The Love Chronicles, You Can Hear Them Talking!

Posted: November 3, 2013 in Health and wellness, Life, News and politics
Tags: , , , , ,

How do you Know if a Politician is Lying

You can Hear them Talking

Obamacare’s critics are going to town on the cancellation letters millions of Americans are receiving from their health insurers, informing them that their health plans won’t conform to the new federal standards for health coverage as of Jan. 1.

We’re supposed to be scandalized by this, since President Obama himself assured everyone that if they liked their insurance they’d be able to keep it. And people just love plans that in some cases cost just $50 a month. At that price, what’s not to love?

Back in March, Consumer Reports published a study of many of these plans and placed them in a special category: “junk health insurance.” Some plans, the magazine declared, may be worse than none at all.

Consumer Reports is right. Plans with monthly premiums in the two figures marketed to customers in their 30s, 40s, or even 50s invariably impose ridiculously low coverage limits. They’ve typically been pitched to people who couldn’t find affordable insurance because of their age or preexisting conditions, or who were so financially strapped that they were lured by the cheap upfront cost.

“People buy a plan that’s terrible,” says Nancy Metcalf, Consumer Reports senior project editor for health, “and if they get sick, they don’t even know they don’t have insurance.”

An example from CR: A plan costing $65 a month held by Judith Goss, 48, a Michigan department store employee. When Goss was diagnosed with breast cancer, she discovered the drawbacks of the policy’s coverage limits of $1,000 a year for outpatient treatment and $2,000 for hospitalization — barely enough to cover a day and half and a Tylenol in the hospital. She delayed treatment, so her cancer got much worse before she finally opted for surgery. Those sorts of coverage limits are illegal come Jan. 1.

Many of the supposedly bereft insurance customers being paraded before viewers of network and cable news — and dredged up by House Republicans during the theatrical grilling of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — fall into this junk category. The news reporters never seem to lay out the benefits actually provided by these low-premium policies their subjects supposedly love, or their steep back-end costs if they actually get sick.

Consider the case of Diane Barrette, the 56-year-old Florida woman whose cancellation horror story was reported by a credulous CBS News and picked up by Fox News, which has been a one-stop shop for your Obamacare misinformation needs. Consumer Reports examined Barrette’s Blue Cross Blue Shield policy and made two discoveries: how junky it really is, and how badly her insurer may have misled her about her options. Barrette’s $54 monthly premium bought her almost nothing. The policy pays $50 per office visit (which can run two or three times that) and $15 per prescription (which can run to thousands of dollars a month); above that she’s on her own. Nothing for a colonoscopy. Nothing for mental health treatment. Up to $50 for hospital and ER services — and that only if her treatment is for “complications of pregnancy.” Nothing for outpatient services. Plus Barrette is not of an age where pregnancy is going to be an issue, so basically there was no coverage. This is one of the cases Fox news paraded before us as a “horror” story of lost insurance the customer loved and wanted to keep. Might have just as well cuddled up in bed with a timber rattler.

“She’s paying $650 a year to be uninsured,” said an insurance expert Consumer Reports Nancy Metcalf consulted. If she ever had a serious medical problem, “she would have lost the house she’s sitting in.”

As for the replacement plan her insurer offered, at a shocking $591 a month? Barrette has much better options via the government insurance exchange. Metcalf estimated that she’ll be eligible for “real insurance that covers all essential health benefits” for as little as $165 a month — a higher premium than she’s paying now, sure, but one that won’t cost her her home.

That raises the question of whether the insurers sending out these cancellation notices are trying to cheat their customers, expecting insurance companies to play fair with their customers is as pointless as expecting dogs not to drink from the toilet, but what’s the excuse of the reporters who retail these yarns without fully checking them out? You know how I feel  about that!

It’s time to tamp down the breathless indignation about these health plan cancellations. Many of the departing plans are being outlawed for good reason, and many of the customers losing them have no idea how much financial exposure they were saddled with in the old days. That’s the real scandal in American health insurance, and Obamacare is designed, rightly, to fix it. Look, I personally know people who have, and have had these junk insurance policies. This article and what I wrote here is the truth, they are not only junk, but they put your property and home in danger. Hospitals do go after everything you owe of value if you cannot pay. I know a nice lady, had a stroke, luckily she rehabbed nicely, no thanks to her insurance. Turned out it paid for nothing. The hospital attached her home. Luckily for her, she has three sons who were able to sell the paid for home and with the proceeds pay off the hospital and get her the rehab she needed. They then pooled their money and bought back their mothers house. So now they are all three sharing a mortgage on a house that had been paid off years ago thanks to junk insurance. The fact that our politicians are still playing politics and not doing what is right for you and me should piss you off.

Michael Hiltzik posted the original article in the Los Angeles Times; I edited and added my own thoughts and points along the way.

Here in California you can use the national website, but we set up our own called Covered California. It also had some original glitches, which have been worked out. Mostly caused by the huge mass of people who attempted to access it on opening day. However California, instead of griping and complaining, has made an effort to make it work. You can compare what you have and what is covered with what is available and compare the cost. There are numbers to call with questions. I have heard no one complaining so far, even Fox is keeping its mouth shut, I guess they couldn’t find anyone willing to prevaricate for money in this case.  At least so far as I know!

Comments
  1. Drue says:

    I love Consumer Reports. I checked with them on what would cover my deck best for my weather. It started pealing in 6 months. Took me 2 1/2 months to sand, tons of sandpaper, the cost of the fiber stuff that goes on between the sandpaper and sander, the cost of the paint. /but hey it looked good for 3 months!!

  2. James Mahon says:

    So how is your insurance experience going or is it too early to tell? I personally don’t like the Government becoming involved with health care, but understand the Republican vs. Democrat ongoing war so can’t disagree with you. Also since I am covered by Gvt via the VA, Medicare, and Tri-Care for life basically at no cost to me other than a leg, and various other issues from war injuries, I am not really affected by insurance problems. That said, guess I can’t really complain about Gvt getting involved other than from a philosophical basis.

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