Patterico's Pontifications

12/11/2014

One Obama Voter’s ObamaCare Experience

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:50 am



Obama voter, college writing instructor, and poet Catherine Keefe has a piece in the Washington Post titled I’m an Obama supporter. But Obamacare has hurt my family.

“If you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable,” President Obama promised in 2012.

The fact that this wasn’t true would be our biggest disappointment. In November 2013, Jim learned his small-business policy would be canceled because it didn’t comply with the new mandate to cover pediatric dentistry and maternity care. So Jim went to Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, to look for coverage for his employee and himself.

He found that the cost of his employee’s individual “bronze” plan monthly premiums went up 13 percent, and that his own new individual “silver” plan was also more expensive. In 2014, Jim was individually paying $82 more a month in premiums. The deductible (the amount you have to pay before the insurance company starts footing the bill) did go down — from $5,000 to $2,000 for each individual insured. But if you added together 12 months of premiums, the deductible, and the new policies’ out-of-pocket maximums, we were potentially on the hook for $13,260 — rather than the $11,024 from 2013 — if Jim got very sick. Around this time, Jim was diagnosed with prostate cancer, so the threat of high medical bills was real.

Keefe’s plan was cancelled as well. They couldn’t keep their doctor. And trying to enroll in ObamaCare (their only option, since the policies Obama promised they could keep had been cancelled) was an exercise in frustration: “But contacting Covered California, especially by phone, was maddening. The elevator music they played on hold became our winter soundtrack.” The bureaucratic maze will be familiar to the millions who were lied to by our president and have suffered as a result.

Never mind, however. Her husband has been treated, and now says ObamaCare helped him get better!

Jim treated his prostate cancer with radiation, and received his recommended echocardiogram and MRI. So in 2014, we paid the maximum out-of-pocket expense and the insurance company covered the rest. Tallying his medical costs, Jim said, “I take back what I said. Obamacare did help me get better.”

And Keefe herself now gets $28 acupuncture treatments for free! So despite the headline, the end of the article — while expressing dissatisfaction with the uncertainty, lack of freedom to choose a doctor, and impending bureaucratic hassles — basically sends the message that ObamaCare helped this household.

Never mind the fact that they both had insurance policies before Obama got into the middle of everything and got them cancelled. They now thank ObamaCare, and by extension Obama, for her husband getting better.

This is what is so infuriating about American society. Here were people who were just fine under a (not very free) market, and the government then introduced distortions. They underwent maddening bureaucratic hassles, and lost freedom of choice, but apparently (due to government handouts that will increase the deficit by nearly $2 trillion over 20 years) had their costs go down slightly, post-subsidy. And so they are grateful to their government.

Nobody who “benefits” from inefficient and market-distorting government programs seems to be able to contemplate the possible greater success of a market alternative — even when (like Keefe and her husband) they experienced that alternative just last year.

So that’s your problem right there. What do we do about such attitudes? I don’t know. I’m better at diagnosing the problem than the solution.

40 Responses to “One Obama Voter’s ObamaCare Experience”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. acupuncture is exactly as effective as a placebo.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  3. We had a chance to fix what was wrong about our over-regulated system and it didn’t happen. I sent some time on possible reforms back before Obamacare was enacted and there are some links at Chicagoboyz and my blog .

    Now, I think we will probably go to a two tier system with a lot of doctors dropping all insurance and taking only cash or credit cards. I hope a new indemnity-style insurance reappears. That is how we paid for health care in the 1950s. There were a few HMOs, like Kaiser and Group Health of Puget Sound but they were mostly employer based.

    A few signs of what may come are linked here in a post from last year.

    Mike K (d85405)

  4. You have as much chance changing the minds of people like this as you have changing how the worst driver parks. They want to believe in Obama and ObamaCare, just as they want to believe in Big-G Government.

    I fear they want to believe in these things because they feel powerless to control the big issues in their lives. The only thing I can think of — and, frankly, it’s probably futile with people like this — is to encourage people to take control of their lives in their local communities. If they can see that government is people like themselves, people with flawed judgment who often make bad decisions, then maybe they will realize they can handle things for themselves.

