Forward on Obamacare

Health Care, Obama Administration

In mid-December I was able to make a not-too-rough calculation of what my net income was in 2013, and with that information I got on the New York health insurance exchange website to see what I could get. Granted, the site was getting slammed by then, but beside being slow it was also confusing and badly thought out, I believe.

At one point I had absolutely no idea how to proceed and had to call the help phone number, which turned into its own adventure. At one point I was on hold for 45 minutes, then a real person answered. But she couldn’t hear me and hung up.

I left a message for New York to call me back. The next day I got a call back with a recorded message to stay on the line for the next available representative. Then the call disconnected.

When I finally did get to the page showing my options, I learned I was eligible for a decent subsidy, and with that there are a couple of plans that have considerably lower premiums than what I am paying now. But the website gave me few details, and when I tried to find my doctor in the companies’ networks I got zero.

I have a decent insurance policy that is inexpensive by New York standards, but it’s still a challenge to pay for it. But I decided to pay the old premium one more time so that I’m covered for January and try to make a decision when I have more information. I have since determined that my doctor is indeed in the network of at least one of the companies, so this may be a good deal for me. The new policy would have a higher deductible than my old one, and I have to work out if the difference in premiums would still be a good deal if I have to pay all the deductible, and I haven’t gotten to that yet. But I have hope.

I bring this up because I think there must be a huge backlog of people who are either still stymied by the system or who haven’t even tried because they’ve heard it doesn’t work. I’m pretty comfortable with the Web, you know, so if I had trouble navigating the New York website there must have been a lot of people who were completely defeated. A shame.

Jonathan Cohn writes that the rate of enrollment has picked up dramatically, but it’s still short of Obama Administration projections. “While lower-than-predicted enrollment could be a sign consumers don’t like the new policies, they could also represent the lingering effects of the site’s technical problems,” he says.

I’m betting it’s more the latter than the former, although it’s possible a lot of people thought they were going to get free insurance and were unpleasantly surprised when they learned they had to pay something. (Support single payer!)

And we know now that 5 million people have fallen into the “wingnut hole” — they are eligible for Medicaid but can’t get it because they live in wingnut states.

There is speculation whether someday, before the Apocalypse, Republicans will accept that Obamacare is here to stay and perhaps be willing to negotiate to make it more to their liking. I agree with Kevin Drum

Medicaid is more than half a century old, and Republicans still aren’t willing to cut deals that might strengthen it in return for some conservative policy advances. In fact, they’re still dead set on block granting Medicaid as a way of slowly starving it to death.

Obamacare could be different if it becomes widely used by the middle class, not just the poor. Republicans would have a hard time resisting middle-class demands to improve the program. But that’s what it will take. And I’d guess that 2017 is about the earliest likely date for Republicans to give up their dream of total repeal.

The thing is, though, Republicans aren’t interested in a law that works better. Ultimately they don’t care if it works or doesn’t work. It’s a government program that helps the less fortunate. That’s all they need to know to be against it.

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  1. goatherd  •  Jan 2, 2014 @10:08 pm

    We are fortunate to have very good health care, provided partially, by my wife’s employer. Since, my wife is a mid level provider and a bit paranoid when it concerns the crap shoot referred to as “being in good health,” we have purchased coverage for me, at considerable expense. However, that being said, without healthcare insurance, we would be very likely in very difficult financial straits. I would be blind in both eyes and headed to an early grave, if not already partaking of the dirt nap.

    My wife went to the “Obamacare site” and determined that each of us would save approximately $600 a year with at least equal quality of care and coverage. So, for what it’s worth, the law probably helps us. But, more important, it helps those who need it more than we do.

    I have a pretty visceral response to the jackasses who want to destroy the “New Deal” and the “Great Society” programs, because thanks to Social Security, my parents had a decent old age, and thanks to medicare, I didn’t have to choose between bankruptcy and watching my parents die early and painful deaths.

    That’s enough for me.

  2. Swami  •  Jan 3, 2014 @2:42 am

    I’m pretty comfortable with the Web, you know, so if I had trouble navigating the New York website there must have been a lot of people who were completely defeated. A shame.

    That would be my assumption. Shopping online for any product can be intimidating if you are not familiar with how the web site is set up. Especially with a complex product like heath insurance where there are many questions that have to be answered in order to make an informed decision. Usually once you’ve been through the process it doesn’t seem so difficult, but going through the process can be stressful. And if you are not computer savvy it could be a nightmare.
    I wonder if it has a feature like some products in Amazon where you have to add it to your shopping cart in order to just find out what the price is, then you have to figure out how to clear your shopping cart once you decide its not what you’re willing to pay. I never understood the principle of that feature other than to suspect it is some sort of a tracking or baiting tactic.

