Friday, June 22, 2018
Health

Expect interesting days after Obamacare marketplaces launch Oct. 1

A few weeks ago, we asked Tampa Bay Times readers for their questions about the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. This is where — after Oct. 1 — you can go to buy health insurance if you aren't covered through your job, Medicare or Medicaid.

I wondered about the reaction we'd get. This is the centerpiece of Obamacare, and the president's signature health plan inspires, shall we say, strong feelings.

We've had scores of questions, and I hope you've seen the responses from my colleague Angie Holan and me on our Thursday health pages. If not, we've compiled them at tampabay.com/obamacare, and plan to republish as many as we can in our upcoming special section about the Obamacare marketplaces. Watch for it in the Times on Sunday, Sept. 29.

Many of our correspondents did express strong feelings — mostly about their need for affordable health care.

(One anonymous emailer wrote that the law "funds advances in spiritual and moral leprosy,'' but I don't believe that would be a covered condition.)

Most people had more down-to-earth issues. Parents wanted to know how to get help for their adult children whose jobs don't offer insurance. Uninsured adults in their 50s and early 60s asked if they could get insurance even if they didn't have full-time jobs.

Several people wrote about friends who have no jobs, no money, and worry about being fined for not having insurance We quickly told them not to worry — those folks are exempt from the fine.

Others just worried about their low-income friends not having insurance, a particular problem here because Florida refused federal dollars to expand Medicaid, the health care program for the poor.

Unfortunately, we had no reassurance for these readers.

We received highly specific queries about tax credits and how they will be calculated.

And lots of questions about Medicare. I'll say it again: No, you cannot buy Medicare policies on the Obamacare marketplace. Carry on as you always have.

Many questions were complicated, requiring Angie and me to consult multiple sources. Sometimes our experts didn't entirely agree, so we kept digging.

I expect such conflicts will arise, and not just for reporters.

I've had insurance all my life, and coverage issues crop up no matter which company's name is on my insurance card. I complained just as much about the billing related to my broken finger this year as my mom did about paperwork for my wisdom teeth extraction in 1979.

Obamacare is based on private insurance. So why should we expect it to get any easier?

The big difference is that more people than ever will be signing up for coverage, so the process is bound to be interesting. But ultimately worthwhile, my friends who eagerly await insurance cards of their own would say.

I've heard pundits fret about whether the marketplaces will function properly on Oct. 1. None of our readers has asked this question. I suspect they're wise enough to expect challenges.

However you get your insurance, I hope your enrollment is as painless as possible. And if it's confusing, expensive, aggravating (or some word we can't print here), know that you have lots of company. Keep those emails coming, and maybe we can sort it out together.

Comments
Enjoy Israeli Couscous, Swiss Chard and Peppers warm or at room temperature

Enjoy Israeli Couscous, Swiss Chard and Peppers warm or at room temperature

By Katie WorkmanIsraeli or Mediterranean couscous are tiny balls of toasted semolina pasta that plump up when cooked into toothsome, slightly less tiny balls of pasta. They make a great base for a side or salad. You can make the couscous according to...
Published: 06/22/18
ĎBE AWAREí: Pasco mom posts to Facebook after sonís caterpillar sting leads to ER trip

ĎBE AWAREí: Pasco mom posts to Facebook after sonís caterpillar sting leads to ER trip

ZEPHYRHILLS ó The Pergolasí Saturday morning volunteer work started like most, at a farm cleaning the property and trimming trees. Andrea Pergola, 38, stood on the driveway of the property when she heard her 15-year-old son Logan scream. At first, sh...
Published: 06/20/18
Moffitt receives $1 million donation from Richard Gonzmart

Moffitt receives $1 million donation from Richard Gonzmart

TAMPA ó Runners gathered for the Gonzmartís Fatherís Day Walk and Jog where they raise money to help aid in Moffitt Cancer Centerís fight against prostate cancer. This year the event raised $110,000, but Moffitt had another surprise in store.Andrea G...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

GENEVA ó Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing. In its latest revision to a disease class...
Published: 06/19/18
Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

The extensive government trial was intended to settle an age-old question about alcohol and diet: Does a daily cocktail or beer really protect against heart attacks and stroke?To find out, the National Institutes of Health gave scientists $100 millio...
Published: 06/16/18
More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults are taking prescription drugs, including hormones for contraception, blood pressure medications and medicines for heartburn, that carry a potential risk of depression, according to a study published in the Journal...
Published: 06/12/18
Itís time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

Itís time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

Courtney Bilyeu was running toward the murky water alongside a few military officers when it happened.She was an accountant for the U.S. Navy at the time. And on her way to take a swim with some coworkers in a California beach, she saw blood. The wat...
Published: 06/12/18
Itís important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

Itís important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

The next time you head to the drugstore to buy sunscreen, donít forget to pick up some sunglasses, too. Thatís because both products work to protect your body from the sunís damaging ultraviolet rays.Wearing sunglasses for protection should not be re...
Published: 06/09/18
In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

ST. PETERSBURG ó Kidney disease doesnít discriminate.The crowd of more than 200 patients who gathered at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort range in age from teenagers to seniors. They are of different ethnicities and come from all over the...
Published: 06/08/18
Mayo Clinic Q&A: melanomas of the eye; how long should you take a beta blocker?

Mayo Clinic Q&A: melanomas of the eye; how long should you take a beta blocker?

YES, MELANOMAS CAN BEGIN IN THE EYEIs it true that melanoma can develop in the eyes? If so, how common is it? How is it treated?Melanomas can begin in the eye, a condition called intraocular melanoma. Treatment for intraocular melanomas used to prima...
Published: 06/08/18