Another Obamacare ‘Horror Story’ Debunked; And, No, the President Didn’t Lie About the Law

FILED TO: Politics


As the week began, another “Obamacare” horror story hit the press, instigating a fleet of outrage-pornographers and concern trolls across the political spectrum to continue self-flagellating and screeching about the disastrous Affordable Care Act — selectively forgetting about actual healthcare horror stories that existed before the law was implemented. It was a story focusing on yet another vague, anecdotal tale about a hapless ACA victim whose insurance policy was canceled, thus vindicating the accusation that the president lied about “keeping your existing insurance policy if you like it.”

Before we dive into the lie accusation, let’s take a closer look at an op/ed for the Wall Street Journal written by a stage-4 gallbladder cancer survivor, Edie Littlefield Sundby.

Sundby wrote that she received a letter from UnitedHealthcare announcing the cancellation of her insurance policy. She was advised to seek a different plan from the ACA exchange in California, known as Cover California. However, she claimed that there aren’t any insurance plans in the exchange that are accepted by both her primary care doctors at University of California San Diego, and her oncologists at and Stanford, thus forcing her to choose one or the other.

But here’s the thing: Sundby wasn’t shoved into this predicament because the ACA law forced her insurance provider out of the ballgame. UnitedHealthcare, one of the most notorious insurance providers before the ACA was passed, responsible for canceling policies and penalizing customers, decided to voluntarily bail out of the individual insurance game as a matter of corporate strategy. In doing so, it could avoid taking on less healthy customers early in the exchange sign-up process, forcing other insurers to absorb the risk. Clever. And sinister.

UnitedHealthcare Chief Executive Officer Stephen Helmsley said, “The company’s plans reflect its concern that the first wave of newly insured customers under the law may be the costliest.” He continued, “UnitedHealth will watch and see how the exchanges evolve and expects the first enrollees will have ‘a pent-up appetite’ for medical care. We are approaching them with some degree of caution because of that.” A pent-up appetite — you know, to not go broke while attempting to not die.

As you probably recall from the days before the ACA was passed, scores of customers were stripped of their insurance policies, many while suffering from life-threatening illnesses. The difference back then was once they’d lose their insurance, they were unable to qualify for a new policy due to rules against pre-existing conditions. That’s thankfully not the case with Sundby — not after the passage of the ACA, not any more. While she might be forced to switch emergency care facilities or to a new team of oncologists, she will absolutely be able to sign up for a new policy with better benefits thanks to the ACA. Conversely, four years ago, when UnitedHealthcare and others were pulling these exact same kinds of profit-making stunts, she would’ve faced bankruptcy or death or both, unable to sign up for a replacement policy.

These are details not mentioned in context of the “Obama lied” story.

Indeed, going back to 2009, the president continuously reassured individual policy holders that if they liked their current insurance, they could keep it. On Monday’s edition of Morning Joe, they aired a series of clips of the president saying in various forms, “If you like your plan you can keep it.” This promise hasn’t actually panned out exactly as originally conceived, forcing Mika Brzezinski to literally smack herself in the face with a stack of paper. Brzezinski continued by shouting at panelist Chris Matthews, “Why would you let your president go out and say that?!” During the ensuing melee, Scarborough held up Sundby’s WSJ op/ed, “There’s this story in the Wall Street Journal about a lady with stage-4 cancer that’s been kicked off her plan!”

Once again, no. The ACA didn’t force Sundby off her plan. UnitedHealthcare’s profit margin was the culprit here. But regarding this alleged lie, the president was actually correct given the language of the law.

The Affordable Care Act, as signed by the president in 2010, states quite clearly that if your individual health insurance plan was in effect prior to March 23, 2010, your plan would be grandfathered as-is, despite new rules that expand mandatory benefits and ban practices such as lifetime limits. In other words, if you signed up for an insurance policy before March of 2010, and if you like that policy, you could ostensibly keep it. It’s in the law.

However, an implementation rule was added later by Health & Human Services which narrowed the grandfathering parameters. If the benefits of a policy were altered after that date, those policies would lose grandfathered status. Meanwhile, HHS determined that up to 67 percent of customers would lose their plans, but only as a reflection of normal trends in the system — not as the result of a sudden drop off due to the ACA.

So when the president said, “If you like your insurance you can keep it,” he meant that the law itself wouldn’t force you to call up your insurance provider and cancel your policy if you liked it. Nor was he suggesting that an insurance company would be compelled by the law to keep you as a customer for life, irrespective of circumstances. While the law in fact prohibits the cancellation of a plan if you’re suddenly sick or injured, or if you make a mistake on your application — two common occurrences before the ACA — you can still lose your plan if you fail to pay your premium or if you lie on your paperwork.

Here’s the kicker. The law absolutely prohibits arbitrary cancellations — except for grandfathered plans like Sundby’s UnitedHealthcare plan. Frankly, switching to a Cover California plan might be the best thing for Sundby because her grandfathered plan likely included lifetime and annual limits on coverage (bad news for cancer patients); it wasn’t required to comply with government audits to prevent excessive premium hikes; and it could’ve randomly forced her to change doctors anyway.

Now let’s be honest: did the president and especially HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius do a terrible job explaining the law? Absolutely. The roll-out of the website has been a disaster and Sebelius completely botched the implementation of the law then bungled a crucial appearance on The Daily Show.

Granted, it’s no easy task to fully explain a sweeping new program like the ACA, especially given the complexities of the health insurance system. But when I read blog commenters who are doing a better job at detailing the law than the administration has, I can’t help but to think the Obama team is inadvertently sabotaging one of its biggest accomplishments by derping its way through the process. Meanwhile, the press and the GOP has been nefariously seizing upon the confusion and amplifying it into a melodramatic hellscape, which, in reality, is far from being an accurate illustration of reality. In spite of its flaws, the ACA is an historic achievement and if these issues can be ironed out soon, and if the administration can get back in the ballgame, the ACA will surely live up to its potential.

