“If you like your current insurance, you can keep it” – yeah, not so much

Now that the Obamacare Healthcare.gov website launch debacle is passing out of the news cycles, this means of course new issues are coming up, including one that may never have been avoidable. But should have been.

It’s a truism in American mass media these days that we no longer do nuance.

Sarah Palin’s Obamacare “Death Panels” kept getting all the press because (1) it’s a simple idea, and (2) it’s scary as all hell for those gullible (or stupid) enough to believe it.

The fact that there is no such thing as Death Panels didn’t matter, nor was there much traction whenever pundits, commentators, and even the few remaining real journalists kept pointing out “If there are ‘Death Panels,’ they exist right now in your for-profit insurance company — the one that just denied coverage for your life-saving operation. The government won’t have a profit motive to try to deny you coverage.”

Or, as was my case in 2003, the ‘Death Panel’ that decided to stop underwriting the group insurance plan I was enrolled in, and threw us all out onto the individual insurance market. A market where I spent most of the next decade uninsured because I could not buy individual insurance at any price due to ridiculous pre-existing condition denials due to seasonal hay-fever allergies and migraines.

Why? Nuance. It’s easier to sell a simple, crazy lie based on lizard-brain fears than it is to sell reality that requires even a smidge of rational cognition and critical thinking.

A lot of you can’t keep your insurance

One of the lines nearly everybody remembers from Obama’s stump speeches on his signature health insurance reform plan — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) or ‘Obamacare’ — was he kept saying, “And if you like your current insurance, you can keep it.”

They knew from the beginning this would not be entirely true for many. “You can keep your current insurance” is simple, straightforward, and reassuring to lots of folks who don’t think things through. However, Obama should have realized eventually the truth would come out, and the fact of that statement being not 100% as portrayed would get far more press than the nuanced truth.

It was a dumb thing to tell people. It was dumb when they knew in 2010 that “40% to 67%” of people on the individual market wouldn’t be able to keep the same insurance policy, and an even more boneheaded move now that we know it’s more like 80% in the individual market.

obamacare-exchangesAnd now, they’ve lost control over messaging, again, as the media is reporting (not entirely correctly) that hundreds of thousands of people are finding their insurance policies “canceled” because of Obamacare.  Now, that claim isn’t entirely true – the policies aren’t canceled (people are being moved to other policies) and it’s not really because of Obamacare (it’s a decision made by the insurance companies).  And in a show of where their true loyalties lie, the insurance companies are doing all they can to whip up the hysteria. Why? Because the status quo ante was a situation where profits would climb even faster than under the new PPACA (aka Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare) regime.

The reason so many people with individual policies are getting letters now from their insurance companies, and why employees of companies are being told they have to change their plans next year is because, right now, their current insurance stinks. Or more accurately, it fails to meet the new PPACA-mandated coverage requirements. Among the most common reasons:

  • Deductible too high
  • Co-pays too high
  • Out-of-pocket maximum too high
  • Plan has yearly or lifetime benefit limits
  • Co-insurance isn’t high enough
  • Plan has coverage exclusions that are no longer permitted (such as for mental health care)
  • Plan doesn’t include prescription medicines, charges too much for them, or has prescription coverage limits (John knows this last one very well)
  • Plan doesn’t include preventive and well-care doctor visits for no charge

Also, keep in mind the situation that has developed over the last 10-20 years. Those with individual insurance like John Aravosis (our site proprietor), who knew the prescription portion of his insurance was lousy, had no option for a better plan.  John had the best PPO plan he could get, his only choice was to dumb-down his plan, pay less, and get even less.  Had he tried to switch to an HMO, they’d have required a physical.  And if my allergies and migraines disqualify me from getting insurance, imagine what they’d do to someone like John who has allergies, asthma, and a past retinal detachment.

Then there are the millions of Americans who felt they couldn’t change jobs, take a sabbatical, or start a new business because they’d lose their employer-provided group insurance.

You might be thinking, “Well, why doesn’t the insurance company just fix the parts they have to and let me keep my current policy?” That’s the rub — and more nuance.

Originally, the Obama Administration was going to ‘grandfather’ a larger proportion of the older, non-compliant insurance policies – like John’s -but over the last year, instead they’ve gone the other direction and tightened the rules considerably.

(The) Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered.

My takeaway from this is that even attempts to bring a policy into greater compliance with PPACA’s rules could trigger the exclusion. On top of this, many states have laws and regulations — rules intended to protect people — that prevent insurance companies from changing policies without lengthy approval processes.

Anyway, while I can understand the political rationale in using this “you can keep your insurance” line, it was short-sighted, and I suspect in the near-term will prove to have been an unwise decision.

Being Captain Hindsight here, in my opinion, they should’ve sold it as “your insurance terms will improve considerably, especially if you’ve been living with substandard insurance.” But Obama and his people didn’t, and now they’re going to have to deal with the blow-back.

GOP lies aren’t helping either

Having said all of that, this does not excuse the GOP fearmongering and outright lies about the issue.  The Republicans, who never actually cared if anyone got insurance, are suddenly oh-so-concerned that people might lose their current health care plans.  The thing is, the way the Republicans are portraying it isn’t entirely accurate.  From Politifact:

[GOP Sen. Marco] Rubio said, “300,000 people are going to lose their individual coverage because of Obamacare. Now those people next year, they don’t have health insurance.”

Rubio was referring to letters Florida Blue started sending to consumers in the individual market in August. The letters do tell consumers that their particular plan will end due to the Affordable Care Act. That’s because the plans typically don’t offer the comprehensive coverage that is required under the new law.

However, the letters also state that consumers will have “continuous health care coverage” and assigned them a particular plan, or gave them the option to contact Florida Blue and choose another plan. So their coverage is not dependent on being able to buy insurance through healthcare.gov, the government’s online marketplace.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

I don’t think it helps the administration that all these people are finding out that they have to change plans, but it’s not exactly true to suggest they’re all going to be without insurance next year.  Josh Marshall has a bit more on how the media is mis-portraying this news.

But again, for a public relations perspective, the fact that so many people are getting letters, when they weren’t expect it, will not help the Obamacare cause.

And there’s another question all of this raises: Why didn’t people know that their plans were going to be phased out?  Why didn’t the insurance companies tell them when they purchased the plans?  Or at least tell them it was a possibility (even a likelihood) if the plans were purchased after the Affordable Care Act passed?  John tells the story of looking for a new plan from Blue Cross last month, before the exchanges opened.  They offered him a pretty good plan, better than what he has now, for only a bit more per month.  What they didn’t tell him, until he called back with more questions, was the the plan would be phased out next year because of ACA compliance.  So there’s a serious question here of what the insurance companies knew about these plans, and when they knew – and what, if anything, they did or didn’t tell their customers when they were purchasing the plans.

Healthcare.gov updates

Some of the news I’ve gathered about the Healthcare.gov website over the last few days:

The Obama administration claims Healthcare.gov will be fully functioning by the end of November. We’ll see. It’s been two weeks and my identity remains pending “verification.”

The Healthcare.gov website now has links to try to apply online or to call to sign up. Another option, which might be the best of all (in my opinion) is to download the PDF forms, print them, fill them out, and mail them in. I’m leaning towards this last option, and will probably do so if another week goes by where I can’t sign up online.

The other day, in the comments, I remarked that another possible solution is to bypass the Healthcare.gov website entirely and just go to the health insurance providers in your area. I have to rescind that suggestion, or at least advise using caution when going that route.

The reason is from this post I ran across by BlueIslandGirl on Daily Kos, in which she recounts seeing two policies she thought were the same, but actually were not. By her account, the policy on the insurance company website, despite having the exact same name, had a different premium, co-pay, and coverage — and all the differences were not to her benefit.

John has been asking around about this very question – what’s the difference between buying plans in the exchanges and buying them directly from the insurance company itself – and can’t seem to get an answer.  That’s an obvious question that should have been answered in an FAQ from day one.  But it wasn’t.  Along with a lot of other good questions.

