The President Lied To Me – Affordable Care Act Edition

I want to get a few important things out of the way up front:  I think the problem with debate and discussion around important National issues these days gets skewered by dogma and partisan political barking.    Rather than relying on pragmatic approaches, people tend to spout dogmatic rhetoric which is sharply demarcated along party lines.   The natural outcome of such partisan dogmatism is that everyone just tunes out and nothing gets fixed.

I prefer pragmatism to dogmatism.  I am a registered Independent.  I have equal disdain for Nancy “The Partisan Queen” Pelosi, and Michelle “I’m batshit crazy” Bachmann.  I am a fan of free market Capitalism, but I’m not a “the-Government-is-evil-and-destroys-everything” Libertarian.    I am not anti-Obama – until he lies to me – which brings me to the topic of this post.

Let me start with some cliff notes:  I am not a scholar of National Healthcare systems.   I do not spend my days reading thousands of pages of legal documentation about the details of the Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare.   I rely on my own experiences with our health insurance system to form my views: pragmatically.   I’m not anti-ACA or pro-ACA because of some partisan dogma that I hold.

Recently, I wrote that our health insurance system needs reform, and that I thought the Affordable Care Act couldn’t possibly make our current system worse.    An important point in that post was that while I am a fan of free markets, Healthcare is already not a free market: the Government is involved enough, regulating it enough to completely screw it up.    I concluded that some more Government involvement probably couldn’t make it any worse.   I believe that I was mistaken.

Does anyone remember this key promise from The President?

That whole “you can keep your plan – you can keep your doctor” foundation that was used to “sell” the Affordable Care Act to the American People?  To me, that’s a pretty important foundation for this reform:  the whole point is to add options for those who need it, while maintaining current choices for those who don’t wish to make a change.

Well guess what – I’m finding out in a hurry that this core foundation of my support for Obamacare was a fantasy.   I – the individual healthcare purchaser (in New Hampshire) – am about to get royally screwed.    New Hampshire residents who purchase their own health insurance basically have one option:  Anthem.   The Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act will also only have one provider option:  Anthem.    One might think that if there is only one provider, that the Government might go to great lengths to make sure that this one provider isn’t going to hose their subscribers – but one would be mistaken.

See, Anthem’s new plans will only include coverage for 14 of the state’s 26 hospitals.  “Kid Dynamite,”  you say, “you live in the Greater Concord Area.  Concord is the capital of New Hampshire.  Concord Hospital is one of the major hospitals in New Hampshire.  You’d be crazy to think that Anthem could get away with excluding Concord Hospital from their exclusive monopoly coverage that will be offered under the Affordable Care Act.”   See, pragmatically, your words would make total sense:  it seems impossible that the Government, regulators, New Hampshire Lawmakers, etc would allow Anthem to exclude major hospitals like Concord Hospital from their coverage, right?  Yet somehow that is exactly what is happening.

But Kid Dynamite,” you say, “forget about the new plans – just keep your current plan and ignore the impact of the Affordable Healthcare Act.”   Great idea!  I might just have to do that – BUT WAIT – Anthem has informed me that my current plan is ceasing to exist.   They’re making it so that I don’t even have the option of keeping my current plan.

Killing my current plan option is bad, but tolerable if the new choice offers me access to the same hospitals and doctors.   Replacing my current plan with a new plan that excludes access to my hospitals and doctors is flat out inexcusable.     The President made this promise a foundation of his push for Healthcare Reform, and he’s failed before the plan is even at the starting line.

Of course, I recognize that wider coverage comes with wider costs.   Anthem claims that they are going with this “narrow network” to keep costs down.   I don’t know the costs of the new plan yet, but I’d be willing to bet anybody any amount that they will be higher than my current plan (read my prior posts, linked below, for details of the evolution of my own health insurance coverage over the past few years).    More importantly:  it seems that the Anthems of the world have pulled a major coup: managing to strengthen their monopoly hold on their business while simultaneously cutting access for their subscribers.   How the Powers-That-Be managed to let this happen is beyond me, and I’m on BAJUNGI tilt over  it…

Shame on you, New Hampshire Lawmakers, for allowing Anthem to be a monopoly provider and forcing subscribers into their new “no-option” options by removing pre-existing plans like mine.   Unacceptable.

More to come as coverage details and pricing emerge in the next month.

Health Insurance Needs Reform

My Health Insurance Bill Just Increased By 48%

Anthem’s ACA Plans Will Include only 14 of the State’s 26 Hospitals


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