Who Really Loves Obamacare Anyway?

Who really loves health insurance? Those of us who get sick and have to go to the hospital. The rest of us, not as much.

Why do so many of my Christian friends oppose Obamacare?  How can they oppose providing health care for those who are sick, or poor, or unemployed, or older?  How can they reconcile their opposition to the primary directive that they love their neighbor?  The sick, the poor, the unemployed, those who are older, aren’t they all our neighbors?  How can we call ourselves Christian if we do not love our neighbors? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3KMWzGXavk

My Christian friends who live in the FoxNews/Trump bubble just do not know what Obamacare really is.  More of my truly Christian friends would support Obamacare if they would just be open to learning more about Obamacare.  The deceiver thrives on ignorance.  When we combat ignorance, we also battle the deceiver.

When researching for this blog I found a website maintained by a company who sponsors many public information websites and is an internet consultant.  This informational Obamacare website is quite accurate and as easy to read as possible.  This is not a polemic website, this is not a polemically political website, this website is JUST THE FACTS MAM.  Everything in my blog can be backed up by the information on this website:
https://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-facts/

CAVEAT: Much of this blog simplifies Obamacare, please log into the Obamacare website or ask your insurance professional if you need more information or assistance.  This is the official Obamacare website:
https://www.healthcare.gov/

Once I had an interesting discussion with the President of the company that employed me about Obamacare.  He was complaining about Obamacare, how it was so expensive, how it was no good, how it was hard to administer, etc.

I said – But people with pre-existing conditions LOVE Obamacare.

My boss responded – They are probably the ONLY people who truly LOVE Obamacare.

My response – But that is how health insurance is supposed to work!  Everyone pays premiums, but the people who really benefit are those who get really sick and have to go to the hospital.  Everyone else complains about paying the high premiums.  That is how health insurance works!

After that comment I wisely eased out of the conversation, it is never wise to irritate the big boss when he wanders around the offices shaking everyone’s hand.

Obamacare is all about health insurance.  Obamacare does not raise your taxes.  Obamacare DOES increase health insurance premiums because it does not allow insurance companies to issue CHEAP JUNK policies that cover so little that they are not real health insurance but are really a fraud on consumers.  Which is why Trump lies when he tells Americans that he is doing them a favor bringing back these CHEAP JUNK policies that only benefit the big companies who sell them:
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/10/short-term-health-insurance/543192/

The United States is the only developed country that ties health insurance to the workplace.  How cruel is this Covid-19 virus, many people are losing their health insurance at the same time they are losing their jobs.  You can certainly apply for COBRA or Obamacare policies when you lose your job, but if you have never been paid enough to save enough for a rainy-day fund, and you cannot pay these premiums because nothing is left after buying groceries and rent, you are totally screwed.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/07/08/trump-goal-throw-millions-off-health-insurance-in-pandemic-column/5386611002/

INSURABILITY AND DIRTY POOLS

When I graduated from college with my accounting degree I was unable to get a job in my field because I had the misfortune of graduating in the middle of a recession.  So I tried my hand at selling life insurance.  Then I learned that I would have to sell some life insurance policies to all my family and friends.

The only problem was that my father had retired from the military and all our family members were in distant states.  Making matters worse, my parents were not all that sociable, not only did they not keep in touch with family, and they did not have that many friends either.  Making matters worse still, as you may guess, I took after my parents, and I didn’t have an overly long list of friends either.

But I did have one friend in my Jaycees chapter who was quite willing to meet and discuss insurance, and he was very attentive when we met with my boss in a restaurant downtown as he went through the flip-chart pitch.  A few days later we submitted his completed policy application.

A few days later my boss calls me into his office.
My boss asks me – Who is this?  Did you know that your only friend is a grandma epileptic?  Don’t you have any healthier friends?

My friend was on the skinny side, and wore glasses, but he otherwise seemed perfectly healthy to me.  I thought he would be upset when I told him about his rejection, but he said – Bruce, don’t worry about it.  I have been trying to buy life insurance all my life, but nobody wants to write the policy at any price.  Not only that, the state of Florida won’t even issue me a driver’s license.

The insurance company didn’t want my friend, because he was trying to dirty up their pool, and the insurance company did not want to have a dirty pool.

Insurance is all about pooling of risks.  For example, Benjamin Franklin started the first fire insurance association in America.  This is how it worked: most people in town would pay fire insurance premiums, and the fund only had to pay you if your house burned down.  This was a clean risk pool because it is difficult for you to predict whether your house in particular will burn down.  But life insurance and health insurance have a more of a problem with dirty pools, because people who have health problems are more eager to purchase life and health insurance.

For an actuarial discussion of dirty pools as they relate to health insurance:
https://www.actuary.org/content/risk-pooling-how-health-insurance-individual-market-works-0

OBAMACARE AND DIRTY RISK POOLS

Those who complain that Obamacare somehow violates their constitutional freedoms really do not understand how insurance works.

