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Oct 03 2013

The most disgusting aspect of the Affordable Care Act battle

Whatever one may think of the Affordable Care Act, there are some incontrovertible benefits that it provides. It makes health insurance affordable for the tens of millions of people (many of whom are children) who currently do not have employer-based coverage and could not get insurance on the private markets because of the high cost and/or because they had pre-existing conditions. This situation was an absolute scandal, forcing people to forego not only the peace of mind that comes with knowing that one can see a doctor or go to a hospital if needed, but also not being able to afford treatment for life-threatening illnesses.

While I am as disgusted as anyone by the Republican shenanigans to shut down the government in their attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, what really burns me up are the acts of petty spite by Republican-controlled states (like Ohio) that are actively seeking to not only prevent people from signing up for health insurance, but even blocking access to information about it. (This is in addition to the 26 states that have blocked expansion of Medicaid to cover poor families.)

These states are not allowing state health agencies to provide information to people who want to sign up, deliberately spreading false information, obstructing the hiring and work of the so-called navigators (the people who are trained to help the public determine the best health insurance choices for them), and actively discouraging young people from signing up. These states are aided by right-wing extremists like the billionaire Koch brothers who are trying to keep young people from signing up and encouraging them to defy the individual mandate and pay the small fine instead of enrolling.

Stephen Colbert describes the efforts to discourage young people from signing up.

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

(This clip aired on October 1, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

It takes a particularly callous and evil person to use people’s health as a bargaining chip in an ideological struggle. For people who have health insurance to actively seek to discourage other people from getting it, so that their only choices are incapacitating illness, death, catastrophic debt, or bankruptcy, is an act so vile that I cannot fathom the minds of people who would do such a thing.

The open enrollment period for the health insurance plans via the health care exchanges began on October 1 and continues until March 31, 2014, with implementation beginning January 1, 2014 for those who signed up before then. Sabrina Eaton has a good article explaining how it works and the costs.

The plans will offer benefits that range from catastrophic coverage only — which would have the lowest premium — to high premium “platinum” plans that would cover 90 percent of a patient’s costs. In between will be gold, silver and bronze plans designed to cover 80, 70 and 60 percent of costs. Generally speaking, plans with higher out-of-pocket costs would have lower premiums.

Many individuals and families who buy insurance through the exchange — including those with income up to 400 percent of poverty level — will be eligible for subsidies, depending on their income and household size.
…

While details about available insurance policies won’t be released until Tuesday, HHS released a Sept. 25 report that indicated the lowest monthly premiums for a 27-year-old in the Cleveland area would be $152 for a bronze plan, $201 for a silver plan, $245 for a gold plan, and $121 for a plan that would cover only catastrophic care.

After tax credits are taken into account, a 27-year-old with an income of $25,000 would pay $93 monthly for the Cleveland-area’s bronze plan with the lowest premium, and a family of four with a $50,000 income would pay $94 for that coverage, HHS said. For the second-lowest “silver” level coverage, that 27-year-old would pay $145 monthly and the family of four would pay $282 monthly after tax credits.

There is no doubt in my mind that given time (and I mean a couple of months), there will be a huge number of the currently uninsured or those who are paying exorbitant premiums that will have signed up under the new health care exchanges and will be happy with it. It will not be as good as a government–run single payer system could have been but it will be far better for them that what they have now. which is effectively nothing.

Once that is in place, I hope the Republicans reap the whirlwind of disgust as people realize how much they have been lied to.

Jason Jones of The Daily Showhas a good piece on the message war and the attempts to stop people from signing up.

Stephen Colbert also weighed in on the messaging issue.

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

(These clips aired on October 1, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

7 comments

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  1. 1
    Nathaniel Frein

    My wife and I were talking about the interviews with the women from both sides and wondering what the background is on the republican representative who was just completely blindsided at the end. We’re thinking she’s some local intern who got thrown to the wolves…

  2. 2
    raven

    The absurdity is apparent.

    The Tea Party/GOP is going to shut down the government and do some damage to the USA, all to prevent a few million people from buying private health insurance.

  3. 3
    invivoMark

    Here in Wisconsin, our Republicans have even taken to cutting existing state-run health insurance provided for low-income families.

    Because those people apparently needed to be slighted for some reason.

    Republicans everywhere are throwing a tantrum over the fact that poor people somewhere might be in good health.

  4. 4
    raven

    BTW, the GOP voters are likely to be heavy users of…Obamacare.

    1. More Republicans than Democrats have already put their adult children on their policies, something now possible up to age 26.

    2. Part of the GOP base are poor, uneducated, dumb people, the christofascists. Just the group to not have health insurance. Which they don’t. In fundie areas, people are dying younger for the first time in a century.

    It’s believed that lack of access to health care is to blame. Now they can get it a whole lot easier.

  5. 5
    ImaginesABeach

    Also bad Republican action: In those states where the Republicans have refused the Medicaid expansion, adults under 133% of the Federal Poverty Guideline (without a Medicaid basis of eligibility) will be unable to get health insurance.Oh, they can buy insurance on the exhcange, but subsidies are only available to those over 133% FPG because it was assumed that those under would be on Medicaid.

  6. 6
    lorn

    One of the congressmen from my district is strongly recommending that any navigator they talk to be asked if they have “error and omission insurance coverage, prior insurance industry experience, and accreditation”. He goes on, suggesting that everyone ask any potential navigator who pays them.

    Of course, the navigators are largely volunteers who are unpaid and are highly unlikely to have “error and omission insurance coverage”, a whole lot of prior insurance experience, or any major accreditation. For the job of hand holding and getting people into the system they don’t really need any of that.

    But, being a Teaparty Republican, my congressman isn’t really interested in doing anything but scare people away from the ACA and foster suspicions against anyone who might help them get into the system. For him it seems no lie or slander is too underhanded to resort to. The willingness to lie, cheat, and steal in support of the party is not a bug, but a feature of the Republican mind. It is one thing to be an asshole, quite another to be proud of it and to aspire to becoming an even greater asshole.

  7. 7
    LifeAnt

    Let’s see. Over 6 million cancellation notices and maybe 2.2 million enrollees. (We have to wait on the final numbers for people who actually paid.) Over 70% are receiving a subsidy. Less than 25% fall in the coveted youth bracket and over 33% are in the 55-64 bracket. The remainder are in the 35-54 bracket. We have a ton of small under capitalized health plans that normally wouldn’t be approved to insure anybody and Obamacare has a previously hidden regulation that requires a bailout when things implode. And this is just the start of the individual market that is tiny in comparison to the group segment.

    Can you spell WASHINGTON DISASTER?

    I didn’t even start with the Medicaid expansion which is another mega time bomb.

    Next the Left will propose a Single Payer solution. Do you think anybody will remotely want to go to that level of Gov’t intervention? (Outside of the usual wackos of course.)

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