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After Obama announced his temporary fix to the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance companies were up in arms about how this would destabilize the market and cause people's premiums to rise.  Um, when was the last time the health insurance biz cared so much about raising premiums?  Methinks there are other motives at work.  This week's cartoon is a little reminder of health insurers' favorite refrain.

Remember during the health insurance Wild West before health care reform, when premiums were skyrocketing, not to mention loads of people getting dropped from their plans?  Remember leading up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, when premiums rose?  That suddenly seems like so long ago.  Remember the insurance companies complaining about rising premiums before?  Me neither.

Since I am a self-employed cartoonist, I've been living in the health insurance wilderness for quite a while.  My family's plan was canceled, like all those other people you've heard about lately.  (Although surprisingly, nationwide only 5% of people buy insurance on the open market like me.)  It turns out the plan I can buy on the exchange is way more expensive than my canceled plan, but it offers better coverage.  Since I'm not holding my breath that my insurance provider will "un-cancel" me, let alone offer my previous plan at the same price, off to California Covered I go!  Once I'm there, thanks to generous subsidies, my premium will be lower than before.  Ah, America!

What's your health insurance story?  Have you had a positive or negative experience since Obamacare?  Share your stories in the comments section, and be sure to like, share and check out additional links to stories behind the cartoon at my site.

[female advertising voice]

Keeping our customers informed and aware of changes in premiums has always been a goal of, the Health Insurers of America.

In response to a volatile and uncertain market preceding Health Care Reform legislation, your health insurance premiums can be expected to rise.

In response to the volatile and uncertain market following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, your health insurance premiums can be expected to rise.

The launch of a disastrous HealthCare.gov website has introduced uncertainty into a volatile health insurance marketplace, and your premiums can be expected to rise.

Due to the attempted Obamacare "fix," the insurance marketplace will see volatility and uncertainty and your premiums can be expected to rise.

Following daily atmospheric darkening after Obamacare's rollout, the health insurance marketplace will be volatile and uncertain, and your premiums can be expected to rise.

With morning sun rising under Obamacare, uncertainty and volatility will remain in the health insurance marketplace and your premiums can be expected to rise.

In response to seasonal hair growth on caterpillars after HealthCare.gov launched, the health insurance marketplace will be volatile and uncertain, and your premiums can be expected to rise.

As a result of gravitational forces beyond our control, with Obamacare, the insurance marketplace will be volatile and uncertain and your premiums can be expected to rise.

Following the rise of carbon-based life forms, your premiums can be expected to rise.

Originally posted to Comics on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:50 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Repeat after me: (7+ / 0-)

    best health care in the world.
    best health care in the world.
    best health care in the world.
    best health care in the world. . . .

    [continue until you believe.]

    "Where some see a system for encouraging discussion . . . others see an echo chamber of bad grammar, unchecked stupidity, and constructive interference . . . " -- Ars Technica

    by Rikon Snow on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:06:09 AM PST

  •  Funny how, no matter what... (7+ / 0-)

    The premiums always seem to rise.

    Hell, even the price of gas sometimes comes down. Do insurance premiums ever get lower? Those poor beleaguered health insurers, they always and ever can do only one thing... jack up the premiums. Obamacare rollout rough? Raise the premiums! Insurance market too crowded? Gotta raise 'em again! The sun rose in the East and set in the west yesterday? Guess which way are those premiums gonna go, folks - up or down...?

    •  This event has all the hallmarks of monopolistic (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TKO333, prfb, AnnCetera, ladybug53

      competition.  It is as if the Insurers understand that this is an opportunity to make out like the bandits they are and raise prices in a coordinated fashion...essentially by delineating who competes where in collusion.   That is why so many policy prices are rising not falling;  not enough true competition.

      GOP Wars against: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Immigrants, Mexicans, Blacks, Gays, Women, Unions, Workers, Unemployed, Voters, Elderly, Kids, Poor, Sick, Disabled, Dying, Lovers, Kindness, Rationalism, Science, Sanity, Reality.

      by SGWM on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 09:15:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is actually most likely (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Blight45, eps62, SGWM

        What is happening today. They are doing 'backroom deals' to raise their rates in tandem with each other in order to make bigger profits than they otherwise would be allowed to under a true free market.

        •  This is because (4+ / 0-)

          the current ACA is not a "universal" health care package. It is being fought over by health insurers who are "bidding" for the "privledge" of covering people's health care. As long as that continues, with no attempts to regulate the market or oversee the insurers, the American people wtill won't get what they need...universal health care covered by a one payer system. There is still the opportunity for the insurers to lie, cheat and steal under the present system. I wish the Dems and the President had had the forsight and the courage to go to a universal one payer system (like Medicare) that would eliminate this current type of gamesmanship with people's health and their lives. Get big business OUT of healthcare. Big business is in it for the dollars, not for the welfare of the patients they are supposed to be serving. The profit motive drives everything in health care, and still will if the ACA isn't amended to control for abuse by the insurers.

          •  ecolady (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sandika, eps62

            There IS a provision that 80% of our premium payments must be spent on medical care.  Won't that limit the lying, cheating and stealing by the big insurance corporations?
            If you check recent history, single payer was politically impossible.  ALL the Republicans and a few of the Democrats were too beholden to the big insurance corporations.  The other Dems and the President were surely aware that single payer works best in other developed nations, getting good results (longer lifespans, lower infant mortality, etc) for less money - FAR less money than we pay.  

            •  One backdoor way to single payer might be to allow (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Pixie5

              insurance firms to reject applicants for any reason or no reason at all, with the understanding that the federal government will sell Medicare to the rejected applicants (rejected by all three of the three lowest cost policies) for what they would have paid if accepted by the highest cost of those three lowest cost policies.I hope this would give insurance firms enough rope to hang themselves.

