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Tag Archives: health care

Why are we less important?

I haven’t read the new GOP health care bill that passed a couple of days ago, because I simply haven’t had time. The things I heard about it – from both the right and the left – have not been positive, but given the vast amount of misinformation out there about it from both sides, I’d rather read it for myself before commenting on the legislation. And I will. It just might take a while.

Instead, I’d like to talk about this idea that somehow people like me and my family – and hundreds of thousands of others – should be victimized to ostensibly “help” people for whom programs already exist that ensure they have access to health care.

First, a couple of actual facts.

The “pre-existing condition” hysteria is just that. There are very few Americans who are actually denied insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions. As Avik Roy points out in Forbes, prior to ObamaCare, “Employer-based plans were required to offer coverage to everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions. So were Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs like the VA.

And since 90 percent of Americans obtain coverage through one of those means, the number of uninsured due to pre-existing conditions is actually pretty small. How small? Roughly 115,000 small.

As Roy notes, the government after passing ObamaCare created the Pre-Existing Condition Plan designed to help the roughly 10 percent of Americans who ostensibly were denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

PCIP was designed to work from the years 2010 to 2014, as a bridge until Obamacare’s insurance regulations took effect. During those years, Americans could sign up for heavily subsidized coverage under PCIP if they had documented proof that they had been denied coverage by an insurance company and had a pre-existing condition.

At the program’s peak, 114,959 people signed up for its coverage. That’s not even 1 percent of the population.

Now, I do understand this coverage is important for these folks. It sucks that they are either denied coverage or forced to go broke paying for it because of their illness. The PCIP was created to alleviate that problem.

I’m not a fan of entitlements, but if this is the major problem health insurance reform  was trying to fix, why not institutionalize this program as a safety net for less than 1 percent of the population and leave the rest of us alone?

But beyond that, let’s remember that lack of insurance coverage =\= lack of actual health care. The 1986 Emergency Medical and Treatment Labor Act explicitly forbids hospitals to deny care to indigent or uninsured patients based on a lack of ability to pay. Beyond emergency treatment, doctors and hospitals are under no legal obligation to provide care to those unable to pay.

Ethical obligation? That’s a different story.

Doctors do take charity cases, and they do treat the indigent pro bono, as well as people who have lost their jobs or have fallen on hard times. They provide payment plans, and do try to work with patients. But medical practices have bills to pay, staff to compensate, equipment and drugs to buy, and malpractice insurance as well as other overhead to pay. At what point does it become untenable for a doctor to provide free services to people who can’t afford it? They certainly can’t do so if they leave their practice!

Pharmaceutical companies also offer relief to patients who are unable to pay for their medication.

So, what I’m saying is, there are programs available to help those who need it. Will they cover everyone fully? Probably not. Will they save every single person who is in dire need of care? Probably not. No matter how many fixes you provide, some will always fall through the cracks.

And I feel for these patients. I really do.

But the overhaul of the entire health care system that screws over millions of Americans, forcing them out of policies with which they were satisfied and which they could afford, and obligating them to pay thousands of dollars more for coverage, in favor of a relatively small number of patients?

That’s not justice.

What makes these patients more important than you or me?

My monthly insurance premiums more than doubled partly because ObamaCare forced a one-size-fits-all coverage requirement on all insurance companies and partly because Rob’s insurance coverage, for which he was paying out of pocket, consequently doubled, forcing us to put him on my government policy.

Why is my family’s financial health less important than providing pregnancy coverage for a 70-year-old man?

Two years ago, I had an underwater house I couldn’t sell, tenants whose rent didn’t even cover my mortgage payments, and who ultimately first stole my house, and then trashed it, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damages. We were living paycheck to paycheck, despite both of us working. Mortgage payments combined with our rent ate up 80 percent of my paycheck. And yet, I was taking home only a little more than 50 percent of my pay – in part because my insurance rates went up significantly.

Why is my ability to provide for my family, to make a payment for my old, 2003 Jeep, and to buy groceries less important than providing contraception coverage for someone who claims they can’t afford a box of condoms at their pharmacy?