Published professional writer and poet, Becca had a three decade career in technical writing and consulting before selling off most of her possessions in 2006 to go live at an ashram in India for 3 years. She loves literature (especially science fiction), technology and science, progressive politics, cool electronic gadgets, and perfecting Hatch green chile recipes. Fortunately for this last, Becca and her wife currently live in New Mexico. @BeccaMorn

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145 Responses to ““If you like your current insurance, you can keep it” – yeah, not so much”

  1. Margaret Flowers says:

    That is certainly the message that Democratic groups are giving. I don’t agree with that. We are already seeing the demand for single payer grow. The Dems are on the losing side by not supporting it. And the truth is – the ACA was designed to fail the people and enrich the health industries as they loot our public dollars.

  2. BloggerDave says:

    Well, Margaret… I think that if the ACA fails like apparently liberals as well as teabaggers are rooting for, the chances of going to single payer become less than zero as neither Progressive nor Conservative Democrats will ever be trusted again with Healthcare and, of course, the republicans will never lift a finger to do anything that you propose in your article…

  3. Margaret Flowers says:

    What you are saying about Canada and Europe is just plain false. The death panels are here in the US – we call them private health insurance.

  4. Margaret Flowers says:

    75% of Medicaid enrollees are now in MCOs and that number is expected to rise. WellPoint bought Americare, a large Medicaid manager, which tells you which way the wind is blowing. Obama said that he was going to decrease Medicare Advantage plans but instead enrollment in them has increased 30% since 2010. Obama increased reimbursement to them (they are already overpriced). The White House and HHS have written that they are ok with putting Medicaid into the exchanges (people would enroll in private plans on the exchange) and Jonathan Gruber is saying that he expects Medicare to be in the exchanges in 5 years.

  5. BloggerDave says:

    Which “public insurances” are being privatized?

  6. Naja pallida says:

    It matters because the policies the insurance company offer as a “replacement” for old policies are not the only option available to people. But the insurance company isn’t going to tell anyone that. They want people to feel like they have to just accept whatever they’re offered, and pay a higher price that they most likely don’t need to. If customers went to the exchanges and did some policy comparisons, I guarantee most of them would find something superior to what they had, for less, or pretty close to what they were paying for their previous policy. Maybe even from the same company… because their “replacement” policies are created with the express purpose of trying to make people feel trapped.

    Yes, a few people will end up paying more. I read an article earlier today that said about 3% of insured people will see definite rate hikes. Many of those people had policies that were so terrible, that they were heavily discounted. They’re seeing a rate increase, because they’re actually going to get something for their money now. Also, some of those people who are claiming they are seeing a rate hike and can’t afford it could apply for a subsidy which would allow them to afford coverage.

    The simple answer is, customers now have options. Insurance companies have no incentive to be up front about that, so people have to educate themselves, or maybe end up paying money they don’t have to.

  7. ezpz says:

    YW. I read every word of it – at least once. It’s so informative and sans spin.
    Thank you for it.

    I completely agree and have expressed similar sentiments in my comments on this subject even before I read it. It’s great to have all the details documented and in one place.

    I’ve posted links to it on several other sites, too.

    I also (re)learned from the comments on CommonDreams that you were one of the single payer advocates that so inconvenienced Max Baucus, that he chose to have you arrested. Shame on him!

    Thanks again to all of you for your strong and steady advocacy and compassion.

  8. Margaret Flowers says:

    Thank you for sharing our article.

    The truth is that 70% coverage is inadequate. It leaves people at risk of financial ruin if they have a serious accident or illness.

    And the truth is that Obamacare takes us further in the opposite direction of single payer by privatizing our public insurances and further empowering and enriching the corporations that profit from the current system with hundreds of billions of public dollars.

    And I stand by Gandhi’s quote that you can’t compromise on fundamentals because “it is all give and no take.” The smallest incremental step that we can take in this country to make health care a public good, to create a health system that is about health and to improve our health outcomes is to move to a universal single payer system. There is much work to do after that to improve health in this country.

  9. RealityBasedCommunity says:

    LOL, you’re buying into a lie. Our plans were great. Now? Not so much.

  10. RealityBasedCommunity says:

    What does it matter if they cancel the plans or just jack the premiums. Either way the premiums are jacked.

  11. RealityBasedCommunity says:

    Actually the deductibles are much higher under Obamacare. Mine has doubled from $2500 to $5000. Basically the insurance offers no care now. That whole idea that the Obamacare policies are better. A farce.

  12. Nate says:

    The main reason I support Obamacare is that it upsets the uptight, hypocritical assholes.

  13. Naja pallida says:

    Not to mention, Canada and France both have higher life expectancy, and better health care outcomes for all income brackets than the US. This year, nearly a million people are expected to leave the United States to get health care in a foreign country – not even counting the millions who get their prescriptions from other countries. That’s a far cry from the few thousand Canadians a year who can manage to afford treatment in the US.

  14. Naja pallida says:

    You can be sure that the insurance companies have whole teams of lawyers finding ways to exploit every single possible loophole in the ACA. They’re probably spending more money on lobbying to find ways to skirt around the law than they’d spend if they just complied. Just because they can. Because actually paying claims is the last thing they want to do.

  15. Nathanael says:

    There’s a “Piece of Fry and Laurie” sketch about “choice”, and how it’s completely worthless in many situations.

  16. Nathanael says:

    The percentage covered by an employer plan is dropping.

    Also, the small-group market policies are all being cancelled and replaced just like the individual market policies.

    The true story is that more and more people are covered only by a public program. To me this points to only one solution: Medicare For All. If it was for all, doctors and hospitals would basically be forced to accept it. (By the way, modern hospitals run by “medical groups” are generally greed-driven profit centers who overcharge massively; they are overdue to get paid less. I suspect Big Pharma will get its sails trimmed before Big Hospitals do, though.)

  17. Nathanael says:

    Perljammer: this is the President who campaigned on “no individual mandate” and ran opposing the secret, unconstitutional NSA spying — then pushed an individual mandate and supported the unconstitutional NSA spying.
    Obama has done many good things, but nobody can really accuse him of being honest.

  18. Nathanael says:

    Yep, my existing insurance is called a “POS” too.

  19. Nathanael says:

    Starting in 2014, there are zero plans covering out-of-network in my part of New York. *Zero*.

    Sounds like you’re getting the same result in DC. This is some sort of insurance company cartel thing.

  20. Nathanael says:

    The small-group market completely changed as well.

    Basically, every insurance policy in the state of New York ended at the end of 2013 except for some of the really large “self-insured” organizations’ policies.

    Every single policy on any other market will be different in 2014. It is quite disruptive.

  21. Nathanael says:

    All health insurance in the US is bad, because as karmanot says, the privateer insurance companies just refuse to pay out when push comes to shove.

  22. Nathanael says:

    NY State has been forcing the health insurance companies to issue rebates because they overcharge customers — and the rebates have happened for every year for the last decade, roughly. The annoying thing is that the health insurance companies issue the rebates three or four years after the year for which you overpaid. I believe that is a very deliberate scam operated by the health insurers: to use the excess premium money to speculate in the stock market.

  23. Nathanael says:

    The privateer insurance companies in the US already have “death panels”. Go research it. They’re particularly nasty death panels, too.

    That’s no change.

    Now for the fact checks:

    People with serious illnesses in the US have gone to Canada for decades for medical treatment so that they could live.

    Government-run insurance, such as Medicare, has far lower administrative expenses than Big Corporate health insurance. FAR lower.

  24. Nathanael says:

    FWIW, the available insurance policies on the individual market in NY have, in some ways, *worse* terms than the ones which existed before. It’s now impossible to get out-of-network coverage; it was possible before.

    The important point is that this is *entirely* the doing of the insurance cartel. This was nothing to do with the law. (I researched this.) The cartel is using the change in law as an excuse to do stuff they wanted to do all along.

  25. ezpz says:

    I’m in no way saying that our current health care is at all good. It stinks.
    But to say that the ACA is an improvement is a stretch. I actually see it as the opposite. I think things will get worse in many ways: e.g. shrinking networks of providers, more out of pocket expenses via higher premiums, copays, deductibles, and more of a burden on the poor and middle class.

    Then, there’s the quality of care, or lack thereof. With less providers, there will be less options. With the IPAB that I mentioned in another comment, many treatments, medications, and procedures that you and your doctor agree upon for an optimal outcome will be denied. That’s how insurance companies work. Just like it says in the linked article, they like to get more and higher payments, while paying out less and less. It’s a fact.