        •  I am NOT a Troll! But... (0+ / 0-)

          Barack had the best intentions going into this thing.  ACA was a conservative-conceived plan that he thought mistakenly thought would minimize serious opposition.  The Heritage Foundation's RomneyCare solution is not where I place my trust in healthcare.

          Insurance companies (corporate America) have one goal: maximize profits to appease shareholders and stuff the pockets of execs.  If there were a standard for scruples in the industry, they might be inclined to provide services in such a manner as to compete on their merits, but such scruples have not existed in recent years until ACA attempts to enact them.  Surprise!  Corporations don't cooperate when you cut into their (ridiculous) margins.  

          As Bill Maher put it, ACA is a big blowjob to insurance companies but if they can use it as an excuse to capitalize, of course they will, it's what they do.  Corporations will never do the right thing unless it increases margins - and the right thing rarely does (NEVER does if your business is to simply be a middle man and suck money out of all the other involved parties like a bunch of vampire bat leeches named Kirby).

          Backroom deals?  Probably.  But even without them, these guys were never going to fall in line anyway.

          We should be working to reduce our collective dependency on insurance companies rather than enacting legislature to stuff their pockets (which they will publicly oppose to ensure just the right amount of "uncertainty in the markets").

          *My very first $0.02 on Kos

          Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your corporation.

          by Justyn on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:43:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Of course--and the only limit I can see to their (0+ / 0-)

        greed is the requirement that 80% of premiums go to providers in payment of claims.  This means they have no incentive to hold down payments to providers.  The more providers get in claims payments, the more insurance firms can claim for their profit.

    •  The odd thing about gas prices though, (0+ / 0-)

      is that when the price-per-barrel of oil goes up, the price of gas already delivered to gas stations also goes up immediately, but when oil goes down (and it must go down pretty significantly to make a difference) it takes weeks to see any reduction at the pump.

  •  My Healthcare Story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mikejay611, hmi

    My husband and I live in NC. We are in our early 60's and looked forward to bridging the years to Medicare with a policy purchased through healthcare.gov. We are committed supporters of healthcare as a right, not a privilege.

    Through the past two years, we have had a high deductible HSA account through Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC. The premium was about $450/month. We purchased this policy to make sure we had coverage in the case of unexpected high medical expenses. We are both active and in good health.

    A comparable Bronze policy under the ACA in North Carolina will cost us over $1100/month. This is the least expensive policy available to us, as we do not qualify for subsidies.

    We are deeply disappointed that a bare-bones healthcare policy is now 2.5X the cost of our former, comparable policy, and we are unable to count ourselves among those who will purchase insurance through the ACA.

    We didn't have a "junk" policy before, and we can't afford health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. I know we're just a small percentage of the population (although I think there are a lot of us in NC, because I keep talking to them), but it sucks for us.

    The NC State Legislature has done their damnedest to make sure the ACA fails in our State. The sad fact is that, in our case, they have succeeded.

    •  so a couple of suggestions (5+ / 0-)

      Can you make a 401K deposit to lower your MAGI to qualify for a subsidy?  This of course depends on how far over you are from qualifying.

      If you're mostly interested in catastrophic coverage, if you're premium exceeds the 8% of your income limit you could request a hardship exemption and apply for a catastrophic plan.  You get three primary care visits and all the preventive services for no out of pocket costs with these catastrophic plans on the exchange.

    •  I am in NC too but have a different outlook (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TKO333, tofumagoo, countrycat

      In my 60's and in poorer health - my silver level ACA plan with Coventry  is $650 a month before subsidy - which will knock the price down considerably - but since I have some major pre-existing health concerns the price seems reasonable to me and am glad to pay it.

      The new policy is for you as a couple right?
      So our pricing is in the same ballpark?

      The fact that the insurance co has to offer the same price to both of us. - same age - same state- but different health status - is the driving force behind your premium increase.

      While I am happy as hell with my ACA experience stories like yours worry me.
      There has got to be a way we can both have what we need for a reasonable price !!
      The price of health insurance and health care in general sucks  for all of us.
      McCory and friends in Raleigh have done their best to make sure it continues to be so.

      •  There is... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        It's called Medicare for All

        •  Absolutely! It is called a ONE Payer system (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Team Leftie, SherrieLudwig, eps62

          and it is what other more progressive countries have done to ensure good health care for all their citizens. Only in the USA is health care a big for-profit business that allows insurers to hike premiums and pharmaceutical companies to charge hundreds of dollars for medications that in other countries don't cost even one tenth as much. It is the PROFIT motive applied to health care and to human lives and we are being taken for a ride by a corrupt and ruthless system. The ACA will not work unless we go to a universal  one payer system and we are seeing the results of the efforts by Big Business to undermine any attempts to provide fair and balanced coverage for all through all the problems with the ACA.

  •  i had to use (8+ / 0-)

    one of your lines for my email tag line.  it is "In response to seasonal hair growth on caterpillars after HealthCare.gov launched, the health insurance marketplace will be volatile and uncertain, and your premiums can be expected to rise."  if that doesn't just nail their whole attitude.  thank you.

  •  We were getting a subsidy to help purchase (4+ / 0-)

    insurance through mr. koosah's work. That program was known as FHIAP (Family Health Insurance Assistance Program).  It was specifically for low-income working families to help them afford their employer provided coverage.  We used to get about 90% of what it cost back every month.  

    We love FHIAP and it worked well, but it is going bye-bye at the end of December. (Thanks Obama!) We had a very confusing situation where I had no idea where we would end up. Would mr. koosah continue on his employer coverage?  Koosah kid is eligible for Medicaid it turns out (OHP=Oregon Health Plan) and because Medicaid is expanded, I'm probably eligible too.  

