AND NOW THE REST OF THE STORY ABOUT OBAMACARE
Just a few facts the nightly news left out
November 07, 2013
Chronicle News & Opinion
In Dallas this week President Obama spoke to canvassers and navigators who are helping people learn about and enroll in affordable health insurance plans through the Health Insurance Marketplaces. CLICK TO ENLARGE
(MONROE, WA) -- You would think that after the past few weeks watching the mainstream/lamestream nightly TV news shows and reading some newspapers that the screw ups with the rollout of the national website for the Affordable Health care Act (e.g. Obamacare) was of world importance.
Something right up there with global terrorism and young guys walking into schools, malls and airports with AK-47's and commencing target practice.
Night after night (as modern Europe watches this surrealistic circus show and shakes its collective head in disbelief) Americans have been treated to lead stories about how horrible this terrible thing is/was/will forever be.
The screw up, we are led to believe is on the same par with the United States invading the wrong country (Iraq) that had nothing to do with the 911 terrorist attacks.
To find out how much that little number has cost you so far in your "hard earned tax dollars" and how much is still being rung up on the national credit card each second of every day, check here .
Makes the health care web site screw up look like a Pee Wee Herman movie by comparison.
And when it comes to right wing leaning media like Fox News, this government screw up is the equivalent of the end of Western Civilization.
According to Fox News there are as we speak roving bands of wild eyed, blood drooling socialists going house to house strangling with their bare hands women and children and little old grandmas.
And as they squeeze the last living breath out of them, the murdering socialists (who are probably atheists as well) look their victims straight in the eye and scream, "Obamacare sent us! And we're gonna kill ya all!"
The world has come to an end. The sky is falling. Fade to black.
But is it possible, just barely possible that a few things are being left out of that story?
Let us look and see, shall we?
AND NOW, THE REST OF THE STORY
There is a woman most of you have probably never heard of as her story was one of many like it that perhaps never made it as a lead story on the nightly Big Three network news or at Fox News of late.
Her name is Lela Petersen and she is the owner of a small store called "Anything And Everything" in Flagler, Colorado.
She is one of millions of small business people across America that the GOP is always so concerned about. The GOP is forever saying this and that will "harm small business people."
So the GOP will probably love this story because Ms. Petersen and her hubbie can now look forward to a retirement thanks to Obamacare.
You see, under the current spiffy "free market" health care "system" Petersen, 57 and her husband Mike, 60, have been stuck with God awful expensive health insurance.
The HMO policy they've had since 1992 is now costing $1,950 per month, just for the two of them. It is, and has been, eating them alive financially.
Lela told a reporter for National Public Radio (NPR), "When you pay $1,950 for insurance you might as well forget retirement. There's just no way."
Five years ago she was looking at early retirement but never in her wildest dreams did she imagine health insurance costing as much as the rest of her bills combined.
For Lela that free market health care boogie wasn't working very well. But thanks to America's new Affordable Care Act ,Lela expects her insurance bill will be cut by more than half in January
In case you didn't catch that as the nightly news did not: a MORE than a 50% reduction in her family's cost for insurance.
At the start of October she checked out Colorado's insurance exchange and found the exact same policy from the same insurer for only $832 a month. "It's dropping us down about $1,100 a month. We can retire. We can go fishing. We can actually see a future," Petersen told NPR.
Here is what made the difference. Becoming part of an insurance "pool" created by the act helped Petersen reduce her cost. The federal law also forbids insurance companies from charging more for pre-existing conditions. That saved her a ton of dough and then federal tax credits brought the cost down even further.
Now, there are millions of small business people across this country who are in exactly the same boat as Lela was/is. See the significance?
Does it strike you as odd these stories weren't part of the bombastic news coverage of late?
And according to NPR's coverage, "The Affordable Care Act will bring big changes for a lot of people, especially those who want to retire before they're eligible for Medicare.
A 2012 survey by Employee Benefit Research Institute found 53 percent of workers polled planned to stay in their jobs longer than they wanted to, so they could keep health insurance through their employer."
Read more about Lela's new lifeline to a retirement here .
THE HORROR STORIES OF OBAMACARE
Would it surprise you to know that some journalists have followed up on some of these horror stories of late about Obamacare that have been carried on the TV news and right wing media sites and found that...well, they only told part of the story?
