Friday, November 08, 2013

First they came for the individual market

From NPR's Marketplace: "Now small businesses are receiving health insurance cancellation notices."
On Tuesday, the Dunns received a letter from their health insurer, Humana. It was labeled, "Important information regarding your coverage."  It informed them that they would not be able to continue with their current medical plan in 2014,  as it did not meet all of the ACA requirements.  The letter included information on a new Humana medical plan did comply with the ACA's standards, but it would raise the Dunns' premiums by 60 percent. 
The Dunns' business has only 13 employees so they can cancel their employees' health plan.  That's an option on the table.


"Are All Those Insurance Company Cancellation Letters Too Good to Check?" said...

So says Humana. Another option for the Dunns is going to the exchanges, which are frequently offering much better and less costly deals than the insurers, even though that minor detail doesn't make it into the cancellation letters.

Paul Waldman's skept-o-meter is a little more finely tuned. He starts by talking about Deborah Cavallaro, profiled last week on NBC News as being slammed with a 100% hike by her insurer when the truth was that she could get an equivalent plan at a discount from what she'd been paying, or she could get a better plan for another $23 per month:

"If the woman from that NBC story is any indication, what the insurance company is offering is something much more expensive, even though they might have something cheaper available. They may be taking the opportunity to try to shunt people into higher-priced plans. It's as though you get a letter from your car dealer saying, "That 2010 Toyota Corolla you're leasing has been recalled. We can supply you with a Toyota Avalon for twice the price." They're not telling you that you can also get a 2013 Toyota Corolla for something like what you're paying now."

Kevin Drum adds:
"There's something very fishy about these letters. Over the past three years, insurance companies have swapped their plans around so fast and so often that virtually no one today has a plan more than a couple of years old—something that seems an awful lot like a deliberate effort to evade Obamacare's original intent that most individual policies would be grandfathered and therefore remain available to existing customers who wanted to keep them. Now, having engineered a situation where most current policies aren't grandfathered, millions of people are getting letters canceling their existing plans and being told that the replacement is far more expensive.

I'm not sure what's going on here, but there's at least one lesson in this for the press: never take these letters at face value. If you find someone who's going to end up paying more thanks to Obamacare, fair enough. Run with the story. But first, you'd better perform the due diligence to find out what a comparable plan really costs. That means getting income and coverage details from the subject of your story and then doing a detailed search of the local exchange to find out what's on offer. We're not seeing enough of that.

Of course, it would be nice if you also ran some stories about people who are benefiting from Obamacare, especially since they probably outnumber the other folks by 100:1 or so."

Anonymous said...

Of course, it would be nice if you also ran some stories about people who are benefiting from Obamacare,

Where would the fun be in THAT?

Just look at Fox News - they ran thirteen separate segments about the "60 Minutes" Benghazi story on the Monday after the report aired.

But today, on the day after CBS conceded the story was complete crap, viewers of Fox News heard... crickets.

Eric said...

The four guys killed in Benghazi were only 5% of the Americans in Libya so what's the big deal?

Chris Stevens, debt reduction martyr said...

That was probably the Republicans' thinking when they cut about $300 million in diplomatic security. They're shocked that the embassy didn't devise a free market solution.

Republicans still fervently believe that government shouldn't be "picking winners and losers." But hard choices must be made, and better four dead diplomats in Libya than five dead incumbents in primaries.

Eric said...

Ah yes, the eternal liberal response to every foreign and domestic disaster: "if we'd only spent more money."

Coming soon to Obamacare.

I'd have omitted the phrase "eternal responses" for a chestnut that stale. said...

It's time for another exciting episode of the GOP's favorite game show, "Duck... Those... Consequences!"

Chris Stevens is more valuable to conservatives dead than he was alive. That's how they voted. Good thing the seats on the Benghazi Accountability Review Board all face one way.

Eric said...

Stevens - for some reason - turned down offers for additional security. Yet in the blameless Obama administration, it's not the ambassador or the Secretary of State or the Commander in Chief at fault. It must be some Republican on the House budget committee.

Mitch McConnell told the Navy Seals to stand down and Ted Cruz booked Obama's flight to Las Vegas on September 12th. Damn them.

NM said...

Aha, so Warren Buffett needed to "put his money where his mouth is" when he said the tax system is unfair. Liberals need to "put their money where their mouth is" whenever publicly challenged by a conservative to make a stunt bet about future success in Iraq, or the fraud of global warming, or whatever. And everybody needs to have "skin in the game" if they're going to receive government services, or make demands about them.

But Republicans are pinky-swear super serious about their bone-deep commitment to diplomatic security. Bone-deep, but wallet-shalllow. Because they can't STAY super-serious (and un-primaried) Congressmen if they don't make some very tough fiscal choices. Not so tough that they should ever answer for them, of course, but tough enough that they can call themselves the adults in the room.

And now that something's gone wrong, the adults in the room say, "He did it, he did it, he plays golf and flies on planes and totally did it by himself to infinity plus one!" It's called sincerity.

Eric said...

I realize that the spending angle is a defense mechanism for you leftist types. It's Paul Krugman's bread and butter: if we'd only spent more, the recovery would be great. It's the education system's excuse for our stupid kids. It works for global warming, Obamacare, whatever you have.

And, yes, as this country careens towards doubling our national debt in one Presidential term, I think more people would be appalled at spending if they had a hand in paying the bill.

But back to Benghazi. I realize your funding counterpoint is a little talisman, something to be whipped out in arguments to protect our golfing buddy. Except it isn't true:

"Boxer would have been on firmer ground if she had echoed the broad point made by the Accountability Review Board that both Republicans and Democrats in Congress repeatedly have failed to provide the State Department with the requested resources. Instead she narrowly tailored her critique to the two-year period when Republicans were in control of the House, failing to mention that Democrats have also “cut” the president’s budget request. Thus her remarks lacked significant context.
Indeed, it is almost as if Boxer is living in a time warp, repeating talking points from six months ago that barely acknowledge the fact that extensive investigations have found little evidence of her claim that “there was not enough security because the budget was cut.”
State Department officials repeatedly told Congress that a lack of funds was not an issue. Instead, security was hampered because of bureaucratic issues and management failures. In other words, given the internal failures, no amount of money for the State Department likely would have made a difference in this tragedy."

"Management failures?" Why that sounds to me like the finger should be pointed at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But then what difference does it make?

"Sincerity is just around the corner" said...

Yes, Republicans cared deeply about Benghazi the day before it burned. And they understand that avoiding future Benghazis is much more important than gotcha politics. The Republicans also care very, very much about improving health care. And supporting the troops, and embracing science, and reducing the debt, and paying our bills. Some blowhards talk the talk, but only today's GOP truly walks the walk.

That's what makes the polling affiliation numbers and election results so weird. Must be a messaging problem.

Eric said...

Thanks for your comment.