    In other words, we don’t need experts in every job. We can fix simple plumbing problems, build do-it-yourself projects, understand basic legal and medical issues, and govern ourselves. Unfortunately, at some point in our recent history, Americans decided we couldn’t do any of these things without expert help — and establishment politicians on both sides are all too willing to agree.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  5. ‘And Keefe herself now gets $28 acupuncture treatments for free”

    what? she can’t afford them out of pocket? this is where health insurance is stupid. if she had to pay the tab herself would she continue with a treatment that may or may not work?
    health insurance should be for catastrophic events such as prostate cancer not simple things like a $28 acupuncture treatment

    PeterK (3e1527)

  6. “not simple things like a $28 acupuncture treatment”

    This is where the cash market is going.

    Mike K (d85405)

  7. 3. In France, is everybody in the system?

    I see what you like about it, is that patients pay the doctors directly, and get reimbursed.

    From what you say, it doesn’t seem to be designed to save costs (France has the highest costs in Europe.)

    What incentive is there not to pay too much, or not to pay for a useless echocardiogram or something?

    But it does give complete freedom which is extremely important (so there are no restrictions on MRIs?)

    Sammy Finkelman (f5c867)

  8. $28 acupuncture treatments for free?? Really? Is that what this whole mess comes down to? Getting stupid-ass acupuncture? She can’t afford $28? You and I have to pay her $28? This country and the people in it are going to hell in a hand basket. That’s like paying $2000 a year insurance to get “free” oil changes on your car. This broad is so stupid she doesn’t deserve to breathe. BTW, neither Obamacare nor Obama saved her husband’s life or helped him get better. Good, educated American doctors did. And if the politicians keep screwing with our health care they’ll become as rare as saddle makers.

    What this idiot is saying is “doctors helped my husband and may have saved his life so I’d like to thank a politician…Obama”. Dumbass.

    Hoagie (4dfb34)

  9. It’s almost like someone is taking advantage of the lack of economic understanding of the stupid American voter.

    Plus, Obamacare invented radiation cancer treatment.

    Dejectedhead (ec3741)

  10. Hoagie beat me to it. When you’re dealing with people who don’t know the difference between health care and health insurance there’s a lot of work to be done before you can even approach changing their attitudes. It’s just not worth it.

    Tallying his medical costs, Jim said, “I take back what I said. Obamacare did help me get better.”

    That’s a non-sequitur. Really, the only way Obamacare could have helped him get better is if spending hours on hold listening to elevator music has undiscovered health benefits.

    The bottom line is that a majority of Americans hate Obamacare. And no matter how large that majority becomes, the LHMFM will root out the few remaining idiots who like it when writing their propaganda. It doesn’t work. This guy Jim isn’t selling anybody on Obamacare with his story. He just looks pathetic. He also makes me wonder what kind of business he could possibly be in.

    Steve57 (1985cb)

  11. “Tallying his medical costs, Jim said, “I take back what I said. Obamacare did help me get better.”

    Obamacare didn’t help him get better. He can’t even say that Obamacare helped him financially. Did he have prostate cancer under the pre-Obamacare health insurance regime so he has a baseline to make that judgement?

    If this is how disorganized his thinking is, I’d love to see his books. I’d bet the Kali Franchise Tax Board would love to see his books. They’d probably have a field day counting up all the fines.

    Steve57 (1985cb)

  12. There is no way to counter total stupidity – stupid is as stupid does.

    Bill M (906260)

  13. Oh, please do not forget, ObamaneyCare collects 10 years of premiums for six years of coverage and the real price hikes begin after Princess vacates.

    Pants up, don’t loot.

    DNF (7b206c)

  14. “Thank you for not beating me as hard as I thought you would”

    Isn’t that the Munich syndrome?

    And they ARE terrorizing us.

    jakee308 (f0aa61)

  15. DNF, are you going to see the new Mad Max in the theater or wait till it comes out on video? Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWNWi-ZWL3c

    nk (dbc370)

  16. A classic example of Stockholm Syndrome. Patty Hearst would probably like Obamacare too. Tolerance of slavery and abuse is one of our genetic coping mechanisms.

    bobathome (5d64cd)

  17. aca was the republican answer to hillary clintons medicare for all. thought up by republicans is why it doesn’t work very well!

    seeing red (234ee9)

  18. 19.aca was the republican answer to hillary clintons medicare for all. thought up by republicans is why it doesn’t work very well!

