Friday, June 29, 2012

What do you have wrong about Obamacare?

Obamacare has been confirmed as the law of the land, and the common belief that it was unconstitutional has been shown to be incorrect. 

The Affordable Care Act will affect all of us, so what other common beliefs that people have about  this law are also wrong? The following is a list of common misperceptions that I have observed.

Common belief: Obamacare is a government takeover of health care. 
ACTUALLY: The Affordable Care Act has no government plan. It preserves private plans and strengthens the private insurance market, making it easy to shop for a plan you like, while protecting people and their health. 

Common belief:  the law is just about insurance and not about cost. 
ACTUALLY: the law promotes new models, innovations, and research to start improving care while decreasing costs. Here in Whatcom County, the Whatcom Alliance for Healthcare Advancement (WAHA) has received one of these grants!

Common belief:  the law is just about insurance and not about health. 
ACTUALLY: the law creates a national Prevention Fund, and invests in training for doctors, nurses, and other needed health professionals 

Common belief:  the law is hurts small businesses. 
ACTUALLY: the law will help most small businesses a lot! Companies with less than than 50 employees get tax credits for up to 35% of employee health insurance 
premiums. Beginning in 2014,  tax credits rise up to 50% of insurance premiums. 

Common belief:  the law just  increases premiums and costs for families. 
ACTUALLY: health premiums were skyrocketing before the law, and this is a major reason for the law! Insurance companies will now have to explain why they are raising rates, and the reasons will be published on a publicly available website. If insurance companies don’t spend most of your premium dollars on health care, they are now required to send you a rebate at the end of the year. 

Common belief:  the law hurts Medicare and seniors. 
ACTUALLY: the law saves 600 million dollars by reducing extra payments to insurance companies, and strengthens Medicare to help seniors  afford prescription drugs, get annual checkups with no co-pays and to make Medicare work better for seniors and doctors. 

Common belief:  We can’t afford Obamacare
ACTUALLY: the law's expense replaces costs we already pay that have been going through the roof for years, and we can’t afford not to have it. The law extends coverage, promotes access to the right care, in the right place, and at the right time. This is one way the Affordable Care Act was designed to save money by keeping people healthier. 

Common belief:  The law is too complicated to understand.
ACTUALLY:  The basic facts are simple. 32 million more American citizens will be insured. There will be help for those who cannot afford coverage. Most insurance company abuses will end. We will start building a system that improves quality and controls cost for all of us.

If you want to be informed, ignore most of what you hear and visit which is an easy to use site that explains the law and how it is being rolled out. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What do money, Winston Churchill, Obamacare and an informed public have in common?

It was Winston Churchill who noted that "The best argument against Democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average voter". As we await the Supreme Court decision, recent events are once again proving the truth of his assertion. 

It has now been two years since this landmark legislation,  and a recent Kaiser Foundation poll shows that fewer people today know what is actually in the bill than did when it was passed! This lack of knowledge parallels the decreasing public support for the bill. What is responsible for people dumbing down? A just released New York Times article documents that opinion about the Affordable Care Act is related to the money spent on advertising by its wealthy special interest group opponents.  Consider this:  opponents of the legislation have outspent those in favor by a more than 2:1 ratio since the law was passed, and more than 3:1 in the last year. The same study notes that since July 2011 there have been 164 different attack ads produced, and only 16 in favor.

It seems clear that wild spending by monied interests can sway public opinion on this and many other matters. Can it do the same with the Supreme Court? Stay tuned.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Affordable Care Act in Washington State - Why we need it more than ever

Over 1 million Washingtonians have no health insurance, and unfortunately, Obamacare is their only realistic hope for getting coverage. Millions more will see real benefit from important consumer protections built into the law. That is the conclusion of an important new report just released by Mike Kreidler, the Washington state Insurance Commissioner.

As the graph above shows, the lower your income, the less likely you are to have health insurance. People without insurance in Washington State are usually working, but simply earn too little to afford the medical coverage they need, even when working full time. Their employment is the gateway to their poverty, instead of a way to earn their way out. That is why medical coverage must eventually be decoupled from employment status.

Read the report itself for a county by county breakdown of what we will lose if the Affordable Care Act goes away.