My grandma epileptic friend was forced to work for the government to be able to purchase health insurance, because the government group health policy had a really big risk pool, which meant it could better tolerate his personal risk.  Before Obamacare he would not be able to buy an individual health insurance policy, and probably would make the health insurance premiums prohibitively high for any small company he might work for.

Obamacare definitely increases health insurance premiums because it mandates that health insurance policies should cover pre-existing conditions for EVERYONE.  My grandma epileptic friend would likely LOVE Obamacare, but we have lost touch, and actuarily speaking, he is probably singing with Elvis.

COST OF COBRA AND OBAMACARE PREMIUMS

Under the COBRA legislation, if you are covered by an employer under their health plan for at least ONE DAY, you are eligible to pay the health insurance premiums personally for the next eighteen months.  The company is only allowed to mark these premiums up a few percent points to cover administrative costs.  If you are sixty, as a rule of thumb, your Obamacare premiums will be at least a few hundred dollars more per month, but with much higher deductibles.

People constantly complain about how much the COBRA and Obamacare premiums cost because they just do not realize how much their bosses pay for their health insurance.  People tend to complain a lot less if they get sick or have to go to the hospital.

At the end of eighteen months of COBRA coverage you are eligible to apply for Obamacare immediately without having to wait for the next eligibility time-frame.

WHAT IS OBAMACARE?

Obamacare is all about health insurance that covers everyone regardless of their pre-existing conditions, at a price that is as affordable as possible.  Obamacare policies are not cheaper than those old worthless CHEAP JUNK health insurance policies that really did not cover anything.  What is the sense in having a health insurance policy if the hospital still bills you tens of thousands of dollars for care?

Obamacare differs from Medicare and Medicaid.  Under Medicare and Medicaid the government runs the insurance program, and reimburses the health care providers directly.  Obamacare does not administer the health insurance programs, but it does run the website that direct you to the private health providers who are parts of the Obamacare health exchanges of last resort.

There are three basic pieces to the Obamacare legislation:

  1. If you are not covered by health insurance at work you can purchase insurance through the Obamacare website above. This health insurance of last resort is offered by private companies whose policies meet the standards for the Obamacare insurance exchanges.
  2. Obamacare requires that all health insurance plans meet minimum standards, which Trump is trying to compromise, see article above. You have a right to expect that you will be covered by your health insurance policy if you get sick and need to go to the hospital, Obamacare guarantees this right.
  3. Obamacare can integrate with Medicaid in those states that make this election. Many rural hospitals have had to close in those Red states that refuse to integrate to Medicaid in their states. See this article on this:
    https://www.gq.com/story/rural-hospitals-closing-in-red-states
    The same topic from a hospital/university website:
    https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2018/10/29/more-rural-hospitals-closing-in-states-refusing-medicaid-coverage-expansion/

This is an oversimplification, for more details see the websites at the beginning of this blog, including: https://obamacarefacts.com/what-is-obamacare/

Obamacare is not perfect.  Medicare is not perfect.  Medicaid is not perfect.  There are no private health insurance policies that are perfect.  But just because they are not perfect does not mean they need to be repealed.  Rather, they need to be improved.

PROS AND CONS OF OBAMACARE

This page of the above website discusses this at length, so we will provide a quick summary: https://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-pros-and-cons/

ADVANTAGES: If you are sick, if you are poor, if you have been laid off, Obamacare helps to ensure that you can purchase adequate health insurance at a price that is affordable as possible.

If you are old, Obamacare mandates that your health insurance premiums will be at most three times hire than the premium youngsters pay, which makes your premiums more affordable.

DISADVANTAGES: If you are healthy, if you are wealthy, Obamacare has definitely increased your health insurance premiums.  But you will increase your treasure in heaven, because your premiums will help those who are sicker and poorer than you.

If you are poor and sick, and live in a red state that chose not to integrate with Medicaid, and especially if you catch Covid-19, you are probably totally screwed.  Obamacare as originally passed did not have this disadvantage, Republicans should be blamed.

MEDICARE FOR ALL?  MEDICARE FOR MORE?

Joe Biden proposes dropping the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60.  Others have suggested that the Medicare eligibility age should be dropped to 50 or 55.

We should all LOVE Medicare for more.  Medicare for more means a much cleaner risk pool, because those old people, they tend to get really sick and die much more readily than the youngsters among us.  Not too mention that many older workers who get laid off have a tough time getting that last job until they qualify for Medicare.  And these more gradual changes will cause far fewer implementation problems than we experienced when Obamacare was introduced.

Many voters will balk at Medicare for All, but once you start dropping the Medicare eligibility age many more voters will want the age of eligibility to be dropped another five or ten years more.  All voters are guaranteed to get older eventually.

MYTHS ABOUT OBAMACARE

These myths and many more are explained here:
https://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-myths/

Myth: The Affordable Care Act is great, but Obamacare really sucks.
Reality: The Affordable Care Act is the formal name for Obamacare.

