Sunday, November 3, 2013

Has Your Health Insurance Policy Been Cancelled? Who Knew?

I feel bad for Jay Carney, the president’s spokesman.  Each day, he faces the Washington Press Corps -piranhas on the hunt – and he must dodge and obfuscate.  I am surprised that the velocity of his spinning hasn't resulted in him drilling himself a mile below the earth’s crust.  He is a human spinning tornado. Presumably, this role must be challenging for Carney, who formerly practiced as an actual journalist who was charged with ferreting out the truth.  Now, he is under orders to avoid the truth.  While I do not suggest that he openly prevaricates, withholding the truth qualifies as dishonesty, as I see it.

Tornado or Jay Carney?

Carney and all politicians leapfrog over the specific questions being asked.  Their non-responsive responses are exasperating to the questioner and to the public.  There are many rhetorical techniques that these professional double talkers use to change the subject.  Let me illustrate with a hypothetical interview.

Interviewer:  “If the vote were held today, senator, would you support it?”
Astute Whistleblower readers recognize that this is a ‘yes or no’ question’ that could be answered in a single word.

Response from Fantasy Senator #1:  “Yes.”
Response from Fantasy Senator #2: “No.”

Responses from Actual Smarmy Senators (ASS) Who Think We’re Too Dumb To Notice:

ASS #1:  “Well, what I WILL say...”
ASS #2: “Let me be as clear as I can…”
ASS #3: “The real question you should be asking…”
ASS #4: “The point I’ve been trying to make is…”

We’ve all seen and heard this spin cycle before.  When a politician of one party has behaved badly, we can expect two results.   

o         (1) The oppposing party will pile on demanding censure, public rebuke or resignation.
     (2)  Political colleagues of the offender will spin wildly with comments such as “both sides need to dial      back the rhetoric”, when in reality only one side deserves blame.

The more we learn about Obamacare, the more hostile to it the nation has become.  Even liberal Democrats are having difficulty defending what is indefensible.   The arrogance of an administration that uses the term ‘glitch’ to describe a disastrous and failed rollout of the insurance exchanges on October 1st is astonishing.  Of course, this is not merely a technical fiasco.  It is symptomatic of a government behemoth that hopefully will fall under its own weight before it crushes the country. The rollout is a preview of a program whose rotten guts are starting to be exposed.  Then veneer is fading and the public is now able to inhale the noxious aroma from its innards. 

Millions will be tossed off of their insurance plans and will have to pay more to receive the same or less coverage.   Or, they will be forced onto the exchanges; and we see how smoothly that operation is proceeding.

The news media has been reporting aggressively that the administration knew that millions will be kicked out of their plans.  This has not been just a Fox News story.  I heard hard reporting on this on CNN and NBC, which are not known to be outlets of the political right.

We all heard the president – Salesman-in-Chief – promise us the following in 2009.

“Let me be exactly clear about what health care reform means to you.  First of all, if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.  Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”  

This was at worst an outright lie.  At best it is a broken promise of a core pledge that the president gave to mollify our anxieties over a government takeover of our health care system. 

When the president was pressed on this issue recently, he now says that the government won’t force anyone off their plans.  This Clintonian utterance is beyond disingenuous.   The insurance companies are baling as a direct result of Obamacare.  If the government pushes insurance companies to the edge of a cliff that has been doused with oil, who’s responsible if the companies fall over the side? 

From 1996-2002 there was a TV series called Spin City.  Spin City is alive and well today.

6 comments:

dog gone said...

The more we learn about Obamacare, the more hostile to it the nation has become.

Actually NO. In fact, the nation continues to gradually like the ACA better and better.