Why is forcing those who choose to pay their physicians directly, instead of using health insurance, or those who choose to risk it without a policy, to spend their money on purchasing health insurance, preferable to allowing them that choice? Why are those who choose not to purchase insurance less important than those who demand the latter pay for their policies?

Why are doctors less important than other members of society? Why are they reviled as rich fat cats for demanding fair pay for their skills, their knowledge, their years of hard work and study, their sleepless nights, and ultimately for providing services very few in this society are capable of providing? Are they not entitled to fair compensation? Are they so unimportant that they shouldn’t be allowed to set a value for their labor, while unskilled fry cooks demand a $15/hour minimum wage for theirs?

Why is a small percentage of the population, whose inability to pay for needed medical care can be mitigated by already existing public and private programs, more important than the people who are going broke paying obscene premiums, who lost their doctors, or who opted to be penalized at tax time, rather than pay thousands in premium increases?

Why are people who got health insurance through ObamaCare more important than those who lost it, or lost access to their doctor because of it?

Why is the federal government deciding whose “need” is greater?

Why is my need to feed my family, to pay my bills, or to help my kids with school bills less important than someone else’s need to be covered just in case they can’t afford a doctor’s visit or a box of condoms, especially given the fact that programs do exist to help those truly in need of life-saving care and can be institutionalized so they can continue helping this small percentage of patients?

Why are people who are able to provide for their families less important than those who can’t? And they’re SO MUCH less important, that their loss, their hard work, their pain, their efforts to eke out a living and provide for their families are denigrated as “the rich trying to hoard wealth.”

Why is the appearance of doing something to help the poor more important than actually helping them, and definitely more important than protecting people like me, like Rob, and like millions of people who don’t qualify as “needy” in the government’s eyes?

Why are we less important?

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Conservatives

Rob wrote a great piece last night eviscerating David Shephard’s condemnation of conservatives who actually stand on principles on the Bull Elephant. You should really go read Rob’s fisk. He uses big words, and he didn’t drop the F-bomb even once! (Note: this is why I will never write for an actual news source or political site again. Too much effort to constrain my cursing.)

Shephard, whose claim to fame is apparently being a lobbyist in Richmond, claims that the House Freedom Caucus and its “conservative” members were never meant to be legislators, because they apparently never influence policy (Except for tanking the GOP’s shit show of a health care bill, of course. You’re welcome.) They should just hang out in think tanks and attend luncheons, proclaims a snot-nosed millennial whose contribution to the economy is lobbying and consulting.

If my eyes rolled back any harder, I’d need a pair of salad tongs and a team of Navy SEALs to retrieve them.

And that’s why, Shephard claims, Trump voters hate these guys, mmkay?

Because apparently people who want to examine legislation that has the power to affect millions of Americans and significantly impact our economy by using actual economic principles and rational thought don’t belong in government.

Rob rightfully excoriated this dick weasel.

The Trump voter, for the most part, is driven by emotion rather than logic. Trump, to his credit, seized on the undercurrent of frustration with business as usual in Washington, and rode it, against all expectations, including mine, to the White House. But let us not kid ourselves, Trump has little idea, even from moment to moment, of what he actually wants to ‘get done’. All he is interested in is ‘winning’. He is an ideologically unmoored populist. Steve Bannon, his chief political guru, has little ideological compass himself, and lacks the depth of knowledge to develop one. …And this is the guy who had the unmitigated gall to tell House conservatives in a meeting this past week “Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.” This administration will never be an effective leader for conservative principles as it stands right now.

I have, for the most part, avoided partisan discussion on this blog, choosing instead to focus on particular issues objectively and examine them from both sides. There’s a reason for this. Partisans focus on party. As Shephard shows, they care little for actual principle, and care only about advancing the party brand. Even when the party elite try to advance pure shit legislation that the majority of Americans recognize as dreck, winning is more important than what’s good for the country.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not only a Republican problem. The majority of Americans also opposed ObamaCare, but the legisleeches back then cared more about passing legacy legislation than ensuring the good of the nation. But apparently Republicans have learned nothing from that disaster.

It’s apparently more important for them to appear to be keeping their campaign promises than to actually be keeping them. Winning. That’s how you win in politics. You manipulate public perception into believing you’re doing something, and you claim victory. It’s not about America. It’s about your party winning in Congress. So yes, when intelligent people step in and put a damper on your plans with actual facts and figures, you have no choice but to malign and bully them.

