Friday, November 1, 2013

The Republi-CON 'Health Insurance is Like Any Other Product or Insurance' Myth

UPDATE IV: "In 2009, millions of Americans lacked any health insurance whatsoever and millions more had private health insurance metaphorically designed to explode at the hint of any serious illness or preexisting conditions or exorbitant medical costs.  So, in 2009, 14,000 Americans were losing their health insurance every single day.  And medical bills were prompting more than 60 percent of all bankruptcies in our nation. In other words, many health insurance policies were patently dangerous and unsafe."

Read Salon, The right’s most loathsome Obamacare lie yet.  

UPDATE III:  "Obamacare's critics are going to town on the cancellation letters millions of Americans are receiving from their health insurers, informing them that their health plans won't conform to the new federal standards for health coverage as of Jan. 1. . .

Back in March, Consumer Reports published a study of many of these plans and placed them in a special category: "junk health insurance." Some plans, the magazine declared, may be worse than none at all.

Consumer Reports is right. Plans with monthly premiums in the two figures marketed to customers in their 30s, 40s, or even 50s invariably impose ridiculously low coverage limits. They've typically been pitched to people who couldn't find affordable insurance because of their age or preexisting conditions, or who were so financially strapped that they were lured by the cheap upfront cost. . .

An example from CR: A plan costing $65 a month held by Judith Goss, 48, a Michigan department store employee. When Goss was diagnosed with breast cancer, she discovered the drawbacks of the policy's coverage limits of $1,000 a year for outpatient treatment and $2,000 for hospitalization -- barely enough to cover a day and half a Tylenol in the hospital. She delayed treatment, so her cancer got much worse before she finally opted for surgery. Those sorts of coverage limits are illegal  come Jan. 1. . .

[Or c]onsider the case of Diane Barrette, the 56-year-old Florida woman whose cancellation horror story was reported by a credulous CBS News and picked up by Fox News, which has been a one-stop shop for your Obamacare misinformation needs. (We mentioned the Barrette case on Tuesday.)

CR's Metcalf examined Barrette's Blue Cross Blue Shield policy and made two discoveries: how junky it really is, and how badly her insurer may have misled her about her options. Barrette's $54 monthly premium bought her almost nothing. The policy pays $50 per office visit (which can run two or three times that) and $15 per prescription (which can run to thousands of dollars a month); above that she's on her own. Nothing for a colonoscopy. Nothing for mental health treatment. Up to $50 for hospital and ER services -- and then only if her treatment is for 'complications of pregnancy.' Nothing for outpatient services.

'She's paying $650 a year to be uninsured,' said an insurance expert Metcalf consulted. If she ever had a serious medical problem, 'she would have lost the house she's sitting in.'"

Read the Los Angeles Times, Obamacare hysteria: Don't believe the canceled insurance hype

UPDATE II:  "Republicans are outraged that some Americans must give up their current insurance plans because they don't satisfy Obamacare's new regulations for benefits and pricing. . .

But Republicans are also making a substantive argument here. It’s unconscionable, they say, that lawmakers would force people to give up their current coverage. . .

It’s good politics, I’m sure. It’s also breathtakingly cynical. Republicans have repeatedly endorsed proposals that would take insurance away from many more Americans—and leave them much, much worse off. . .

The real issue here isn’t simply Republican opportunism and hypocrisy—although, please, let’s not ignore that either. The real issue is about the true trade-offs of policy. Both sides offer them. With Obamacare, a small number of people lose their current insurance but they end up with alternative, typically stronger coverage. Under the plans Republicans have endorsed, a larger number of people would lose their current insurance, as people migrated to a more volatile and less secure marketplace. Under Obamacare, the number of Americans without health insurance at all will come down, eventually by 30 or 40 million. Under most of the Republican plans, the number of Americans without insurance would rise."

The New Republic, Guess Who Really Wants to Take Away Your Insurance: Republicans.  

UPDATE:  Speaking of winners and losers, under Obamacare "ninety-seven per cent of Americans are either left alone or are clear winners, while three per cent are arguably losers. . . 'no law in the history of America makes everyone better off.'"

Read The New Yorker, Obamacare’s Three Per Cent.

This is a great explanation of the nature of health insurance:

"[H]ealth insurance isn't like a toaster or, more to the point, . . . like other kinds of insurance.

Most insurance products are designed to turn an individual's risk of loss into a predictable cost. For example, your premium on homeowner's insurance should equal your expected average annual claims plus a profit margin for the insurer. If your home is in a high-crime neighborhood or especially susceptible to natural disasters, you'll pay more.

Because of this, we can more or less let people buy whatever kind of homeowner's insurance they like, or none at all.

But health insurance doesn't just allow individuals to turn risks into fixed expenses. It is also designed to shift costs across individuals, away from the sick and toward the healthy. If you have foreseeably high health costs, your health insurance premium will be less than your expected claims; if you're likely to be healthy, it will exceed them.

This system is a kind of shadow fiscal policy, redistributing income from the healthy to the sick. It can only work if consumer choice is restricted in such a way that many people are induced to buy policies that cost much more than they can expect to get back. . .

[As a  2006 paper from Georgetown's Health Policy Institute noted] 'these rules protect consumers from dramatic premium increases when they are sick, or at renewal after they become sick.' . .

That's a summary of the "private" health insurance system we have today: Subsidize and regulate to push as many people as possible into insurance pools, and shift costs among them so the healthy subsidize the sick. . .

"[C]onservatives will say that health insurance should be a normal insurance product and not a tool of fiscal redistribution. But we have this system for a reason: chronic health conditions are really expensive, and they can't be addressed through one-year contracts. Addressing the problem of uninsurability requires either heavy-handed regulation of the sort we have now and will have under Obamacare, or some other heavy-handed non-market alternative, like a single-payer plan for catastrophic health expenses. . .

[Thje fact is that] health insurance is not really a private product but a government program creating winners and losers, and the terms of the debate are about who will win and who will lose. Democrats want the poor and the sick to win. Republicans want people with existing coverage and high tax rates to win. Neither side is calling for a free market."

Read Business Insider, Here's The Truth About Your 'Private' Health Insurance — It's Already A Big Government Program

Obama, the Incompetent Nuclear Saboteur

"IT’S COMPLETELY TRUE, we read it on [on the Internet] . . .

[For the second time this month] a completely imaginary nuclear attack by Barack Obama has been foiled, and that the wingnut email network has carried the news far and wide. It’s got something to do with his plans to take all the guns and turn over the United States to the UN/Radical Islam/the Shriners or something. He is just the least competent nuclear saboteur to ever hold the position of Commander in Chief, isn’t he?"

Read Wonkette, We Are All Going To Feel Pretty Stupid When Barack Obama Really Does Nuke Charleston, South Carolina

And don't tell me it's not true, or what Snopes says, I heard the Pastor say it on WEBY, and we all know how accurate he was  reporting the Chinese missile launch over California, and his predictions of impeachment because of the fraudulent birth certificate and the soon-to-be apocalypse (to mention just a few of his many pronouncements).  He is not part of the fundamentalist subculture of ignorance that embraces 'discredited, ridiculous and even dangerous ideas'.