Mannix About Manatee: On your mark, get set, go! Obamacare is here

September 29, 2013 

One of my favorite tasks every year about this time is re-enrolling in the company health care plan.

Truly, I jest.

It's necessary, I know, but it's still a hassle.

Used to be you were renewed automatically if you weren't changing anything year to year.

Not anymore.

Now you've got to go through the whole drill.

Hoo, boy.

That's why I do not envy folks around town, who will attempt to start shopping for health insurance online Tuesday when they delve into the online marketplaces offered by the Affordable Care Act.

Obamacare is here, ready or not.

All the overheated rhetoric and grandstanding aside, will this massive endeavor work?

Will it become an effective tool that helps provide affordable health care for those who need it?

The betting depends on your political persuasion, especially in Florida, which has 3.8 million uninsured and is one of 36 states that did not set up an online marketplace, blowing off millions in federal grants in the process.

Regardless, one Democratic state legislator touted the choices for Floridians.

"The principals of competition and transparency are actually working," said state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood.

On the other hand, a Republican counterpart said employers will go broke.

"The numbers I'm seeing ... show significant and material increases in premiums," said state Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs.

Only time will tell.

An acquaintance in the Bradenton insurance business sent me copies of the application consumers will be filing online beginning Tuesday.

The one for individuals is just five pages. A snap.

But the one for couples and families is 12 pages, and it's a doozy.

Filling out forms in the doctor's office is a breeze in comparison.

It's just a taste of Uncle Sam's red tape.

To wit:

• Tell us about yourself.

• Tell us about your family.

• Step 2: Person 1 (start with yourself).

• Step 2: Person 1 (continue with yourself).

• Step 2: Person 2. Now tell us about any income from Person 2 on the back.

And so on.

They ask about various things like alimony and net fishing income and "Does Person 2 live with at least one child under 19 and are they the main person taking care of this child?"

There are also a couple of pages to fill out if you're an American Indian or Alaska Native.

I had to laugh when I got to the last page. It should've been the first.

Appendix C: Assistance with Completing this Application.

I'm glad I'm a year away from Medicare.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix.

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