    You’re a hallucinating radical leftist demoncrat and you are delusional. Not one Republican signed the ACA, liar. With you dim-witted, dumbass demoncrats when something you do won’t work you blame it on others. I know, it was all Bush’ fault! Idiot!

    Hoagie (4dfb34)

  19. BTW, you should change your handle from seeing red to being red since you obviously are.

    Hoagie (4dfb34)

  20. Obamacare is just the return of HMO’s in new federally-mandated packaging.

    crazy (cde091)

  21. The most he can say is that, contrary to his expectations at one point, Obamacare did not make it near impossible for him to get health care.

    Sammy Finkelman (8bd44f)

  22. Perry’s delusions are sad.

    JD (06633b)

  23. Who is Perry, today?

    Sammy Finkelman (8bd44f)

  24. How mad should I get over having to give up part of my fixed income in order for these dweebs to get free acupuncture?

    The ultimate solution is where someone can get an honest quote on a medical procedure. Say I see my doctor and get told I need to have my tonsils taken out. {Disclaimer: I don’t even know if they do this any more; its a hold-over from my youth.] I should be able to ask him (if he does that stuff himself) or any other doctor how much they would charge me for that… total price: parts, labor, gratuity, tax & license. I could then compare the quotes and select the one I wished to do the job. They would be in direct competition for my business.

    If I can do this for tires for my truck, or painting my house, or cleaning my carpets, I should be able to do it for medical stuff. At least for the routine things. And in this day and age that radiation therapy for prostate C is pretty routine, as are the other two or three treatment options. These are things often discussed in my age group. Your time awaits, guys.

    Gramps, the original (9e1415)

  25. “What incentive is there not to pay too much, or not to pay for a useless echocardiogram or something?

    But it does give complete freedom which is extremely important (so there are no restrictions on MRIs?)”

    The incentive, and the attractive part of the system, is that YOU are paying for the “useless echocardiogram” and the health care system pays only a flat charge that has been negotiated with the doctors’ unions. The incentive to spend more is your own option. The insurance system does not encourage this. I’m not sure about utilization review for medical necessity but the charges are set on an annual basis and do not feed inflation.

    Medicare in the US, in contrast, does not permit any extra charge by the doctor and purports to pay full price. It actually pays about 10% in my own experience. It used to be better when I was in practice.

    Mike K (90dfdc)

  26. heh i know i know
    you’ll prolly scream an’ cry your
    li’l world let you down

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  27. $28 for acupuncture is $28 too much, since acupuncture is a placebo.

    I don’t know if homeopathy is covered; I’m afraid to find out.

    There are Congressmen, and not always Democrats, with bees in their bonnets about alternative medicine and they get it written into these kinds of laws.

    Gabriel Hanna (64d4e1)

  28. You know, I have pretty good health care for now through my wife’s university system.

    I picked up a prescription the other day. 3 months worth of pills. Actual cost was 35 dollars.

    I was charged 12 cents.

    That’s wrong. I can afford the 35 dollars, and the only way to “pay it back” it donating it to the government. Ha.

    There ought to be an incentive, since we are all pretty selfish. How about paying up to a certain amount for your prescriptions reduces my Federal tax bills by that amount?

    Oh, I know it would never work. But people like me paying 12 cents is part of the “free stuff” mentality, isn’t it.

    So I contributed 35 bucks to a charity.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  29. Rand Paul called it correctly the lack of choice act

    narciso (ee1f88)

  30. wait’ll her husband comes out of remission and all her Obolacare will pay for is his hospice care, because he’s too old for anything else to be cost effective.

    and no narcotics, because we don’t want him to get addicted.

    redc1c4 (4db2c8)

  31. So, at the end of November my COBRA ended and I had to buy an Obamacare policy, just for December. I had to call them up because the website wouldn’t handle that anymore, being set up for 2015. Kind of like getting breakfast late at McDonald’s.