    I’ve experienced the arbitrary denials of insurance claims that they had consistently covered before the denial. They ‘bank’ on the fact that most won’t appeal, and they’re right. And if members are denied upon appeal, chances are high they won’t take it to the next level. I did appeal and was denied again. Then I called every single day and presented my case, and each time they gave me a different reason excuse, and each time I refuted those excuses with facts until guess what? They finally made good on their contractual obligation, which was to cover what my plan said would be covered.

    And these very insurance companies are the ones with whom Obama/Sebelius, et al partnered to craft this law. And now they want to scapegoat the same insurance companies because this administration was not straight with us when they sold us out to them.

    It’s an insult to the intelligence of any thinking person. But more importantly and worse than that, it will not improve the lives of most of us. Au contraire. It was designed to help the 1% even more, and at our expense. Literally.

  26. karmanot says:

    I have no mercy….well, mostly not.

  27. karmanot says:


  28. Mark_in_MN says:

    They marshal many facts to support their opinion, this is true. I agree with many things they say and disagree with others. I disagree with the assessment that this is a “scam.” I also disagree that it takes us further away from single payer (it leaves us no closer and no further from it) and it certainly doesn’t take us toward a point of no return on that.

    My biggest problem with the piece you linked to and the statement you made about supporting single payer and ACA is that it essentially says it needs to be all or nothing, that no improvements can be supported unless one gets everything one wants. I don’t think that’s a good approach to much of anything in life, much less a good, practical, or effective approach to governance or politics.

  29. ezpz says:

    You may call them talking points, or ‘points of views’ or ‘value statements’ or any other convenient (for supporting the ACA) descriptions, but the authors have sourced everything they wrote and then some. The fact that you don’t like the word ‘scam’ or ‘bamboozle’ does not negate the fact that we indeed have been had. Let’s call it what it is: a scam. If you agree with single payer, then there’s no way you can support the ACA, because the two ARE mutually exclusive and the latter takes us further away – to the point of no return – from the former.

  30. Mark_in_MN says:

    Well, words like bamboozled, scam, con are not particularly factual, and rather ideologically driven here. The statement about institutalizing class divides is certainly a talking point, and I would be inclined to regard it as an opinion or an assessment rather than a fact.

    Talking of heath care as a public good is also a value statement, one I completely and fully agree with. It’s a talking point for a particular point of view, which I think is good, right, and proper, but it isn’t a factual thing. Likewise, insurance that covers only 70% of costs is something I don’t think is adequate. But that’s not a factual statement, either. It’s a statement of opinion, one that along with many others in the piece, are talking points for those who agree that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t go far enough in solving our health care problems, and may do little but rearrange a few things rather than provide any real solutions to the problems we see around us. I tend to agree, even while I support the Affordable Care Act, because I think there are real improvements here even while many issues are not really addressed because its also too timid. I also believe that some improvements are better than sticking with the status quo ante, which was intolerable. ACA may or may not be much more tolerable, we shall have to see how things unfold, but we couldn’t stay where we were.

  31. ezpz says:

    What did you find to be a non factual talking point?

  32. Mark_in_MN says:

    Devoid of talking points? It just has a different set of talking points than you are thinking about. (Some of which I agree with, BTW, but it’s certainly a piece with a very noticeable point-of-view.)

  33. Mark_in_MN says:

    Yeah, most of those state high risk pools are going away. They were created because of all the people who couldn’t get insurance on the private market because of their pre-existing conditions. With the banning of those exclusions and the care caps, the reason for those pools to exist has gone away. I support a single payer system, or at least a public option. But I don’t know that the state high-risk pools, which were never generally available to anyone, make much sense anymore. I’ve known many people who had insurance through them who complained that the premiums were high and the coverage not so good, except that it allowed them to have coverage in the first place. I’ve understood that some people have found coverage outside those pools to be more expensive, and others that they have had less expensive and/or better plans to choose. So the loss of these pools seems to be a mixed bag.

    Any major system is going to have kinks at roll out. It is to be expected. It would be a surprise if there were none. And I’ve liked dental insurance. Mine has been pretty decent. It doesn’t cost much more than my general dental care, and if I should need major dental work like a bridge or a crown, far less expensive than paying out of pocket. Any caps were much higher than you mention, and one might want to look at the details to see if they are still there. At least for medical care, those caps are no longer allowed.

  34. Mark_in_MN says:

    If your utilizing health care, you are using those services. The service you’re receiving is coverage for your health care. You receive it by buying into a collective pool to share risk and cost. That’s what insurance is. Separating out care for specific conditions or events is the artificial thing here. Chemical dependency or maternity care isn’t a different beast added on to health care, they are simply health care. Your not paying for services you are incapable of using. I had appendicitis more than a decade ago now. Should I be looking for insurance the excludes coverage for appendicitis because I don’t need those services? Should we have different coverage for a whole bunch of people who either don’t think they will ever need care for appendicitis or who have already had the appendix removed, forcing those who have appendixes or are concerned that it might cause problems for them in the future, to pay a little more because some people who won’t need such care have opted for non-coverage of the appendix? Starting to do that defeats the purpose of insurance. The separation of certain conditions and marking them out for exclusion in the past was created by greedy insurance companies looking for ways to make more money and pay out less in coverage. There is no compelling reason to regard these things a different services to be treated differently.

    And I rather strongly disagree that the moral obligation and social responsibility are met simply by small donations to charities to help those less fortunate. We have a responsibility to our whole community, and to each member of it, that they can be cared for, and have their basic needs in life met in a reasonable fashion. That’s really what law and government are all about, organizing our society and giving it structures that promote life and wellbeing for both individuals and communities.

  35. ezpz says:

    A great, must read piece full of detailed facts, and refreshingly devoid of talking points by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese:

    The Biggest Insurance Scam in History


  36. perljammer says:

    Obviously we disagree at a very fundamental level. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t respect your position on this. I just believe that my moral obligations and social responsibilities are adequately met when I help those less fortunate than me. I don’t mind paying more than those less fortunate, to receive the same services, but I think that paying for services I am incapable of using is a bridge too far.

  37. Whitewitch says:

    If you are partially disabled then you are entitled to medicare. My husband is also disabled and has a very good policy that he gets through Social Security. You should really check into getting the same for yourself. It is only fair and right that our disabled citizens have access to excellent health care – especially if they are working.

  38. Mark_in_MN says:

    I don’t think it’s a false equivalency at all. The issue is not whether you need coverage for X or Y. Being white and of northern European descent, the chances I would have ever needed to be treated for sickle cell anemia are small. Yet I don’t think I should be offered a policy that excludes treatment, even if it makes my coverage cheaper. But I do think I should be in a pool that shares the costs of treating those who do need such treatment, or have a risk for the condition. You’re right that there are many people who simply won’t ever need that coverage and it is impossible for them to use it. So what? Why should I help to substantially increase the costs for people who might need it so that I can save a small amount on my own insurance. It is better for all involved to spread that cost out across everyone, rather than concentrate it to the people who elect it. It’s all about shared social responsibility. It’s the ethical and moral thing to do. Besides, we all benefit from a healthy and vibrant next generation.

  39. Lisa in WA says:

    I have been buying private insurance for 8 years now. My last purchase was part of a state run pool here in Washington (not DC). They cancelled my policy effective 12/31.
    First of all, even our liberal state had a multitude of issues with their web site. I had to call in twice to get things straightened out. The problems were not even complex issues. I don’t know how they were missed in the web site building process. The customer service was excellent once I got through though.
    I did expect to pay more (because I make decent money) but my premiums would have more than doubled. I’ve been covering myself, my 4 year old great nephew (I have legal custody of him), and my two older children – both in college. My coverage costs would have doubled with even the highest deductible allowed. So now my older kids will be covering themselves and getting tax payer funded insurance instead. That doesn’t make sense. I was paying for their insurance and because of Obamacare, tax payers are now paying for their insurance. I’ll still be paying more for insurance for just me and my nephew than I was paying for the four of us before – for the cheapest insurance offered (highest deductible).
    The other surprise was that I am required to have dental insurance for my 4 year old. In the past I have found that dental insurance is a scam. Their coverage caps out at 1000$ a year and I’m already paying them 600$ of that in premiums. I just pay cash to dentists but can’t do that anymore for my child.
    I’m a liberal democrat. I support Obamacare. I just don’t see the wisdom in how my individual circumstances played out.