  3. erinyes  •  Jan 3, 2014 @7:27 am

    Nice, goatherd.
    I’m so tired of the screams of “socialism” from codgers who depend on s.s., medicare, and their v.a. benefits.

  4. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 3, 2014 @8:14 am

    No they won’t help improve it, because it also helps “moochers” and “takers,” Conservatives/Republicans will keep fighting PPACA tooth-and-nail. At least not until it’s clear that’s it’s costing them badly at the ballot box.
    And then, again in self-denial, when shown the numbers, they’ll say that those are “Liberal numbers,” and keep doing what they’re doing.
    At this point, the answer to the question, “Is our Conservatives/Republicans learning?”, is, “NO!”

    Now, not every Conservative/Republican is a stupid/ignorant racist, a misogynist, a xenophobe, a homophobe, an uber-Christian loon, and/or a sociopath.

    But every stupid/ignorant racist, misogynist, xenophobe, homophobe, uber-Christian loon, and/or sociopath, is a Conservative/Republican.

    I checked out the NY website around Thanksgiving, even though I’m finally poor enough to be eligible for Medicaid, put in a theoretical salary of $20,000 (which, at this point, after being out of work for 4 years, is a pipe-dream), just to see how it worked.

    I must have been lucky, because I got in easily, and got my options. Some options were reasonable and affordable, some were outrageous – I guess those are “The Cadillac Plans.”
    Remember folks, it’s a start.
    Vote for good Democrats, and keep talking to people about “Medicare for All!” Maybe, eventually, we will get single-payer. I believe it will happen. I can’t prove it factually, and I can’t observe it right now, so at this point, it’s a belief, not a “Theory.”

    Oh, and with record colds, get ready for Conservatives to keep screaming, “Where’s the warming.”
    Well, it IS a record cold, so I’ll keep using the phrase, “Global Weirding.”
    Conservatives/Republicans still haven’t learned to separate “weather,” from “climate.”

  5. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 3, 2014 @9:46 am

    And don’t forget SS Disability.
    THEY earned THEIRS!
    Those “moochers” and “takers,” like me, aren’t really disabled – just faking it, to grab THEIR money!

  6. goatherd  •  Jan 3, 2014 @10:33 am


    I don’t think most of my fellow codgers are the problem, it’s those darn coots and geezers who are really unreasonable. (By the way, I have a few years to go before I start SS.)

    From TPM:

    It looks like the anti-healthcare folks are going to redouble their efforts to make the electronic records look like an open display of all your personal medical history. I know that some services are having a bit of trouble “getting with the program” after years of making notes on paper. This message may have some legs after the NSA revelations.

    The strategy, as always, makes use of the fact that simple minded people have a very difficult time accepting the reality that most things, both physical and abstract, are a mixture of good and bad, or cost and benefit. It also capitalizes on the inability of unimaginative people to envision refinement of a system and innovation. This is mixed well with the usual fearmongering. It’s an old recipe, but still a favorite.

    If you’ve ever handled a medical emergency, or you know medical professionals who manager emergent situations daily, it will be obvious that access to recent medications, the results of medical tests and various other medical information is a lifesaver.

    Note to Randian acolytes and true believers: It will also save a lot of money!

  7. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 3, 2014 @10:57 am

    Saving money was never any sort of goal.

    Feelings of superiority, and continued suppression of the “moochers” and “takers,” always has been, and still is – especially, the minority and female ones!!!

  8. uncledad  •  Jan 3, 2014 @11:30 am

    “No they won’t help improve it, because it also helps “moochers” and “takers,”

    I think that is just the public rational that the wingers use, they have to appear moral and economically superior to get the rubes to vote against their own interests. The real reason why the wingers oppose any sort of safety net or public education or public anything is that they and their buddies can’t make unlimited amounts money off those things if they are either heavily regulated or outright controlled by the Gubment. It’s always about the Benjamin’s with the Republicants!

  9. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Jan 3, 2014 @12:24 pm

    It’s an interesting thing. A lot of Republicans probably insist that it’s *not* that they’re opposed to helping the less fortunate, they’re just (fill in the blank). Of course, when those concerns are addressed, there’s another concern, so for all intents and purposes, they are opposed to helping the less fortunate, but they’ll never figure that out.

    I once protested that people discuss sexism as if some evil mastermind was behind it, and that just doesn’t make sense. But it was pointed out that ideas evolve, and the people in power encourage those that are most beneficial; it’s not an evil mastermind, it’s a thousand minor stupidities that shape ideas in such a way that it might as well be an evil mastermind.

    (There’s something ironic about how a thousand stupidities equal one evil mastermind.)

    And until (generic)you understand that, and are willing to challenge each of those thousand stupidities (each of which, alone, isn’t a big deal) you’ll never lose the evil sexist mastermind taint to your actions.