    There's a lot of "maybe" "perhaps" "probably" in our situation because everyone who was in FHIAP has to be transitioned into something new carefully.  

    We filled out the paperwork they sent us and I kinda freaked out a bit, panicking about what would happen if I signed up for OHP/Medicaid and they came after our assets (I'm almost 55). I was told that I really didn't have a choice. OHP or nuthin'!  More panic.  

    Then one of the FHIAP folks called me and basically told me to calm down, catch my breath and please, please, please send the paperwork back.  Instead of panicking I should have been celebrating.  We will have a window of time after the New Year when BOTH programs are in effect and we will be double-covered. Our co-pays and deductibles will be covered by OHP and we will still have mr. koosah's employer insurance. Its coverage will be cost-analyzed by Oregon to see if it is acceptable to keep or if we should transition to Expanded Medicaid/OHP.  

    Meanwhile, the issue of asset recovery is still a bit uncertain. I have received differing answers on this. Mr. koosah is disabled and technically koosah kid is too (he is on the autism spectrum) so I've been told by some sources that Medicaid can't recover assets from someone whose beneficiaries are disabled. I don't have that in writing yet, so I don't know...

    Anyway.  We're kinda "problem children" with a very complicated situation in my family. The nice thing is that THEY called ME to reassure me and walk me through where I need to go on this crazy complicated path.  

    Thanks, Obama!  And I mean that sincerely this time.  Oregon is doing this right.    

    "Profit is a filthy word. Wherever there is profit, there is also deficit." Russell Brand

    by koosah on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:26:08 AM PST

  •  this is hilarious (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO

    I laughed all the way through it.

    •  It isn't very funny if (0+ / 0-)

      you are the one with the serious health problem and the system seems to be floundering. You, glynis, can laugh all you want... but my husband with lung cancer is not laughing one bit, and neither am I. Your hilarity is not appreciated. Nor is your cynicism. I hope that one day you won't have to stop laughing.. but I can hope for the best.

      •  what are you talking about? (0+ / 0-)

        the cartoon was funny.  What's your beef with it?

      •  The cartoon was not aimed at you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        glynis

        The purpose of arousing the cynicism and humor is to show people how much the situation NEEDS to be fixed.  Nobody is laughing at the unfortunate victims.  I hope and pray that the situation is resolved quickly for both of you.

        And I also have some health problems which require me to get regular blood tests and prescriptions.  Thankfully I survived long enough to be eligible for Johnsoncare (with help from AARP and the Bushcare prescription plan).  I hope my son does not have to use Obamacare next year, but I am thankful that SOMETHING is now in place to help him if he should need it.

        It is a shame that actual conditions are so illogical as to promote (nervous gallows) humor.  I am looking forward to a future America when there is no serious socioeconomic problem deserving of jokes, and we can joke about light, trivial things like changing light bulbs instead!

  •  Important health warning (4+ / 0-)

    Don't watch this comic while eating breakfast, or choking will ensue. Which of course will make the health market more volatile, and premiums are expected to rise.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:36:37 AM PST

  •  Way more expensive, but I get to keep my plan (0+ / 0-)

    I have a catastrophic plan plus I use a HSA to potentially offset the deductible.

    My insurer - Humana - offers a slightly worse plan on the exchange for twice as much. I don't get any subsidies, so that's no deal.

    Thankfully I get to keep my insurance, so there's no net change for me. My only concern is what will happen over time? Will insurers start doing business only on the exchange?

  •  Oregon Regence Blue Cross (5+ / 0-)

    For the past six years with a two person family plan. Our premiums have risen every year and are now $1150 per month for a 61 and 62 year old non-smokers. Our deductible is fairly low, $1200 each but we've rarely reached it. Like the poster above, we cant find a comparable plan on CoverOregon for less money and we earn too much to qualify for a subsidy. Since CoverOregon is not really functional yet, we will probably go to an insurance salesperson and see if we can do any better. We did get a cheerful letter from Regence saying "We Got You Covered!" and that they will move us into a new plan if we do nothing. The new premiums will be substantially higher than our current horrible $1150 per month. I realize we now have no lifetime caps or pre-existing condition problems but without Medicare for all, we are still victims of the insurance industry, especially because we are so close to Medicare eligibility and are high earners.

    Try Organic food, or as your grandparents called it, food.

    by madame damnable on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 08:12:49 AM PST

  •  Anybody else (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO

    see a commercial for health care exchanges?  I saw one last night.

    •  All kinds of insurance ads... (0+ / 0-)

      ... when I watch the few TV shows I keep track of on Hulu.

      I couldn't deal with stupid TV shows and even more stupid ads, so several months ago I turned my TV off - permanently.  I've never had cable because I refuse to pay for ads I could get for free, and I refuse to pay for sports channels I'd get with some kind of idiotic "package" deal and I refuse to let a sports anything profit even once cent from me since I'd never watch them.

      IF/When I ever get cable, two things will have to happen:  1) I pay means I do NOT get ads, and 2) I get to pick and choose the few channels I'd watch.  [Really, how many channels can one person watch?  I watch six or fewer shows each week, and for the last two summers just one one-hour show per week; I get all of them on Hulu.  I don't watch enough TV to make it worth my money to pay for cable.]

      Pay attention to insurance ads?  Fuggedaboutit.

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 09:05:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My health care story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hmi

    I've been self employed for 20 years and have had a high deductible policy with an HSA for most of that time.  Over the past decade my premium had gone up between 17% and 34% every year, so I've switched plans 2 or 3 times; always to a higher deductible.  After getting on a new plan in July of 2012 I was notified of a 24% increase this past July, which I've continued to pay since then.

