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.
(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.
(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.)