Community members listen to a presentation Friday on the impacts of the Affordable Care Act. Speakers made it clear there still are unknowns about the law, and questioned whether it would succeed in getting young "invincibles" to sign up for coverage.

Photo by Scott Franz

Community members listen to a presentation Friday on the impacts of the Affordable Care Act. Speakers made it clear there still are unknowns about the law, and questioned whether it would succeed in getting young "invincibles" to sign up for coverage.

Health insurance experts answer Obamacare questions at luncheon in Steamboat Springs

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— The dozens of people who gathered last week at Colorado Mountain College to gauge what impact Obamacare will have on them and their businesses learned even the experts on the issue still are trying to understand all of the changes.

Eric Hirschberg, the executive vice president of insurance brokers Lockton Companies, said it will all take some time to unravel.

“If you haven't figured all of this out yet, don't feel badly,” Hirschberg said after an hourlong presentation on the new health care law. “I've been studying this for years, and I'm still trying to get my arms around it.”

Hirschberg and Michelle Lueck, the CEO of the Colorado Health Institute, led a luncheon hosted by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and Wells Fargo bank.

In a week of new struggles for the Obama administration about the glitch-ridden and bumpy roll out of the Affordable Care Act, Hirschberg outlined the challenges that still are ahead.

Despite some controversial new Colorado advertisements aimed at young “invincibles” who don't have health insurance, he predicted the age group wouldn't embrace purchasing insurance over facing a new fine that would amount to about 1 percent of their income.

Lueck aslo showed data from a new Colorado health survey that showed most people who don't have insurance aren't willing to pay what it would cost them to obtain it in the new health exchange.

During the question and answer period, audience members had some specific policy questions.

A woman who works seasonally for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. outlined how it was a struggle each year to receive partial benefits from her employer and then face an offer of a COBRA plan for extended coverage that would cost her more than $1,600 per month.

“That's out of the question for my family,” she told the audience.

She added that with her seasonal benefits status, she was having difficulty applying her situation to the launch of the new health insurance marketplace in Colorado.

“You just hit the nail on the head. It's pretty darn complicated,” Hirschberg said. “That's the legwork you're going to have to go through to find new or better coverage.”

Near the end of the luncheon, audience members asked how the new health law would affect local care.

Yampa Valley Medical Center CEO Frank May said the model has to change.

“We have to change our model, and this is going to take a lot of time,” he said. “We've grown up in an era of diagnostic testing and fix things as they occur. For us to fix the broken system we have, we have to change the way we provide health care.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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Comments

scott bideau 4 months, 4 weeks ago

A family policy on the Colorado Health Exchange for non-tobacco users runs $900/month with a $6k individual deductible and $12k family deductible ($1,400 - $1,900/month averaged out, worse case). Can someone tell me how this is any more affordable or provides a better benefit than the $1,600/month COBRA policy referenced by the Ski Corp. employee?

This is a serious concern as the exchanges and new plans roll out. When I read about people getting a subsidized plan, I wonder how they will possibly pay the deductible. The result is Uncle Sam going into more debt paying the subsidies, insurance companies enjoying the income from those subsidies, and the patient still left with bills he/she can't pay (which health care providers pass along to those who do pay).

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Michael Bird 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Scott,In the case of those who do not have insurance under an employer's plan, hence no COBRA, it would benefit those with pre-existing conditions who also now have no health insurance. Of course, one still has the problem of paying for incurred expenses and, yes, Uncle Sam is going to incur more debt from this faulty plan.

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Fred Duckels 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Australia has had it with the leftist religion and has thrown the bums out. Maybe there is hope.

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mark hartless 4 months, 4 weeks ago

If every Obama voter lost their health insurance or had their premiums and deductibles double it would be exactly what they deserved.

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mark hartless 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Fred, Australia is one example. However, Venezuela is the other. Complete destruction of the economy and takeover of the nation's natural resources. A country with some of the largest oil reserves in the world has it's people living like animals.

The people put Chavez in power in 1999 and he ran the country into the tank and impoverished the people.

Sadly, many of them still are too stupid to do anything other than cheer for more from his hand-picked successor.

Unfortunately, with the "true believers" we have among us, Amreica could go either way.

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jerry carlton 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I just saw my first TV ad tonight trying to get people to go to a website tthat does not work to sign up for Obamacare. Since it did not say it was a public service announcement it must have been another fine use of our tax dollars.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Sounds like Obama administration is getting ready to start the blame game. Republicans, insurance companies and the media for the ACA problems. Maybe they can work George Bush into the mix.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Hey good news. Baxter the dog from Fort Collins has an ACA account

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months, 1 week ago

More good news for those needing to sign up for health care through healthcare.gov. From an article I believe is in the Huffington Post

"Unresolved technical problems on HealthCare.gov could lead to a rude surprise at the doctor’s office next month for patients who think they successfully used the website to sign up for health insurance. They may find they’re not insured after all. . .

[I]nsurance companies are still getting information on their would-be customers that is garbled and incomplete, and in some cases they are getting no information at all. President Barack Obama’s administration is scrambling to repair the faulty system, but scant time remains until the Dec. 23 deadline for consumers to choose a health plan that will be in place Jan. 1.

The result could be an untold number of consumers remaining uninsured despite completing the enrollment process — another embarrassing chapter in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature health care reform law.

“I doubt very seriously the insurance company or the government is going to say, ‘Oh, don’t worry, We’ll take care of it.’ I think that’s going to fall solely on the patient,” said Reid Blackwelder, a doctor in Kingsport, Tenn., who is president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “I wouldn’t count on anybody else jumping in and bailing everybody out.”

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