  40. Whitewitch says:

    Don’t make the poor t-peerers cry …you cruel thing you.

  41. Southern Realist says:

    I am a 40 year old man partially disabled due to a hard life and some freak accidents. I was paying a affordable $88 a month for decent coverage atleast if I went to the doctor I could get in the door and I saved a lot on prescriptions. Come Jan 1st I will no longer have coverage because of the new affordable health care act my cheapest option for coverage is over 2x the cost of my current plan. and my deductible is going from $1500 a year to over $6,550. I don’t know about you but that is no where near the same plan and being that I cant afford the new plan anyway how is this helping me as a American. Also as you can see from the name I am from the south and the media has made this out to be a big “Race” issue let me be the first to tell you the government doesn’t care what color you are when they screw you. Cause I am as white as they come and my neighbor that brings me dinner every so often and we sit and drink a glass of tea together and laugh at how stupid some people are is as Black as the ace of spade and she is getting the same screwing I am. Don’t let the media make it about race it’s all about money and as usual if you have money you get the better deals. In the beginning it sounded like the lower class (Poor People) would get some help getting insurance but that isn’t the case you have to be well off before you can get financial assistance isn’t that mighty nice of them give the breaks to the people that don’t need it. The only Racial thing I have to say about the whole damn thing is if you voted for Obama because he is a black man, I am sorry you must of forgotten he was a politician first. It took the Republicans and the Democrats to get us in this mess and it will take them both to get us out. All I can say is pray for your neighbor no matter who they are one day you might find you have more in common than you think. Hope this doesn’t offend anyone but I’m sure it will so I apologize in advance. No animals or politicians were injured in the writing of this article.

  42. perljammer says:

    You’re engaging in false equivalencies. Any human can develop a chemical dependency, or get cancer, or get hurt in an accident, or come down with asthma. But half the population is absolutely guaranteed to never need maternity or neonatal care, and a good chunk of the other half is past the age where it might be needed.

  43. Mark_in_MN says:

    Yes, I have. It is separating care for maternity and newborn care into a separate category that is artificial. And offering it as an option makes that care more expensive rather than spreading the costs across all who have health insurance. One might think that coverage for chemical dependency treatment is something that one doesn’t need, not being a drug user and all. But alcohol use patterns can shift, and some can find that they’ve ended up with a problem. Or problems might develop with various habit forming prescription drugs despite the best efforts by patients and physicians. You might not think you would ever need it, but what if an accident leads unintentionally to chemical dependency on pain medications?

    The problem that needs fixing is not the problem of people having choices. That’s not a problem. The problem that needs fixing is the separation of things like maternity and newborn care, chemical dependency care, mental health care, etc. off into separate categories that can become options, when they should simply be a part of comprehensive health care coverage without being separated out from care for high blood pressure or knee injuries.

  44. perljammer says:

    Have you thought that through? You honestly believe that offering the customer the choice to buy something they need, or not buy something they don’t need, is a problem that needs fixing? Seriously?

  45. ezpz says:

    Who will enforce that 80/20 thing? Kathleen Sebelius? Liz Fowler? The president?

    And good luck with that rebate. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    Yes, I know many got rebates —- before the last election! I’m sure that was just a coincidence, right?

  46. ezpz says:

    That would be fine if it was Medicare for all, and everyone paid the same amount, and benefits were standardized rather than arbitrary as is the case with the private insurance industry. So, no, in reality, you’re not paying for ‘shared responsibility’ but rather you’re mandated to give a welfare check every month to the greed and profit driven industry that trades on the stock exchange. You may be okay with the fact that your health care needs will either be met or not based on the bottom line of a rapacious industry, but I’m not okay with that.

  47. Mark_in_MN says:

    I see the mandatory inclusion of maternity and newborn care as rectifying a problem created by the insurance industry in the first place. The problem is that have sometimes set it aside as a separate category of care. It should just be medical care with coverage for your various conditions, illnesses, diseases, and regular maintenance and preventative care. It’s not a matter of including something that not everyone needs, it’s a matter of making sure that something that has not always been covered, or not always fully covered, is clearly covered now, as it should be.

  48. Mark_in_MN says:

    When you buy insurance, you’re aren’t pre-paying for your medical care. You’re buying into a pool with other people that shares the risk and the cost of needed medical care, as specified in the policy. So a male or a postmenopausal woman buying health insurance with maternity coverage isn’t buying maternity care he or she doesn’t need. They are sharing in the risks with all the other policy holders for all sorts of illnesses, injuries, and conditions. As christ10858 said: it’s called shared social responsibility.

  49. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Let’s see Medicare is over fifty years old and government run. Thousands of Medicare recipients are on dialysis. How does that fit in with what you are saying?

  50. discus_sucks_ass says:

    the first step to educating yourself is to recognize it, good for you!

  51. APL says:

    No death panels? All you have to do is look to Europe to know that with government controlled health care, you do have death panels. Of course, they are not called that, they are government created healthcare panels just like Obama proposes to have here who decide what kind of treatment you can and can’t get. In the U.K. good luck getting dialysis after the age of 50 years — it’s not available. If you have cancer, you can wait until you die for a doctors appointment so many people with serious illnesses in Canada have come to the U.S. for decades for medical treatment and paid cash if they could so that they could live. France has reduced benefits and coverage for years and has been telling people to get private co-insurance because the government can no longer afford 100% coverage. It’s basic economics, you can’t get more with less. If you are going to use government funds to pay for healthcare for everyone (much of which will go to the big gov. administrative functions, not actual healthcare), then you are going to have to cut the level and quality of service. It’s no mistake that Congress has refused Obamacare (including the democrats), the agency that will be running Obamacare, the IRS, doesn’t want to be covered under Obamacare, and the Unions — all of them democrats, don’t want to be covered under Obamacare. These are folks who know about the ACA and they don’t want it. We were lied to when Obama said that his healthcare plan would cost less than a trillion dollars (current gov. estimates say $2 trillion and rising). We were lied to when told we could keep our existing insurance plans and I’m pretty sure that if you have a good doctor, you won’t be able to keep him/her either. What you will get is the worst doctors agreeing to the small government payouts and the best going the private route. Doctors in Hungary, another European socialized medicine country, get paid about the same as janitors. You can bet the best in the U.S. aren’t going to want to go down that road. Get a clue folks, this is socialism where the government controls every aspect of what used to be your decisions.

  52. karmanot says:

    guess not

  53. karmanot says:


  54. karmanot says:

    It may be time for porcupine skin. The crazy is buzzing everywhere.

  55. Roger Miller says:

    yes it says in the aca what the standards are for all insurance plans that you have. those plans will now have a minimum amount of coverage even if you pick the cheapest insurance package. the other thing is this, the insurance companies are now mandated by the aca to spend 80% of all the money they take in on direct healthcare. no bonuses or contingency funds. if the companies don’t spend the 80% they have to rebate everything up to that number. so i would say that many people will get a refund, and some may be very nice. on a side note the cost of health insurance has been going up by a yearly average of 10% since 1999, the rate of inflation for that same period is 28%, so since 1999 insurance has risen over 100% faster than the rate of inflation. also, in the last year insurance has only increased by 3%, that is the smallest increase in 30 years.

  56. Roger Miller says:

    yes it says in the aca what the standards are for all insurance plans that you have. those plans will now have a minimum amount of coverage even if you pick the cheapest insurance package. the other thing is this, the insurance companies are now mandated by the aca to spend 80% of all the money they take in on direct healthcare. no bonuses or contingency funds. if the companies don’t spend the 80% they have to rebate everything up to that number. so i would say that many people will get a refund, and some may be very nice. on a side note the cost of health insurance has been going up by a yearly average of 10% since 1999, the rate of inflation for that same period is 28%, so since 1999 insurance has risen over 100% faster than the rate of inflation. also, in the last year insurance has only increased by 3%, that is the smallest increase in 30 years.

  57. discus_sucks_ass says:

    and a moran chimes in with it’s derp

  58. ezpz says:

    So, if a woman is still fertile but has decided she doesn’t want anymore kids, she will still have to pay for maternity insurance?

