of the federal government open come Tuesday. If that tactic doesn’t work, the fight will move on to another high-stakes battle over raising the debt ceiling, where a vote is needed by mid-October.

Coming up against the Monday deadline, Congress is working over the weekend to try to avoid a shutdown. I’m not sure how this will be resolved.

Second, Obamacare is also in the news because, by coincidence, Tuesday also is the first day people can buy health insurance for coverage to start Jan. 1. No matter what happens in Congress, the new insurance marketplaces open Tuesday.

Keep calm. You don’t have to make any decision right away. Oct. 1 is the date to begin shopping around.

And do I need to remind youthful readers why we all need health insurance? Accidents happen. Fit people get sick. Catastrophic health costs can bankrupt you.

Many folks get health insurance through their employer. For those who don’t, knowing whom to call or what to Google to comparison shop for quotes is a complicated, horrible life experience.

Getting a policy on your own is very expensive. If you have a pre-existing condition, it can be far more challenging.

But this changes Tuesday.

Obamacare is the nickname for the new health-insurance law. It has a lot of elements to it, some of them controversial.

On Tuesday, eight private companies will begin selling Illinois residents health insurance through the online health insurance shopping mall being organized by the state government. You can buy coverage even if you have terrible health problems.

The official name for this new Illinois marketplace is “Get Covered Illinois.”

In Illinois, those companies are Aetna Life Insurance Co.; Coventry Health and Life Insurance Co.; Coventry Health Care of Illinois Inc.; Health Alliance Medical Plans Inc.; Blue Cross Blue Shield; Humana Health Plan Inc.; Humana Insurance Co. and Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Co.

I’ve listed the companies because one of the myths out there is that Obamacare is government-run health insurance.

An ad from an anti-Obamacare group targeting the post-college generation has an Uncle Sam figure doing a gyne exam on a young woman and a prostate check on a guy. Those spots are gross. And not true.

The companies named above are all private companies.

Depending on your income, you may be eligible for a government subsidy to make the insurance even cheaper.

Moreover, if you decide not to buy any health insurance, you will pay a penalty, starting with income tax returns filed in 2015 for money earned in 2014.

You may passionately believe Obamacare in the long term will be bad for the economy. I know it is hard to square that belief with the opportunity, for the first time, to buy affordable private health insurance.

But no matter your politics, it’s nuts to gamble with your own health and fiscal future.


Twitter: @lynnsweet

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