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Hullabaloo


Friday, September 27, 2013

 
Your helpful insurance company

by digby

Funny story.  Yesterday I got a big packet in he mail from my insurance carrier laying out the benefits in my plan and giving me the bad news about my premiums going up. This happens every year. This year, however, was a doozy. When you open it up it says that my plan has been discontinued because of the Affordable Care Act but there is another one that is similar but will cost me 86% more. Because of the Affordable Care Act.  Seriously.

Now it's true that if you read through all the fine print you'll see that it kindly directs you to the exchange where you may find a different plan for which there could be subsidies.  They even point out that it could be one of their plans. They also prominently say that you can just stay with them. All you have to do is do nothing. And pay 86% more.

Now I should be clear that if you read it all the way through you'll understand that you can go online to Covered California and find out whether you qualify for government help for these premiums. But it's somewhat obscure.  And the very first thing you see is that your premium is going up to the stratosphere  --- because of Obamacare.

Here's how Michelle Malkin describes the notice from her insurer:
Like an estimated 22 million other Americans, I am a self-employed small-business owner who buys health insurance for my family directly on the individual market. We have a high-deductible PPO plan that allows us to choose from a wide range of doctors.

Or rather, we had such a plan.

Last week, our family received notice from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Colorado that we can no longer keep the plan we like because of “changes from health care reform (also called the Affordable Care Act or ACA).” The letter informed us that “to meet the requirements of the new laws, your current plan can no longer be continued beyond your 2014 renewal date.”

In short: Obama lied. My health plan died.

Remember? Our president looked America straight in the eye and promised: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) also lied when she pledged: “Keep your doctor, and your current plan, if you like them.”

This isn’t just partisan business. It’s personal. Our cancellation letter states that Anthem is “not going to be selling new individual PPO plans.” When we asked whether we could keep our children’s doctors, an agent for Anthem told my husband and me that she didn’t know. The insurer has no details available yet on what exactly they’ll be offering. We either will be herded into the Obamacare federal health-insurance-exchange regime (launching October 1), a severely limited HMO plan, or we’ll be presented with costlier alternatives from another insurer. If they even exist.

My family is not alone. Across the country, insurers are sending out Obamacare-induced health-plan death notices to untold tens of thousands of other customers in the individual market. Twitter users are posting their Obamacare cancellation notices and accompanying rate increases:
Now, it's entirely possible that Malkin will be paying more for her insurance next year simply because she makes a lot of money. Wingnut welfare tends to pay pretty well. (And that is part of the deal for some people and they are not going to be happy about it.) But those of us who have no wingnut welfare and make a normal middle class living can go to the exchange and find out, as I have, that I am going to be paying a little bit less for a better plan. I don't know yet whether I'll be able to keep my current insurer or whether I'll switch to something else because the exchange isn't open yet, but it's pretty clear that no matter what, I'm going to come out ahead. But if I just looked at that packet from my insurer and din't understand this whole thing fairly well, I could easily think that I've been royally screwed. And Michelle Malkin's lies and omissions will pound that point home.

Malkin whines that she isn't going to be able to keep her insurance company --- as if anyone who's ever changed jobs in America hasn't faced that problem. And she doesn't explain that regardless of the price of her premiums, she will be able to find a plan that will allow her to keep her doctors. In that sense, she's better off than most people in employer plans --- most Americans --- who have far fewer choices.

Anyway, you can see what an opening these notices from insurance companies are giving these wingnuts to demagogue the hell out of Obamacare. I suspect that most people in the private market, as Malkin and I both are, will be self-interested enough to go to the exchange to see if they can find a cheaper alternative and find out if they qualify for a subsidy. There's a lot of money at stake so most will do that. But in the meantime, the right wingers will be whining and crying and telling horror stories and the people who have their insurance through their employers, as most do, will assume this private market is a train wreck even though it really isn't. Hopefully, over time, the truth will be obvious. But it's going to be a very bumpy ride.





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