    Did you not read my above reply? Maybe you just didn’t understand it, so I’ll try again:

    We’re not just talking about fertile women. We’re talking about fertile men, men who’ve had vasectomies, post menopausal women, women who’ve had hysterectomies, and everyone else. EVERYONE has to have insurance with stated maternity benefits. I say ‘stated’ because insurance companies arbitrarily cover what they want and DON’T cover what they DON’T want to cover. That’s how they make the most profits. I’ve experienced this inconsistent coverage/non coverage by insurance companies many times over.
    And these were good PPO plans.

    And re your ‘sarcasm’ – try harder.

  59. chris10858 says:

    So, if a woman is still fertile but has decided she doesn’t want anymore kids, she will still have to pay for maternity insurance? Why is she not being given a choice? Sounds like the government is infringing on her right. (Note the sarcasm.)

  60. chris10858 says:

    Well, I figure also if a woman is pregnant, there was probably a male involved in the conception. Why shouldn’t the men’s policies help cover the cost for a woman to have his baby?

  61. chris10858 says:

    Great suggestion on making the paper form be the default and allow younger, tech-savvy folks to use the website to enroll.

    I also agree that once Obama pushed through one of his legislative agendas, he then goes back up to Mount Olympus instead of getting out there and promoting his proposals.

    He might be a good statesman and a great policy wonk but he hasn’t a clue as to how to use politics to sway the American people.

  62. karmanot says:

    It gets worse: Obama has issued a new Christmas stamp that has secret Al-qaida messages encoded in the design so that the implanted chip will be activated.

  63. chris10858 says:

    I agree Becca but it just seems that with so many of those folks in the tea party crowd, you have to use a simple analogy they can understand. Otherwise, they’d have to use their brains and think about it logically. Evidently, using their brain muscles hurts. LOL

  64. chris10858 says:

    I got msgs via Facebook today from conservative relatives. They were worried cause Obama is using ObamaCare to legally force all Americans to get chips implanted into their brains.

    When people are so stupid to believe such crap, how can one even respond? Anyone ever try to have a conversation with a crazy person? LOL

  65. karmanot says:

    Find a truffle yet?

  66. karmanot says:

    Sucks Ass and News Nag: what a charming troll duet.

  67. karmanot says:

    Or eat ten buckets of McNuggets and a 100 Big Macs, only to be saved at the last minute by FOB (friends of Becca).

  68. karmanot says:

    News NAG, just about says it all: nag, nag, nag

  69. karmanot says:

    ppppfffffttttt a raspberry for your attitude

  70. karmanot says:

    Indeed, it is the business model of Insurance companies to violate their contracts, expensive or not.

  71. karmanot says:

    But, but, Becca ya gets free pharmaceutical calendars.

  72. karmanot says:

    I look at it this way: Obama lied about the health care plan; cooked up an Insurance giveaway with Bacchus; deliberately obfuscated the so called ‘benefits’; bungled the whole PR roll out; and incompetently managed the signup. Obama Care is not the lesser of any evil. It is a pig slop to tie up real reform for generations.

  73. ezpz says:

    …I think people like their bad insurance until they get sick.

    Or pregnant. Especially the men and the postmenopausal women.

  74. karmanot says:

    That’s already happening with Medicare.

  75. karmanot says:

    Waaaaa I lost my insurance that cost $120.00 a month, doesn’t cover hospital, meds, or critical care. My freedoms are gone because Obama is a Muslim, who has encoded terrorist codes in the new Christmas stamp.

  76. ezpz says:

    Well done.

  77. runfastandwin says:

    No amount of technology will fix the fact that almost half of Americans are stupid.

  78. dula says:

    Shush you’re raining on the neoliberal parade. Just for one second can’t we pretend that tolerating the lesser of two evils is our only choice and that sometimes it works out wonderfully? After all, there are a decent number of Democratic voters who have benefitted enough from predatory capitalism that you can’t expect them to shake up the status quo too much because they have too much to lose. Let’s just go slow and enjoy the parade for once! Oooh look there’s Bill Clinton and Barack Obama! Golly, hold my purse, I wanna get their picture. OMG I’m so excited!

  79. seabe says:

    I don’t think you get subsidies if you buy from them directly.

  80. ezpz says:

    Not surprisingly — in fact, very typical of this administration:

    According to CNN investigative reporter Drew Griffin, the White House is pressuring trade associations and insurance providers to keep quiet about the changes the Affordable Care Act is creating for some people’s health coverage plans. One industry official told CNN on the record that the White House is applying “massive pressure” to combat the impression that the ACA is resulting in the cancelation of some plans.


  81. BeccaM says:

    I can already tell that under the worst case scenario I’ve been able to find, I’ll still pay less for better insurance overall than I currently have under the PPACA high risk pool. And $300 or so per month is definitely within our budget — and that’s assuming no subsidy or tax credit, for which we’re probably eligible for some.

  82. Houndentenor says:

    *sigh* Exactly. Did Republicans cave when there were problems with their new laws and policies? Hell no. They doubled down on them. What the fuck is wrong with Democrats that they can’t even defend their own agenda and the other Democrats flee like rats from a singing ship any time they need to stand and fight. Seriously, the only reason Democrats do so well in elections is because the Republicans are so much worse but it’s a pathetic excuse for a party that won’t even stand up for it’s own agenda.

  83. Houndentenor says:

    All I can say is yikes. Among other things, I couldn’t afford $600 a month for insurance. I don’t even pay that much for rent. I’d have to live in a cardboard box to be able to pay for that, and I suspect homelessness would be worse for my health than not having insurance.

  84. Naja pallida says:

    I have yet to come across an actually valid and verified story where someone had a great policy, which complies with current law, and has been forced to switch to a new policy that will cost them significantly more for less coverage. There’s plenty of conjecture, hearsay, people not understanding what their options really are and not caring to educate themselves, and outright lies… but not much really useful information to write such an article.

  85. lynchie says:

    But mediocre insurance is a problem when they have to get treated and can’t pay for their coverage. A basic level of insurance guarantees you and I won’t pick up the cost of shitty insurance. Medicare for all is the answer young, poor, old whatever. Go away from a system designed for profit and provide single payer insurance

  86. ezpz says:

    How does an insurance company decide if a woman is beyond her child-bearing years?

    Please tell me that wasn’t a serious question, but if it was….

    A postmenopausal woman can no longer have children. Period. (no pun intended)

    When you apply for insurance, you do have to state your age and/or date of birth. It’s safe to say that a woman beyond 55 or so is not going to produce any more bambinos.

    Does that answer your question?

  87. ezpz says:

    The fact that there is no such thing as Death Panels….

    It may go by the acronym IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board), but in reality, it might as well be called a death panel.

    Howard Dean:

    One major problem is the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB is essentially a health-care rationing body. By setting doctor reimbursement rates for Medicare and determining which procedures and drugs will be covered and at what price, the IPAB will be able to stop certain treatments its members do not favor by simply setting rates to levels where no doctor or hospital will perform them.



    I agree with you that the real death panels are the insurance companies, and alas, the ACA will not change that. For starters, let’s not forget that Liz Fowler of Wellpoint, together with Max Baucus, crafted the legislation. Then, she was chosen to oversee the implementation.

    Yes, they have to sell you a policy even if you have a pre-existing condition, but does it say anywhere in the law that they will pay for treatments, medications, procedures that you and your doctor have agreed upon as the best course of action if it adversely affects their bottom line? The arbitrariness of the insurance industry based on profits and shareholders, along with the above mentioned IPAB almost guarantees that some expensive life saving procedures, may indeed not be covered.

  88. perljammer says:

    Well, that would be true if prostate and/or testicular cancer coverage were separate categories like maternity and newborn care, but they are not, so it isn’t true.

    From the healthcare.gov web page on Essential Benefits:

    “Essential health benefits must include items and services within at least the following 10 categories: ambulatory patient services; emergency services; hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.”