A recent post on CNN noted, "Here are just some of the mythical stories journalists have helped dispel and the lessons we can learn from them about the reality of the Affordable Care Act."
Among the stories was one about Deborah Cavallaro who "was making the rounds on television complaining about how her current insurance plan was canceled under Obamacare."
So a Washington Post columnist named Michael Hiltzik talked to her. He found out her current plan cost $293 per month but had a deductible of $5,000 per year and out-of-pocket annual limits of $8,500. Also, the current plan covered just two doctor's visits per year.
But in the California insurance exchange (that ol' debil Obamacare) which Hiltzik helped Cavallaro check, she could get a "silver" plan for $333 per month — $40 more than she's currently paying.
But the kicker is this: the new plan has only a $2,000 deductible and maximum out-of-pocket expenses at $6,350. Plus all doctor visits would be covered. Hiltzik writes, "Is that better than her current plan? Yes, by a mile."
So the real story here is this: the tootie-fruitie fruit loop Cavallaro was suckering TV shows into letting her slobber all over the tube an untrue sob story about how Obamacare was hurting her - because she didn't have brains enough to check things out herself - when the reality is Obamacare is saving her little tooshie money and getting her better health coverage to boot.
Or how about a woman named Dianne Barrette?
She shows up on a CBS News (that bastion of news credibility) report in which she bitched and moaned that her $54-per-month insurance plan had been "canceled" under Obamacare.
Then a woman named Nancy Metcalf at Consumer Reports looks into Barrette's sob story and found that her current policy was a "textbook example of a junk plan that isn't real health insurance at all."
"According to Metcalf, if Barrette had ever tried to use her insurance for anything more than a sporadic doctor's visit, "she would have ended up with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical debt," according to the CNN report.
Do you still trust CBS News, the fabled "news" network "that Murrow built"?
Metcalf also found that Barrett's plan, for instance, only pays for hospitalization in cases of "complications of pregnancy."
"Instead, Metcalf found that Barrette could get a "silver" plan in the state insurance exchange for $165 per month that would actually cover Barrette in the case of any sort of serious or even moderate illness. Which is the very definition of insurance, isn't it?," says the CNN report.
Editor's Note 11/9/13: A few days after this story was published, CBS News was forced to make a very public and embarrassing retraction of an "exclusive" news story it broadcast on the CBS news magazine show "Sixty Minutes," about ten days ago as of this writing.
Why did the network have to retract it? Because much like the Dianne Barrette incident noted in this story that left egg on their newsie faces, the great journalists at CBS simply took somebody's word for something without thoroughly checking that somebody out.
For the sordid truth about how CBS checks its sources go here .
Or how about this item from the same CNN report:
"According to a report by Dylan Scott at Talking Points Memo, a Seattle woman named Donna received a cancellation letter from her insurance company regarding her current plan. The letter steered Donna and her family into a more expensive option and said, "If you're happy with this plan, do nothing."
The letter made no mention of the Washington State insurance exchange, where Donna could find plenty of other more affordable choices, because the company wanted a convenient excuse to jack up Donna's rates.
Had Donna "done nothing," she would have ended up spending about $1,000 more per month on insurance than the cost of insurance she ultimately chose through the Obamacare exchange. In fact, the practice of trying to mislead customers has become so widespread that Washington state regulators issued a consumer alert to customers."
You can find more such stories in that CNN report here .
Reuters ran a story recently about Mark Sullivan, a 31-year-old Texan who says he managed to sign up for coverage on the screwed up Obamacare website HealthCare.gov, and he says his new policy will save him enough money that he'll l be able to start a new web-based business.
"A lot of reporters want to talk about the problems with the website," Sullivan told Reuters. "I can understand that focus, but a lot are missing the bigger story" that many people in Obamacare will save money on their insurance.
Ah yes, the bigger story. What we called "the rest of the story" at the start of this piece.
Here is another part of that rest of the story. You've heard complaints from some people that their insurance companies are jacking up their rates or canceling their policies and blaming it on the Affordable Care Act?