Bob Cesca is the managing editor for The Daily Banter, the editor of, the host of the Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show podcast and a Huffington Post contributor.


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  • Teresa Green

    Anytime I’m told anything by the media (The Corporate Slaves) I know better than to believe it I only wish more of us were like minded enough to stand up for what’s right

  • Chuck Gettle

    You are fucking fool!

  • Martine

    You people. NOthing this guy does is wrong for you, is it? He can lie, cheat steal, all of which he has done. He has caused severe harm to American Middle Class unlike any ever seen before. And he does not care.
    The amount of support this asshole has gotten from the news media is absurd. there is only one news station that even dared to speak out against him in the beginning. Now its changing as his lies are coming out. Obviously he will try to blame the insurance companies, the doctors, the Republicans and anyone he can think of. Isn’t all he isngood for? Blaming? Sure, drink the cool aid. But when there is no doctor worth seeing left on the country, no new drugs or new medical techniques on the market, and no one but overworked nurses available to treat you in an average hospital, you can thank your liberal idiot leader.

  • JoanieBaloney

    The liberal commentators on this site do nothing but spend their time re-writing Obama history. Stretch, stretch, stretch the truth just so you won’t have to admit you support the worst US president ever. It must keep you guys in a fevered, panic mode, 24/7.

    • Peter James

      >>>>>”Stretch, stretch, stretch the truth just so you won’t have to admit you support the worst US president ever.”

      ….aaaaand there it is.

      The reason no one has to ever pay attention to you or take anything you say seriously.

      Not like there was any reason to before that.

      Until Obama watches 3,000 American civilians die on American soil under his watch despite being warned by his Intelligence chief a month before about said attack and doing nothing about it except going to “clear brush” in Crawford….
      Until Obama invades the wrong country in response, (right after letting the guy responsible get away from his grasp at Tora Bora – a guy whom Obama had to be the one to get.) and watches 4,500 American soldiers and 100,000 innocent Iraqis, die in an unjustified war based on LIES….
      Until Obama craters the Economy and turns a surplus handed to him by the previous president to a deficit and the Biggest Recession since the Great Depression, with a near total implosion of the financial, housing Auto markets as well as a monthly job loss of 800,000 jobs lost per month…

      Until any of that happens under Obama’s watch, he’s nowhere near the worst president in American history.

      Not even in the same league.

      But go on an keep living in your delusional world.

  • alwaysthink

    The RW lie machine may just work because only a small sliver of the population buys insurance on the Individual market so most Americans have no idea how much cost savings the Exchanges are bringing to those self employed or retired folks who buy these products.

    The fact is that the Exchange policies are about the same price as Grandfathered plans. But have an important feature. In the Grandfathered plans is one “health status” changes then the rates can go up and up. That can’t happen in the new plans either inside or outside the Exchange.

    It is also not true that you may not be able to see your doctor of choice if you buy an Exchange plan. If you have a PPO plan then they will pay co insurance at a percent of the usual charge for out of network services. I have a specialist I see once or twice a year and it will be less costly to see him if he is out of network. Since the charge for a quick appointment is less than the copay for in network services.

    Also the lady in the article doesn’t have to worry about going to Stanford if she chooses a Blue Shield PPO plan. They are already in the network list. Blue Cross is still not ready with their list of network providers.

  • ND52

    Largest mobilization of liberal trolls in internet history. Man—–this ACA must be the effing worst! Lol!

    • Peter James

      ….and still the LAW OF THE LAND.

      How do you like them apples?

      • ND52

        Uhhhhhh, you’ll be paying more too pal. Not too bright are ya?

        • Peter James

          I don’t mind it and I’m not the one complaining and whining about it.

          And actually we ALL pay much more without a system like this in place.

          ALL of us.

          When people show up at an Emergency room for treatment, who do you think pays for it, d.vmbas.5?
          And what effect do you think that has on everyone else’s premiums?

          Talking about who’s not too bright……

          • ND52

            Then why are premiums going up across the board brightboy?

          • Peter James

            Because Insurance companies are trying to capitalize on their last opportunity to raise them before they’re locked in next year and they’re outlawed from raising them wily-nily (without justifying the raise with a corresponding 80-20 spending on Healthcare costs versus their overhead costs) once the full law and full provisions go into effect next year.

            And you say that like as if Insurance companies weren’t raising premiums EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. even from before Obamacare ever existed much less Obama was president.

            You really are a ignorant moron, aren’t you?

            Like I said, not too bright.
            Ignorant and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

          • ND52

            Oh yes, it’s all the insurance companies fault. Poor little Obama is being taken advantage of by everyone.

            My bad, how could I forget that every year in america, millions of people get their insurance canceled and/or there premiums double and triple. Whoops!

            What a ridiculously child-like explanation by a yet another liberal kool-aid drinker.

            And I love the insults. Nothing says coward quite like someone who talks trash from behind the safety of his keyboard.

  • mrbrink

    See, due to my argumentative nature, I refuse to accept the premise that the administration “botched” anything, especially while enduring unprecedented hostility, not only in terms of obstruction, but with the injection of Citizens United politics. Which is a perfect segue to the illegitimate Roberts Court, which rewrote the ACA just last year to better conform to Constitutional Jesus, forcing the law to adapt to this huge change under a deadline making the building of any Healthcare/gov website much more difficult on the fly. 25 states opting out, or just taking their sweet time integrating into the community of decency, forcing HHS to scramble to build and maintain their exchanges for them, blaming the president for their people dying on the kitchen floor because prayer is medicine to these fucking religious nut bag creeps– trying to design web portals to Sister-wife country– while these Wingnut-led states figure out how to launder federal Medicaid expansion dollars and redistribute them in the form of more tax cuts for the rich– all the outrage is hilariously directed at the president. I see this is a stupid, pushy, entitled white people revolt.