  89. Ferdiad says:

    It does seem as if the liberals are turning a huge lie by the administration into being the fault of the GOP. I like this trend. The GOP blames everything in the world on Obamacare and the Dems blame everything on the GOP. That is awesome for America. The problem that the Obama apologists don’t seem to understand is that the law was partially sold on a falsehood. They want to cover their tacks by telling people that “it is for their own good” that their insurance has been cancelled. You see, that is the heart of the problem. In a free society the government doesn’t get to tell you “what is for your own good,” or at the very least in very limited circumstances do they get to do that. But now we have a bunch of elites in DC telling people that they should be thankful that they don’t get to keep the insurance they had, even if they like it. They should be thankful that the government is looking out for their best interest and just shut the f#@k up. That is in essence what the apologists are saying. They truly don’t understand why people might be angry. Some people may very well like having mediocre insurance because it costs them less money. Maybe they prefer to save the additional dollars and if they have a problem later pay for any deductibles out of cash. Kinda like not escrowing for taxes and insurance with your mortgage company. I am starting to believe that Obamacare will come crashing down. The reason for the cancellations is that most people with “stinky” insurance are young people or healthy people. The don’t need all the frills. Obama is trying to force them into the exchanges because that is the only hope to make them work. The real question is whether the Democrats will be honest brokers and scrap most of this law when it starts crashing. Just expand Medicaid for low income people and deal with it that way.

  90. lynchie says:

    Becca i agree. there were so many things that should have been considered when rolling this out. I live in Pa. and the area has a big unemployed group who don’t have coverage and also don’t have computers. It seems we have all these high tech folks with fancy software who just don’t get that not everyone is tech savy. I said from the beginning that they should have a form that you can get in the mail, fill out and send in. If you have a computer you should be able to download the form and fill it out and mail it in. Put a stack of the applications at all Post Offices. Have a frequently asked question folder which dispels some of the horrendous things being said about the ACA. In addition why has Sebilius been totally invisible in carry the torch. Why hasn’t she been on every talk show, Late night show, news channel talking about the ACA. She has not taken ownership of this issue in any way and because it is so mysterious the only talking points being made are from the right. None of the Dems in the House or Senate have been out helping champion this issue. Yes we see the sound bites of O’Highness give a glorious speech about it and then nothing till the next time he opens is yap. The GOP on the other hand have been pounding the ACA all through the shutdown and now with the computer problems it has turned into a gold mine of sound bites. The general public are still left with a lack of truthful information, misconceptions and complete lies. For a party which claimed they had the IT genius’ to rally the get out to vote they have totally missed the boat. A huge clusterfuck with no one taking responsibility and laying out to everyone what the steps are being taken to fix this. Sebilius needs to get on the afore mentioned tv shows and tell everyone what the glitch is and how and when it will be fixed. Seems simple to me to make the process transparent, something O promised us in 2008 would be the hallmark of his Administration. Instead they have mistaken appearance for substance.

  91. BeccaM says:

    Oh yeah. They love that card in their wallet and the fact they’re paying less than a hundred bucks a month… and then comes an accident or major illness and suddenly they discover it covers nearly nothing, there isn’t an ‘in-network’ doctor within 200 miles, and the coverage cuts out after just $5k or $25k in benefits.

  92. BeccaM says:

    Or go ahead and critique my post. John warned me months ago when I first started that I should grow a very thick skin.

    It now resembles an alligator pelt.

    Appreciate the vote of support though.

  93. BeccaM says:

    I actually plan to do the same, once I have a success to report. Although of course, I won’t appear on TV because I’m not famous. ;-)

    One thing I do already know: Going directly to an insurance company, I can get an out-of-exchange insurance plan at the ‘Gold’ level for between $320 and $450 / month (going from the Blue Cross numbers I saw). This is without tax credits or premium subsidies. BC also offers an add-on dental plan for either $30 or $45 / month, which kind of surprised me in that I haven’t had dental insurance for close to 20 years now.

    I’m hoping the “in exchange” plan is even better.

  94. chris10858 says:

    This is what happens when you allow women to try to have real jobs that only men can do proficiently. Oh wait… Im so sorry. I had Fox News on in the background and it was corrupting my thought process. LOL

    Seriously though Becca, I thought it was a good article. Unlike Tea Party folks, us progressives actually understand what is going on and I for one knew exactly what you meant when talking about percentages of folks having policies cancelled. Some people just like to be critical of allies such as yourself and of course, I am sure there are some people who are paid by the right to troll progressive blogs and other media outlets to post negative posts to try to confuse people.

  95. fletcher says:

    Do you suppose there is a market for the health insurance policy that the old comic strip character Fearless Fosdick had. After coming back from fighting crime with a cannonball-size hole in his midsection, a physician would be shown putting a tiny bandaid over it.

  96. BeccaM says:

    No, throw me into the lake. I promise I don’t weigh anything like the same as a duck.

  97. BeccaM says:

    I don’t think you’re getting my point. Okay, so PPACA says lifetime limits and caps are no longer allowed.

    Many plans people have — especially individual insurance — still list those as being part of the policy. Hell, I just went to the Lovelace insurance website (a network specific to New Mexico) to look at their insurance plans and they specifically say they exclude pre-existing conditions.

    The way insurance regulation works, just because the law says “as of X date, you may no longer do this” — it doesn’t mean they can just fix the existing policies. In most cases — and this is how it’s been in the employer group insurance market for decades — they have to create a new policy, get regulatory approval for it, and then move people onto it. Who here hasn’t seen the “your old plan is being phased out, here are your new choices” letters?

    Yet what’s happening now is this ‘routine’ change is being spun by the insurance companies in big angry red letters as “You insurance is being CANCELED!!1!! (…oh by the way here are your options…)”

  98. chris10858 says:

    How does an insurance company decide if a woman is beyond her child-bearing years? I hear of some people having kids into their late 30s or maybe even early 40s. Accidents happen all the time. Also, I don’t have any kids yet I have to pay taxes to support the local school systems for other people’s kids. It’s called shared social responsibility.

  99. chris10858 says:

    The Republicans are messaging all over the news about maternity care for all policies, even if your male. The flip side could be something like females have to pay for insurance coverage that pays for such things as prostate and testicular cancer, even though they don’t have to worry about getting either one.

  100. chris10858 says:

    ObamaCare, for all of it’s shortcomings that we progressives wanted, has forced insurance companies to make some good improvements. I just wish that the president and his allies would get out in the media and promote it instead of acting like they just got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. We need about 200 more Alan Graysons in Congress. He might be a little crazy but at least he is a fighter.

    John, once you are able to singup for a policy through ObamaCare, I hope that you will share with us on your new policy and costs and I also hope you will go on CNN and MSNBC to share it as well. Lords know we need someone on our side out in the media.

  101. BeccaM says:

    I read one account about someone who said they were losing their $100/month (roughly) insurance and would have to pay about $250 for the new policy. It was being billed as “skyrocketing sticker-shock premiums.”

    It turned out this woman’s policy was one of those useless catastrophic plans with low benefit limits, lousy benefits overall, and it didn’t cover her kid.

    You’re right: Ellison’s analogy was a good one.

  102. BeccaM says:

    Thanks. The more I dug into this, the more I realized, “This isn’t simple. And that’s why it’s so prone to being mischaracterized.”

    And it’s funny in a way. I mean, we know it’s usually BS when someone blames “the messaging” — but in this case, it’s true. The Republicans are distorting the truth, using messaging to spread lies about the situation in an effort to make people want to rise up and demand we go back to 2009 on health insurance. And the Dems (and the White House) have totally blown the opportunity to get out in front of the confusion, provide useful information, and help guide folks through what was inevitably going to be a complicated situation.

    Really: How hard would it have been to commission a mailing to everyone, explaining these points, providing hard-copy forms to fill out and send in, and just use the website as a backup?

    But maybe that’s the problem. A simple lie is always easier to spread than a complex, nuanced truth.

  103. chris10858 says:

    When I moved to Florida a few years back, I had to change my car insurance policy. I could have gotten cheaper coverage so that if I hit someone’s car, the insurance company would pay up to $25,000. Considering though that there are many cars now that cost $40k or more, it only made sense to me that the responsible thing to do would be to elect the higher coverage. As the Republicans like to say, it’s called taking personal responsibility.

    If an insurance policy didn’t adequately protect people in the case of a sudden illness or injury, then the policy needed to be changed or upgraded.

