Bill Clinton’s 100 Percent Correct on Obamacare

October 6, 2016

By Karen

Bill Clinton’s catching hell for calling a certain aspect of the Affordable Care Act — NOT the whole program, mind you — “the craziest thing in the world.” And this is what he said (quotes taken from CNN)…

“But there is a group of people — mostly small business owners and employees — who make just a little too much money to qualify for Medicaid expansion or for the tax incentives who can’t get affordable health insurance premiums in a lot of places. And the reason is they’re not in big pools,” Clinton said. “So they have no bargaining power.”

“So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world,” Clinton said.

I’m EXACTLY who he’s talking about. I’m a sole proprietor with individual health insurance, and I earn a little too much to qualify for any subsidy from the ACA.

In the past two years, my premium has gone up 52%. I’m still three years short of qualifying for Medicare, so I just dug into savings and paid off my mortgage because I fully expect my health insurance premium to become so crushing, I won’t be able to continue paying both.

Trump, of course, is cherry-picking Clinton’s statements as agreement with Republicans. That’s because Trump doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. All Trump’s said is he’d replace Obamacare with “something terrific.”

But Bill Clinton is spot-on about the ACA’s biggest weakness. I thank him for bringing it into the conversation.

Hillary favors adding a “public option,” but as long as greedy private insurers continue to gorge themselves at this trough, raising premiums AND collecting government subsidies, Americans will continue being screwed while having unaffordable access to healthcare.

The ONLY solution is a single-payer system — Medicare for all — with EVERYONE (including employers if they keep offering coverage to employees) paying into one central, not-for-profit pot. Done right, it would eliminate copays and deductibles. These are the additional costs that become deal-breakers when piled onto already-high premiums.

We’d ALL come out ahead in the long run.


Let Hobby Lobby Hypocrisy Spell Bankruptcy

July 3, 2014

By Karen

The Supreme Court’s reliable misogynists stomped way over the line this time by giving national crafts chain Hobby Lobby the OK to impose its religious beliefs on its employees. No wait, not ALL its employees. Just the ones who don’t want to be pregnant every time they have sex.

It seems Hobby Lobby’s owners are good Christians and don’t believe in certain forms of contraception (morning-after pills and IUDs). However, they DO believe in profiting from these products by investing their employees’ retirement funds in the Big Pharma companies that make them.

Personally, I don’t think the Supreme Court went far enough. Once the 4 dissenting justices (Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsberg, and Breyer) saw they couldn’t preserve women’s reproductive insurance coverage at Hobby Lobby, they should have argued for a fair ruling that extends to reproductive options for Hobby Lobby’s males — no more Viagra, Cialis, or vasectomy coverage.

The Supreme Court seems to take the founding principle that “all men are created equal” literally and not apply it to women. If we could somehow make that statement gender-neutral and these men knew their own rights would vanish every time they disenfranchised women, I bet men would suddenly have a lot fewer “deeply held religious beliefs.”

Companies are NOT churches, and when they’re allowed to act on Christian beliefs — or Jewish, Muslim, or other faiths — everybody but the males at the top ends up being inferior and undeserving of equal rights.

And that’s exactly the slippery slope the Supreme Court has left us on.

Hobby Lobby thinks it won this battle. But Cats Working stands squarely with actor George Takei and many others in calling for a boycott. Hobby Lobby must lose its war on women as a warning to corporate America, and our best ammunition is Chapter 7 bankruptcy.


Progressive Insurance Responds on Snapshot

June 2, 2014

By Karen

In March, I told you about driving around with Progressive Insurance’s Snapshot® device in my car, being monitored for 30 days, only to qualify for no discount on car insurance.

I snail-mailed the link to that post to Progressive’s president and CEO, Glenn Renwick. As you might expect, my letter was kicked to the bottom of the org chart to a “consumer relations specialist” I’ll call Susan.

Susan filled a page with boilerplate babble that didn’t address my concerns, which were:

1. Why does Progressive collect information they claim not to need?

2. What does it take to qualify for a discount if driving only about 50 non-rush-hour daylight miles total, a few days a week, doesn’t?

Susan opened with…

I’m writing on behalf of Glenn Renwick… Thank you for your letter and for taking the time to share your concerns.

Off to a great start, addressing my “concerns” with the usual empty corporate yada yada yada.

She went on to non-explain…

When you sign up to test drive our Snapshot® program, we display rapid acceleration in the overview of your driving habits, but it isn’t used in the calculation of your discount. We also don’t factor turns into our calculation.

She utterly failed to address WHY Progressive collects information it doesn’t need.

Finally, she got personal…

Snapshot® considers overall driving habits including miles driven, time of day, and the overall number of hard braking events. We define a hard brake as a decrease in speed of 7 mph/second. You had 25 hard breaking events within the 215 miles you drove during your 30 day trial. Your results didn’t yield a discount in our Snapshot® program. While we encourage our customers and potential customers to try the Snapshot® program, we don’t guarantee a discount.