    In September I received a notice that I could either pay an additional 22% starting December 1st to continue my coverage for a year or I could pay the same amount I have already been paying until June of 2014 at which point my plan would cease to exist.  This made it roughly a 44% increase in 6 months.

    I did look at the exchange, only to find that my current provider, Anthem, was the only one offering new plans in Indiana.  The recession has been hard on me and my income falls below the level needed to get a subsidy so I would have to pay full price.  Indiana did not expand Medicaid coverage, and even the lowest priced plan on the exchange was more than what my current plan was, so I went with the lesser of two evils, my existing plan.

    Indiana has a "Healthy Indiana Plan", (HIP), for low income adults, but there is currently a waiting list.  Even if a slot opens I still wouldn't qualify: you have to be without health insurance for 6 months.  I find it more than a little ironic, and cruel, that those of us who have tried to be responsible, often at substantial personal financial cost, can only become eligible for this program if we take a risk and drop our existing health coverage.  The state is also trying to work with Medicare to expend HIP, and if they are successful I hope the Federal Government puts an end to the penalization of people who already have insurance.

    So I seem to be one of the ones getting the short end of the stick with the ACA.  Even though it may not help me, at least not right now, I still believe its a good start in the right direction.  It is long past time we started to change the miserable system that is now in place.  I believe this is just the start and at some point in the future we will have a system that is less expensive and fairer to all.  

    What I don't know is if I'll still be around to see it.

    •  Jack (0+ / 0-)

      You stated:  "The recession has been hard on me and my income falls below the level needed to get a subsidy so I would have to pay full price."  
      If this was not a misprint, please double check, as the subsidy is higher the LESS your income.  Thus if your income fell, the lower your income level, the HIGHER your subsidy.

      •  Yes, but unfortunately, (0+ / 0-)

        after the Republicans negotiated the Obamacare plan down to the point that it DEPENDS on Medicaid to help people with EXTREMELY low incomes, the SCOTUS (somehow that acronym seems just a bit obscene) said the states could CHOOSE whether to expand Medicaid, the red state governors and legislators basically said "hell, no" and decided to screw the poor AND the hospitals by not doing so.  And only with their help (which is not forthcoming for obvious reasons) can this be fixed.

  •  I am an insurance broker (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    surfermom, TKO333, tofumagoo, countrycat

    I have run through the numbers with a large number of clients.  The impact of PPACA is really driven by how aggressively the local jurisdiction is monitoring the market and forcing insurance companies to price fairly.  The pricing authority to verify rates is at the state level and a red state is more likely than not to get in the way of fair pricing.  

    In most states the largest insurer and most dominant player in the marketplace is the local BlueCross BlueShield plan.  So not surprisingly, whenever it is a non-profit entity beholding to state authority you will tend to get plan pricing and designs that are consumer centric.  Whenever they are for profit entities (cardinal example is Anthem) the plan designs are crazy (ie locked down HMOs with skinny networks) and the pricing is horrible.  It helps whenever the state has a strong, viable alternative such as Kaiser that will help to hold down pricing.

    So far many of the people I have helped have saved money vs where they are now.  The big problem, where you are guaranteed to pay more, is if you are 45-50 or older and earn more than the subsidy eligible level.  If you are in your late 50's and earn more than the subsidy qualifying level, the differences will be significant.

  •  I'm trying to remember... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TKO333, tofumagoo

    Was there ever a time when insurance rates (of all kinds - health, home, life, car, etc...) didn't have semi-annual or annual cockamamie reasons for NOT being raised, even lowered?

    I'm 67..., and I can't remember a time when some idiotic reason or other was not used to raise rates - often by quite a lot.  The yearly bonuses to corporate executives we didn't hear about on the news back then, and I don't remember hearing stockholders getting increases.  Or, if we did, I certainly don't remember or was too busy to listen to news at the time.

    It's kind of like getting a COLA for Social Security recipients;  If the monthly amount is raised, even a tiny bit (the next one will be a measly 1.5% in '14)..., the cost of Medicare goes up.  The cost of private insurance for Medicare Part D goes up (that's a premium to an insurance corporation for prescription meds; sometimes the co-pay cost goes up).  If the Soc Sec recipient has HUD housing assistance, the landlord raises the rent and blames the rent hike on increased taxes.  Some grocery costs go up.  Gas goes up around the holidays for everyone.

    The overall result?  The Soc Sec recipients lag behind and get less spending money because the few dollars or cents per month COLA increase they get isn't enough to cover everyone's bloody price hikes!  The new cheap way of figuring the small increases doesn't help in the least.

    Gee, thanks every so fucking much you greedy insurance corporations, landlords, oil corporations and any others who capitalize off of the tiny increase in Soc Sec for seniors and disabled people...!

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 08:54:57 AM PST

    •  I hear you...I am lucky though (0+ / 0-)

      as I also have Medicaid with my Medicare so I do not have to worry about paying much. That is because I am disabled. I guess seniors can't get Medicaid?

      As far as businesses gouging it is absolutely unfair to overcharge the poor, seniors, and the disabled (or anyone else for that matter). Then when we protest about that, then we get labeled "commies" and that we are for "wealth distribution" I have never heard ANY liberal say that everyone should have the same amount of money to equalize the rich and the poor. But it is reasonable to help out those who need a helping hand.

      There is a move towards expanding both Social Security and Medicare benefits and there are several petitions floating about if you want to sign. You probably already know about that but I mention it just in case.

  •  CA didn't buy it... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TKO333

    It is worthwhile to note that the board that runs Covered California - our decent state-wide healthcare site has REFUSED to take the President's suggestion and will not offer canceled plans back. This is good in the long run IMHO since they have to be canceled anyway at some point.  My plan went up 10% as an individual buyer - the plan I'm currently on was extended. But I still have to try to shop on the exchange to find if there are better rates.

