Scott Walker is the biggest Obamacare horror story
Oh, those Affordable Care Act horror stories. No doubt you’ve heard them. So-and-so’s 98-cent insurance policy was cancelled, and now she’s paying $3,000 a month for a plan with a higher deductible that only allows her to see flamboyantly gay Marxist nurse practitioners and requires her to have at least three government-funded abortions before any benefits kick in. And next on Hannity: The Benghazi story the rest of the media isn’t covering, because we just made it up literally 30 seconds ago.
The allegedly leftwing media have been on a veritable feeding frenzy since HealthCare.gov belly-flopped onto the scene on Oct. 1. Sensing blood in the water, they can’t resist feeding the sharks their daily dose of chum.
That’s not to excuse the Obama administration. It needed to get that website up and running, and it failed miserably. But Obamacare is not a website, any more than Pope Francis’ Twitter account is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It’s a key component of the Obamacare launch, but it’s not Obamacare. Remember when Medicare was launched and failed miserably because Al Gore hadn’t invented the Internet yet?* Yeah, neither do I.
There have been numerous horror stories about people losing their insurance coverage because of Obamacare and getting shifted onto more expensive plans, and there have been almost as many follow-up stories debunking those stories.
I’ve already written about the three couples Sean Hannity had on his show who complained that Obamacare was screwing them sideways. Turns out, two of the couples could have saved big (60% and 63%) on the exchanges, while the third, owners of a business that wasn’t subject to Obamacare’s employer mandate, couldn’t explain how the law actually affected them.
Another of my favorite Obamacare non-horror stories involves Dianne Barrette, a Florida woman whom CBS profiled because her insurance premium was supposedly skyrocketing from $54 a month to $591 a month. Ouch. No wonder people are pissed.
Of course, that’s not the whole story. Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic followed up with Barrette and discovered that her $54 insurance policy was basically junk. It didn’t even cover hospitalization, and as a result, it was now illegal under Obamacare. (You know, because that socialist, bleeding-heart busybody Obama didn’t really like seeing people with insurance bankrupted because their plans were useless.) But Cohn discovered that Barrette could get a minimally acceptable bronze plan on the exchanges for around $100 a month and a more robust silver plan for about $150. When he explained this to Barrette, she said, “Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.”
As for all those cancelled policies — well, there’s more to that story as well. For one thing, many people whose policies have been cancelled (by the insurance companies, not Obama, mind you) have failed to check out the exchanges. (That’s not their fault, of course, because, as you may have heard, the website isn’t, ah, really working all that well.)
But many insurance companies are depending on the ignorance of their customers — ignorance that Republicans have only been too happy to stoke — to roll them over into more expensive plans that meet the ACA’s minimum coverage requirements. Talking Points Memo has an eye-opening story about how some insurance companies are trying to lock their customers into higher rates before they have a chance to check out the exchanges, which would likely save them money. Here’s a hint: The opposite of not trusting the government with your health care is not blindly trusting your insurance company. You need to shop around. The exchanges make that easier. (Or, er, would if, you know, they were working properly.)
Of course, prior to Obamacare, many of those people with cut-rate insurance plans — i.e., the types of plans that are now illegal — ended up getting screwed every which way you can imagine.
Want a seriously chilling health care horror story? Check out this one from Mother Jones, about a man who bought health insurance from an outfit called HealthMarkets, Inc.:
HealthMarkets was also plagued with individual consumer lawsuits and class actions. Among those who sued the company was Doug Christensen, a cancer survivor who bought a HealthMarkets plan from the National Association for the Self-Employed. A sales rep had knocked on the door of his office and offered him a policy for $434 a month that would cover him and his wife, and include $100,000 worth of chemotherapy coverage. He didn’t realize that the bargain policy had a host of limitations, including a cap on drug expenses at $1,000 per day, which wasn’t close to what the treatment ended up costing when his bone cancer returned. Doug eventually died, and his widow was left with $450,000 in unpaid medical bills because the policy was so bad. She won a $1.7 million settlement with the company in 2005.
Stories like these had been standard fare for years before Obamacare. Even Republicans got outraged. In 2008, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) launched an investigation into AARP’s limited benefit health plans and held a hearing on junk insurance plans.
You mean some Republicans actually thought horrible insurance plans that deceived consumers and screwed over terminally ill people and their families should be illegal? Someone needs to find these Republicans! Maybe they can help us fix our health care system!
But here’s my favorite Obamacare horror story, and once again we get an assist from the rabidly leftwing media.
A recent CNN report outlined the problems low-income Wisconsinites were having getting enrolled in Obamacare (because, you know, um … never mind). To make its report extra-scary, the network highlighted Progressive Community Health Centers of Milwaukee, where nearly 8,000 patients go for nearly free health care each year. As of Oct. 24, however, the clinic had yet to sign anyone up for health care through the exchanges.
First of all, if Wisconsin had its own exchange, instead of relying on the federal government’s (which, by the way, was overburdened from the beginning because of GOP intransigence), those folks might have had a much easier go of it. (See, for example, Kentucky’s and Washington’s successful state-run exchanges.)
Like most Republican governors, however, Scott Walker refused to set up a state-run exchange, turning all that solemn conservative preaching about local control into so much piffle.
Worse, he refused millions in federal funds to expand Medicaid, which drove up prices for consumers in the individual market and will likely prevent thousands of state residents from receiving health care coverage. (But hey, at least their dangerously inadequate insurance policies weren’t cancelled.)
What [CNN reporter Drew] Griffin left out was that many of those low income patients would be losing their health insurance, as of January 1, because of Governor Scott Walker’s … changes to the state’s Badgercare (Wisconsin’s version of Medicaid) eligibility rules, and that many more would have been eligible for Medicaid if Walker had accepted Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid.
Under Wisconsin’s old Medicaid guidelines, adults with children were eligible for Badgercare up to 200% of the federal poverty line, while childless adults were ineligible. Under Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, all residents would be eligible up to 138% of the federal poverty line, an expansion that the government would fund at 100% for the first three years, and 90% after that.
Under Walker’s plan, Badgercare eligibility has been set at 100% of the federal poverty line for all adults, which means that tens of thousands of Wisconsinites are being thrown off of Medicaid, while hundreds of thousands are being denied Medicaid eligibility under the Obamacare expansion. While the Healthcare.gov snafu is the hot story of the moment, the fact that almost all of the patients referenced in this report should have been eligible for Medicaid seems relevant, especially since Griffin did report on the clinics’ success in enrolling patients in Medicaid.
Now that’s a horror story!
And now, a short informational video on the kind of insurance coverage the GOP is fighting tooth and nail to allow you to keep (the good part starts at 2:20):
*This is a cheap joke, with no legitimate basis in reality, that I threw in to appease my conservative family, whom I’ll be seeing at Thanksgiving and who will be spouting Republican talking points in between bites of weird Jell-O/chemical food coloring/GMO vegetable concoctions. The real story of Al Gore and the Internet can be found here.
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