What really gets me is that Shephard has so little self awareness, that he actually thinks denigrating legislators who analyze legislation and consider its fiscal implications as worthless and “a waste of a desk and a chair,” while wrapping himself in the “conservative” mantle somehow reflects positively on him and the vapid establishment squishes who pride themselves on having no principles, but “winning” at the polls.

The Trump voters work for a living, he says in an obsequious attempt to lick the taints of the ignorant, as if the members of the House Freedom Caucus have done no real work in their lives.

Mark Meadows, the current Chairman, started a small restaurant in North Carolina, and later sold it to start a successful real estate development endeavor in Florida. Yeah, what a failure!

Brian Babin of Texas is a dentist. Obviously, he can’t relate to the working man.

Rod Blum – with his degrees in finance and business administration obviously has nothing to contribute to the conversation about legislation that would affect this nation’s people and economy, and neither does economist Dave Brat.

The caucus includes businessmen, military veterans, doctors, realtors, small business owners, as well as lawyers. Obviously, they have nothing to contribute to the health care legislation debate, and they certainly don’t have anything in common with those Trump voters who work for a living, right, jackass?

Conservatives should not be defined by the number of notches they carve in the “win” column. Conservatives should specifically defined by their principles and ideology, which shouldn’t changed based on the way the political wind is blowing. If Shephard is correct, and the typical Trump voter wants results that will “improve our country,” they should be thanking the members of the House Freedom Caucus for ensuring that the GOP’s dumpster fire health care legislation, which did nothing to reduce government dependence and kept much of what Americans hated about ObamaCare in the first place firmly in place, never saw the light of day.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus were elected for a reason. They were open and transparent about their views, and their constituents selected them to represent their views in Congress. Maybe they were tired of politicians who told them what they wanted to hear, and then fell right in line with the usual bullshit once they got to Washington. There’s a reason they sent the calculating, ambitious, unprincipled Republican Eric Cantor home in favor of the educated, passionate, pro-freedom economist Dave Brat, despite Brat’s considerable disadvantage in the fundraising department. There’s only so many times you can betray the principles you claim to hold, before your constituents say, “ENOUGH!”

Congress needs more ideologically committed conservatives (and liberals), not fewer. We need less notches on our political bedposts and more actual wins. We need people who stand behind what they believe and rely on knowledge and experience, not their FEELZ, and who won’t be threatened and intimidated into backing down and doing anything less than what they objectively understand to be good for the country. They shouldn’t care that some carnival barker threatens to primary them, because this shouldn’t be a career from which to profit, but an honor to serve the people who put them in office.

The fact that these are men who stood up and opposed a bill that would have been awful for the country despite attempts to threaten and intimidate them speaks volumes about their love of their country and their respect for their constituents and yanks the curtain open on the puppetmasters, shining a stark spotlight on their lack of values and respect for America.

Trump promised us during the election that we would win so much, we’d get tired of winning.

Perhaps our definitions of “winning” need a tweak.

Catching up

So, I’ve been in Miami the past few days. I generally like TDYs, but not to Miami, because it’s a) hot, b) humid c) filled with the kind of annoying drunken coeds on spring break that make you want to climb a tower and start picking them off with a high-powered rifle.

Also, whenever I go to Florida, I invariably wind up with a three-day headache. This trip was no exception, so it made the numerous meetings I had to attend that much more miserable.

That said, we did have some excellent food, saw some very cool art in the Winwood district between meetings, and I got to talk to a class full of high school students about careers. Yeah, I know. Someone allowed me to speak to kids. I actually corrupted young minds. You can blame my buddy Tim, who is a high school teacher, and somehow thought it was a cool idea to expose his students to my special brand of crazy. I did not drop the F-bomb during my speech. I did, however, drop one several times as we walked outside. In front of kids. Apparently, that’s a no-no or something… as if they never heard the word, “fuck” before.

Le Sigh.

I did take some very cool photos in Winwood with my phone, and they have this awesome taco joint, where we got to sit outside, eat amazing food, and get glared at by feral kittens.

