What the press is telling you about Obamacare (aka, ACA):
- About 2 million people across the U.S. are losing their current insurance because insurance companies are saying their plans don’t meet ACA minimum standards.
- The President knew that millions would lose coverage because the law said plans that didn’t meet minimum standards could be grandfathered in but the Department of Health and Human Services narrowed the regulation so that more plans could not be grandfathered in.
- Therefore, according to them, the President lied when he said that we could keep our current insurance policy if we liked it.
What the press SHOULD BE telling you:
- When the President said “you can keep your current coverage” he was talking about employer based coverage. Very few of these 2 million are on employer based plans. Those that have had their employer based coverage taken away, either had good employers or bad employers. The good employers did some comparison shopping and figured out that their employees would actually spend less and get better coverage if they went through the new exchanges rather than going through their employer (e.g., Trader Joe’s). In those cases, it’s a win-win.
- Regardless of whether Obamacare exists or not, employers had the right and continue to have the right to drop coverage for their employees anytime they want. The employer and only the employer is responsible if they decide to stop coverage. The ACA cannot and does not account for bad employers. It only makes it easier for an employee to walk away from an asshole boss because they won’t be reliant on him/her for coverage anymore.
- The 2 million people who are losing coverage are mostly individuals who self-insure. The NORMAL turn over rate for self-insured people BEFORE Obamacare was even a gleam in anyone’s eye is 40-67%. This turnover rate and the discussion about it in 2010 is what the news organizations are touting as their proof that the President knew people would lose their health insurance. Let me repeat this just in case you are having trouble keeping up. 40-67% of self-insured people lose their coverage every year NO MATTER WHAT. So now they’re blaming the President for something that would have occurred anyway.
- The minimum standards set by ACA include things like mental health, lab services, maternity care, preventative care, etc. Do those sound like off-the-wall, crazy things to you? They sound pretty damn basic to me. Many self-insured policies do not have these basic things. It’s why they’re often so cheap. However, policy makers anticipated this problem. As a result, the ACA has a grandfather provision for any policies (self-insured or employer based) that were in effect as of March 23, 2010. I.e., if someone had a policy as of that date, they could keep it EVEN IF it didn’t meet the minimum standards being imposed by ACA.
- The ONLY caveat to that was some clarification issued by the Department of Health and Human Services written on June 17, 2010–only four months after the March 23rd cutoff date. DHHS said that in order to be grandfathered in, the insurance policy cannot be changed. In other words, the insurance companies could not change the amount of the deductible, the co-pays, the benefits IF the plans wished to be grandfathered in. This was meant to protect consumers from being swindled by their insurance companies. DHHS was worried that insurance companies would jack up rates and reduce coverage on any pre-existing plans so that they could be grandfathered in “as is” and consumers would be forced to live with the crappier plan or go through the hassle of changing plans. Since the insurance companies knew about this restriction ANY company that changed those plans after June 2010 did so KNOWING that they would not be grandfathered in. In other words, the insurance companies knew what the rules were and some of them changed the plans anyway. They KNEW it would screw their customers and they didn’t care
- Of those 2 million being dropped, at least half of them will end up paying less to self insure by using the state or federal exchanges AND their coverage will be better (remember those minimum standards). That will leave the other 1 million having to pay more.
- Of those 2 million trying to get new insurance through Obamacare, quite a few of them live in states that didn’t implement exchanges (like mine, Arizona). Those who live in states with exchanges, 15 out of 50, can have insurance by the end of day. Kentucky has already had 27 thousand people get insurance through their website. California is reporting almost 95 thousand. Things seem to be running smoothly for them. The rest have to rely on the Federal Exchange. Who is to blame for not setting up state exchanges? The states were given the option and the states that decided not to are to blame. If you want to be angry at someone for how difficult it is to enroll in your non-cooperating state, try directing your justified anger at the governor of your state.
- There has NEVER been a public policy in this country (or any other country for that matter) that did not have winners and losers. In a large, diverse country like ours with such massive and complicated systems, there is NO way to create public policy of any kind that does not hurt some and help others. It’s impossible. The ACA, like every other law we’ve ever passed in this country, tries to strike a balance. The ACA provides coverage to 40 million uninsured Americans and about 1 million Americans will have to pay more (and will receive better coverage because of the minimum standards). That’s the trade off. It was made very clear in 2010 when we had this debate the first time around.
Why the press won’t tell you this stuff:
- It’s far too subtle and complicated. Real journalism requires real work.
- It doesn’t fit into the 30 second segment they’ve allotted to real news. See real news segments come between other crap. They use half hour segments on things like Kim Kardashian’s latest ass liposuction, Lady Gaga’s latest feud with someone else equally unimportant, or the latest childhood star twerking hijinks. Or they’ll spend plenty of time presenting for our misery a couple of mouth breathing idiots debating things that they fundamentally don’t understand. Like a Tea Party member, who represents only the tiniest fraction of the U.S. voters, who thinks the President was born in Kenya and who believes that chemtrails are a sign of the coming UN invasion talking about how the debt ceiling increases our debt (it doesn’t, BTW). His/her debate opponent is usually someone like an unemployed 23 year old Occupy Wall Street protester who represents an even tinier fraction of voters, who believes all politicians are illegitimate because leaders aren’t all that important anyway (show me your palms if you agree!) and who thinks if we’d only guillotined bank executives back in 2008 everything would be okay now. That is then followed by so-called moderate pundits who have a book to sell and other than that little to no qualifications about the topic pontificating about how “both sides do it” and “if the President would only reach out and compromise some grand bargain could be met”. Meanwhile they have other pundits who used to be politicians or their lackeys. These guys function as party shills loudly interspersing GOP talking points among the centrist bullshit coming from the “moderate” pundits. On the other side of the aisle supposedly liberal pundits try to ineffectually fight back against the noise machine. Most of these Democratic pundits couldn’t argue their way out of a paper bag. And the supposed news reporter/journalist isn’t calling anyone on their lies, or asking the right questions, or delving deep enough to really communicate any understanding to the audience. They only nod, make faces, laugh at the stupid jokes and insults flying back and forth, and occasionally spit out factoids that their intern found online in an “I’m feeling lucky” Google search they performed between going to the bathroom and getting another latte during their last commercial break. In the meantime, Rome is burning.