Q: What should I do now that Republicans are talking about repealing or changing Obamacare?
A: Unfortunately, no one knows yet what Congress or the president will do with Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Premiums have increased significantly as some insurance companies have withdrawn, though subsidies also have gone up. However, many experts predict that radical changes will not occur in 2017.
Open enrollment for the ACA has passed, but you can still get health coverage if you: 1) have lost coverage from your job or have had a major life change such as having a baby or getting married;or 2) enroll through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
If you are already enrolled in a plan through the ACA, there are ways to maximize your coverage before any changes happen. Remember those labs, specialist referrals or imaging that your physician recommended, but maybe you’ve postponed? Now is the time to follow through with them. Also, talk to your physician about switching from brand-name medications to generics when possible to cut down on future co-pays. There are many generics that work as well as brand names, and which certain pharmacies offer through discounted prescription plans.
Start comparison shopping and checking the prices for your medications at different pharmacies. The site www.GoodRx.com sometimes offers coupons and can help find pharmacies that charge less. Also check pharmaceutical company websites for discounts.
If you have a long relationship with your physician, see if he or she would set up a payment plan if you lose your insurance, so that you can continue to see them. If you are undergoing expensive treatment for a life-threatening condition, or a chronic or rare disease, start looking into organizations like PAN Foundation, which can provide with grants or put you in touch with other funding sources to help pay for your treatments.
Charmaine Chan, DO, is a family medicine physician at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.