Because kittens.

So what happened while I was gone?

Apparently, someone leaked 45’s tax returns from 2005. After getting her acolytes in a frothing frenzy about the shock and awe contained in those documents, Rachel Maddow broadcast on her show that…

…Trump paid his taxes.

At a higher rate than Romney, Obama, and Bernie Sanders.

Wow… well, that was a letdown, eh unhinged leftists?

And guess what! I know you’ll be shocked at this, but not only did he pay his taxes in 2005, he’s still President!

I’ll let you take a woosah moment.

What else happened?

I was watching the news this morning at my hotel room, when they decided that this was somehow newsworthy.

Mom jeans. With plastic panels, so when you wear these monstrosities, everyone can see your knees. Because what you need more than anything in the world is plastic panels that make your skin exude oodles of moisture to sweat up these clear panels on a warm day. Because, see, plastic doesn’t exactly allow for air circulation.

Literally, WTF?

Is there anyone in the entire universe who would pay $95 and actually wear these things? They’re like chaps for your knees.

Perhaps Nordstrom needs to fire a buyer or two.

Next up is the fiasco of a health care bill the GOP decided to excrete out of its wrecked anus. Rob blogged about this dumpster fire, previously, as did our buddy Jason Pye at FreedomWorks. The Congressional Budget Office savaged the bill, and some Republicans are now running from it like a BLM protester after breaking the window of a convenience store.

Here’s a clue, GOP. You don’t take a horrible law, and make it worse by adding your own even more horrible law on top of it, and then expect everyone to do a happy dance, because “Oh, look! We did something!”

It’s time Republicans stopped being stupid, but I guess that’s too much to ask for.

Oh, it snowed in DC. From the looks of it, we got maybe an inch or two, but that apparently didn’t stop the panicked doofi from stampeding grocery stores like so much rabid cattle. It was in the 70s in Miami, and today was a positively frosty 60 degrees. Yes, be jealous.

Also, apparently, Amy Schumer had a comedy tragedy special on Netflix recently. Let’s put aside the fact that she really does remind me of a potato, and apparently has the IQ of one. She was apparently so unfunny and terrible, that the makers of “Ishtar” are breathing a sigh of relief, because their unwatchable dreck is no longer at the bottom of the cinematographic heap.

IMDB reviews were brutal.

This was painful to watch. Save yourself the time and don’t bother watching this train wreck (that lame pun was better than anything in this special). I have never been a big fan of Amy but she was better when she was stealing other people’s jokes. Maybe she search some old comedy tapes for new material. 1 star is generous for this slop.

If this show was a smell, it would smell of fermented beans and disease.

Mercifully it ended but I’ll never be able to get those wasted hours back. Amy if you ever read any of these reviews I have a special message for you: suicide is still an option.

On my flight back to DC, I finally got a chance to watch “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” I loved it! Not because I’m a Harry Potter fan… well… not only because I’m a Harry Potter fan. I thought the design was stunning, Eddie Redmayne is a phenomenally talented actor, and he was at the same time shy, innocent, and a brilliant badass, Colin Farrell was just right for the role of the ultimate bad buy pre-Voldemort, and JOHNNY DEPP!

And finally, I’m excited, because Wonder Woman is finally coming out this June! As a kid, I watched Lynda Carter transform into Wonder Woman on TV every day, and I wanted to be her so badly! That series resulted in my wearing “bracelets” made of tin foil on my wrists and a desire to change my name to “Diana.” And now, Gal Gadot will bring one of my favorite superheroes to the big screen! And it looks terrific, so I’m more than excited!

And yes, now that I’m back from TDY, I will blog more regularly. Thanks for caring.

This is how the debates SHOULD have been

I spent very little time watching the Presidential debates last year. What little I did watch infuriated me so much, I felt like throwing heavy objects at my TV. I even came up with a list that would make the debates imminently more watchable and fun! The list included rabid badgers and tequila, which gives you an idea about just how irritating I found the entire thing.

Last night, however, I did watch the CNN debate between Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz, and I have to say I was impressed. First of all, they actually discussed the issue: health care. The moderators – Jake Tapper and Dana Bash – were balanced, and the audience was allowed to ask questions that concerned them as constituents and taxpayers. Bash and Tapper did not argue or fact check the participants. They simply guided the discussion and made sure both got a turn to speak. Good job, guys!

