As 15 percent of the country awaited a bill that would offer them affordable health care, more than 800,000 federal workers were sent home without pay. That catch 22 is better known as the government shutdown – a decision made after President Barack Obama refused to make changes to the nation’s health care law.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), notoriously known as Obamacare, is the elephant in the health care law. This act, in the words of the Obamacare Twitter page - @Obamacare – “opened for business” on Oct. 1.
The act’s grand opening featured more than just furloughed federal workers. Just moments after Obamacare launched so did websites and telemarketers offering to give people insurance information.
What may have seemed like a friendly gesture was nothing more than con artists looking to collect information to sell it to the insurance companies.
And if that was not enough, while millions attempted to sign up for health insurance on the faulty government website – www.healthcare.gov – scammers were hoping to snag a dollar by offering services to help navigate through the website for a fee.
With the surplus of greed and the lack of trust, it is time to put the con artists, scammers and “Obamacare: You can’t cure stupid” bumper stickers and T-shirts to rest.
This should not be about political parties. This should not be between the insured and the uninsured. This is about my mother, a now entrepreneur, who lost her job, which also meant her health insurance, in May. This is about my 12-year-old brother who is not yet old enough to have a say, but is old enough to know he is supposed to go to the doctor regularly. My family does not have health insurance. But in January they will. Whether you are uninsured or not, this is about all of us. This is about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is about America. And Americans deserve to be informed.
So let’s take our opinions off the record. And let’s put the actual ACA bill on the record. A downloadable version of the document can be found online.
For the insured:
If you already have health insurance, Obamacare extends the following:
- Free preventative care (check-ups and vaccinations)
- Money back if your insurance company doesn’t spend at least 80 percent of your premium on care
- No more lifetime limits on how much your insurance company will pay for your medical care
- Children and young adults can stay on their family plans until they turn 26 years old
For the uninsured:
- Enrollment launched on Oct. 1.
- You cannot be denied coverage for any reason.
- You can sign up through March 2014.
- Coverage starts as soon as January 1.
Unfortunately, the Federal Trade Commission is closed due to the government shutdown. As such, complaints and reports of scammers and con artists cannot be reported.
Here are a few tips to get you through:
- Be very careful searching the Web. Stay away from sites like healthplans.com and other lead aggregators. They’re charging insurance companies for your information and are nothing but a middle-man. Though the site has had its glitches, apply for health insurance at the government approved website (www.healthcare.gov) or if you know the health insurance carrier you want, you can apply directly to them.
- If someone offers to help you sign up for a fee, run! It is free to sign up.
- Do not give your personal information to anyone who calls you about health insurance. The government will not be making any Obamacare-related calls.
- Do not pay a fee for a new or special insurance card.
- When in doubt, go to healthcare.gov. The site offers online questions and answers and an online chat. You can also call the toll-free number (800) 318-2596.
October 1 should have marked a milestone for the millions of uninsured Americans who are now able to afford health care. However, that day was overshadowed by a government shutdown and a host of con artists and scammers looking to prey on the uninsured. The government must do its part to get those more than 800,000 furloughed federal workers back to work. But for 15 percent of the country – a percent of people who include small businessmen and women, single mothers and recent college graduates – do not let the disasters of the government hold you back from life, liberty and the pursuit of the happiness. If you want health coverage, visit healthcare.gov or call the toll-free number (800) 318-2596 for more information. Applicants who sign up before Dec. 15 will receive coverage on Jan. 1, 2014.
Debunking the Propaganda Campaign to Kill Obamacare
Opponents will not get the last word. Real people will.
Forget the sexist Koch brothers-funded ad of a creepy-looking Uncle Sam about to conduct a pelvic exam as a way to convince college students not to sign up for Obamacare. A recent article in Forbes trumpeting a study by the right-wing Manhattan Institute claiming that Obamacare will be more costly than current health insurance plans is a more intentionally misleading attack on Obamacare.