    So, I get a Bronze policy (the closest you can get to a catastrophic policy, which is what I wanted). Then they ask if I want that connected to my wife’s policy since they are with the same company (the only one with a decent network). I say fine, and they tell me it is all set up, and I mail them a check which they cash. About this time I also sent them a check for my wife’s policy.

    Today I get two pieces of mail: a check for the amount of my wife’s December premium (only) and a letter saying I haven’t paid the combined premium for December. No mention at all of the check I sent for my half of the policy.

    [Long, long story involving phone trees, bad information, hangups and truly madding propaganda-on-hold, and that just with the insurance company]

    Eventually I am told that Covered California set me up with and individual policy, and ALSO set me up on my wife’s policy. I have TWO health insurance policies, and have paid for the one I don’t want and not for the one I want.

    So I say “can you just cancel that other one?” No. I have to call Covered California to do that. I would rather lick garbage pails, but OK, if I must. The website won’t do this task, either. So I call them. More madding phone trees, DTMF data entry, wrong phone numbers, etc, and I get to the end of another propaganda spiel about how wonderful Obamacare is, and then:

    “Sorry, but we’re really busy right now and we cannot take phone calls. Try our website. Good-bye”

    Grrr.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  32. Not that I am particularly angry at my insurance company. They’ve been promptly paying the bills for my wife’s cancer treatments at the best hospital on the West Coast (thank God I didn’t choose any of the other companies or her doctors would speak Spanish or Chinese).

    Total list-price bill so far: $156,000 and not yet done.

    But this doesn’t mean I like Obamacare, just that I find health insurance to be a good idea. The wife HAD insurance before which would have cost less and provided some additional options and a lower OOP. Obamacare cancelled it and it is only by the grace of a loving God that I didn’t screw up picking the replacement.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  33. BTW, $28 for acupuncture is cheap, and probably too cheap for the acupuncturist to pay the rent.

    And yes, it does work, particularly for chronic pain. The Chinese medicine model is embarrassingly silly, but that does not mean that the treatment has no effect.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  34. 17. Oh, in the theatre. I would hope to drag a date, even.

    After plying her with the fine and performing arts, of course.

    DNF (7b206c)

  35. Why not simply put price caps opn medical services? That ought to make health care more affordable.

    Michael Ejercito (e545b1)

  36. Your correspondent (that’s me) is now a proud Obamacare enrollee. I don’t know how other states fare, but Illinois’s computer system is navigable by anyone who can read. Estimating my next year’s income was the hardest part for me. The other was a little bit of confusion over narrow and cheaper PPOs and broad and more expensive PPOs. Easily solved. I went to their provider directory and searched for my doctors and hospital. I got the plan that had all of them. And, and, and … I even got the same dental coverage I had with my COBRA at the same price. But no acupuncture coverage, darn it! (Not really, the only Chinese medicine I want is tea for when I have a cold.)

    It is my very fervent and sincere prayer that every penny of my premiums will go to pay for other peoples’ healthcare and I will not have needed health insurance for anything. Ok, ok, semi-annual dental exam and cleaning, but that’s it.

    nk (dbc370)

  37. Oh, one more thing. The Illinois Obamacare site was accessible in 15 foreign languages, including French, German, Arabic, Gujrati and Tagalog. But not Greek. I wanted to feel slighted, but I knew the truth. A Greek would not need it. He would have learned English long before he qualified for Obamacare, and most Greeks could navigate it in one or two of the other languages too.

    nk (dbc370)

  38. Kevin M.

    I’m always a bit surprised when people choose to buy through the exchanges (as opposed to using them for window shopping). It’s much simpler – once you’ve picked a plan – to go straight to the insurance company to complete the transaction*. Covered California is also, like almost all exchanges, incomplete – for example, Cigna sells ACA-compliant non-group insurance in CA, but isn’t on Covered California (and I’m sure that they aren’t the only vendor still off-exchange in CA).

    I always encourage people to browse private sites like ehealthinsurance or healthpocket before making any decisions – or, for matter, to consult a broker (it doesn’t cost any extra).

    * That’s not always possible, I realize, but most companies that sell QHPs make them available off-exchange too.

    Ken Kelly (f754a2)


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