    Republicans were way out-voted in the last election. They lost by over a million combined votes in the House. Their power is an illegitimate mandate, therefore their media narrative influence should be little more than a condescending wink and a nod at best.

    But, no, the corporate media protecting their own is what we’re subjected to. The GOP should be facing charges for treason, not out there bragging about the results of their Confederate economics. And health insurance corporations– not the healthcare expanding/protecting president– should be taking a garbage can beating over all these ‘horror stories,’ especially that little money-burning necrophiliac, Stephen J. Hemsley for his continued rescissionary policies that refuse to die quietly like his bewildered victims. Media narratives are so quick to defend notoriously unethical corporations: “This Segment Sponsored by BP and Cock Rings.”

    I see this as a day room outburst in the Cuckoo’s nest trenches of Wingnuttia being riled up by the Papa Johns assholes and Hobby fuckin’ Lobbyists strong-arming their ideologies into their de-unionized, underpaid work forces already subsisting on government-assistance. And the fact that in Illinois, and elsewhere, employers’ share of healthcare costs have dropped, slowing to decade-lows, while employees’ contributions have jumped up to 9% seems to get no attention because this whole line of attack focusing on the fake ‘blunders’ and niggardly outcomes of reported ‘disasters’ that this administration is being blamed for is just a stolen getaway car for disreputable nouns everywhere.

    But after January 1st, when the whole new world of universal policy coverage protections actually begins, and the Bad Old Days abuses are mercifully drowned in the bubble bathtub of history and grandfathered out of existence, these horror stories will have been viewed for what they are: The loud noises of wailing corporate banshees being slowly, and quietly run through with the mighty sword of “Shhhhhh– There, there, Psychopaths.” It hurts like it sounds, I’m sure.

    The manufactured fog of the “Obamacare” war has resulted in corporations, “job creators,” and the little Morning Joe cogs in their media empires reacting like the smiling, militant counter-insurgency for terrible people that they’ve always been. This was all-too predictable. Republicans told the country they were trying to destroy the law. How the media can sit there chugging gallons of coffee before 6 a.m. feigning shattered expectations and demanding answers from this president takes some real courage for white people to stand up to point indignant fingers and berate the black guy and his secretary for that sour taste in the drinking water while their drunken buddies and kin are out back pissing in the well. The nerve.

    • beulahmo

      I love you.

      • mrbrink

        You are.

        • beulahmo

          My god, you’re right. I are indeed. You understand me so well.

          • mrbrink

            What I meant to say was, you are… awesome. Kind and generous. Some things are just self-evident. Easiest read ever.

    • IrishGrrrl

      “This Segment Sponsored by BP and Cock Rings.”

      This phrase alone wins the Intertoobs

    • drspittle

      I need an Upding Dispensation which will permit me click the Updingy Arrow Thingy for eternity. And I agree. The problems with ACA roll out are directly attributable to everything you stated.

    • John Doman

      Ah yes. The REAL reason anyone could oppose Obamacare is because of the President’s skin pigmentation. That explains it all. Thanks. Now I have no doubts about the heavenly blessing of universal health coverage bestowed upon us by the smoothly-running cogs of the Federal government.

      • mrbrink

        Expanded rights and protections are always obstructed by history’s human cesspool lifeguards. Blow that whistle, man. The ‘others’ are swimming in your pool.

  • Cogito

    It is a rhetorical illusion that Obamacare has anything to do with insurance and health care. But then, rhetoric works well on the uninformed and the ignorant. It keeps them flocking to Obama and his radical Leftists in Congress like rats to the Pied Piper.
    Obama does not care if it works. The legislation’s purpose is to serve as a foundation for a single payer health care system owned and operated by the Obama Politburo.
    It allows the Obama to expand the power of government by reducing the power of the people. It allows Obama further control of the behavior of law abiding citizens under penalty of fine and imprisonment. It allows the Politburo to move $5.1 trillion dollars of U.S. capital produced annually by the insurance and health care industries from the private sector and place it under the heel of Obama’s boot.
    To all that believe that Obama cares….he, a multi-millionaire, allows his half brother to live in a 6 x 9 goat hovel in the slums of Nairobi on less than a dollar a day.
    H.L. Mencken said, “The urge to save humanity is almost always the false-face for the urge to rule it.” Obama proves daily that he is a false face in an empty suit.

    • Pink No More


      You done?

      • John Doman

        You know, I don’t think you actually read the comment.

        • Peter James

          I did.

          It was full of bloviating nonsense.

    • Peter James

      One of the dumbest things I’ve read on the internet this year.


  • TU

    Show me a guy whose premium is going up $500+ per month, for no added value, and I’ll show you a guy who is unhappy. Throw in a President promising during the sell job that if he liked his plan he could keep it (period), and I’ll show you a guy who is very unhappy.

    Unfortunately, you are attempting to defend the indefensible. MSNBC, CNN, Fox, etc. are all showing the same video collection of the President repeatedly promising the American people they could keep their plans, with zero fine-print, zero caveats. His use of the word “period” is used to emphasize the lack of caveats.

    All this nonsense about low-quality plans, insurance companies canceling plans on their own unrelated to the ACA, and it not being a big deal since it involves “a sliver of the population” carries no weight. The $hit is going to hit the fan when millions of people not eligible for subsidy see dramatic increases in their premiums.

    • i_a_c

      All this nonsense about low-quality plans, insurance companies canceling
      plans on their own unrelated to the ACA, and it not being a big deal
      since it involves “a sliver of the population” carries no weight.

      Wow, nice argument proving without a reasonable doubt that the above claims “nonsense” and it “carries no weight.”

      Wait a minute, that’s not an argument at all, you dismissed them without addressing them because they’re inconvenient to your point.

      And please link to whoever’s premiums went up $500 with no added value because I smell bullshit.

