Monday, February 16, 2015

Obamacare Schadenfreude While Waiting for the Snow

It's no fun out of doors today, so it's a good day to clean out the residual Obamacare Schadenfreude from the digital fridge before it turns green and fuzzy:

The Skull Beneath the Skin of the ‘Affordable Care Act’
And now we can see it for what it really is: a vicious assault on free enterprise, a whopping tax increase on the middle class, a new way to get the Internal Revenue Service involved in the most personal aspects of our lives, the addition of another layer of complexity to the citizens’ interactions with the federal government and, most of all, a way to break the public’s will to resist further intrusions by the Leftist fascist state of Obama’s dreams. All masquerading under the guise of “health care.” It is the greatest scam in American history, and every single Democrat who voted for this fundamentally un-American monstrosity should be tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail, beginning with former Speaker Maerose Prizzi and Sen. Pat Geary.

Now the house organ of the Obama administration, the New York Times, is belatedly discovering that, hey, just because you might be forcibly “insured”under the Patient Deflection and Unaffordable Care Act, that doesn’t mean you’re actually “covered” in any meaningful sense, thanks to the zillion pages of bureaucratic regulations that attend the ACA. Suckers! . . .
Insured, but not covered
. . . by endorsing and expanding the complex new policies promoted by the health care industry, the law may in some ways be undermining its signature promise: health care that is accessible and affordable for all.

“I’m always curious when I read this ‘good news’ that health costs are moderating, because my health care costs go up significantly each year, and I think that’s a common experience,” said Mark Rukavina, president of Community Health Advisors in Massachusetts.

While much of the focus in the past has been on keeping premiums manageable, “premiums now tell only a part of the story,” Mr. Rukavina said, adding: “A big part of the way they’ve kept premiums down is to shift costs to patients in the form of co-pays and deductibles and other types of out-of-pocket expenses. And that can leave patients very vulnerable.”

Such policies desperately need improvement, patients and professionals like Mr. Rukavina say. But with the Republicans attacking the Affordable Care Act at all turns, even political supporters seem reluctant to acknowledge that it has some flaws. The narrative has been cast in black or white: It’s working, or it’s a failure. The reality, of course, is gray.
Take this example from WeirdDave, a co-blogger at Ace's whose day job is insurance agent in Maryland: Obamacare follies
Today is the last day of open enrollment for Obamacare. I am an insurance agent. This afternoon I got a call from a client with questions about his enrollment. He was on Maryland healthcare website. Talking to him, it seemed that he was right in the sweet spot for Obamacare plans. Based upon his income, he qualified for a subsidized silver plan with a $2500 deductible for $67/month. (All of ya'll who are paying many times that for a much crappier policy because you work for a living are reaching for a sharp object to commit seppuku right now. Hold on, it gets worse, you're going to want to use a dull object instead)

I said he was in the sweet spot, which is a MAGI* of 138-250% of the federal poverty level. that means that he's also eligible for "cost sharing" which will cover 80-95% of his out of pocket costs. Call it 90%, and he's paying $67/month for a plan with a $250 deductible and an out of pocket max of $2250/year (told ya you'd want a dull object). Government employees don't even have plans that generous.

And we're all paying for it. Take a bow, everyone.

So I told him what to do and why and went grocery shopping, and when I got home there was a message on my phone from him saying "I was going through the enrollment and I noticed a "young adult" plan that was only $2/month so I chose that one."

$2/month is cheap, sure, but Bronze level plans are not eligible for cost sharing, so now he has a $6350 deductible to meet before anything except his annual check-up is covered.

Look, you can get a schadenboner if you like, but I'm more bemused than anything. He's a nice young man, and he didn't make the system that exists, but I have to wonder. I'm a professional with almost 20 years experience in the field. I'm helping him out pro bono**(I don't make shit on Obamacare plans. Really, $0), on a Sunday no less, and I told him in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS where he would be best served, and he went and did something else, and now he's screwed. What's the point of consulting an expert if you ignore their advice?
Which is all well and good if the young adult knew he was facing a 6 grand deductible. It's probably a rational choice for a young person with the opportunity to benefit from outside support, say a parent willing to cover the 6k should the need arise.

But it does illustrate an important point about Obamacare. With it's goal of covering everyone, it's dragging in a lot of people without any experience in health insurance, which many of us got for years from our employers, who had made some sort of rational assortment of plans based on coverage and price. Many of the new ones haven't thought about it very much, and without some guidance are likely to make some unfortunate choices.

And after Obama snidely announce that the website worked flawlessly now: Snag affecting health law sign-ups gets a fix
A technical problem that had been interfering with sign-ups for President Barack Obama's health care law has been fixed, officials say. Any consumer whose enrollment was hampered by the glitch will be provided with a special enrollment period.

The problem popped up the day before a Sunday deadline to sign up for subsidized private health insurance. It had been intermittent, meaning some people were able to complete their applications and submit them, Health and Human Service Department spokeswoman Katie Hill said.

By Saturday night, the problem had been resolved, Hill said in a statement. Consumers affected by the problem should log in to their Marketplace account and click on their 2015 application to finish it and complete their enrollment for health coverage, she said.

Some people trying to get coverage hadn't been able to get their income information electronically verified. That's crucial because the amount of financial assistance to help pay premiums is based on people's income.
That's all for now, folks. According to the radar, the snow should be here; it's probably snowing up high and evaporating before it hits the ground, but sometime soon. . .

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