Is it ObamaCare or CorporateCare?
By EDMUND LIS
Hey everybody, long time no writing. I’ve been a little busy, a little uninspired, and a little lazy. One of the things I’ve been doing over the past few months is getting signed up for health insurance under the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or as it’s more commonly known “ObamaCare.” Not only did I sign up once, but I got to do it twice.
As I’ve written before, Diane and I already had health insurance through Anthem Blue Cross. It was a high deductable plan that cost us around $600 per month. In October we got a letter from Anthem stating that because of the required provisions of the upcoming PPACA, our current policy would no longer be available after the first of the year. The letter suggested we shop for a policy on the new Covered California Insurance Exchange or if we wanted they could put us in a comparable policy for $1,100 a month (an increase of only 83 percent).
As suggested, I went on the Covered CA website and started looking at policies. I entered all my information, including financial, and was surprised to find out we qualified for a premium subsidy. A new policy, comparable to my $600 one was now only going to cost me $2 a month. Cool for us I thought, but what was bugging me was the federal subsidy part. Why was the government going to pay $912 for a policy that was the same as my $600 one? That’s an increase of over 50 percent, and that’s our tax money paying for it.
I went ahead and signed up for a new policy through Covered CA with Anthem Blue Cross. It took a couple of months and a few phone calls to actually confirm that we were enrolled before the January first deadline, but we were, so nothing to worry about, or so we thought.
In January, Diane had a couple of routine appointments with her doctors at UC Davis Medical. She gave them our new insurance information and went on her merry way. Then in February, a day before a scheduled follow-up appointment, she got a call from UC Davis saying that they wouldn’t accept our new insurance because they didn’t have a contract with Anthem for that policy. WTF! I thought Obamacare was going to give us better coverage!
We had done what we were supposed to do, buying through the exchange, and now we didn’t have coverage where we needed it. Kind of ticked me off, so I spent the next six hours on the phone (most of it on hold) with Anthem and Covered CA getting it figured out. Ultimately, we ended up switching to a different policy and company, one that UC Davis would accept.
Now it’s going to cost me $24 a month but that’s still better than the $600 I had been paying. I guess for me personally, it’s working out, but what about Obamacare in general… what do I really think about it.
If you’ve read my columns in the past, you probably know that I’m a politically unaffiliated, left-leaning, so-called social progressive. You would think that I would be a strong supporter of Obamacare. Well you would be wrong. I am a strong proponent of health care reform and government subsidized health care, but as I see it, Obamacare is neither of those things. It is a subsidy to the insurance companies, not to the health care providers. It is a monetary windfall for the insurers, in exchange for what? Not being able to deny coverage anymore but still able to raise our rates.
If I was unfortunate enough to earn more money and didn’t qualify for the premium subsidy, I’d be paying hundreds of dollars more each month and not really getting any better benefits or health care.
Now that I’ve climbed on the soapbox I might as well lay it out there. What I think we need in this country is real heath care reform. What I mean is government control of pricing (not free market), if the insurance companies can dictate what is a “usual and customary allowed expense” then why can’t our government? At the very least, we should have a single payer system, get rid of the insurance companies.
Unfortunately, the biggest reform we need is the hardest. We need to reform our collective attitudes on the balance of health, quality of life, and our inevitable deaths. We have to ask ourselves the question, is health care a human right or a profit center for big business? Do we want to spend our tax dollars on wars, weapons, and corporate bailouts? Or do we want to spend it on “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (healthiness)? I know which way I want to go — do you?