  •  Funniest cartoon ever!! (0+ / 0-)

    This was great!!  Loved it!! Thanks for bringing a smile to my face.

    "For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it." - President Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 21, 2013.

    by surfermom on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 10:40:59 AM PST

  •  My premiums went up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kitty60

    I now pay an extra $60/mo. There's a lot more coverage, my deductible stayed the same and my co-pays went down slightly. The best part is that it includes dental which was always too expensive before and had a tiny cap of about $2,000/yr. which I ran through with a single crown once and then had to pay about $3k out of pocket.

    All in all I don't mind paying a little extra since this is going to be an economic windfall for states like CA that are going to reap huge benefits from not having to pay for other people's healthcare when they get sick.

  •  Love the cute kittens (0+ / 0-)

    ..randomly popping up on the "ObamaCare" website.

    Genius.

  •  They're innovating! (0+ / 0-)

    Financial innovators must be rewarded with appropriate compensation, else they will take their valuable services away. Therefore, it is appropriate that the insurance companies, which innovate proactively on revenue streams and risk mitigation, are able to ensure that their business models remain profitable in the immediate and far term investment climate.

    They are, after all, financial institutions, aren't they?

    [I can usually euphemize my way around cursing, but when it comes to health insurance, I'm not sure it's possible any more. Costs + labor + magical profit, where the last part is the most important part to increase = capitalist health insurance. It was the best argument for socialism ever made even before the insurance companies redefined themselves as financial institutions.]

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 01:04:42 PM PST

  •  My Obamacare success story is almost 3,000 words (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kitty60

    and includes tips & tricks for navigating the Web site, but here's the takeaway:

    So now…. After hours of aggravation (where I often used language so bad that I'd have to ban myself from the blog if I transcribed it here) our application is complete and we're enrolled in a cheaper, better health insurance plan that will save us almost $800/month over what we'd pay if we just accepted the offer letter that BCBS sent us a few weeks ago.

    Although when I started the process, I expected to be a consumer and not a beta tester, I ended up claiming both roles.  Initially, the process was frustrating and the site operation was really poor at launch, but I know from experience that it's really working much better now. There are still a few bizarre things, but I was able to work around them and hopefully, you can learn from my experience.

    Yes, that's right!  Hubby & I are self-employed and have been screwed by the insurance market for years.  And now, thanks to Obamacare, we'll have decent, affordable insurance AND and extra $800 to spend on college tuition, put back into the business, or even take a real vacation for the first time since 2006!

    Thanks a lot, Obama!

    Yes. There ARE progressive Democrats in Alabama. Visit with us at Left in Alabama

    by countrycat on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 01:23:28 PM PST

  •  benefits of the ACA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kitty60, Tangerinegirl20

    1. Medicare clients like me now get  cost-free annual checkups.  My last check up found a Vit D deficiency, which is easily treated, if detected.

    2. At my first Medicare checkup  at 65 ( yrs ago), it was found I had prostate cancer.  Medicare paid for all the costs of the expensive surgery and I have been cancer free since.
    If we had a rational healthcare system where no cost checkups were available every year for everyone, my cancer would have been detected far earlier and the suffering and cost would have been far less.

    3. My daughter (who along with her husband works, but who have a modest income and her family of 2 kids will for the first time be able to afford healthcare, for about $30 a month (with subsidy).

    4. The ACA, a rightwing market-based plan, has within it the seeds of transformation.  States can institute public options (which has 28% less overhead cost in the individual markets) or single payer plans, which will save hundreds of billions over the years and lead to the elimination of the private insurance parasites.  This gives me hope.

  •  so, why are they in charge? (0+ / 0-)

    Mark Fiore and the comic understand it.  Corporations are made for 1 thing only, to make money.  So why on earth did Obama's health care reform leave them in charge?

  •  Single Pay is the ONLY fair way (4+ / 0-)

    We spend enough on healthcare to have the best Single Pay system in the world. We should kick this insurance crooks to the curb.

  •  your premiums can be expected to rise. (0+ / 0-)

    your premiums can be expected to rise.

  •  ACA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BeninSC

    My medicare kicks in on January 1, but I went to the website just to check it out.  One, I don't freak out over glitches.  Two, I pay attention so I know what's going on.  I could only get an estimate since I wasn't actually signing up, but with federal credits, I would have paid $22 a month for a silver plan with a $2600 deductible.  Considering how expensive my health is, I'd say that's pretty good.

  •  Well, since you asked ... (0+ / 0-)

    "What's your health insurance story?  Have you had a positive or negative experience since Obamacare? " It's been positive with respect to the people at Healthcare.gov that I've dealt with.  It's been very negative as far as what I've been able to find out or get accomplished.

    I, too, am self-employed.  My husband recently retired and he and my son are COBRA-ing until the end of December.  

    I wanted to insure all three of us on one policy, so I tried to sign up at Healthcare.gov the first week.  That was a horrific train wreck.  After the third application, it finally went through.  And I found out that, since we make too much for subsidy, the premiums are unaffordable.  They are about 20% of our income.  

    Supposedly, if available premiums are greater than 9.5% of one's income, the catastrophic plans are available to you.  However, my application did not contain any financial details so I am unable to select a catastrophic plan from the menu.

    I've been trying to get the financial information added  to my application for the last four weeks.  Every single person I've spoken to or 'live chat'-ted with at Healthcare.gov has been stellar, very nice and help-oriented; but the system is so buggered up that nobody's been able to fix this for me, yet.  There was talk at some point of a feature being added to the site whereby one could revise one's application ("Life Change"). At least they took down that taunting message which said "Life Change will be available on 11/15/13.  Please return then."