Then there were the participants themselves. They were congenial. They rarely interrupted one another. They were relaxed. They chatted not only to one another, but to the audience. They didn’t threaten one another. They found points on which they could agree and collaborate – right there on stage. There was a little friendly ribbing, but nothing resembling the shit shows of last year, in which threats, accusations, references to sexual plumbing, and name-calling replaced actual issues and substantive discussion.

Shamelessly stolen from FreedomWorks, who grabbed it from some guy on Twitter.

Shamelessly stolen from FreedomWorks, who grabbed it from some dude on Twitter.

That said… Sorry Bernie, but emotionalist hyperventilation does not replace facts in a debate.

Allowing people to keep the money they earned ≠ transferring wealth.

If you agree government corruption is a problem, WHY IN BLEEDING FUCK WOULD YOU WANT MOAR GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT IN HEALTH CARE?

If you claim insurance companies that are committing the egregious sin of wanting to profit off misfortune that befalls sick people, WHY IN DOG’S HAIRY HELL DID YOU ALLOW THEM SUCH A HEAVY HAND IN WRITING THE LEGISLATION TO BEGIN WITH?

Telling business owners “too fucking bad; do it anyway” when they ask how they’re supposed to provide health care coverage for 50+ employees without raising prices on goods and services, when they can’t even afford health care coverage themselves, is not moral, ethical, or compassionate, as you claim to be.

“Let me give you an answer you will not be happy with,” Sanders replied. “I think that businesses that employ 50 people or more… I’m sorry, I think that in America today, everybody should have health care. And if you have more than 50 people, you know what, I’m afraid to tell you, I think you will have to provide health insurance.”

The business owner quickly shot back:

“So my question is how do I do that without raising my prices to my customers or lowing the wages to my employees?”

Sanders went on to argue that it’s “unfair” that there might be “somebody else in Fort Worth who is providing decent health insurance to their employees,” but they have to compete with her business that doesn’t provide an employer-based health care plan.

“I think you’ll find the profit margin in my entire industry about the same,” the business owner replied.

What Bernie needs to do is to look up the definition of “right,” and the definition of “rationing.” He kept repeating the same tired leftist tropes about health care being a human right, which Cruz should have hammered him on, given that one cannot have the right to a good or a service, because someone always has to produce said good or service. No one has the right to the fruit of another person’s labor unless you’re into slavery, which is something we abolished a while ago. If your “right” steals the production of another human being via government force, it’s not a right, and you’re a thief – even if indirectly. Period.  I don’t know why politicians are so afraid to say it. Health care is not a right.

“Women are considered a pre-existing condition,” screeched Bernie during the debate. Uh… wat? No, pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition. Women who aren’t pregnant can get insurance just fine. And frankly, mandating that everyone gets pregnancy coverage whether they need it or not (no, a 70 year old woman or a 25 year old man do not need pregnancy coverage, which makes Cruz’s assertion that allowing people to choose specific services a la carte make all the more sense).

And no, we are not the only developed country that does not guarantee health care as a “right.” As PolitiFact points out, “Among the countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States is the only one that lacks universal coverage. But that’s not the same thing as a guaranteed right to health care, which some developed countries lack.”

Yes, we’re relatively high in infant mortality rates, as Bernie claims, but the reasons are a bit more nuanced than that.

The first nuance is one of definition. Infant mortality is defined as the death of babies under the age of one year, but some of the differences between countries can be explained by a difference in how we count. Is a baby born weighing less than a pound and after only 21 weeks’ gestation actually “born?” In some countries, the answer is no, and those births would be counted as stillbirths. In the United States, on the other hand, despite these premature babies’ relatively low odds of survival, they would be considered born — thus counting toward the country’s infant mortality rates.

