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Many regular readers know that I work for a small nonprofit up here in Vermont, and we made a decision a long time ago that even if we had to make sacrifices in salary to support the important work we do, we would try to make sure all our employees have good health coverage. It costs a lot of money, but our employees get to go to the doctor when they need to and people with serious health issues are able to get the care they need.

What I have in front of me right now is a memo from our executive director explaining the rebate our organization has received from Connecticut General (CIGNA) because they overcharged us for health insurance last year.

One of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (I don't like to call it Obamacare, although President Obama now says he's okay with it) is a provision sponsored by Al Franken, the newest senator from Minnesota. It's based on the radical notion that health insurance payments should go to pay for--guess what--health care. According to this idea, any health insurance company that doesn't spend enough of the premiums it collects on health care must be spending too much money on marketing, fat executive salaries, and other things that you and I and our employers shouldn't be paying for. Therefore, unless the company pays out at least 85% of its premiums on health care they owe a refund back to the people who paid the premiums.

I got my rebate in my paycheck last week. It was about $300. In addition, we have almost $70,000 that they refunded to our employer that we can save to help reduce what we have to pay for health insurance next year.

Maybe you got one of these checks, but maybe you didn't realize why you got it. My $300, and even my employer's $66,000 isn't going to make anybody rich, but it adds up. Across the country it adds up to a billion dollars paid out to over twelve million Americans.That's all money that didn't go to buy health care for anyone: didn't cure any infections, buy any bandages or tests, and didn't make anyone healthier, but the insurance companies would have been able to just pocket all that cash without the Affordable Care Act.

The average rebate per family in Vermont was $807.00, the highest in the nation. You could say that we made out pretty well this year, or you could say that we got ripped off more than other states, and now we're getting it back. There's a map to see what the families in your state got back in rebates.So this is a good thing to know. The next time one of your conservative friends starts whining about how we didn't need or want the Affordable Care Act, and how it's not helping anybody, remind them of the rebate that you and the other people in your neighborhood are getting.

And also remind them that if Mitt Romney gets his way the insurance companies are going to get to keep that money.

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