It is exhausting. This choice. This job. This desire to craft a non-ideological, pragmatic path is taking all of my energy. Confronted daily by people who either cannot, or will not, see the full picture that is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or Obamacare), I find myself calming the fears of its detractors or clarifying the rules to its biggest supporters. To the right, and the righter than right, I find myself defending the law, or at the very least, the need for change. Defending the insurers from the left could be a full time job in of itself.
Randy (name changed) called Friday. He wanted to know when they were going to cancel his group health insurance policy.
Why would Medical Mutual cancel your company’s insurance?
Because my policy doesn’t cover any women or children.
But you don’t have any female employees, right?
Yeah, but they’re gonna cancel me!
OY, Randy, you’ve been watching FOX again.
It took fifteen minutes to reassure Randy. Now, no one on FOX really said that a small business would lose its health insurance if there weren't any women or children on the policy. That’s silly. But the daily barrage of negativity, conspiracy theories, and half-truths take their toll on the viewers. One day you’re a concerned business owner. The next you are trying to get one of your employees to get married so that you can retain your group coverage.
It doesn’t get any better on MSNBC. With neither an ounce of irony nor embarrassment, the outpost of the left gives us Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont. I’m sure that an extensive GOOGLE search might find an instance when Gov. Dean knew what he was talking about. I’m just positive that none of his pronouncements about health insurance or the PPACA have any basis in reality.
For example, Governor Dean was recently discussing the disastrous roll-out and the policy cancellations. He was on Morning Joe and several other shows. He opined that all the President had to do was to hire a bunch of unemployed kids, put them in a call center, and have them ring up everyone whose policy had been cancelled. The kids could enroll everyone into Obamacare!
I doubt that approach would be welcome in Vermont, a state with less than half the population of Greater Cleveland. I know that wouldn’t fly here. Who explains the policies to the “kids”? Vermont may have only one or two insurers and only a few options, but Ohio, California, and any other state that has an actual city or two will have multiple insurers and dozens of choices. But on one has ever explained insurance, or economics, or city life to Governor Dean. And there is absolutely no reason to do so now.
40 vs. 5
The PPACA was sold to the American public as a universal win. Everyone would get better, more comprehensive health insurance for a lower monthly premium. This blog has repeatedly pointed out that that was not possible. The airwaves are now filled with the horror stories of cancelled policies and jacked-up premiums. The right emphasizes every problem, real or imagined. The left has a new argument – Isn’t it OK to inconvenience five million people so that 40 MILLION AMERICANS can now get access to affordable health care?
What a bunch of hooey. This wasn’t a Hobson’s choice. It wasn’t remake our entire system or do nothing to help the uninsured and the under-insured in our country. We could have accomplished much of that goal by expanding Medicaid. You don’t score many points by minimizing someone else’s loss.
I have watched my words parsed in the comment sections of Facebook and the AOL Patch. The attorneys and attorney wanna-be’s who troll for fights can’t tolerate civil discussions. One guy was convinced that all insurers will cancel their clients at the first sign of a claim. Another reader is positive that the PPACA is the harbinger of the Apocalypse. The extremes are so extreme. The middle is lonely and damn near empty.
For the record:
- Insurers pay claims. My clients have benefited from their coverage.
- The status quo was not sustainable.
- There is a kernel of truth in everything you see and hear on FOX and MSNBC. You need more than kernels. You need a meal.