    Congressman Keith Ellison had a great retort on Crossfire last night to Bill Krystal’s claim that people should be able to choose whether or not their insurance covers certain things. Ellison stated that if someone wants to go to a restaurant that is able to offer cheaper food because it doesn’t adhere to health code laws, then its in the public interest to intervene. I thought that was a great analogy that simple-minded people can understand (aka, Republicans).

  104. chris10858 says:

    Well said. Obama is a great policy wonk but he is more like Carter than Clinton at being a defender of his policies.

  105. chris10858 says:

    Good article.. thanks, Becca! If this had been a Republican issue, they would have already successfully shifted complete blame onto the insurance companies and would be calling for insurance companies and their deceptive practices. Us Democrats are the ones who can’t ever seem to get a good PR message going.

    As soon as they realized that about 5% of the population were going to be “kicked off” their insurance policies back in 2010, the Obama Administration should have gotten out there in the media and put all the blame on the insurance companies and thus reinforce the idea as to why the populace needs ObamaCare.

    Insurance companies change and cancel policies all the time. They could have “fixed” these policies but decided to cancel them altogether and they’re now trying [successfully] to blame ObamaCare for it.

    Time and time again, our Democratic leaders and so-called strategists can’t seem to mount an effective PR response. Maybe it’s time they hire some Republican PR firms to teach them how to lie through their teeth. Americans don’t want honest, insightful reporting of the news. They want a 5 second response that a 10 year-old can understand.

  106. Naja pallida says:

    Essentially it’s the insurance industry putting a thumb in the eye of the law by canceling policies that don’t meet the legal requirements, instead of just modifying them and clearly informing customers of the changes. By forcing them to change policies, they can then also try and push them off onto a more expensive policy, but chances are, if people actually shopped around they’d probably find something cheaper with better coverage than they had before. Still, it saddens me that the ACA writers had such poor imagination to not foresee this, and have a plan specifically to address it, besides just allowing the insurance companies to screw with people, and sow yet more unnecessary fear and confusion about health care reform.

  107. Yes, I’ve been on the individual mkt for 15 years, and couldn’t switch to an HMO or they’d have done another physical on me, and I’d have been denied because of pre-existing conditions. Mine was the “best” PPO you could buy when I bought it (in DC, which has limited options).

  108. It is called a POS. I laughed when I saw that.

  109. Bill_Perdue says:

    I didn’t comment on the facts you presented. I did point out that they not the whole picture and that workers will suffer form the Democrats betrayal of health care.

    You statement that Medicare and Medicaid aren’t affected by Obama/Romneycare is dead wrong. You provided no facts to back up that claim.

    And so is your omitting or ignoring the effect of the right wing Obama/Romneycare causing a huge rise in the number of people who will lose their insurance. You can’t ignore the facts presented by the Guardian.

  110. perljammer says:

    Stoning is too good. I say we strap her down and make her listen to Ted Nugent performing “Cat Scratch Fever” non-stop for a week.

  111. perljammer says:

    Your plan is actually called a POS? Jesus wept.

    Thanks for the info. Interesting how individual experiences differ — you’ve never seen a plan with unlimited Rx coverage; in 35 years of working for companies that provide health insurance, I’ve never had a plan that didn’t have unlimited Rx coverage. I guess now everybody will have that coverage, which is a very good thing.

  112. perljammer says:

    You’re assuming that the only policies that have to change, are those purchased by individuals. That is absolutely not true; employer-provided insurance has to meet ACA requirements as well. Those plans that don’t meet ACA requirements will have to be changed. That, by the way, is not part of the “employer mandate” that was delayed by a year. The delayed bit is the requirement for employers of 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to provide a compliant insurance plan.

    Anyone with employer-provided insurance, by law should have received a letter from their company before October 1, explaining the employee’s options under the ACA, and also explaining whether or not the employer-provided plan meets ACA requirements.

  113. I didn’t lose it, I just didn’t buy it. I was going to, called back for more info, and fortunately the next guy at BCBS thought it wise to let me know the plan would be gone in a year. And that’s a good question, #1. Basically, the plan is right in the middle. I will likely buy a plan for $50 a month cheaper, BUT that plan will require me losing my primary care doctor, and it will require me having a quasi hmo (it’s called a POS, ironically, a combo hmo and ppo), which means my out of network costs go up if I decide to see specialists in chicago or if I have surgery and decide to go to a hospital in chicago since I have zero family here in DC. So, the plan is cheaper than the one I wanted, but it’s also a bit more restrictive (it does offer better benefits for going to my new primary care physician, the visits are free, I’m just not happy about being forced to change docs). As for the more expensive PPO, it’s like $100 more than what I currently pay and appears to be crap. I think they clearly dont want people taking that plan, and it’s really kind of worse than the one they were offering me for cheaper.

    So, the plan I wanted was the one they’re phasing out. I pretty much have to get the cheaper one that requires me to change doctors, and has a large $1000 deductible for out of network, and then a copay as well.

    2, In my 15 years of being with BCBS, I’ve never seen a plan that had unlimited rx drug coverage. Suddenly it appears after the ACA passes. The annual limit phase out is rather confusing, I’ve tried to figure out when it goes into effect, and whether it already went into effect, to no avail. But it seems to be me that when these plans with no annual limits suddenly appear for the first time after congress outlaws annual limits, that yes it’s because of the ACA. It would need to be further investigated, but there’s zero transparency at the insurance companies, so good luck :)

  114. Good point, just corrected it.

  115. I say we stone her.

  116. Joshua_Holland says:

    John, Becca writes that 40-67% of insurance policies may change. That’s a big-time factual error — it’s 40-67% of the 5% of policies in the individual market. So more like 2-3% of the total population. Can we get a correction?


  117. perljammer says:

    You are spot on regarding the Medicare issue. Of course, the reduction in allowable payments is part of what is funding ACA.

  118. Joshua_Holland says:

    It’s a reply to your claim that my facts were wrong. They weren’t.

  119. Bill_Perdue says:

    That’s not a reply to the fact that employer union plans are in danger or that employers are slashing worker hours to avoid paying insurance. If we don’t fight back soon everyone will have McJobs and Obama and the Democrats and the Republicans union busting will be successful.

  120. perljammer says:

    John, I’m really curious about a couple of things:

    1. How does the plan you got and then lost compare in terms of cost and benefits with what you are getting through the Marketplace?

    2. Why would you assume that the plan you got and then lost was only made available because of the ACA? If the plan was made available because of the ACA, why wouldn’t it be ACA compliant (OK, maybe I’m asking you to read your insurance company’s mind with that one)? Insurance companies are constantly offering new plans and/or changing the terms of existing ones.

  121. Joshua_Holland says:

    79% of the public are covered by an employer plan or a public program. I think that’s the vast majority. http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/total-population/

  122. discus_sucks_ass says:

    as incoherent and unthoughtful as dumdigo’s posts

  123. MichaelS says:

    LIKE!! (I should have read your comment before adding my own up top.)

    I’m shocked – SHOCKED – that the Republicans are lying and cheating and attacking. (said tongue-in-cheek…) When will this stupid administration ever catch on?

    Prediction on a related note: The Dems have been too afraid to get rid of the filibuster because of fears they’ll need it themselves when in the minority. I’m talking bets on how long it takes the Republicans to kill the filibuster once they re-take the Senate… I say within a month. (oh but the Dems will do very dramatic hand-wringing, at least…)

  124. Bill_Perdue says:

    “The vast majority of people are covered by employers’ group insurance, Medicare or Medicaid and won’t have any change.” Wrong.

    Medicare funding is down in terms of allowable payments to doctors and hospitals and that has the effect of limiting the number of doctors who’ll take Medicare patients and forces them into HMOs where care is cut to the bone and profits are huge.

    US employers slashing worker hours to avoid Obamacare insurance mandate – Trend sparks fears among low-paid workers that they will be hit twice: by having earnings cut and paying more for healthcarehttp://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/30/us-employers-slash-hours-avoid-obamacare

  125. That’s not true. The PPO plan I was looking at buying last month, before the exchanges kicked in, had a $300 deductible, 10% copay for major medical, $25 visits to my family doctor (then 10% copay for the rest), $25 to specialists (plus 10% copay for the rest), generics are $10, name brand drugs are $20 or $40 depending. It was a pretty darn good plan, basically the same plan I have now except that now I have a $1500 annual limit on prescriptions, in the new plan there was no limit. The plan was also $20 more than I currently pay, it was around $610 or something a month, which isn’t cheap. And I found out during my second call to BCBS, but not my first, that the plan was going to be phased out in a year because of the ACA. It was not a junk plan. It was a great plan, albeit pricey. Then again,they didn’t offer this plan until the ACA got passed, so I would have never been able to get it in the first place, and then lose it, had the ACA not passed anyway. Still, they weren’t all junk plans that are getting canceled or whatever.