    I have a sneaking suspicion that the catastrophic is likely to be unaffordable as well.  I've no idea what I will do then.  I reckon I'd better be getting a quote from my current insurer to see if I can afford to put husband and son on with me.

    In the meantime, I mailed a paper appeal to the Kentucky office around the second week of October.  I have not heard anything back from that yet.

    •  I don't understand (0+ / 0-)

      I thought you had to provide financial details in order to complete an application to find out whether you qualified for subsidy.  

      •  You don't have to include financials. (0+ / 0-)

        But if you don't, it cannot calculate your subsidy.

        I knew going in that we made too much $ to qualify for subsidy, so had skipped that part.  Later I realized that I should have entered it anyway on account of the catastrophic bit.   I reckon I was too optimistic that I could afford the full price of a Bronze plan.

        Yesterday we thought maybe we'd just start from scratch with a new application.  That doesn't work either, just for the record - you can't have a new application if your original one has been processed.  ;)

        •  what do you mean "processed"? (0+ / 0-)

          creating  a new account with a new email address has worked for many people.  

          •  First you fill out the application, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            glynis

            then it gets processed and you receive an Eligibility Notice, and you can continue on to shop for a plan.  Once you've reached the point of shopping for a plan, you aren't supposed to go back to the beginning and start all over again (with new email address/new account).

            I know what you mean about starting over with a new account/email address if you run into problems.  I did that 3 times my own self.  

            I'm guessing that, once your SSN is submitted to the system, then a new application with the same SSN would raise a red flag.  But I don't actually know.  :)

            •  you can do it (0+ / 0-)

              Several people here have commented that they created new accounts several times after the application was processed.  RenaRF even went through and confirmed an application selection thinking she could change it (you can't) and was able to create a new account with a new email address.  I also read a comment from someone else who created an account using  their spouses name and SSN when they had trouble creating a new account and it worked that way.

              •  Interesting :) (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                glynis

                That's what we tried yesterday - setting up a new (fourth!) account under my husband's name.  The process got almost to the 'select plans' stage; it started throwing error codes at me then.  

                The last rep I talked to on the phone said that the system wasn't supposed to let you have two active applications at the same time.  Of course, that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

                I had read RenaRF's posts about it and that is one reason why we attempted it.  

                Here's an interesting bit:  Even though on this fourth application we had entered our financial data, the 'eligibility notice' does not say that we are eligible for purchasing catastrophic plans.

                I'm apprehensive that this is something which hasn't gotten much attention on the Marketplace side.  I've talked to probably half-dozen reps on the phone and each of them has been surprised to find out that I'm supposed to be eligible for catastrophic plans.  They are all stuck on "must be under 30 years of age".  As I read the information on their site, anyone who falls into the category ("available premiums are greater than 9.5% of income") is eligible.

                This may be much ado about nothing, if the catastrophic plans are still unaffordable for us.  

                I'm beginning to wonder if we should insure only my husband, since he uses the bulk of medical services (among the three of us).

                •  I believe you have to apply (0+ / 0-)

                  for a hardship exemption.  If you type 'catastrophic' in the search field on the home page "Can I buy a catastrophic plan?" is the first hit. It has the info about it.

                  Perhaps the plans don't show up until you get the hardship exemption?  I haven't been able to find a hardship exemption form so you'll have to call them.  When you do, point them to the info about it that's on the website.

                  I was comparing plans, not on the fed exchange, and saw catastrophic plans included in my list.  I don't remember if I was on ehealthinsurance.com or valuepenguin.com.  You might try it and see it you can see them.

                  If you start getting error codes delete your cookies and cache at that point, restart your browser and login again and see if that helps.

                  •  Thanks for the tip about cache & cookies (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    glynis

                    but I still get this error:

                    "There's a problem. Try logging in again after 30 minutes. If you continue to get this message, call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. You'll need the Error ID and Application ID shown below. Error ID:500.000888"

                    You may  be right about the hardship exemption needing to be done first.  And I also saw catastrophic plans somewhere else, I think valuepenguin.  But I'm not convinced of their accuracy - seems like actual quoted premiums were higher.

                    •  that error might mean (0+ / 0-)

                      they reached capacity and that's why you can't login.  Not a very user friendly message.  I read that they're supposed to have increased capacity by the end of this week so that 60,000 simultaneous users can be logged in at the same time.  It's 20,000-30,000 now.

                      The premiums and subsidy amount may not be accurate on valuepenguin but the plans they show are.  I wonder if you could contact the insurer and get more accurate info on costs even if you have to apply through the exchange to ultimately get it?

                      Also, I don't know what state you live in but as of Friday in TX, OH, and FL they're doing a pilot program that allows individuals to get a subsidy credit when they apply directly with insurers.  I saw the CMS announcement on TPM.

                      •  Welp. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        glynis

                        This time it let me continue, and I got to the 'shop for plans' portion - still no option for Catastrophic.

                        I reckon you're right, I need to apply for the exemption first.

                        •  I left this thought out of my preceding comment (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          NinetyWt

                          I wonder if the insurers in the pilot states who are able to give the subsidy credit would be able to handle the hardship exemption?  Of course if you don't live in those states it won't help you.

                          Hope it all works out for you.

                          •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            glynis

                            I'm not in a pilot state - I'm in one of those which refused to expand Medicaid and also refused to allow a state-run exchange.  We're lucky we've got any insurers at all in many counties... if our Insurance Commissioner hadn't begged Humana to step in, we would have had  36 of our 82 counties without any insurance plan options.  

                            http://insiderlouisville.com/...

