Obamacare is Good for Everyone

People really need to stop whining about the Affordable Care Act and actually learn what it does. It seems as if every day, someone who is signing up for insurance at their job claims they are facing higher rates and they’re blaming “Obamacare.” I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t reflect reality. Let’s discuss some specific complaints people have that are just wrong.

First of all, if you get insurance from your employer, as do most people, and rates have increased from last year to this, you should know that the Affordable Care Act has nothing to do with that, no matter what anyone claims. Rates are still set by the insurance company, in negotiation with your employer. In fact, if the insurance carrier charges too much and they use less than 80-85% of premiums for health care, they will owe your employer and you a rebate at the end of next year. I predict a record number of rebates next year.

Some folks are complaining that their employer has decided to choose a plan with higher deductibles. The employer then claims it saves them money. That’s just short-sighted and stupid and you need to call your employer on that. Once again, that is your employer’s choice. You should also realize that, if your employer decides to go with a cheaper plan, thanks to the ACA, there are alternatives. You do have the option of going to Healthcare.com and choosing a plan. Most people are eligible for a subsidy, given that anyone making up to 4 times the poverty rate is eligible. In other words, if you feel like your employer is screwing you, don’t blame “the government” and suck it up, go see if there is a less expensive option available, or an option that is roughly the same price you’re paying now, but with a smaller deductible. All plans have out-of-pocket maximums, so look into that, too. If the deductibles are too high, you might find a plan with a lower maximum, if you’re concerned that you might need more healthcare.

See, here’s the thing…

If all you focus on is this year’s posted rates, you miss the point of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” if you will. For 20 years before the law was passed, the average healthcare inflation was 12 percent per year. In other words, costs and premiums pretty much doubled three times in that 20-year period. Since the ACA, the inflation has averaged four percent. Until this year. You know, an election year, where one party wants to get rid of all of these regulations.

Of course, there is more  to Obamacare than price. While the ACA has kept costs down in many ways, mostly because more people have coverage and can pay their bills, it also makes everyone’s health insurance better. Anyone who doesn’t realize that has a short memory, to be sure. Consider the fact that about 25 million more people have insurance now who didn’t have it before. That is not because they didn’t want it before, but because many people were locked out of the system by the rules. The worst rules had to do with pre-existing conditions; if you ever got sick before, insurance companies had several options. They could not sell you a policy, or price it so high that you couldn’t afford it or, quite commonly, they would write in exclusions to your policy that would mean anything they determined to be related to your pre-existing condition could be denied. That last one damn near killed my mother about 10 years early.

One of the problems with talking about health insurance. Though everyone pays a lot for it, most of rarely use it, so people don’t realize how much better their insurance is now. For example, your doctor gets to make most medical decisions now, and not a clerk from an insurance company who never spent five minutes in medical school. All bills get paid, as long as the treatment by the doctor isn’t too incredibly out there. That means all bills; it is rare that an insurance company rejects a treatment for anything. Also, your children get to stay on your policy until they turn 26, which means you can cover them through college and you no longer have to take out a special policy just for them when they go off to college and you don’t have to worry about them going without coverage until they get a really good job.

Not only that, but there are no coverage limits, which has been a godsend to the families of children or others who have extremely expensive chronic conditions. And they get full coverage, which means, if your disabled child or other loved one needs specialized care, they get it. No longer can an insurance company stop you after a time because they feel they’ve paid enough.

The Affordable Care Act is not the reason your premiums went up. If your employer or your insurance company claims that is the case, they are lying to you. The ACA means better health care and more control for you. If your bosses are trying to screw you, you should know you have choices. Go to healthcare.gov and discover what they are.

 

2 comments

  1. An old friend today wrote that Obamacare is “a very shitty market-based system” – without further elaboration – because, to these people, the only acceptable resolution to our 150 year shit fight over modern medicine and public health is the immediate adoption of the Denmark-on-Steroids fantasy Single Payer Health Care system exactly as it exists in every detail in their fever addled little minds. No financial systems to cushion the shock of the transition, neither stages nor windows to facilitate an orderly transition to a well designed and smoothly functioning final state, no contingencies for adaptation to the failure of bright ideas that looked really good but didn’t turn out the way we expected.

    Nope! It’s got to be full speed ahead, guns ablazin’ on every issue at every moment or one gets tagged as a right wing corporate whore sell out masquerading as a pretend leftist. And God forbid that we actually talk to people who have been running medical systems, who might have relevant experience and be able to caution us against a pitfall or two.

    Nope! Righteous indignation trumps technical expertise in the minds of these people, every day of the week and twice on Wednesday.

    Which breaks my heart, because I want – basically, and we are quibbling over details here – the same things they want.

    Except, except, except, I’ve actually done important reforms and I know how tricky it can get. I have lived in Scandinavia and I know how great it is, but I also know that it’s not 1980 any more over there either and that the Danes are as eager to complain about their health care system as we are to complain about ours – it’s just that the details differ.

    The biggest issue of all, as I see it, with Universal Health Care (which is bigger than just the Single Payer part, and may not even be single payer when fully implemented) is that the American People are not mentally prepared to undertake a reform of the magnitude these people demand and in the time frame they are demanding it. We all accept that the global idea is good, but also good is being smart and careful in the way we do it. There is a reason that the ACA is so complicated. Having the radicals on the right and the radicals on the left join forces to torpedo health care reform does not “prove” that Obama’s approach is correct in any Platonic sense, but it does guarantee that Nothing Happens on this subject when we have exactly two options: 1) the ACA or 2) exactly nothing for another thirty years.

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