Vail Daily column: Summing up Obamacare |

Vail Daily column: Summing up Obamacare

Lots of politicians talk generally about how great or how bad Obamacare is — its proper name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Most can’t mutter more than one sentence about its features — for or against. I will attempt to explain the Affordable Care Act using the acronym “HELP AND TIPS,” in which “HELP” and “TIPS” are the benefits, and “AND” calls out the financial implications.


H: Help paying insurance premiums for mid-to-lower, middle-income folks via sliding-scale subsidies.

E: Expansion of Medicaid for lower-income folks offered to individual states to accept or turn down.

L: Let young adults up to age 26 stay on their parents health insurance.

P: Preexisting conditions not an issue — no turned downs or paying extra.

A: Affordability cornerstone: Competitive insurance premiums even within the constraints of insurance companies unable to sell policies across state lines.

N: Neutral mix of policyholders, from young adults to Medicare age 65, including the very healthy to the unhealthy — partly enabled by a mandate for all to be health insured in some way, otherwise they pay an annual penalty.

D: Departmental internal transfer of a projected $700 billion in savings over 10 years from “main” Medicare to assist funding the Affordable Care Act — allowing the Affordable Care Act to be “revenue neutral,” unlike “main” Medicare or Medicare D for drugs.

T: Transferability between insurance companies and policy types: To shop around, changing health, changing non-benefit employers or self-employment.

I: In-place employer insurance largely untouched, with some exceptions.

P: Preventive health screening covered without copays, etc.

S: Senior’s Medicare D plan’s “donut hole” is now half closed and will be closed completely by 2020.


As of March 6, presidential political candidates have shown little detail regarding the future of the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans have said “get rid of it,” some with the solution to sell health insurance policies across state lines — butting up against rights of state insurance commissions. Hillary Clinton has said “strengthen it” and Bernie Sanders has said “replace it” with a single-payer, Medicare-type system. Time will tell.

So here is one attempt using my “HELP AND TIPS” acronym — with some inaccuracies and omissions I am sure — to explain something that seems to have been unexplainable by politicians from both political parties and the Obama administration itself.

Paul Rondeau lives in Vail.

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