                          •  Here's some info on the exemption: (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            glynis

                            "For income below the filing threshold, inability to afford coverage, short coverage gap, and unlawful presence exemptions, you will apply through the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS. The application may not be available yet. "

                •  I believe you are misunderstanding (0+ / 0-)

                  But then ACA was intended to be clear as mud by design.  That's what scams need to be (impossible to understand). The "premiums greater than 9.5% of your income" refers to the fact that means you won't have to pay a fine for being uninsured.  It is true that you have to be under 30 to qualify for catastrophic coverage (and that's a scam too).

                  •  This is straight from Healthcare.gov: (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    glynis

                    "*For catastrophic plans only, individuals over age 30 generally may not enroll. However, individuals over the age of 30 with a hardship exemption in effect that was granted by the Marketplace are eligible to enroll. "

                    This sounds as though glynis is correct, the exemption must be in place first.

                    •  Also, on the page about exemptions (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      glynis

                      it says "Note: If you get an exemption because coverage is unaffordable based on your expected income, you may also qualify to buy catastrophic coverage through the Marketplace. This may be more affordable than your other options."

                      •  Honestly I am glad I am on Medicare/Medicaid (0+ / 0-)

                        It sounds like a nightmare for people trying to understand what they are supposed to do and what their options are. Making the wrong move could mean that you have to pay more than you should. And yes, many people do not know that there is a hardship exemption and therefore they are not subject to penalties.

                        Why on earth the government does not make things clearer I do not know.

                        All the states should expand Medicaid especially since it is not coming out of their pockets. They would get federal aid to do that. In my state of CA they have done that, so my sister's family is going to get it. My brother-in-law is not bringing in enough money to pay for insurance on the exchanges.

                        Because each state is doing things differently it means there is no consistency. Without that, many people are going to be afraid to even sign up.

                        The ACA needs to be better regulated as there seems to be too many loop-holes for the insurance companies. You would think that after all the years they have had to work on this that they should have been able to foresee some of these problems.

                        I also cannot believe that after almost two months they STILL can't get their stupid website to work properly.

                        For the most part the state enchanges seem to be working though. But of course not all states have exhanges.

                        Good luck in getting the right coverage!

      •  You absolutely have to include financial info... (0+ / 0-)

        You give them your name and SS number first, then your IRS form pops up on their screen.  Before you can see what you may or may not qualify for coverage-wise, you get a spot-check real-time IRS audit.  First they check your 1040, your credit score and your citizenship.  If you're not a legal immigrant you may be in trouble, and if you're not a citizen you do not qualify.  If your reported income does not jive with your credit score then they go into your credit cared and bank records just to make sure no one gets access to any help with health coverage they do not deserve.  That's why it's so hard for the web site to co-ordinate the information.

        •  Perhaps you've been on a state marketplace site (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          glynis

          rather than the Federal one.  I successfully made it to the 'shop for plans' stage without putting any financial info in at all.

        •  no they don't (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NinetyWt

          go into credit card and bank records.  And they aren't checking your credit score.  Yes they verify your identity with Experian but they are only veryifying if you have a credit history in the name your provide. If they can't verify a credit history then you have to upload other documents.  They most certainly aren't checking your bank records because they'd have to be connecting to banks and they aren't doing that.  And no IRS form pops up on their screen, it's all done behind the scenes.

  •  How Much Health Can You Afford? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TN yellow dog, BeninSC

    In America, Health is a business.  So the health care industry will always be given free reign to maximize profits to the highest bidders.  We are the only country to allow pharmaceuticals to be hawked on TV.  We are the only country to have no governmental price controls in the health care sector.  Indeed, "in the United States, under Obamacare, Congress made it specifically illegal for the government to negotiate drug prices for volume purchases, so they will remain unaffordable." Compare US to Canada's more people oriented health care system 21 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare

  •  affordable care (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BeninSC

    I got "sequestrated"; lost my job for at least this year and thus have little income for 2013.  When I applied for help with insurance, I found I don't make enough money to qualify for help or tax exemptions.   I don't feel I'm someone who ought to receive Medicaid (and Wyoming has refused Medicaid extensions in any case), but I'd sure appreciate some help as my COBRA payments are pretty dear.   I feel as if I'm SOL.

    •  There is too much viciousness in this world. (0+ / 0-)

      I know you know, kralisa. I can't go through the scenarios with you on ACA, but I hope quality options materialize for you. Don't give up. This fight isn't over, not by a long shot.

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION." _ Jonathan Larson, RENT -9.62, -9.13

      by BeninSC on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 05:07:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you're in a state that refused (0+ / 0-)

      Medicaid expansion you would qualify for a hardship exemption and could apply for a catastrophic plan on the exchange.  It covers 3 primary care visits and all the preventive services for no out of pocket costs.  

    •  Anyone self-employed or working with the wrong (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RustyBrown

      small group (with no connections) is totally screwed as long as we are left at the mercy of private health unsurance corporations.  They have NO mercy and know every lame excuse, trick in the book and more to keep from fulfilling promises we believe they made.  The name of their game is "Bait and Switch" and they are masters at it.  Roughly 75% of us consistently said in poll after poll that we want and need a real not fake public option at the very least (and that is a HUGE compromise AWAY from what we truly need: Medicare for ALL). Try adding an honest public option to ACA and see what happens.

  •  Also self-employed (0+ / 0-)

    I have been self-employed for decades and purchase on the so-called "free market" (which has been anything but). Pay to play healthcare is the best way to put it. I would never dare switch, in case something came up that they could say "pre-existed."

    I am in the demographic insurers hate the most (over 50), but I am healthy with no chronic illnesses. Prior to ACA, between my premiums and deductible, I paid about $9000 per year (for 1 person) just for the privilege of having insurance. Whether I went to the doctor or not.  Just in case I got sick.

