Margaret Talev writes for McClatchy Newspapers:
Questions reflecting confusion have flooded insurance companies, doctors’ offices, human resources departments and business groups.
“They’re saying, ‘Where do we get the free Obama care, and how do I sign up for that?’ ” said Carrie McLean, a licensed agent for eHealthInsurance.com.
I read somewhere that con artists were going door to door, telling people they were being registered for “Obamacare” and asking for a signup fee. I don’t know how successful the con is. But the McClatchy story tells me that lots of people thought the fought-over health care reform bill was supposed to create a taxpayer-funded program to pay for their health care. Sorta like Medicare for all, a.k.a. “single payer.” And, apparently, that’s what many people wanted.
Many people should have said something about what they wanted several months ago.
Of course, it’s entirely possible some of the callers seeking “free Obama Care” were former town hall-storming tea partiers who figured, well, as long as its free, I might as well take advantage. Imagine their surprise to learn that, not only is there no program called “Obama Care,” there is no new federal program providing taxpayer-paid-for health insurance upon which one might hang the name “Obama Care.”
The closest the law comes to providing such a thing are the funds designated for state-administered high-risk pools. This is supposed to be a stopgap measure to help people with pre-existing conditions until 2014, when insurers will lose the ability to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. But some states already had high-risk pools, so that program isn’t entirely new, either. It’s just better subsidized to make it more affordable.
One of the weirder talking points coming from the Right over the past several months is the demand that the President and federal lawmakers who created “Obamacare” be required to enroll in it. But the state insurance exchanges that the HCR bill will eventually establish are more or less modeled after the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan, in which most federal employees are enrolled.
Further, nobody will be required to enroll in the insurance exchanges. Indeed, the HCR bill got so hacked down that most people will not be able to enroll in them even if they want to. And the exchanges are not providing taxpayer-subsidized insurance. They are just a means to make more affordable private insurance available to some people who are not insured through employment. The public option would not have been subsidized, either, other than administrative costs.
So to all the “patriots” screaming about “socialized medicine”: you wish.