December 12, 2013

Letters to the editor: How to find cheaper health insurance options

Readers also discuss the contraceptive coverage mandate, the cost of the privatization of care, and services for transgender and intersex people.

Scott Clark wrote a letter about his dissatisfaction with the health insurance plan he will be purchasing as a result of his current plan being canceled (“For many in Maine, Obamacare no bargain,” Dec. 3).

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Readers raise issues related to the Affordable Care Act and the law’s system of insurance exchanges.

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I can relate. I had to shop for a new plan when my plan was canceled. I would like to offer some information that may help Mr. Clark and other consumers through this transition.

In my case (62 years old with no dependents), there is a plan available through Maine Community Health Options for $547.14/month, lower than what Mr. Clark quoted. I do not know his exact circumstances, but I recommend that anyone looking for health insurance shop for the best plan at the lowest cost. The Maine Community Health Options website, for example, is easy to navigate and makes it easy to compare plans.

New plans cover many preventive-care procedures for free, such as annual checkups, colonoscopies, flu shots and much more. These free procedures should improve health through early detection and education, a great benefit for all consumers. A high deductible doesn’t prevent consumers from receiving preventive care.

Mr. Clark is concerned about a mandate for $6,350 deductibles. I believe this is a misunderstanding on his part. New plans can have a maximum out-of-pocket cost of $6,350. Out-of-pocket costs are different from deductibles, which I have seen as low as $650. The new requirement eliminates plans with high deductibles that offered no protection from unlimited health costs.

This is a complex topic, and I am not an expert. If anyone is finding it difficult to navigate the new requirements, they can get help. Navigators have been trained to help consumers through the complexities of the process. Local organizations that provide this help can be found at https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/.

David Shultz

Kennebunkport

Beliefs should be considered under Obamacare options

Health care is a basic human right that all are entitled to. Accessing affordable health care should be automatic and yet is not. The Affordable Care Act attempts to right that wrong by providing wider access to health care.

Everyone should have the same choices for options in a health care plan. However, no one should be forced to pay for a plan that includes options that will never be used, especially if they violate their religious beliefs.

I am pro-life, and yet I just as firmly believe that each person has the right to make choices for taking care of their own health and that I do not have the right to make those choices for them.

The Bill of Rights was written to ensure fundamental rights, including religious freedom. Mandating that employers provide access to contraceptives and abortion services, the ACA violates that First Amendment right for business owners whose religious beliefs are in opposition to those options.

No one says that those options can’t be available to consumers. As legally available choices, they should. However, I believe no one should pay for my choices if those violate their beliefs, and I shouldn’t have to pay for theirs.

Logically, churches are exempt from this mandate. But if their social outreach programs serve anyone other than someone who shares the same faith, those are not exempt. This makes no sense. If the religious tenets are demonstrated and supported in the outreach programs, the same exemption to the ACA on religious grounds should apply.

Some religious exemptions have been granted, but with several cases winding their way through the court system, including two scheduled to be presented to the Supreme Court, this issue is far from resolved.

Linda Piper

Buxton

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