Southern Deceit

Lies and Deceit on Healthcare ReformToday I’d like to point out two in connection with the Affordable Care Act, which has recently been in the news because some study by the Kaiser Foundation determined that most Americans don’t know what the health insurance reform effort was/is actually all about. And there’s a good reason for that. The health insurance industry, whose profits are certain to shrink, even if their customer base gets bigger, don’t want people to know. And their agents in various state government positions don’t want to tell the truth either. So, they either keep quiet or talk about going to court or mention all the things that haven’t happened yet. In other words, they tell half-truths, which are worse than a lie, because they’re impossible to disprove. Go ahead and try disproving that the sun is shining in the middle of the day when it’s raining. See?

Anyway, there’s a good report out of Wisconsin, the state blessed with that Scott Walker as Governor, about an expensive study revealing the benefits of health insurance reform, which the State Secretary of Health and the Insurance Commissioner presented to “invited” press from the perspective of, surprise surprise, the insurance industry.

Secretary Smith and Commissioner Nickel focused attention on those who would pay more because health care reform forces the insurance industry to end discrimination based on preexisting conditions, age, and gender, and requires higher quality coverage. In the current health insurance market, individuals and small groups which are younger and healthier get a lower rate because the insurance industry can discriminate against others and sometimes because it provides substandard coverage with exclusionary riders.

What they undoubtedly left out is that people with a preexisting condition, who have already been deprived of insurance coverage just by moving to a new state, can already join a pool that’s under-subscribed by a hundred thousand people, ’cause nobody’s telling.

Then there’s the Florida situation where everyone’s banking on the Supreme Court ruling that individuals being ordered to purchase insurance from private companies will be deemed un-Constitutional and throw the whole thing out. Except it won’t. But the argument is a good excuse to just ignore benefits that are already on the books. And a misleading title like this, “No: Floridians benefit from law,” doesn’t help. Who’s going to read such a post, except a skeptic like me? What would the discouraged/deterred reader miss?

A few benefits of ACA:

  • Thousands of children with pre-existing conditions are no longer being denied coverage or having their health insurance dropped by most insurance companies, and more children now have direct access to preventive health screening.
  • Young adults up to age 26 are now able to be covered under their parents’ health plan.
  • Women no longer can be dropped from their insurance carriers. Women also have access to preventive health screening like mammograms without co-pays and deductibles and can choose an ob-gyn without prior approval before seeking emergency care for out-of-network providers. (Like if they happen to mis-carry on vacation).
  • Companies have signed up for financial assistance to maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older not eligible for Medicare.
  • Millions of Medicare beneficiaries have received prescription drug cost relief.
  • Hundreds of Florida’s small business owners have taken advantage of the tax breaks under ACA to help keep employees health coverage.

And that’s without Florida being a participating state. If it were, 700,000 children, whose parents are uninsured, would have access to health care. But then, children don’t vote, do they — yet.

Finally, there’s that little half truth that gets repeated all the time. “The uninsured don’t get benefits.” That’s true. But it’s also irrelevant because the whole point is to get people insured and insured people get benefits.

The logical alternative, of course, is to just lift the age restriction on the Medicare insurance program, administered by our government, remove its discriminatory provisions, and let anyone who wants to buy in. Since that won’t cost an additional dollar, it can be done during budget reconciliation. But, it will take time and can’t be done all at once, giving the insurance industry time to adjust. I’m pretty sure people will still want coverage for face lifts and tummy tucks.

Oh, and by the way, where Medicare expenditures were increasing 9.7% per year between 2000 and 2009, since the beginning of 2010, they have slowed to 4%, which is probably less than the increase in the Medicare eligible population. And that’s before the cost-cutting measures in ACA go into effect. The promoters of Draconian cuts don’t even want to think about that.


Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."