      • TU

        Not sure why I’m replying to this, as I’ve seen your other posts, which make it clear you’re the furthest thing from open-minded. In particular, I’m struggling with your stance that since the dramatic premium increases only impact a small percentage of Americans, it’s not a issue.

        I live in the state of North Carolina and am not eligible for subsidy. My current Blue Cross Blue Shield plan for a family of 3 (ages 53, 51 and 22) runs $808 per month. Received word that the plan will be cancelled and the replacement policy is subject to an 80% increase, what appears to be the average increase for folks in NC buying individual insurance. BCBSNC is the sole provider on the exchange for NC residents (Moore county being the exception), allowing BCBSNC to set their rates free of competition. Worse, the 80% increase involves a Bronze plan. My current plan is excellent, with a $2,000 personal deductible and $3,500 total out-of-pocket. The suggested replacement plan has a $10,000 deductible. Ironically, they are suggesting what I considered to be a junk plan. If I go that route, the increase will be roughly $600. To match the quality of my current policy in terms of deductibles and total out-of-pocket, it will cost roughly $200 more.

        So actually well over $500, smarty pants…

        • i_a_c

          Apologies for my terseness–I had thought you were talking about $500 for an individual, which made me think you were one of our many rightwing trolls.

          First, is there no Coventry in your area?

          Since you’re not eligible for subsidies (you’re sure?), you actually don’t have to use the exchange. You could buy an individual policy somewhere else on your own. For example, I went to Cigna in NC and their family insurance for ages 53, 51, 21 might be a little closer to the price range and benefits you were talking about before.

          You don’t have to let BCBS squeeze you, ya know.

          • TU

            Coventry is only available in Moore County (Pinehurst area); the rest of state has BCBSNC as the sole provider on the exchange. I have looked into other providers. Cigna’s rates as very much in line with those offered by BCBSNC. Other than the 15% currently uninsured, the insurance companies are the bigger winners in the ACA equation. Check out Cigna’s stock price. It has risen 300% since the law was passed.

            I’m all for universal healthcare. I supported it back in the Hillary days. But to do something this big, the “best and brightest” should have been assigned to the task. The impact on all Americans should have been thoroughly researched, and made public, ahead of time, to avoid groups of Americans being made subject to double-digit premium hikes.

            Yes, I’m quite sure I’m not eligible for a subsidy. I’ve been very fortunate in my career. For me, it’s just extremely frustrating to see dramatic rate increases with no added value, especially in light of the President’s promise. Unfortunately, folks making far less than I are ineligible for subsidies. For them it will not be just frustrating, it will be devastating in terms of personal finance. Clearly, I’m one of the lucky ones in the “individual plan” group.

            The President’s promise is a major problem, both in terms of the ACA and his credibility in general. For many of us, hearing this promise (repeatedly, and without a single caveat) was all we needed to provide our support. Hearing those words, I did no further research on the ACA. Had I foreseen the dramatic rate hikes, I would have pushed for a better plan for universal healthcare, one where there were no major losers.

          • i_a_c

            For a family of three, the individual market subsidies are available for incomes up to 78,000ish, 170% of the median household income. (According to the calculator, the subsidy would cover 48% of premiums for that level.) Above that level, the assumption is that (a) you can afford it, and (b) the vast majority of people making that level of income receive insurance through their employer.

            Personally I would have preferred that the subsidies be scaled off above that income level to avoid the “cliff” above which you’re going from 48% subsidy to zero. Or maybe some kind of locality adjustment–insurance looks expensive in NC compared to some of the other places I’ve looked at. 50% more expensive than my state. Maybe that has to do with the stranglehold BCBS has over the individual market in NC.

            Unfortunately for you and people like you, this is by design. Some people in the upper-middle and upper classes may pay more.

            Have you looked into United? Is that available for you? (It says it’s available for NC.) Their website seems much more comprehensive and lets you choose from lots of options, without the asterisked Cigna page that might as well say “oh this rate is for 30-year-olds, you didn’t actually think we’d be straight with you, did you?”

            I hope you are able to find something suitable that doesn’t squeeze you. Again, sorry for the crappy beginning to this conversation. As you can imagine we get rightwing trolls from Breitbart, etc. that spread all kinds of nonsense. Shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions like that.

        • IrishGrrrl

          I’m very curious if you’ve shopped outside of the Exchange at all as i_a_c suggests. Get some estimates and let us know.

          • TU

            Yes, I’ve shopped alternatives to the exchange, but the pricing tiers closely follow those of the sole exchange provider, BCBCNC. Seems like price-fixing, but I suppose this has become quite common, whether in healthcare plans, airfares, etc. Believe me, as is my way, I’ll research all available options in an attempt to find the best solution to a given problem. Don’t see a favorable outcome to this one.

            On a more humorous note, even though my 22 year-old son hasn’t lived in the house for 3 years, I continue to cover his medical insurance, knowing he wouldn’t get it on his own. $119 per month is the small price I pay for the peace of mind, knowing he’s covered. He’s currently “finding himself”, going to college part-time and making almost zero money. Given he doesn’t make $11,000, he’s is not eligible for any subsidy, so covering him will now run a more significant $237. Seems odd to receive no subsidy until $11,000 annually.

          • IrishGrrrl

            The $11,000 minimum you reference appears to be related to the expansion of Medicaid. In those states that didn’t expand Medicaid anyone making more than $11,000 a year but still at the poverty line will have few health care options. This isn’t the law’s fault, its the governors and state legislatures who made this choice.

            Have you priced a policy he buys on his own (either through the exchange or on the open market)? It may be less than $119 a month you pay for him through your family plan. If he can’t afford to cover it, you can still pay it for him. They can’t refuse to cover him now, no matter what.

            The other thing to try is to have him apply for Medicaid with the state anyway. He might still qualify under your state’s rules regardless of whether your state expanded it or not.