The article’s big lie is a sin of intentional journalistic omission. Obamacare hopes to extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans. But more than 25 million people will not pay the full premium price. That’s because the government will pay insurance companies as much as two-thirds of the policy’s cost via federal subsidies. For 2014, $16 billion has been set aside for those discounts, to be doled out based on incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
In 2013, that includes individuals making $11,490 to $46,000, couples earning between $19,530 and $78,120, and families of four making $23,550 to $94,200.
How does Forbes handle omitting that not-so-minor detail? Its article states, “Subsidies only protect some people. Middle-class Americans face the double-whammy of higher insurance premiums, and higher taxes to pay for other people’s subsidies.”
The “some” in that sentence are 78 percent of Obamacare’s likely recipients, or 25.7 million people, a study by the advocacy group Families USA found.
This is how propaganda works. You don’t state all the facts. You select bits and build an argument. Forbes’ editors should know better — especially since the publication that bills itself as a capitalist’s tool is whacking a law with gigantic profits for its insurance industry friends.
On Thursday, Bloomberg.com reported that anti-Obamacare forces have so far outspent the pro-Obamacare side five-to-one, with its advertising approaching $500 million. But the tide may be turning in the Obamacare propaganda war. Bloomberg’s source, Kantar Media, which tracks ad buys and trends, said the pro-Obamacare side would spend $500 million as the law is rolled out this fall and next year. That’s part of the $3.7 billion given to states to create and promote their program. And that does not count free media coverage, such as the president’s recent healthcare speeches.
Until now, the national media has not reported on the subsidies. But that is also changing. Take this Washington Post report profiling “how eight lives would be affected by the health law.” Not everyone who wants Obamacare can get it, the Post’s first example revealed. That’s because the Supreme Court ruled states do not have to enroll people earning wages under the federal poverty level in state-run Medicaid programs. Republican-run Nebraska is one of the states deciding not to help its poor people get health plans. Republican majorities in red states will prevent 8 million poor from getting help, the Post said, citing an Urban Institute study.
But other individuals profiled by the Post show how the subsidies work. A single musician making $25,000 a year looking at the cheapest plan, costing $136 a month, will get a $54 federal subsidy. That brings its cost to $82 a month. The man profiled has Crohns disease, a serious intestinal disability, and told the Post he would welcome coverage. A middle-aged single mother of three, who has a heart condition, could get a $350 monthly subsidy for a family plan based on a $30,000 income, the Post said. Obamacare offers four levels of coverage. The most barebones and cheapest plan would cost her nothing. A slightly better plan, lowering her deductible, would cost her $104 a month.
The Post reported that people like these are taking a hard look at Obamacare. Some are worried they won’t be able to keep current doctors, which always is an issue when one changes health plans. But real-life stories like theirs are more compelling than partisan fights, and they are about to become a much bigger part of the media wars.
That doesn’t mean anti-Obamcare propaganda is going away. Bloomberg.com reports that groups funded by the Koch brothers will launch several ad barrages. In politics, the side that punches first usually can create first impressions and frame the debate. But they don’t always win, especially if the voices and emotions from real people and their real-life needs are heard.
That shift is already starting. You see signs of it in the GOP’s resignation that they can’t stop or defund Obamacare amid Congress’ current budget gyrations. Bloomberg’s latest poll found that half of Americans want the GOP to stop trying to kill the law and fix what’s broken. Even the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page is retreating to old bromides, saying the U.S. doesn’t need safety nets now and didn’t need them in the 1960s when Medicare and Medicaid were created.
It may be late in coming, but pro-Obamacare advertising and organizing is getting started. The creeepy Koch-funded Uncle Sam gynecologist ad already has been spoofed online. The Post’s coverage of Obamacare’s subsidies makes Forbes’ article—with a quarter-million page views as of Thursday—look pretty bad. And the Democratic Party is sending out e-mails touting Obamacare’s virtues, starting with getting self-employed people with policies to switch over.
“Nearly half of Americans who have individual insurance plans will receive assistance averaging $2,672 to purchase plans on the Obamacare marketplace,” an e-mail from Democrats.org read. Of course, it added, “And Republicans voted more than 40 times to take it away.”
by Steven Rosenfeld