These premature births are the biggest factor in explaining the United States’ high infant mortality rate. [emphasis mine] Pre-term births can have many different maternal causes, many of which — such as high blood pressure, diabetes, Zika and other infections and age — are not entirely within an expectant mother’s control. Other factors, such as stress level, might be able to be managed, but are not entirely controllable. On the other hand, some controllable risk factors include the use of tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and other drugs. The major issue of the lack of universal access to quality prenatal care should also be considered in any discussion of preterm births and infant mortality. Also, because about 50 percent of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, some women might not be aware they are pregnant in time to get early prenatal care, and this may be part of the reason for premature births in this country.

And while estimates vary about how many Americans have lost coverage as the result of ObamaCare, and PolitiFact claims that it was “only” 2.6 million, vice the 6 million Cruz claimed on the debate stage last night, does that include those who voluntarily eschew coverage and choose instead to pay the IRS penalty? Does it incorporate the number of insurers that have left the market place thanks to cost increase? And have the cancellations run their course, given the fact that several of the mandates have been postponed until this year? If we take NBC News reporting at its face when it reported that between 50 and 75 percent of the 14 million Americans who buy individual health insurance would likely receive a cancellation notice over 2014 because their plans did not meet the requirements of the ACA, that’s between 7 and 10.5 million people! Because the mandate was delayed twice, these cancellations probably haven’t reached that level… yet. Will these people wind up without coverage? Will they opt to pay the IRS penalty? What will happen if they genuinely get in trouble and need health care? Will they be penalized on top of having to pay exorbitant prices for medical care?

screen_shot_2017-02-07_at_9-13-29_pmCruz whipped out a bunch of statistics and made a good case. Bernie derped a lot and when in trouble, fell back on the old strategy of vilifying the rich and telling people that Republicans want old people to die and while said super rich get tax breaks. The transcript is here, if you missed the debate last night.

Fact is it should never be the function of the government to decide who makes “too much.”

Fact is it should never be the function of the government to tell the individual consumer what kind of health care policy they must purchase and what it should include.

Fact is it should never be the function of the government to control something as personal as individual health care and impose a one-size fits all standard on Americans.

Fact is “rationing” happens every time a government takes over health care and reduces the availability and quality of care for everyone, and contrary to Bernie’s claim, “rationing” does not mean “not having health insurance.”

Fact is health care is not “free” in Scandinavian countries. It is paid for by astronomical tax rates, and by their own accounts, it sucks, and I agree with Ted Cruz – I’d rather live in America.

And props to Ted Cruz for TAANSTAFL!

 

 

 

Government health insurance: the ultimate sickness

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am. I have a wonderful job I love that pays me well and keeps me intellectually stimulated. I have health insurance paid, in part, by my employer. It isn’t fabulous, but it gets the job done, and I’m sure that if I ever wound up deathly ill, my family wouldn’t be financially broken.

Sometimes I forget to be grateful.

A friend of mine is an incredible intellect, who unfortunately lost his full-time job last year, and with it his health insurance coverage. The following is his account of his experience with healthcare.gov.

The website seized up four times, but finally we were able to make our application. We never got to the marketplace, because my salary as a part time adjunct was so low, we automatically qualified for Medicaid.

I want to stress this point. We never got to the marketplace because the system automatically booted us into the Medicaid application for our state. I will come back to this later.

So we got covered. Our kids got covered under Medicaid, and we got covered under Primary Care Network, which is Utah’s iteration of Medicaid.

And, it’s great! As good a coverage as I’ve ever had, low copays, no complaints.

Welcome to ObamaCare. Have a great trip!

Fast-forward to today. We get our 1095 form. It shows that our kids have been covered under Medicaid, which qualifies as full coverage under the ACA, but my wife and I, who have PCN, do not. PCN is apparently only a “limited” plan and does not qualify as full coverage under the ACA. We are now on the hook for penalties going back four months for not having adequate care under the ACA. And the enrollment period ended on Jan 31st, so we will be on the hook for the next year as well. We are talking thousands of dollars here.

This, understandably, sent my wife into a panic and tears. It’s money we don’t have.

I want to re-iterate: we went to the government website, which funneled us to a state website, where we got coverage, and NO ONE informed us that this did not comply with the law or that the coverage for us was not enough under the standards of the law. My wife and I are not dumb bunnies. This wasn’t an oversight. There was simply no way we could have known.