    The republicans are in the same boat – even if they care about the less fortunate, they’re battling a thousand stupidities, none of which they show any willingness to challenge.

  10. Stephen Stralka  •  Jan 3, 2014 @1:22 pm

    It really sucks that they screwed up the site. I guess we’re far enough into virtual reality now that a lot of people think is Obamacare. Which allows the Republicans to act as if the whole concept of the ACA is a failure because of the technical problrems, which is really kind of a non sequitur. I was on hold for 45 minutes, so people with pre-existing conditions shouldn’t be able to buy health insurance.

  11. uncledad  •  Jan 3, 2014 @3:20 pm

    “It really sucks that they screwed up the site”

    I tried to log on to my favorite Hate Blog and got THIS. I guess that means that all right wing racist websites are a total and abject failure? Starting the new year off right. Once I was able to get in they have put me into a permanent twit filter, must have been something I said!

  12. Swami  •  Jan 3, 2014 @3:21 pm

    I see where Eric Cantor is going to introduce security legislation to make the information provided to safe from scammers. They just won’t quit. Instead of ratcheting up the fear to further imped the effort to provide healthcare to the American people, they should focus their energies on getting the economy working for millions of financially disadvantaged Americans.

    Why are the Repugs so determined to destroy the quality of life for the American people?

  13. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 3, 2014 @3:53 pm

    If you keep dividing, you keep on conquering.
    And when you conquer the richest country in the world, you and your cronies make a fortune!
    At least until you f-up so bad, that a black guy gets to be President – like W did.
    And then, you get to bitch about the people who take over, not fixing the mess you made, fast enough.

  14. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 3, 2014 @4:16 pm

    Since I don’t want to be accused of dancing on any graves, let me just quietly inform you that the original Rush/Sean/Glenn Reich-Wing radio word-turder died at the age of 84.

    If you didn’t live in NY City, maybe you missed this spittle-flecked loon – and lucky, lucky, you!

    Calling him a miasma, is to diminish real miasma.

    It’s at least fair, imo, to use that old saying, “Only the good die young.”

    Sometime, the death of any man does NOT diminish us.
    Sorry, Bob Grant, but you turned many a former friend of mine into a full-blown wingnut, with your afternoon rage-fests.
    Goodbye, and good riddance.
    No condolences.
    You don’t deserve any – maybe your family does.
    But I seem to remember hearing your son on the radio.
    Sometimes, the turd doesn’t fall far from the sphincter.

    Ok, so may I AM dancing.

    Sorry, but some people bring out my inner-asshole!!!!!
    So as your reap, so you will so.

  15. erinyes  •  Jan 3, 2014 @4:26 pm

    Goatherd, let’s not forget the curmudgeons. They’re the ones you really have to watch !

  16. Swami  •  Jan 3, 2014 @4:52 pm

    Gulag, There ain’t nothing wrong with dancing on graves… Went Dick Cheney kicks the bucket I’m gonna become a Whirling Dervish.

  17. Swami  •  Jan 3, 2014 @5:19 pm

    Oh that’s supposed to be ‘when”, not went.. I guess I’m getting old, or the effects of long term drug usage is starting to show. Surface cracks?

    But in another realm…Another family values conservative bites the dust. oh my!, It’s all too predicable.

  18. Swami  •  Jan 3, 2014 @5:20 pm

    Predictable?.. OK. enough for now.

  19. Bill Bush  •  Jan 3, 2014 @5:39 pm

    Here in NC, I think the dearth of clear information from the most-accessed source, TV, is hurting things. A 15-minute show a couple times a week of Q&A on ACA could help many people. Instead, they recycle things that were all over the net a week or two ago. Channels 2 and 12, I’m looking at you!

  20. goatherd  •  Jan 4, 2014 @1:55 pm

    Yes, Bill, I sure wish that there could be a show, even on radio, like the one you propose. Of course, the ACA opponents would immediately fly into a rage and brand it as propaganda, and we’d be hearing about the “Ministry of Truth” until we were sick of it. But, they aways have an outrage to peddle, so what do we have to lose?

    I think the common thread to nearly all “conservative” ideas. They want powerless desperate and disposable workers. In Republican heaven there are no unions, no safety net, no retirement, no healthcare, no food stamps, no minimum wage, no child labor laws and no way to fight back.

    Of course all the poors will still receive a proper education to inspire the proper “feudal spirit.”

  21. Swami  •  Jan 4, 2014 @2:43 pm

    goatherd…yeah, it’s important that the kiddies learn about American Exceptionalism. When I was a kid and all the other kids in the neighborhood were reading the Bobbsey Twins and the Hardy Boys I was busy reading the Landmark book series getting my head filled with American Exceptionalism.

    Just another brick in the wall?

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