If you’ve been paying attention over the past 3 1/2 years, you probably realize that Republicans don’t like the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” as they so warmly refer to it. Maybe that was something of an understatement though, so let me give it another shot. Republicans, anti-Obama bigots, TEA party folks, and Fox News commentators who hate Obamacare with their very souls, believe it will be the death knell for America, believe its socialist government healthcare, believe it will bankrupt America, and they are SURE its the final death blow from the Kenyans who want to impose Sharia law on all of us. The right is so invested in killing Obamacare, they’ve pretty much forgotten about jobs, the economy, and everything else that is important to Americans.
“Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm election by promising to repeal Obamacare. The House has now voted 46 times — 46 times! — to repeal Obamacare, only to see the votes ignored by the Democratic Senate.” They went on to add, “The GOP’s political strategy here is pretty simple: Do everything possible to discourage young and healthy people from signing up for Obamacare. If the new insurance plans are dominated by the old and the sick — people who are desperate to get coverage — then insurance premiums will skyrocket. And a wave of public anger is certain to follow. There is a name for such a strategy. It’s called sabotage.”
Darrell Issa is cackling like the witch who just saw Dorothy in her crystal ball, because he’s finally found the “smoking gun” that he thinks will sabotage the life out of Obamacare. Seems some current health insurance policies do not meet the minimum requirements for coverage and accountability under Obamacare. And now, some of the big boys in the health insurance cartel, have started sending out letters cancelling those inadequate existing policies, and (coincidentally), offering ACA compatible coverage at a higher cost. But wait, didn’t Obama say if you like your current coverage, you can “keep” it? Issa’s eyes lit up like a super nova, and he thought, “Eureka! Obama lied!”
This phenomenon of insurance companies cancelling policies and issuing new, more costly plans, wasn’t something that jumped out of the shadows and bit the American consumer on the ass yesterday. The so-called “grandfather clause” that precipitated it was addressed nearly three years ago. In September of 2010, Republican Mike Enzi (WY) had already launched a campaign against the “grandfather clause” so he and the other Republican members of Congress were well aware of the situation more than two years ago.
So, what happened? Why are these companies issuing new plans and cancelling the old ones? Well, the answer is simple, and honors the foundational motive for all Republican politics: “Profit.” Obamacare “grandfathered” old policies purchased prior to March 23, 2010 from complying with the restrictions and requirements of ACA.
In other words, if you had a “grandfathered” plan, you could keep it AS IS, unless your insurance company decided they didn’t want that. Sarah Kliff broke it down clearly in her piece in the Washington Post yesterday.
“These cancellations are, essentially, a lot of grandfathered plans exiting the insurance marketplace. From an insurance company’s vantage point, grandfathered plans are a bit of a dead end: They can’t enroll new subscribers and are really constrained in their ability to tweak the benefit package or cost-sharing structure. There’s not a whole lot of business sense, for a managed care company, in maintaining a health plan.”
In other words, the health insurance companies are CHOOSING to end their grandfathered policies, as a business matter (profits) because they don’t want to be stuck with a bunch of old policies (covering lots of OLD customers), and they can’t “tweak the cost-sharing structure”. In other words, the new limits on total out-of-pocket costs and the 80%/20% benefits to administrative costs, will hurt their pocketbooks! Hayate Yagami, a contributer to the DailyKos, spelled it out pretty clearly in his piece yesterday.
“If the insurers wanted to keep offering the old plans, well, good for them. The ‘grandfathered’ status of those plans means that they can keep offering the same junk insurance to the people who already bought them, for however long they want.”
So there you have it in a nutshell. Health insurance moguls are watching out for their pocketbooks. They don’t want to keep the old grandfathered policies in place, because it would hurt their bottom line, and they want to puff-up those bonus checks. They see it as a “win-win” for them, they can be greedy as hell, and blame it on Obama. They can read the handwriting on the wall though. When Obamacare is fully up and running, their potential for huge profits will be severely limited.
Now, what’s the answer for consumers? For people who’ve just been informed their insurance company is raising their rates? For people who believe big insurance is ripping them off? Actually it’s pretty simple, remember anyone can purchase insurance on the exchanges, even you. The premiums quoted by your insurance companies do not allow for tax subsidies under Obamacare. Americans making less than $45,960 as individual or $94,200 as a family of 4 may be eligible for free or low-cost health insurance due to cost assistance subsidies like Tax Credits that reduce premium costs and cost sharing subsidies that lower cost sharing on copays, coinsurance and deductibles. There are three ways to save money on your health insurance through ObamaCare’s marketplaces: Advanced premium tax credits which lower your monthly premium costs, cost sharing subsidies which lower your out-of-pocket costs for copays, coinsurance and deductibles, and Medicaid which does both.
So go to Healthcare.gov (which hopefully is fixed by now) and shop. It’s highly likely you can get the exact same coverage your insurance company is pushing you into, for considerably lower payments. And don’t forget, your tax subsidies can be applied directly to those monthly premiums.