She failed to acknowledge how seldom and little I drove, and that my braking behavior resulted in my not hitting anything. With Progressive, stopping for ANY reason must constitute bad driving.

She closed with…

I’m sorry for any frustration you’ve experienced… and gave her phone number in case I “have questions.”

“ANY frustration?” Didn’t my letter to the CEO give them a HINT?

This pathetic non-response didn’t resolve anything, and I stand by my belief that Progressive’s discount program is a sham, and anyone would do well to avoid it, if only to dodge the incessant online advertising it generates.


Buh-Bye, Sebelius

April 11, 2014

By Karen

Sometimes wishes do come true. Kathleen Sebelius, who personified ineptness in implementing the Affordable Care Act, is out. Obama actually had the nerve to lament that he’ll miss her “advice.”

And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Sebelius a “forceful, effective, and essential” secretary.

Have they both been in a coma?

It’s regrettable that Sebelius was allowed to resign rather than get the boot to the backside she so richly deserved. But Obama seems eager to forget that on her watch, Healthcare.gov not only ran over budget by hundreds of millions of dollars, but the result was such a pathetic mess that it almost sank the whole initiative, it brought disgrace on the White House, and gave Republicans reason to dance with delight.

But, whatever. Good riddance. She’s gone.

Then Obama immediately taps Sylvia Burwell, his budget person, to replace Sebelius, calling her a “proven manager,” whatever the hell that means.

Burwell’s background shows no indication she’ll have any more ability than Sebelius to deal with what’s looming next for Obamacare — that people are going to find out they’re paying for insurance AND a lot of the medical bills they thought it would cover, and that it’s probably going to cost them a lot more next year.

According to the AP, when she wasn’t a budget bureaucrat, Burwell “served as president of Wal-Mart’s charitable arm and led the global development program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”

She may know something about nonprofits and worldwide health issues, but that doesn’t sound like squat when it comes to outsmarting greedy American insurance companies, which is what the administration has so far failed to do, except for eliminating lifetime caps and pre-existing condition exclusions.

I’d be willing to bet Burwell won’t have a good grasp on how the IT infrastructure that supports Healthcare.gov is supposed to work, either.

Like most CEOs, Obama’s probably thinks the agency’s head honcho doesn’t need to know the nitty-gritty. Like Sebelius, she’ll rely on “people” to handle the details.

Because that worked so well before.

Obama seems to be hanging his hat on the fact Burwell’s unanimous Senate approval for her current job now qualifies her to take on ANY position he cares to toss her in to.

And once again, he shows us he STILL doesn’t get the seriousness of this situation and the lives it has the power to ruin — financially and medically.

The hasty appointing of Burwell to steer us through the looming insurance quagmire Obama’s created reminds me of his feckless selection of big campaign donors to be ambassadors to countries they’ve never visited and know nothing about.

The insurance companies must be thrilled with this development.


ACA’s Unintended Consequence for Individuals

April 7, 2014

By Karen

Remember that Anthem individual health insurance policy I was afraid to give up for Obamacare? Good thing I kept it, because I couldn’t buy anything like it today.

The ACA doesn’t prohibit insurers from selling individual policies year-round, but its coverage requirements are causing insurers to stop selling ANY policies outside the government’s “open enrollment” window, which is closed from March 31 – November 15.

Because they are now prohibited from excluding pre-existing conditions, insurers fear that uninsured people who get sick will buy a policy to pay claims through the crisis, then drop it once they recover.

In essence, if an insurer can’t sell you a policy that won’t pay a penny on whatever you need the policy for, it doesn’t want you as a customer.

You may still be able to find a temporary policy that excludes pre-existing conditions, but under the ACA, you’d still be considered “uninsured” and subject to paying the tax penalty. So you’re screwed on all fronts.

From my perspective as a person self-employed for 12 years, if I were to lose my current insurance for any reason, the only way I could get new coverage would be to throw in the towel and go work for a company that offers health benefits.

And I’m pushing 60 in a job market that’s still tight as a tick (no matter what rosy stats DC spews about “job recovery”), so rotsa ruck with that.

This is yet ANOTHER reason why giving insurance companies an integral role in reforming healthcare was a colossal blunder — and the law has only made their behavior worse.

Now, people who could afford to pay a fortune for individual insurance outside the exchange can’t even buy it.

That’s why Obama’s screwball insurance mandate needs to be replaced by a single-payer system that covers everybody, every day.


Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” Moment

April 2, 2014

By Karen

After how it haunted George W. Bush, you’d think President Obama would be wary of claiming a premature victory, but no. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

In spite of myriad obstacles his breathtakingly incompetent administration created (WHY, after the website debacle, does Kathleen Sebelius still have a job?), 7.1 million Americans managed to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

If nothing else, their patience speaks volumes about the dire state of medical care in this country.