The cost to most of those who have lost their old plans, which were a tiny share of the individual insurance market, which is itself relatively small, did so because they were buying junk insurance plans. That is on a par with buying tainted crap from China from a dollar store, and then not being able to continue to give yourself lead poisoning because you are cheap.
The reality is that most people buying who get dumped are buying better insurance at far cheaper prices, instead. The reality is that it was not unusual for those policies to change frequently and be replaced by new junk policies at higher prices, year after year. The reality is that most of the people on such policies were on them for only a year or two. And the reality is that those policies are associated with high out of pocket costs, little or no preventive medical care, and a resulting high rate of bankruptcy if someone with such a policy actually needs to use it. The reality is that those junk policies have high deductibles, low areas and amounts of coverage, low annual caps, and the purchaser or such a policy can be dumped for a huge list of reasons - or no reason. The reality is that there is a huge number of claims that result in the insured having to sue the insurer, and coming out poor either from not prevailing, or from legal costs, or both.

Most of all, the actual documentation that these are people being dumped because of the ACA and not other reasons - like state insurance commissioners clamping down on junk insurance - are not well verified.

And this kind of junk insurance means that it is harder to control medical care costs.

The reality is that all of these junk insurance policies were grandfathered in -- but eventually they have to stop ripping off people, so many of these companies are doing that now, instead of later, to manipulate the ignorant insurance buyers.

After a number of insurance certifications, and 14 years in the home office claims division of one of the largest insurance companies in the nation, writing policies in all 50 states, Canada and parts of the UK and Europe, I know insurance pretty well.

You have it wrong.

Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

@dog gone: First, I am delighted that you have returned to the blog to offer your insight. I commend readers to visit your excellent blog at www.penigma.blogspot.com for intellectual nourishment. With respect to the issue at bar, this is not a fair duel as only one among us is an insurance expert. Nevertheless, I offer some points of difference between our views.

(1) I dispute that the nation is warming toward the ACA. Indeed, I maintain that it is becoming increasingly less popular as the substance, deficiencies and broken promises become evident. The roll out disaster is self-evident and is not a 'glitch'.

(2) There is no parsing that can effectively spin the president's remarks that "if you like your doctor, etc...". This was not a late night utterance, but was repeated over and over again. We now know the truth. The president has 'modified' this statement, but refuses to admit that he misled the nation, or worse.
(3) What you regard as 'junk insurance' is not the opinion of many who deliberately selected these policies that met their needs. I think we can agree there are many Americans who were fully satisfied with their plans who will be forced onto the exchanges or elsewhere to pay more.
(4)Should the government mandate what they decide is basic coverage? Does everyone really need pediatric dental coverage? What about consumer choice?
(5) If your view on the ACA is correct, then there would be a groundswell of support for it. I respectfully suggest that there is no such support because the program that was rammed through by force and under deception is so deeply suspect by a public that now sees the future more clearly. If Obamacare is the panacea, why are its poll numbers so consistently low? Or, don't you think the public is smart enough to figure this out?

Appreciate your comment.

Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

From CNN story today. Hardly, a rousing endorsement from the public. Are you sure, Dog Gone, that the public is really warming to Obamacare?

"The cancellations will not affect most Americans, but they could hurt public support for the law. Just 17% of Americans said they'll be better off under the law, but 41% said it won't have much of an effect on them, according to a CNN/ORC International poll conducted in late September, just before the HealthCare.gov website went live. At that time four in ten said they would be worse off under the law."

Shannon Beal said...

We just found out that my husbands insurance just kicked my 11 year old daughter off our plan. Perfect health but just found a certificate if portabilityin the mail last nught that they stopped insuring her as of 8/31/2013 for no apparent reason. No explanation. My other daughter and I am still covered. Took them two months + to notify us. Momma ain't happy and there will be hell to pay

Third News said...

Perhaps President Obama, and his administration rightfully justified in thinking that my policy was “junk insurance” next to their cadillac policies, which I also pay for with my taxes, but I know I used my insurance to my satisfaction.

Interestingly, the private payer is a “tiny share of the individual insurance market”, and we are not sufficient in numbers to pay for the 50 million who will receive free health care, nor those who will be on the heavily subsidized market.

I think the political speak that will address the reasoning behind the next wave of cancellation, AKA employment market, will make for an interesting perlustration of current opinion.

Ian Random said...

Without getting too specific, I've had to pay around $1,000 more to keep my current play from my employer. That extra cost is to meet the minimum requirements. I hate BO care. I wish BO cared about the little guy.

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