  126. MichaelS says:

    Couldn’t agree more. There is absolutely no excuse for the lies the Repugs are spreading and the witch-hunt they’re conducting. That being said, we’ve always known they’re liars and witch-hunters, and this WH has been singularly inept — over 5 years now — in their discipline, their messaging, and their utter inability to anticipate even the most obvious Republican attacks. They’re always reactive, and even then the administration screws up — evidence the recent IRS scandal, when Obama immediately assumed the attacks were correct (that the IRS was targeting conservative groups) when it turned out the agency was examining ALL groups, and actually disallowing benefits for progressive groups. And still, after a year of scandal, Obama has never ordered the IRS to implement the law as written — to grant benefits to groups that are exclusively non-political.

    So in conclusion, while the Republicans are wrong, they succeed with their lies and attacks because this administration is politically inept and incapable of walking and chewing gum at the same time.

  127. Bill_Perdue says:

    Obama/Romneycare is a fraud and the result of secret meetings and bribery. Obamacare is a repeat of Romneycare. Both are carefully crafted to make maximum profits for insurance companies, HMO’s and pharmaceutical giants.

    Obama had 27 secret meetings with ’15 of the health care and pharmaceutical industry’s most powerful players’ before he betrayed the ‘public option’. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/22/obamas-private-health-car_n_243115.html And he got over $20 million in bribes ($20,175,303) – campaign contributions – before he took office. McCain got a bit over $7.7 million ($7,758,289). https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/01/12-9

    From the beginning the fastest growing union in the AFL-CIO, NNU, national Nurses United have been critical of Obama’s betrayal of health care reform. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-burger/universal-health-care_b_3733129.html So are a wide range of other unions, the union left and socialists.

    It should be obvious to everyone that allowing private, for-profit and profit gouging insurance companies to call the shots would create chaos and lead to even less healthcare for working people.

    Democrats voted for Obama.Romney care and against the interests of workers. They’re the enemy and so are Republicans.

  128. Right, I think people like their bad insurance until they get sick.

  129. We are at war with Becca, we have always been at war with Becca ;)

  130. GarySFBCN says:

    Apparently, nuance is also lost on Becca’s critics. While I agree there are a few problems in her post, overall it isn’t bad. Context and intent is everything. This isn’t a post on a right-wing site and we can use that fact, and that she is a frequent participant here at Americablog, as a starting point for evaluating what she wrote.

  131. Sphyg says:

    I think it is a true statement. No one “likes” having bad insurance that covers nothing. They just like the lower monthly premiums.

  132. Houndentenor says:

    Wait. Stop buying into right wing talking points.

    A couple of years ago I had to go out and buy my own health insurance. (Note: neither the Democrats nor the Republicans really addressed people who buy insurance on their own in the pathetic excuse for a health care debate in 2008-2009.) I had to do a lot of research about various plans. I could have gotten cheaper “insurance” but the truth is that the cheaper “insurance” covered very little and had so many loopholes for the insurance company that chances are they’d never pay on any real claim. That the kind of “insurance” that people have who aren’t able to keep their plan. Those plans shouldn’t have been legal in the first place. They are a scam.

    I’m not nearly as sick of the Republican’s lying (it’s what they do) as I am of Democrats being too stupid to realize they are being lied to. Stop being played but the right. Find out what the fuck you’re talking about. Fuck.

  133. nicho says:

    How about we let you “choose” between being run over by a car or be eaten by an alligator? What’s the matter? Don’t like choice?

  134. perljammer says:

    I mentioned some time ago, seeing stories about individuals receiving cancellation notices from their health insurance carriers due to their policies not conforming to ACA requirements, and I was accused of being a faux news-addicted wingnut for my trouble.

    Personally, I have mixed feelings on the subject. On the one hand, for example, the cost of maternity coverage for people who need it is kept down by requiring those who don’t need it, to pay for it anyway (and yes, as far as I can tell, all policies are required to include maternity coverage; see https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/essential-health-benefits/). On the other hand, not being able to customize coverage to match your needs negates one of the only advantages to buying health insurance on the individual market, if it turns out that ACA-compliant coverage is more expensive than the coverage you would otherwise select.

    It was incredibly short sighted of the President to ever say “If you like your health insurance, you’ll be able to keep it,” when he knew it was not true. Whether you want to say “not 100% accurate” or “lie”, that was equivalent to handing a loaded gun to his political adversaries and saying, “Would you mind shooting me in the foot? I’m a little too busy right now to do it myself.”

  135. discus_sucks_ass says:

    do you bother to read what you wrote? you complain you have a choice and then pretend you didn’t?

  136. ezpz says:

    Oh, and about the caps on lifetime out of pocket expenses? Yeah, Obama quietly lifted those caps. Sorry, I don’t have a link, but I did recently read it.

  137. ezpz says:

    Becca, you say:

    …the policies aren’t canceled (people are being moved to other policies) and it’s not really because of Obamacare (it’s a decision made by the insurance companies).

    How can it not be because of Obamacare if they are being cancelled because they don’t comply with Obamacare mandated coverage, e.g. maternity? Sorry, but this is not nuance; it’s a disingenous admin talking point and your above quoted sentence alone contradicts itself.

    You kind of sort of say it later on in the piece, but still try to nuance it with talking points, when there really is no nuance for blatant deception by this administration:

    The reason so many people with individual policies are getting letters now from their insurance companies, and why employees of companies are being told they have to change their plans next year is because, right now, their current insurance stinks. Or more accurately, it fails to meet the new PPACA-mandated coverage requirements….

    But many of the people who are being cancelled LIKE their plans, and don’ think they “stink”. Why does a woman who is beyond childbearing years need maternity coverage?

    And the reasons you give for those ‘stinky’ plans are not exactly accurate either. Many of the new O-care plans will have higher deductibles, higher copays, and often higher premiums.

    If the administration is blaming the insurance companies, why did they partner up with them in the first place? (rhetorical question)

    Let the downvotes begin…

  138. Indigo says:

    What an odd thing to say. I said it was a curious side note, that’s all.

  139. Joshua_Holland says:

    ” It was dumb when they knew in 2010 that “40% to 67%” wouldn’t be able to keep the same insurance policy, and an even more boneheaded move now that we know it’s more like 80% in the individual market.”

    It’s 40-67% of the 12% in the individual market, not 40-67% of the insured (that 80% is another estimate of the individual market churn). The vast majority of people are covered by employers’ group insurance, Medicare or Medicaid and won’t have any change.

    These completely misleading articles don’t help anyone.

  140. News Nag says:

    I’ll just note that your article’s headline and content are waffling and meandering fairly incoherently. You waver from one side of the issue to the other, not nearly clearly enough identifying the vital information. There’s no solid thread to follow in your narrative. It’s like you couldn’t make up your mind whether this was supposed to be a sensationalized grabber piece or an actual news and cautionary piece. Breaking News: Your piece comes off as sensationalized, opportunistic, and exploitative, even if that wasn’t your intent. Worst, your article is only a half-step below the GOP lies about Obamacare. The only real difference is that Death Panels, etc., is 100% false. From your “Yeah Not So Much” headline to its mixed-up mashed content, yours is not that much better.

  141. discus_sucks_ass says:

    so you don’t like having a choice?

  142. Melinda Li says:

    Now THAT is the real glitch. Having to complete and mail in a form as opposed to applying online is one thing. Handing ammunition over to the other side on a silver platter is another.

  143. Indigo says:

    On a curious side note, if I decide to go for a “better deal” through one of the ACA options, I would loose my existing insurance which I carry through my state retirement system. I can carry the one or the other but not both. I don’t mind and had no plans to change my insurance set up, but nevertheless it’s an annoying piece of pettifoggery.

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