    WIth the ACA rollout, I got a letter from BCBS of TN.  The good news: I get to keep my policy!! it is grandfathered in.  THe bad news:  the monthly premiums just went way up.  

    Why? Well, pretty much because of what Mr. Fiore said up there--life is unpredictable so they're gonna rise!  The sun comes up, the rains fall, I get older, all good reasons to jack my premiums way up---right?  

    Clearly they are using Obamacare as some sort of excuse to raise everybody's rates.

  •  legality (0+ / 0-)

    Do not sign up! Once you sign up, they got you.

  •  Premiums will rise! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bthespoon

    We are always gonna pay for Capitalist greed!

  •  Health Insurance (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BeninSC

    I'm on Medicare now, thank goodness! My husband was self-employed. In 1978 we paid $500.00 a month for health insurance. In 2000, we paid $1,654.01 per month. I always wondered why in hell couldn't they drop that penny!??

    Love the cartoon!

  •  My husband and I signed up today (0+ / 0-)

    ...after being without health insurance for about 3 years.  He's self-employed (works 80 hours a week!) and I got laid off from a very good job with great pay and great health insurance a week after I turned 50.  All I have been able to find (after a great deal of frustration and effort job-searching) was a couple of poorly-paid part-time jobs with no HI.  Once COBRA ran out, that was that, we simply could not afford to pay for HI any longer and still hope to make our rent.

    We went to the CT Access office in Naugatuck earlier today; everyone was wonderful, friendly, and helpful.  One of the brokers walked us through the process, filling out the online forms for us right there.  The site was a little hiccupy, but we finally got it done. We'll be paying $148 a month for a great silver plan with Anthem Blue Cross, 90% of the cost is being covered by the government.  We are both in our 50s and as far as we know, we're fairly healthy, but I'm relieved that we will finally be getting that checkup we both need, once our HI comes online on Jan 1, 2014.  The broker gave us his card and said that if we had any questions or problems with our insurance, we could call him immediately.

    This seems to have worked our very well for us.

  •  Healthcare (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bthespoon

    The Repugnants bash the Demagogs for adopting Romneycare! It's a good-cop/bad-cop stage show.
         The Dem's could have given us Single Payer in
    1994 and 2009. Watch Michael Moore's SICKO again,
    and at the end,  Hillary turns up as a top recipient of
    the predatory insurance companies' money.
         Romneycare will help some people, but still leave
    millions uninsured. And it's STRATIFIED: If you have
    lots of money, you'll get great care; if you are disabled,
    and/or devoted your life to something important, but not
    lucrative, then you "don't deserve" top flight coverage,
    'cause you're a lazy bum! Take 2 aspirin...
         This is what we get for supporting corporate parties,
    corporate rule. It's not democracy. The Dem's give us a
    continuation of Bush's imperial wars, (next stop-Africa!),
    an attack on Democracy: Ask Amnesty and the ACLU about
    NDAA/Indefinite Detention for U.S. citizens. (From Obama)
    And NSA: Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    Sequester-austerity and food stamp cuts started in the
    Obama White House!
         And Clinton gave us NAFTA, which exported masses of
    jobs for the sake of competitiveness. Now Obama pushes
    TTP and TTIP (NAFTA's on steroids)!
         And the Dem's refuse to even TALK about FDR's
    WPA and CCC jobs programs that we sorely need now!
    It's the Green Party that's proposing a new New Deal!
    (The Greens REFUSE corporate money!)
    Please sign my petition:
    http://www.signon.org/...?
    And consider that this course we're on has been tried for
    many decades: Lesser Evilism is still evil, and gives us
    Corporate Rule, not Democracy. And things are getting worse, not better!
         I'm afraid if too many people stay in denial too long, we can lose it all. The polar caps are melting faster than
    predicted. Look at Sandy and Haiyan. They're wrecking
    the whole planet!
         And thanks to Corporate Media, so many people still
    think the Dem's have to be supported lest we get a Republican! Guess what? Clinton and Obama may as well
    be Republicans. Too few people search out alternative
    media, and so don't know about these issues.
         But we CAN win, if we all get into and build a non-
    corporate party. Regular working class people ARE the
    majority. Let the rich and their foolish followers be
    divided into two parties; we just need ONE party to win!
    PLEASE WAKE UP SHEEPLE!  

  •  Repetition is how lies get embedded in the brain. (0+ / 0-)

    I know the point of this cartoon is to ridicule the lies being told, but it's actually spreading them. Repeat a lie enough and people believe it.

    Sadly, this tactic is used too often to attempt to combat lies. It isn't effective. The only thing most people are going to remember about this is "your premium can be expected to rise".

    If you want to combat the lies, repeat the truth endlessly.

  •  Excuse me but your premiums will NOT be lower (0+ / 0-)

    The portion you personally pay may be, but your premiums will be higher (not lower).  Do you agree that subsidizing the most amoral, inhumane, heartless, insatiably greedy private corporations in the world is a good idea?  They're going to end up even bigger, richer and more powerful than they are already. Yay.

  •  so when does legally required auto insurance (0+ / 0-)

    have it's day in Legislature? Why is there no legally provided access to legally required insurance for autos? IT would be SO simple!
    Require more frequent license renewals...
    raise the fee for renewal according to the drivers citation and accident record - or discount it for less of both or either -
    the additional monies can be pooled and the legally required insurance WILL BE ON THE LICENSE - not on the car. How is it fair to pay for a policy on each vehicle you own when you can't drive more than one at a time?
    I'm sure if this is taken seriously there will be fine points to hammer out, but the law should take responsibility for the impacts of the laws it imposes.

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