            If he’s in college, some colleges provide healthcare plans but I have no idea how much those cost nowadays. That was the only way I could get healthcare way back when when I was in grad school.

            The other fix is longer term…put pressure on your state elected officials to expand Medicaid. What will probably happen is those states who do expand will be so much better off the pressure on those states that didn’t will be enormous and they will cave (and maybe pretty soon). Good luck in your search.

  • Vipsanius

    The good part is that the truth about the ACA will come out by what actually occurs in the real world. The bad part is that the lies that are currently being told will be forgotten. And, people will forget who put out those lies.

  • D_C_Wilson

    “UnitedHealth will watch and see how the exchanges evolve and expects the first enrollees will have ‘a pent-up appetite’ for medical care. We are approaching them with some degree of caution because of that.” A pent-up appetite — you know, to not go broke while attempting to not die.

    Or, as they are called on Fox, “Takers and moochers.”

  • KarenJ

    I think what has infuriated me most about the Edie Sundby story is that the usual suspects — biased journalists and the right wing blogger misinformation trolls — started up the new meme, “White House Smears/Blames Stage IV Cancer Victim for Insurance Loss” — even saying the author of a Think Progress article straightforwardly outlining the real story like Bob Cesca did above, wrote “a smear-piece on Edie Littlefield Sundby…”.

    If someone without a hate-Obamacare agenda reads the Think Progress article, they can see the cancer survivor is treated with sympathy and respect, and the Tweet by David Plouffe simply points to that article.

  • IrishGrrrl

    I can’t thank you enough for pointing out the REAL reason the insurance companies are dropping people. I wrote about it on my blog but your audience here is HUGE and this is so important. If I hear one more self-insured person who makes 6 figures bitching about having to pay more (without even checking out what is offered through the exchanges), my head is going to literally explode.

    One other thing they’re not talking about…the fact that we’re probably looking at a few million people (anywhere from 1 to 6 million) who will pay more (albeit for better plans) versus the 40 million who were uninsured before AND the about 6 million who could pay less for better plans. Why are the press dwelling on such a tiny minority and disregarding the masses of people who will benefit? It’s a close call but I’d rather watch pundits debate the meaning of the Miley Cyrus twerking incident again rather than sit through the staged healthcare outrage in the news right now.

    • i_a_c

      Why are the press dwelling on such a tiny minority and disregarding the masses of people who will benefit?

      Because it doesn’t fit The Narrative™.

      The “horror stories” are unbelievably scant on details and contain nearly zero analysis of the ACA or the health insurance market in general. And they never, ever talk about anybody who’s saving a bundle or getting insurance when they were unable to before.

      Greta Van Susteren of all people committed an act of journalism and pointed out that one woman’s “insurance” she was losing wasn’t insurance at all, as it wouldn’t cover much of anything in the event of a catastrophic medical issue. Now this woman is saying that the ACA is a blessing in disguise, because she will now be able to afford REAL insurance. The media is feeding people misinformation about how insurance actually works. I guess the wealthy talking heads have never had to worry about what might happen to them if they’re carted to the emergency room.

      • Beth

        What they should be focusing on is the middle class, because after all that is the class of people who will be the most effected by all of this. The poor will still continue to get subsidies as they always have and the rich, it doesn’t matter they can afford anything. It’s a middle class family (which in this country is considered under 100k) how it affects them, as a single woman, I couldn’t get in to see the exchanges at all, the website has not worked for me any time I have tried to get in there. I did however do the “average” for the country and the monthly payment amount was way out of my price range and the deductible was outrageous. So unfortunately I will have to take the penalty, it’s cheaper and still be without insurance. I really don’t live above my means, I have a modest home, I have a car that is almost paid off, but I have student loan debt like most americans, and credit card debt due to being laid off for an entire year, so unfortunately I can’t afford it and I make under 40k a year.

        • i_a_c

          Just wanted to let you know that you can be exempted from the penalty if the lowest cost coverage available exceeds 8% of your income. Sounds like you’ll be close. Best of luck to you.

          • Beth

            Thanks, HOPEFULLY I can get into the website eventually. Still not having any luck.

        • Teresa Green

          There are exchanges out there for you just keep trying don’t give up you need health insurance because if you believe the media your gonna miss out . All Americans deserve and need decent health care

    • nerdnam

      I think one problem is that many people who will clearly benefit from ACA are embarrassed to admit it. And certainly to the press. And you can include me in that. Admitting I will get insurance because of the ACA opens me to a barrage of personal questions about why I wasn’t ‘successful’ enough to get it before. And I really don’t feel like putting myself out like that. And I believe that’s true for the vast majority of the ‘working poor’ who will benefit most from this law.

      • IrishGrrrl

        I understand what you’re saying. I hate telling people about my financial situation and it’s because in this country the poor are seen as being immoral and lazy (which is obviously far from true). Also, our healthcare concerns can be very sensitive in nature, which would also make it difficult to “witness” about the effectiveness of ACA. But the only way to change attitudes is to talk about those things that we feel uncomfortable about. So if you are brave enough to put yourself out there, you have to find a way to discuss your situation while staying “general” about personal reasons. And if someone asks something too personal you have every right to tell them that it’s inappropriate to ask that.

        • phylosopher

          To both nerdnam and irishgrrrrl , time to take that slight discomfort risk and show people how wrong they are. As an educator and a public sector employee, I have to do this constantly because the media and opposition have been so successful in sending out such a skewed message. Facts are a great defense. most walk away unbelievable chagrinned that they could have been so misled and wokring under major mis-assumptions. (Not that it is their fault) in my workplace, there was never a distinction made for the “public” i.e. students between tenured and non-tenured faulty – so they thought all were making profs wages and they also thought all profs made the “superstar prof” wages.

