Thursday, August 22, 2013

All the Stupid People, Where Do They All Come From?

This post is not addressed to my regular readers. I know that you know this information. However, if you choose to do so, this is for your use. Please feel free to send it to anyone that you feel is talking nonsense about Obamacare. You may share it in part or as a whole. It probably won't do any good but it made me feel better to write and share this post. At least my head won't explode.

Just when I'm in a positive frame of mind, I go and read something so stupid (post from August 21 re: Affordable Health Care Act) it makes my head want to explode. There are a lot of sites that advise people not to buy health insurance in compliance with the Affordable Health Care Act. However, that's not what has my head expanding. It's the number of brainless nitwits who assert that noncompliance will result in not just fines but imprisonment. 

There is no imprisonment for not buying health insurance. Don't believe every stupid bit of information that you read on the Internet.

There are fines for not having health insurance. In Obamacare's first year (2014), the fine is $95 per adult or one percent of income, whichever is highest. The penalty is half the adult amount for children under 18. The penalty goes up every year, landing at $695 or 2.5 percent of household income in 2016.

If you own a car, states require you to buy at minimum, liability insurance. This is not to protect you but to protect your fellow drivers from being  hit by uninsured drivers and having to either pay out of pocket or file a claim with their insurance and risk an increase in their rates. 

When you get sick, (and unless you die young from an accident, you will get sick at some point in your life, and traipse off to the emergency room with no insurance) the rest of us pay for your health care. Those ridiculous overcharges at hospitals are to create sufficient funds to cover treating the uninsured.

So while you defiantly refuse to spend $100 per month on health insurance (if you're in good health with no pre-existing conditions your insurance costs will be low), when you are in an accident or become seriously ill and take yourself to the emergency room and are hospitalized, who do you think pays for your medical care? You have no insurance. The hospital can try to collect, but if you have no assets worth a crap, then there is nothing for the hospital to collect from you. And in spite of the nonsense I've read recently, there is no such thing as a debtor prison in the United States. Your property, if you have any, may be forfeited but no one goes to prison because he or she cannot pay their debts. 

Please stop spreading misinformation and declaring that anyone is going to prison because he or she does not purchase health insurance. If you'd rather pay a fine, so be it.

As for the chicken little cries that the AHCA equals Socialism, I suggest you start with the basics and check out Wikipedia's entry on Socialism. It's exceptionally simplistic and ultimately inaccurate to characterize Socialism as a redistribution of wealth. However, I don't have the time nor energy to give a fundamental lesson in Socialism.


Lisa :-] said...

Sheria--You know I agree with you about most things, and I agree with mosyt of what you've said here in this post. "Obamacare" is not the perfect piece of legislation, but it is what Congress could pass at the time, and the health care issues in this country needed to be addressed. It's my feeling, though, that the conversation has barely begun. While the ACA has benefited many, many Americans, and has not and WILL NOT send anyone to jail, there are some misconceptions in the other direction as well. A particular one that I can point out in the the copy of this post is your assumption that decent, usable health insurance could be had for $100 a month, and that "if you're in good health with no pre-existing conditions your insurance costs will be low." We have belonged to the same crappy HMO (Kaiser Permanente) through the company my husband works for for almost twenty years. And they take $175 a WEEK out of his paycheck for coverage for just him and me. And that is just the employee portion--his company picks up a major portion of the tab (but not all) for HIM to be insured, the rest of it is to add ME to the policy. Our health insurance costs us over $9000 A YEAR. And, of course, that's over and above any out-of-pocket we have to pay. I know insurance costs tend to be regional, and maybe they are lower in the south. But here in Oregon, you won't be getting any kind of coverage that is actually useful for less than $500/month. And that's a pretty big chunk of change to folks that don't have that kind of money.

Marty Holden said...

Lisa, then I suggest your take yourself off you husbands policy and sign up for the ACA for indiv. coverage. Or at least check it out. You might save in the long run and get more. What you are experiencing is what made the ACA necessary.

Sheria Reid said...

I hear you Lisa, and as always, I appreciate your input. However, I echo Marty Holden's excellent advice.

I do know that insurance costs are astronomical for many families; however, the ACA has not yet had any impact on insurance via one's employer. The ACA provisions will not be fully in effect until 2014.

Some of the most costly policies in the nation are via employers. Employee health insurance is particularly costly when a spouse is added to the policy. In many states, it is more cost effective for the spouse to purchase health insurance directly from an insurer rather than be on their spouse's policy.

In addition, as you point out, insurance costs vary from state to state.

Group policies as offered by employers charge the same rate for all employees regardless of health status. The ACA is primarily directed towards people who do not have access to health insurance via a job. You may want to look into costs for a direct purchase of insurance for you instead of being added to your husband's policy.