Myth: Republicans were not asked for their input into Obamacare.
Reality: The Republic think-tank proposed a health care system that in some ways was similar to the later Obamacare plan, and was originally implemented in Massachusetts by Governor Mitt Romney.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/johngoodman/2016/02/15/where-did-the-idea-of-obamacare-come-from-a-defense-of-the-heritage-foundation/

Myth: Women’s wellness and child protections increase premiums.
Reality: If you are married, ask your wife if she minds if we strip away her maternity and pediatric coverage so young single guys can pay less for their health insurance.  If you are a young single guy and you think it is unfair to subsidize maternity and pediatric coverage for other guys’ wives, you may wish to seriously consider staying single.

Myth: Obamacare means higher taxes.
Reality: Obamacare mandates that your health insurance policy will really cover you if you get sick or have to go to the hospital.  Obamacare is not about taxes, Obamacare is all about affordable health care insurance that actually insures you if you are not healthy.

DISCUSSING FOX NEWS OPINION ARTICLE ON OBAMACARE

Since many people only trust what Fox News has to say, let us comment on this old editorial that opposes Obamacare.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/unconstitutional-obamacare-is-deeply-flawed-and-its-time-to-do-away-with-it

This editorial was commenting on the Supreme Court ruling that upheld Obamacare.
Fox says: “The seeds for Friday’s ruling were planted in 2012, in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. The court ruled that Congress does not have the power, under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, to force individuals to buy health insurance or any other product against their will.

“Thus, it appeared that ObamaCare’s individual mandate, which requires people to purchase insurance or pay a fine, was unconstitutional.

“However, five justices argued that the individual mandate was merely a tax on people who don’t purchase coverage. Congress clearly has the power to levy taxes. Therefore, the justices upheld the health law overall.”

This is semantics.  Obamacare is about health insurance, Obamacare is not about taxes.  But FoxNews and the Republicans have made the individual mandate toxic, and the Republicans have now eliminated this penalty anyway.

Hopefully, Congress will permit taxpayers to claim a refundable credit to reimburse them for any individual mandate payments premiums if they purchase a qualifying health insurance plan the next year.

Fox then complains about how expensive health insurance policies are under the Obamacare regulations.

We have already discussed how health insurance policies who actually provide coverage when you get really sick and have to go to the hospital tend to be more expensive than “skinny” health insurance policies that don’t really cover anything but are really cheaper if you never get sick or go to the hospital.

Fox says: “So why not let individual states manage their own health policy?”

Obamacare sets standards of minimum care, states can require that health insurance policies offer more if they wish.  Fox talks about giving block grants to states and not covering some stuff, but why would states want to provide services that are covered now by health insurance?

Fox says: “Importantly, the proposal would enable consumers to choose the coverage that fits their needs and budget. For example, single 27-year-old men who don’t drink are currently forced to buy plans that cover maternity care and alcohol abuse treatment. Under the proposal, they could choose bare-bones coverage, saving thousands of dollars annually.”

This is not how health insurance works.  None of us can predict what our medical needs will be.  We also cannot totally predict what our mental health needs will be.  But whether this or that mental health need should be mandated by Obamacare is an implementation question, it is not a reason to abolish Obamacare altogether.

Regarding maternity care, decades ago my wife and I had to pay like five thousand for our share of the maternity hospital bill for our first child.  That was changed by legislation that was enacted decades before Obamacare.

Fox concludes: “By rejecting a one-size-fits-all approach, the proposal could appeal to voters on both sides of the political spectrum. Conservative states could slash red tape to their hearts’ content. Liberal states could impose a bevy of regulations and mandates.

“The Affordable Care Act faces an uncertain future after Friday’s court ruling. But one thing is clear – Americans deserve better than ObamaCare’s expensive, inflexible coverage. Shifting power back to the states would give patients access to better, cheaper care.”

Fox makes it sound so easy.  But this a comparatively short article, like most Fox articles.  When reading this Fox editorial you really do not learn much about how Obamacare really functions.  Fox does not provide you enough real information so you can truly understand what they want you to oppose.

Unfortunately, life is more cruel, and more complicated, than Fox admits.  Life is especially more cruel if your are sick, or are poor and sick, or are poor and sick and older, or are older and unemployed.  Maybe Fox prefers that we not get sicker, or get poorer, or get laid off, or get older.  If we do, maybe Fox thinks it is our fault.

About Bruce Strom 126 Articles
I was born and baptized and confirmed as a Lutheran. I made the mistake of reading works written by Luther, he has a bad habit of writing seemingly brilliant theology, but then every few pages he stops and calls the Pope often very vulgar names, what sort of Christian does that? Currently I am a seeker, studying church history and the writings of the Church Fathers. I am involved in the Catholic divorce ministries in our diocese, and have finished the diocese two-year Catholic Lay Ministry program. Also I took a year of Orthodox off-campus seminary courses. This blog explores the beauty of the Early Church and the writings and history of the Church through the centuries. I am a member of a faith community, for as St Augustine notes in his Confessions, you cannot truly be a Christian unless you worship God in the walls of the Church, unless persecution prevents this. This blog is non-polemical, so I really would rather not reveal my denomination here.

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