      • beulahmo

        Thanks for pointing that out.
        Also — I understand and sympathize with your feelings of reluctance to expose yourself to ridicule. And it seems like media and pop culture focuses on a shallow and mean value system of wealth=success=value as a person. Just remember that media and pop culture gives a skewed view of what’s out there. There are far more of us po’ folk out here who see our vulnerable selves in each other, and we sympathize

      • feloniousgrammar

        I thought we were just normal.

      • Erika Frensley

        I’m in a slightly different but rather common situation. I was laid off last month, and am working contract. This means that I don’t get health insurance through my work, so I have to find it myself. I make in the high 5 figures, but I’ve actually never had to shop for health insurance like this before. It’s eye opening what the numbers are (out of pocket totals, premiums, etc) and what my employers were paying. I’m looking at the ACA site, not for subsidies (I’m way past that), but to see the plans that are available so I know what I’m looking for when I shop around. I may get a plan off the exchange proper, but it helps me quite a bit.

        • IrishGrrrl

          Excellent! That’s exactly what its for. The sad part is that there are people out there in your exact situation but because they’ve been lied to, they think it’s all “evil” and won’t even go to the website to see their options.

          • Erika Frensley

            Yep! I know I’ll be paying for health care insurance myself (I’m not used to that, always had jobs with benefits), but the prices are a hell of a lot cheaper than the Cobra coverage I currently have (50%+ cheaper). I think there’s a lot of folks in my situation that are looking at health insurance for the first time in this light, and suddenly they have to pay for something they got free or lowcost before, and it’s a shock to them. But now I can work contract until I find a job I like, rather than grabbing the first job I’m offered to get that health insurance coverage – which is something that needs to be screamed from the rooftops.

          • Chuck Gettle

            COBRA is meant to be temporary you fucking idiot!

          • Erika Frensley

            Wow, you really aren’t thinking this through, are you. Of course Cobra is temporary – but everytime I tried to get insurance before ACA it was at least as high or higher than the Cobra payment. Now please calm down, you fucking twerp, and stop the screaming like a three year old toddler. Thank you.

          • Chuck Gettle

            Obama lied to us all. idiot!

      • Teresa Green

        Why do we as Americans always feel like we don’t deserve anything deemed as a handout I think everyone of us who works deserves health insurances and lower taxes, the middle class has been exterminated by policies designed to benefit the wealthiest 1% of Americans aren’t you tired of that I know I am

    • i_a_c

      Also, that’s a comprehensive blog post you wrote. It is a terrific outline of the details and the big picture. Kudos. You would never find this kind of analysis in your average “news” segment.

      • IrishGrrrl


    • Badgerite

      You know, this is why it was so important that the website allow for quick and easy perusal of available plans and prices without having to begin the application process right away. This is all new to people. They want to see what it is about first. And I have run into people who do not even know what is available on the exchange and what the actual prices after subsidy would be. It finally does, but should have from day one, had local numbers to call and addresses to go to where there would be people available to help with questions and paper applications.
      What is available on the exchange are really quite good plans for an affordable price. The subsidies of varying amounts depending on your income, health history and number of dependents, etc, are available to almost everyone in the middle class. To be outside of that limit you have to be doing quite well and should be able to afford health insurance without any help. People below that level qualify for Medicaid, What is that figure of uninsured? I think it is 25%. So that is now 25% of the country that will finally be able to afford health insurance and therefore afford health care. To quote Martha Stewart, “That’s a good thing”!
      Still, the administration should have done a major roll out with the President himself getting involved. I know he was busy at the time trying to fend off the GOP threats of financial armageddon, but if he had looked, he could have seen these issues coming and started fixing them and talking about them earlier.

      • IrishGrrrl

        Awww, thanks! He just turned 3 and is growing up way too fast.

      • phylosopher

        “qualify for Medicaid” not in the red states whose governors have refused to accept the fed funds to expand Medicaid roles. But that’s the ReTHUGS fault.

        • Badgerite

          Hey moderator, your site just let me click on the ‘edit’ button on the comment that is not MINE.

      • Chuck Gettle

        Obama knew that millions would be canceled when he promised. OK? How can we depend on aleader that knowingly lies to us?

        • Badgerite

          Actually when he said that, he was referring to those policies which were in effect when the law was passed. Those policies could be grandfathered in. Policies sold to customers by the insurance companies after that date, (which was in 2010) would not be grandfathered in. So the law actually gave the insurance companies that were selling these low price/ way low coverage policies after the date the law was passed quite a lot of notice that those policies they were selling anyway, even though they did not meet the coverage requirements of the new law, would NOT be grandfathered into the system. Four years notice, actually. The insurance companies, of course, did not tell the people they were selling these policies to. And when they cancelled these policies due to failure to meet minimum coverage requirements (which are at least 60% of medical bills covered by the insurance) they did not bother to tell the people that they could get better coverage for about the same or slightly more cost at the Healthcare Exchange.
          During the four years they kept selling these crappy low cost/ low coverage policies to whoever they could sell them to. Those are the ones being cancelled now. Those that were NOT in place prior to the laws passage in 2010.
          I suppose he should have qualified his statement to,
          “Those of you who have plans in place NOW can keep them.”

        • Teresa Green

          Did you not read the article, see it’s people like you who don’t do any real research and just believes what ever the news tells you since you didn’t here’s the truth the insurance companies are canceling people’s policies GREED IS THE CULPRIT NOT THE Affordable Care Act and for all those lefties eighties and whatever else we’re calling ourselves it’s not Obama care quiet as it’s kept WE ALL NEED IT

    • feloniousgrammar

      I think the ACA does require coverage for literally exploding heads;)

    • drspittle

      Your post was outstanding! Thank you.

      • IrishGrrrl

        Muchas Gracias

        • drspittle

          We IrishGirrrls have to stick together!

  • Cogito

    “If you like your policy, you can keep your policy,” unless you are one of the 93,000,000 citizens that cannot.

    “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” unless you are one of the million that cannot.

