Healthcare.gov Becomes a Magnet for Data Thieves
It’s still not working. By the White House’s own admission, Obamacare’s dysfunctional Healthcare.Gov website was broken into by hackers last summer. Millions of Americans became vulnerable to having their data mined or stolen as a result.
The information the government and insurance companies collect on the site includes your home address, Social Security number, family members, income, and tax filing status. In short, everything an identity thief would need to begin committing fraud using your name.
Critics of the botched Obamacare rollout warned in advance that the web site was vulnerable to attacks. Rep. Diane Black (R – TN) said, “…when it comes to protecting Americans’ personal information from data breaches and hacks, the federal exchange is not playing by the same rules as private businesses.”
If you can avoid using Healthcare.Gov to shop for or buy insurance, then from a privacy standpoint you definitely should. Former Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue calls the online healthcare exchanges “the most widespread violation of the [federal] Privacy Act in our history.”
Options for Opting Out of
It may even be worth it for some people to pay the fine for being uninsured. Although as of this year, each uninsured person will have to pay the greater of either $325 or 2 percent of income. It still might be cheaper for people (mainly, young, healthy males) who are forced by Obamacare to pay above-market insurance premiums.
Going without health insurance is risky. Don’t consider it unless you have a very ample savings cushion. Unfortunately, basic, low-cost catastrophic insurance plans are now illegal.
If you decide to take that risk, you can cover some of your vulnerabilities by loading up on supplemental medical coverages (available through auto, disability, travel, life, and long-term care insurance policies).You can also lower your costs by going through health clinics and nurse practitioners for minor ailments rather than primary care physicians or hospitals.
When you must visit a doctor or hospital, you may be able to bargain for lower rates by offering to pay cash up front. You’ll be saving them from billing and insurance paperwork, along with the uncertainty of being paid. So you should save, too!
There’s A Way Around Obamacare
Finally, there is a way that some people may be able to avoid the Obamacare mandate while being legally exempt from the penalty and still being able to retain a form of comprehensive medical coverage. It’s through what are known as healthcare sharing ministries.
According to NPR, “The sharing ministries are not insurance: there’s no guarantee that a given bill will be covered. Instead, it’s like a co-op, where members decide what procedures to cover, and then all pitch in to cover the cost as a group.”
Over the past year, tens of thousands of Americans have signed up for them – much to the chagrin of the White House. Some states have moved to ban them. In order to be eligible for a healthcare sharing arrangement (in states where they are available), you must claim and demonstrate a religious conscience objection to compulsory insurance coverage.