The fact of the matter is insurance companies can do whatever they want in regards to raising your rates at the moment because the part of the Affordable Health Care Act that protects you from things like that will not come into fruition until 2014.
At that time the law will protect you from your rates being raised arbitrarily by an insurance industry that is not exactly known for looking out for consumers. (Look up the fun health insurance industry practice known as "rescission" - for years an industry secret - for an eye opener about this industry).
THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: NOT A CURE ALL FOR A LONG SCREWED UP "THING"
And finally, it is good to remember that the Affordable Care Act does not fix every little thing that is wrong with a long screwed up, long out of control patchwork health insurance/health care thing (it's not really a "system") in this country. Far from it.
The Affordable Care Act is, after all, a huge compromise and one that was painfully made to satisfy Republicans and hard core conservatives who wanted nothing whatsoever done to fix America's out of control health care nightmare, ergo their never ending false tales of "socialized medicine" and "death panels."
You see by keeping the health insurance nightmare as it was, some people made a fortune off the misery of others.
Those people and corporations who made a fortune then spent lavishly on the campaigns of lawmakers who would in turn fight tooth and nail to keep the status quo -- and make sure that millions of Americans never got access to affordable health insurance, even though they desperately needed it.
America is the only modern nation in the world where we make health care a game of winners and losers.
When all those European nations looked around at how to construct a health care/health insurance package for their citizens, it is telling that not one of them chose the system of winners and losers that was made famous in America
Some think that if sensible minds had prevailed Democrats would have disregarded the GOP assault on health care reform and, when they had the votes in both houses, pushed through a simple, single payer system much like they have in Europe and that alone might have ended a good portion of the nightmare of health insurance in this country.
But even though it is a vast compromise, the Affordable health Care Act does make a huge difference in terms of offering better coverage to far more people and particularly women -- such as eliminating co-pays for cancer screenings, adding in additional detection and prevention services such as mammograms and providing guaranteed treatment to women with preexisting conditions.
Many consider the Affordable Health Care Act as simply a first step, one of many, toward reforming health care in America so that it works for everyone -- not just the rich, not just those who can afford it or have it supplied to them by an employer.
And in terms of women, over 45 million women have already taken advantage of the services provided to them since Obamacare was signed into law.
And for those who truly have lost a good health insurance plan they wanted to keep and will need to spend a bit more money due to requirements of the Affordable health Care Act - and there are some in that boat - President Obama has apologized that people are, "Finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me... we've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them, and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this."
"We didn't do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law," Obama told NBC News.
Most people buying insurance through the state run health exchanges will be eligible for federal subsidies in the form of tax credits.
Taking into account these subsidies, the administration has said a family of four with an income of $50,000 will generally be able to buy a silver-level plan for $282 a month, while a 27-year-old with income of $25,000 will be able to get such coverage for $145 a month.
The government says in Washington State for example, 758,004 people (91%) of Washington’s uninsured and eligible population may qualify for lower costs on coverage in the Marketplace, including through Medicaid.
Here in Washington State the insurance-exchange marketplace went online October 1st as the Washington HealthPlanFinder which is designed to be a one-stop shopping site to help and guide those that need affordable insurance but are not covered by a health plan where they work.
A chart produced by the New York Times on costs of the plans, state by state, shows a 27-year old individual who makes $45,960 a year in Iowa will be able to afford to buy a quality health insurance plan for $189 a month and a family of four in the same state that has an annual income of $50,000 a year and getting subsidies will be able to cover the entire family with health insurance for $282 a month.
That state by state chart can be found here .
However there are some exchanges across the country that won't be fully operational for weeks and in some cases months.
Any insurance coverage that is purchased through the exchanges won't actually take effect until January 1, 2014 when the health care law starts requiring most Americans to have insurance or pay a tax penalty.
To be covered starting Jan. 1st, people need to sign up for coverage through the exchanges by Dec. 15th.
The first open enrollment period runs from Oct. 1 to March 31.
Gary Cohen, Director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight said premiums will be generally lower in states with strong competition in their insurance markets.
In the 36 states where the federal government has primary responsibility for the exchanges Cohen said people will be able to choose from an average of 53 health plans.
More on how the new health care exchanges operate can be found here .
The Seattle Times has a comprehensive "users guide" that you'll find here .