    “The average citizen will save $2,500 annually,” unless you are one of the multi-million who will see an increase in premium cost of 42%.

    “Now those that could not get health insurance because you have a pre-existing condition will have insurance,” unless you do not.

    Obamacare is not even law. How can it be when lawmakers vote for it without reading it?

    Obama claims he is “fine tuning his promises.” Truth needs no “fine tuning,” only lies need “fine tuning.”

    • beulahmo

      Recite talking points elsewhere. We’re not interested. Scram and stay scrammed.

    • KarenJ

      Copied and pasted from debunked Forbes self-described “health care insurance expert” Avik Roy’s many claims…

    • Pink No More

      Move on.

      Get flagged.

    • D_C_Wilson

      Yes, it’s a law. Yes, lawmakers read it. No matter how many times that meme gets debunked, it will never die, I guess.

      It was passed by a majority in both chambers, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court.

      It’s. The. Law. Deal with it.

  • ChrisAndersen

    One thing that I will knock Obama for is being a poor explainer of both his own policies and the success of those policies. Bill Clinton did a much better job of it during the convention than Obama has ever done.

    As much of a technocrat as Obama is, I think he just has never been that good at conveying how good his policies have been. Which makes it all the more remarkable that he has been as successful at implementing them as he has.

    That’s why I still have faith that this will all work itself out in the end, as long as people don’t panic and do something stupid like let Republicans gain even more power.

    • beulahmo

      I just don’t see it — the part about Bill Clinton doing a better job of it. Some folks appear to be more receptive to one guy than the other.

      The plan will work fine. We’ll just have to live with the media’s temporary love fest with folks who’re still trying to damage the plan’s success. I swear to God, I’ve come to believe our biggest menace is our outrage-porn-peddling, useless media.

    • IrishGrrrl

      You do have to hand it to Clinton, that man could explain quantum physics to a three year old. I’ve never seen anyone like that EVER. So that’s a pretty high standard to hold the Prez or anyone for that matter to. But even if the WH had tried to explain it…does anyone here actually think the reporters would have really paid attention? Right now we get 5 minutes of something worthwhile versus hours of “infotainment” drivel.

      • feloniousgrammar

        The White House did explain it over and over again. I guess the fact that the White House has a website is a secret for most people, but it’s a secret the press keeps.

        • stacib23

          THIS. 100 upvotes for you fg.

    • D_C_Wilson

      I tend to agree. Obama tends to be aloof and professorial when trying to explain his policy positions. It’s hampered his ability to counter the 24/7 distortions coming from the other side.

      In retrospect, he probably should have said, “You will be able to keep your current insurance, unless it is really shitty and doesn’t actually cover anything.”

    • Teddy’s Person

      The media has done their fair share of telling the public that the president shouldn’t “lecture” them like an elitist liberal college professor.

      • IrishGrrrl

        I know! Every time he gives a speech they analyze what grade level it is written to and if it exceeds the 8th grade level they gotta say something negative about it. Makes me want to tell our useless Fourth Estate exactly where they can put their “grade level analysis”.

        • feloniousgrammar

          He’s always very warm and personable in his speeches.

        • Teddy’s Person

          I don’t always agree with President Obama, but when he speaks, I have this moment where (after 8 years of his predecessor) I’m glad someone with a brain occupies the White House

  • Teddy’s Person

    I agree that the Obama administration has dropped the ball in explaining and implementing the ACA. But I also want to emphasize what they’re up against: a hostile media environment who is more interested in ginning up controversy than informing people; TV “journalists” who (at best) can’t be bothered fact check and push back against easily debunked talking points or (at worst) seem to be willfully spreading falsehood; a belligerent opposition in Congressional GOPers whose driving force is not to get primaried on the right by the Tea Party; and the assorted racists who can’t stand that there’s a black man in the White House.

    • trgahan

      Don’t forget the underlying concept of the ACA (or any similar law):

      Government regulation of the marketplace can lower prices and create fairer, better options for the individual consumer.

      This real is abhorrent to a small, yet massively wealthy, part of our nation. They spend 30 years convincing us supply side, free market economics was a real and good thing. As we all got poorer, they just kept finding boogie men for us to hate.

      • IrishGrrrl

        Indeed, look over there at that New Panther member blocking the voting booth and pay no attention to the white men in suits robbing you blind.

      • Jim Kaye

        Under no circumstance has the Government ever regulated something and made it cheaper!!!! Especially when the Government steals from the economy and picks and chooses who the winners and losers are.

        • delosgatos


          See, that was easy.

          • Robert Lande

            Has Medicare done anything to lower medical costs? Don’t confuse lower insurance rates (subsidized) with lower medical costs. Also, lower reimbusements to doctors will cause more medical doctors to retire. To reduce medical costs, we need to start with interstate sale of health insurance and tort reform for starters.

          • delosgatos

            1. Yes.
            2. I’m not.
            3. I know that’s what the theory says.
            4. No we don’t.

            On 1: Industrialized nations with national health insurance single payer programs, as well as medicare, pay less per person (often significantly less) that the US private healthcare system, and get comparable or better results. Some of them, I believe, even end up paying less overall even though they cover everyone.

            If you are unaware of this, why are you even expecting your opinions on this topic to be taken seriously?

          • Robert Lande

            I am talking about Medicare, not health care systems in other countries. Reduced Medicare reimbursement is resulting in the retirement of many doctors. It will get worse and we may have a doctor shortage and wait times for appointments and procedures will be extended greatly. Medicare has not reduced the cost of medical care. Interstate sales of health insurance and tort reform will.

        • trgahan

          Wow…you know talking in such definitives actually undermines your argument. Delosgatos already beat me to the punch and completely demolished your first point.
          You won’t believe me, but it’s the government that keeping your gasoline under $10 dollars a gallon, your electric bill under $1000 a month, most of your roads free, your food within accessible price range. I could go on…..