The website was worthless – an endless maze – so we worked the phones. We sat on hold for over an hour, but finally got a hold of a person, who admittedly, was very nice and helpful. We told her our situation, told her we acted in good faith, and wound up here anyway. She told us that since we make so little, we may qualify for an exemption. She gave us the info on how to apply for this exemption through the IRS, what forms to use etc. Part of this application for an exemption requires that we go to Healthcare.gov and look up and submit what the lowest bronze plan would have cost us.

But now you are probably seeing the first paradox: our income is so low, that the website automatically sent us to the Medicaid site without ever taking us to the exchanges. How do we get there to know what we didn’t know? She doesn’t have an answer.

Now comes the second paradox. Even if we get this exemption, how will we make sure we get adequate coverage in the future? My employment situation is unlikely to change in that time. How can we even get to the exchanges to get a plan we are REQUIRED to have when the website immediately redirects us back to the Medicaid application? Where do we go to buy into a plan we can’t even see because the application process won’t let us see it?

Again, she was very nice, but she didn’t have an answer. She thinks there might be a “tool” to help us on healthcare.gov. She suggests that we go to Healthcare.gov and search for “exemptions.” A search for “exemptions” on Healthcare.gov produces 50 hits, by the way.

Finally she suggested we talk to the local Medicaid office in Utah. Perhaps they can help. Maybe Utah offers a Medicaid benefit plan that has full coverage and qualifies under the ACA. So we do. The person at the Utah Medicaid office is very nice, but told us that there is only one full coverage Medicaid plan and it is basically only offered to invalids. PCN, which is, frankly, very generous (thank you, Utah taxpayers!) is what they offer to most of their clients.

It seems crazy that PCN somehow does not qualify under ACA, but here’s where the story gets surreal.

The person tells us that they have never been told whether or not PCN qualifies under ACA!

Let that sink in for a moment.

The ACA has been law since January, 2010 and been implemented since 2013. Six years in, and the state government Medicaid office STILL does not know if their main Medicaid program complies with the law. They still don’t understand the ACA. This is obviously the root of the confusion.

Is everyone on Medicaid in Utah in violation of the law? Are they all paying penalties or forced to go through the exemption process? Do they even know? The person, who again, is very nice, has no answers. Who does know? Again, no answers.

All of this happened this morning. We have been delivered into a system that is completely opaque, with a curtain of websites and applications processes that are nearly impenetrable, and been left at the mercy of bureaucrats who do not even know the full meaning of the law they expect us to live under.

This simply cannot stand.

insuranceI was speechless when I read this, and I asked if I could blog about it. The above is my friend’s post, unedited, other than small stylistic and grammar changes.

This appalling web of bureaucratic lunacy is brought to you courtesy of the Affordable Care Act. A man and his wife, whose takehome pay is so low right now, they qualify for Medicaid, are now being forced to pay thousands of dollars in penalties they cannot afford for turning to the government to get coverage that is now required by law.

The absurdity would be hilarious if a family’s livelihood wasn’t at stake!

And my friend’s story isn’t the only nightmare Americans have been experiencing. A Facebook page dedicated to ACA horror stories has been created, and the stories are heartbreaking.

FreedomWorks last year did an article of its own, detailing top ObamaCare horror stories, including that of a pastor diagnosed with stage three cancer of the esophagus who was told – just minutes before getting chemotherapy – that his treatment would not be covered.

Meanwhile, the left’s smarmy, arrogant, lying, biased, craptastic excuse for an economist Paul Krugman last year claimed the ObamaCare horror stories were “imaginary” – concocted by those who obviously just are too ignorant to know how FAAAAABULOUS ObamaCare and too stupid to know what’s good for them.

These are real people with real life problems, betrayed by politicians and pundits who couldn’t even begin to understand what it’s like to not know how your next grocery bill will be paid, or what it’s like to lose sleep, because the IRS says you owe them money you don’t have.

My friend’s dilemma is real. Imagine you’re so poor, you automatically qualified for Medicaid, but the state doesn’t offer a plan that meets ACA requirements, except to a few really sick individuals, so you have to buy more insurance… again… because you’re poor. And if you didn’t know you had to buy more insurance, you have to pay again. Because you’re poor.

File this under: Things politicians and the “Elite” couldn’t possibly comprehend.

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