In NC most employers cover all or nearly all of the premium for the employee but for adding a spouse or family the costs may be very high, costing hundreds every month.

What ACA will do is give people options that didn't previously exist. What ACA is not doing is causing health insurance costs to rise.

By the way, the $100 per month isn't my assumption. I know this to be accurate for healthy, young people seeking a basic policy in my state. I don't do assumptions, I do research.

Lisa :-] said...

Sheria--I apologize...I "mis-wrote," calling your $100/month figure an "assumption." All the information I have gathered about inexpensive health insurance policies indicates that the deductible/out of pocket rates are so high as to make the insurance virtually useless. Good for a catastrophic illness or injury, perhaps, but not for much else.

In any case, insurance rates for healthy young people with no pre-existing conditions are not exactly the thing I deal with every day. I am none of the above, nor are any of the folks I know and love who are having a devil of a time covering their butts with health insurance. My sister is retired but not yet old enough to qualify for Medicare, and she pays in excess of %500/month for a really crappy policy. I have another sister who literally could not afford the insurance available through her employer (she drives a bus for a federally-funded special needs student program.) If she had accepted the insurance, she would not have had enough money left over to pay her rent and other bills. I believe the ACA will benefit at least those two of my family members.

But I wonder: how we are going to address the horrendous rip-off of(semi-)employer-paid insurance "benefits." This must be a huge profit center for the insurance industry, and it is not going to go away without a fight. This is not an indictment of the ACA, merely a sterling example of why I maintained in my previous comment that the "health care" conversation in this country has only just begun.

Anonymous said...

When you have an industry such as "healthcare" that makes up 18% of our nations GDP you are not going to change it with just one legislative action such as ACA.

The first thing you have to accomplish is get as many people paying into the system as possible, and ACA accomplishes that.

If you can draw in as many young healthy people and have them paying into the system then you can turn around and address the issue that everyone else is dealing with because next you can spread the cost/risk over a much broader group of people.

ACA also demands that health insurers also payout a minimum of 80% of their premiums on claims. I don't think most people realize that before health insurers were paying out a lost less with the rest going to administration and investors.

ACA represents a baby step, a first small step, but the reality is our health insurance industry is HUGE and has reached a point where it cannot innovate and thus needs the impetus of government action to break the log jam it finds its self in.

We still have a ways to go, in fact our most pressing problem is the one where we complain about the ever increasing cost of healthcare, the fact that we can barely afford insurance and healthcare while at the same time most general practitioners are struggling to make a living. This is a conversation I have all the time.

What do you tell doctors who love what they do and are good at what they do but who are finding themselves working long hours and seeing a lot more patients than what they did 10 years ago but are actually earning less now than they did 10 years ago? Especially in light of the fact that you know your own insurance costs have gone through the roof over the course of the last 10 years....

We all ask, "Where is the money going?"

But, you got to crawl before you first things first and ACA is the logical first step.

Sheria Reid said...

Lisa, you do not owe me an apology. I did not feel insulted by your comment. I love hearing from you on this blog when I find time to actually write something. Thank you for being such a faithful reader. It means a lot.

I don't think that I made it clear that I agree with you that the conversation on affordable health insurance and affordable health care has just begun.

I think that taospeaks (thanks for stopping by tao) is correct in that we are just beginning to crawl, but we do indeed have to crawl before we can walk. The ACA is just a starting point.

I have nothing but empathy for you and your sisters. I am a diabetic and insurance companies run from me. It doesn't matter that my diabetes is under excellent control and that I have no secondary health issues resulting from being a diabetic. Because I may get complications someday, they want to charge me ridiculously high rates. I have received rate quotes as high as $3,000 per month (from Blue Cross/Blue Shield) for health insurance.

I have generally had insurance via an employer but the days of employers paying the total premium for an employee have passed. Currently, I have insurance via the federal Pre-Existing Insurance Plan (PCIP) which has only recently become available as a precursor to full implementation of the ACA in 2014. It costs me $525 per month but it's better than what I can get from any for profit insurer.

I think that taospeaks emphasizes an important point, the first step is getting as many people paying into the system as possible and the ACA does that. However, I am in agreement with both of you that the ACA is just a step in the right direction and not a very big step.

What I find scary is that if there is this much opposition from the Right over the ACA, how are we ever going to make more substantive changes to provide access to affordable care for all of us?

Dervish Sanders said...

The ACA needs to add a public option. Hopefully that "step" can be taken sometime in the future (but not too far in the future. Under President Hillary Clinton, perhaps). Medicare for all would be (or would have been) a better solution.