          BTW, I actually agree that one particular party in our government “picks winners and losers,” such as the fossil fuel industry, high finance, big agriculture, real estate developers, big insurance, etc OVER everyone not with a net worth over $10 million. But I am sure you were not thinking of them. You’re still stuck on Solano aren’t you?

        • Robert Lande

          Winners like Solyndra and unions?

    • Ned F

      And although Bob’s column totally debunks and explains the reasons and possible benefits behind people being dropped by their carriers, it took 5-6 paragraphs, which if you were a guest on Morning Joe or any other “news” program “talking about a lady with stage-4 cancer that’s been kicked off her plan!,” you would have been interrupted a dozen times in the first two paragraphs, and by the third, the host’s eyes would glaze over and they would have quickly moved to the next “expert”. It’s just too hard to understand cause the President lied, ya know.

      • Badgerite

        Yes, but right up front you would want to mention the ban on lifetime limits. Because with a condition like cancer, running up against that limit is a very real possibility, If not today then at some point in the future. And then, when you are sick, and you have reached your insurance policy lifetime medical limit, they take all of your money and your house. Medical bills are the number one cause of personal bankruptcies in this country even for well insured people for a reason (see Elizabeth Warren, now Senator, who did work on this at Harvard) and that reason is lifetime dollar limits on medical insurance benefits. After the ACA, those are gone. Bob is exactly right that in the long run this woman will benefit enormously from this law. The benefit provided is probably worth switching oncologists or GPs. . Her current oncologist or GP can probably recommend a good one at the facility where her insurance would cover it.

    • dbtheonly

      You forgot to add that President Obama has to explain it all in 15 seconds or less ’cause that’s all the time he’ll get on the nightly news.

    • ND52


      “Hostile media environment”? How the hell do you think this loser got elected in the first place????

      Whine and cry much?

      • gendotte

        Because it is getting to the point where most people take the corporate media with a grain of salt. Or a pound. Because they know that the corporate media is not going to jeopodise their money wells by telling the real truth. Sanitized and ignored is how they make their money. The days of an independent news division stopped with the end of the Fairness Doctrine.

      • phylosopher

        thank FAUX NOISE, Roger and Rupie for destroying journalism .

    • Robert Lande

      Spare me the race card. It is ironic that the Democratic party was the party of slavery, segregation, the KKK(the KKK hung blacks and black and white Republicans) , and Jim Crow laws.The Democrats filibustered the Civil Rights acts signed by presidentsEisenhower (R) and Johnson (D). The Democratic Party now enslaves people of all colors by encouraging dependency on government and a philosophy that people ofcolor cannot raise themselves up but must rely on government to do so (which is a racist philosophy and teaches young black children to feel inferior).

  • Tom Blue

    The press would have found something else to cherrypick into a ginned up controversy, if the grandfather clause had not been there. They’ve gone all in trying to help extract the GOP from the mess they made of themselves with the shutdown. I mean, what idiot doesn’t understand the concept of “grandfathered in”? They are just being intentinally obtuse.

  • judi

    YEP….read this story in Sulia, and immediately knew what had happened. Commented as such. As a 3 time cancer survivor…I said I would go to ANY reputable oncologist or good hospital to be treated. This thing about only “second rate care” is also being spread, making them feel like this is all a low budget operation…..which is not true. It is about forcing medical costs down for everybody! But they can’t figure that out……they just want to BIATCH.

    • Clancy

      Agree with you, but understand someone not wanting to switch. The thing is, her choices aren’t really that bad. It wasn’t that she couldn’t keep either doctors, but that she couldn’t find a plan that covered both. I like my GP and my oncologist, but if I had to choose between them, I would definitely go with the oncologist. (And, I’ve finally found a GP that I really, really trust/like.)

      Also, as Bob noted, I like how people (in the media) are pretending that this is something new. I’ve been forced to switch doctors before just because my employer decided to switch insurance companies. I guess that’s not the big, bad government forcing it on me (as it really wasn’t in the case of Sundby), but that’s basically a distinction without a difference. It was momentarily problematic, but I found doctors covered under the new insurance and moved on with my life.

      • beulahmo

        “I’ve been forced to switch doctors before just because my employer decided to switch insurance companies.”
        Thank you! Over the last couple of decades, I’ve been forced to switch doctors so many times I’ve lost count. My (small business) employers were simply trying to avoid being gouged by plan premiums, so I didn’t resent them for switching insurance carriers. But I did learn to resent the whole system of having huge insurance companies in control of who provided my healthcare and what care could be provided/prescribed. And with each new insurance carrier and healthcare plan — always, always — I knew I’d have to be wary of how each one would try to weasel out of covering something. I have to believe most Americans over the age of 30 have had similar experiences, so when they hear stories like this and feel resentment about it, I wonder if it’s toward the government or toward the insurance companies?

        • ChrisAndersen

          The “I want to keep my doctor” argument against government involvement in healthcare never made much sense to me specifically because of this reason. Private insurers were already forcing people to change their doctors, so why should it matter if the government does it?

          The biggest mistake liberals made in the last 40 years was allowing the GOP to sell the idea that government is inherently less capable than private enterprise.

      • i_a_c

        Exactly. People in my family had to grapple with their insurance options a few times through an employer and while it was never an enjoyable experience, it was just part of life. They’ve also had to consider more dramatic options because they were dissatisfied with their employer insurance. And that’s not even considering the mercurial behavior of the individual market.

        Now that ACA happened it’s some kind of scandal that people have to consider their insurance options, like how everyone always had to before.

  • formerlywhatithink

    Meanwhile Avik Roy is flogging this non story about Edie Littlefield Sundby as much as he can on, where else, the editorial pages of Forbes.

    • IrishGrrrl

      I’ve noticed that Forbes has been spitting out a lot of anti-ACA articles lately. Quelle suprise!


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