You remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for”? Free advice is worth exactly what it costs – nothing! Correct? Maybe, unless you believe in karma. Can you trust free advice on health insurance? I suppose you have to consider the source and your options.
ACA health insurance market place is complicated
All this health care reform stuff is complicated and confusing. Between the new health plans, tax credits, and Medicaid/Medi-Cal eligibility, there is no single person that has a firm grasp on all the possible scenarios and repercussions to families who enroll in the new ACA health insurance. The Marketplace exchanges like Covered California understand the health plans and doling out the tax credits. But the IRS really understands how the tax credits are calculated when you do your taxes. And neither the marketplace exchanges nor the IRS understand how Medicaid works, and vice versa.
What are the rules of the road?
I don’t like not knowing how my car works. When it makes a noise I want to be able to predict whether it is a noise I can ignore or if the noise might cost me hundreds of dollars to fix. I’m goofy and cautious that way. As a Certified Insurance Agent for Covered California before I could explain and offer guidance to my clients about health insurance under the new ACA rules, I needed to know how it worked. Who was eligible? What was considered income? Who qualified for Medi-Cal and when? How was the IRS going to reconcile the tax credits? And lots of other questions posed by clients and never really properly addressed by the governing agencies.
Don’t hide good information that can help others
After a lot of research, reading, and phone calls I would finally get to a point where I could point to a document or resources on how a specific part of the ACA worked and was interpreted. Even though my quest for the information may have been prompted by a single inquiry from a client, I figured I should write about it since there had to be others with the same question. Even though I put the answers in a blog post for all to read doesn’t mean I’m an expert. But it does mean that I think it is important to make the best information possible available to everyone, not just my clients.
I work from karma
I get at least one blog post comment, email, or phone call everyday asking questions about the various parts of the ACA health insurance. People who call usually apologize for taking up my time and wonder how much it will cost them for me to answer their questions. When I say it will cost them nothing they wonder how I am paid. I tell them I am paid a commission by the health insurance companies when I enroll an individual or family into their plan. But generally I work on karma.
We all live in the universe together
By answering a consumer’s question with the best information and advice that I have, and asking for no compensation for those services, I figure I’m earning karma points someplace in this universe. Eventually, those who I’ve help will in turn help me, possibly unknowingly, by referring a friend or using my services to enroll them in a health plan when they do qualify. What goes around comes around.
When you focus on money, people become a blur
I’ll admit that it is difficult to measure the return on investment of this sort of marketing strategy. But that is part of the point; not everything can or should be measured because it leads to an enhanced focus on money instead of people. I also have to remember that thousands of people read my blogs and never contact me. It doesn’t bother me that I’ve given away my knowledge and experience for free.
Karma energy balance
The karma proposition says that I am only returning to the universe that energy that I have already taken. In other words, I’ve learned a boat load of information from other websites, at no cost, so it is only logical that I should return some of my knowledge back into the system, at no charge.
Give the best answers with the available information
My advice or answers to health insurance questions may be free, but it will cost me karma points if I don’t answer in the highest ethical manner. All I can do is give the consumer the best information that I have. Is it the right answer? I hope so, but there may be information from the caller or the government agency that I’m not aware of. But at least I’ll attempt to give an answer or point someone in the right direction.
Just listening is a kind act
Sometimes the biggest benefit I offer is someone who will listen to the person’s predicament. Bureaucracies like Medi-Cal or Covered California are good at what they do, but they fail to recognize the big picture. A family’s life is not one dimensional. One little decision on an ACA application can have enormous repercussions in other areas such as their federal taxes.
I may need your help some day
We all need a little help getting across the street or finding our car in the parking lot. I understand the frustration of talking to a paper pusher that gives circular answers to seemingly simple questions. While my answers may not be any more enlightened than the bureaucrats, I’ll do my best to provide a real world perspective. We all get one karma point for doing our best.