And Obama and Biden are gloating. Watch them, if you haven’t just eaten.

Anecdotal evidence is that, in some states, people are getting much-needed medical care with government-subsidized health insurance, and that’s fantastic. But for those of us in states where Republicans worked overtime to sink this law, and who earn just enough to qualify as middle class, there’s no joy in Mudville.

My premiums have gone up, my deductible is still high, and my coverage is no better, except I think the lifetime cap may be gone. But who cares? If I ever get sick enough to test that, I’ll be half-dead anyway.

It’s a matter of time before the horror stories start — and some already have — from people who discover they’ve been duped. They can’t keep their doctor because their policy’s super-narrow network excludes him.

They can’t get medications they need because the policy excludes them.

And they can’t get leading-edge treatments at the facility that offers them because it’s out of network.

Obama gave insurers 4 years to exploit every loophole to their advantage, and they did.

And it’s only a matter of time before we start reading that insurer profits are breaking all previous records. They’ve just been handed 7.1 million more victims customers and a steady stream of government subsidies.

Watching Obama crow about insurance is stomach-turning. He’s thrown us all under the bus to enrich insurers who were already raking in billions in profit that doesn’t buy a penny’s worth of medical care, and he’s delighted.

I can’t tell you how much I hate siding with Republicans on this, but Obama’s “mission” on healthcare is hardly “accomplished,” and he’s going to find out soon enough — unfortunately, at our, and probably the Democrats’, expense.

Universal healthcare, with its economies of scale, is the ONLY way to ensure that the max of what we invest in healthcare actually buys medical care. The system (it’s called Medicare) is already in place. Just expand it to let the rest of us in. If all the premiums we’re squandering on sustaining insurance companies were channeled into it, it would thrive. Exclusions and network constraints would disappear. Employers could end the expense and hassle of insuring workers. Workers wouldn’t be stuck in jobs they hate because of health insurance.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders agrees that access to medical care should be a right of all Americans, and he’s introduced the American Health Security Act of 2013 to get us there, which the Affordable Care Act never will.

It deserves a serious look.


Royally Scammed by Progressive Insurance Snapshot

March 26, 2014

By Karen

Lesson: Scratch the surface of any insurance company and you’ll find a thief whose raison d’être is to take your money and provide as little as possible — or, optimally, nothing — in return.

Shopping for a better deal on car insurance, I foolishly ordered Progressive Insurance’s Snapshot monitoring device and chauffeured it around for 30 days to see if I could earn a discount, which Progressive claims could be as much as 30%.

First, let me set the scene: I’m one step above little old lady who only drives to church on Sundays. I work at home, with no rush-hour commutes. I drive 3-4 times a week on errands on suburban roads, 99% during the day, and mostly within a 10-mile radius. I’ve put 80,000 miles on my car in 14 years (that’s 5,714 miles/year).

I figured I’d be a shoo-in for big savings. Here’s how Progressive explains it:

This video is untrue because Progressive also monitors acceleration (and turns — keep reading), and gives no feedback on time of day.

My driving during this time has been uneventful, yet Progressive projected me as behaving badly per 100 miles from the outset, a lead foot who stomps the brake every 7 miles. When I actually traveled 100 miles, the braking was lower, yet still considered “opportunity” for improvement (i.e., if you ever have to stop, you’re driving poorly):

Progressive-brakes

Progressive averaged my infrequent trips to 6.5 miles per day — placing me on the road and vulnerable to accidents — 7 days a week. In truth, it’s less than half that.

Progressive-mileage

And here’s the unexplained “rapid acceleration” graph…

Progressive-Acceleration

Knowing how I drove, it would seem that what Progressive’s underwriters consider “hard” braking and “rapid” acceleration are what the rest of us call “driving.”

As for turning, the Snapshot occasionally beeped like a panicked backseat driver when I was making perfectly reasonable 90-degree turns.

The 30 days were up today, and Progressive offered me 6% savings.

Progressive

But they still wanted to know more, like my marital status, level of education, home ownership, and Social Security number (which I withheld).

The result was that I qualified for NO DISCOUNT. ZERO.

Progressive-NoSavings

I never got a premium figure, so I’ll never know how Progressive stacks up to my current insurer. But Progressive can take their Snapshot device and…

CAUTION: If your driving ever involves making the car move, your chances of getting a discount from Progressive are probably slim to none, so keep them out of your business. Otherwise, for the rest of your freaking life you’re going to see Flo’s garish face popping up in ads on nearly every screen on the Net.

Progressive-Ad

And I’d be willing to bet Progressive will ultimately profit from my gullibility by selling the tidy trove of personal information they’ve collected.

All I can say is, shame on me.


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