Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The LuLac Edition #2605, February 19th, 2014

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So many Republicans in this country are telling us how health care will not work. But it is a Godsend for those people in their fifties and sixties who are stuck right in the middle of the health care vise that has been squeezing them for over a decade and a half. From the Huffington Post, stories about how Obama Care is working out for these people. They are not illegal immigrants, they are not on welfare, they have been paying their own way. Finally they are getting a break, a break they will willingly pay for.
For many older Americans who lost jobs during the recession, the quest for health care has been one obstacle after another. They're unwanted by employers, rejected by insurers, struggling to cover rising medical costs and praying to reach Medicare age before a health crisis.
These luckless people, most in their 50s and 60s, have emerged this month as early winners under the nation's new health insurance system. Along with their peers who are self-employed or whose jobs do not offer insurance, they have been signing up for coverage in large numbers, submitting new-patient forms at doctor's offices and filling prescriptions at pharmacies.
"I just cried I was so relieved," said Maureen Grey, a 58-year-old Chicagoan who finally saw a doctor this month after a fall in September left her in constant pain. Laid off twice from full-time jobs in the past five years, she saw her income drop from $60,000 to $17,800 a year. Now doing temp work, she was uninsured for 18 months before she chose a marketplace plan for $68 a month.
Americans ages 55 to 64 make up 31 percent of new enrollees in the new health insurance marketplaces, the largest segment by age group, according to the federal government's latest figures. They represent a glimmer of success for President Barack Obama's beleaguered law.
The Great Recession hit them hard and for some its impact has lingered.
Aging boomers are more likely to be in debt as they enter retirement than were previous generations, with many having purchased more expensive homes with smaller down payments, said economist Olivia Mitchell of University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. One in five has unpaid medical bills and 17 percent are underwater with their home values. Fourteen percent are uninsured.
As of December, 46 percent of older jobseekers were among the long-term unemployed compared with less than 25 percent before the recession.
And those financial setbacks happened just as their health care needs became more acute. Americans in their mid-50s to mid-60s are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than other age groups, younger or older, accounting for 3 in 10 of the adult diabetes diagnoses in the United States each year. And every year after age 50, the rate of cancer diagnosis climbs.
The affordable coverage is "an answer to a prayer really," said Laura Ingle, a 57-year-old Houston attorney who had been denied coverage repeatedly because she has sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease. She recently had back surgery for a painful condition that's been bothering her for months.
One night in September, 64-year-old Glenn Nishimura woke up with wrenching pain that sent him to the emergency room. It was his gallbladder. A doctor recommended surgery.
Instead, Nishimura went home. A consultant to nonprofit groups, he was self-employed and uninsured.</ "I checked myself out because I had no idea what this was going to cost," the Little Rock, Ark., man said. "They didn't want me to go, but they didn't stop me."
Nishimura lost his coverage after leaving a full-time position with benefits in 2007, thinking he could land another good job. The recession ruined that plan. After COBRA coverage expired, he was denied coverage because of high blood pressure and other conditions.
He made it until September without a major illness. A second night of gallbladder pain and a chat with a doctor persuaded him to have the surgery. After getting the bills, he negotiated the fees down to $12,000, which he considered "a big hit, but it could have been worse." The average cost of a gallbladder removal in Arkansas was listed at three times that. Nishimura dipped into his savings to cover the bill.
In December, he chose a bronze plan on the new insurance marketplace that costs him $285 a month after a tax credit. The deductible is $6,300, so he hopes he doesn't have to use his coverage. He can get on Medicare in April, just in time for his annual checkup.
"Now there's the peace of mind of knowing the limits of my obligation if I have catastrophic health needs," he said.
Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger said he's noticed a recent increase in patients in this age group at his family practice in Miami. Lots of them have untreated chronic conditions that have progressed to an advanced stage.
"Many have delayed necessary treatments due to costs and expect a total and quick workup on their first visit," he said, adding they want referrals to specialists and tests including colonoscopies and mammograms.
The abundance of older patients signing up is no surprise to the Obama administration, which conducted internal research last year that showed the "sick, active and worried" would be the most responsive to messages urging them to seek coverage.
Signing up younger, healthier enrollees is seen as more difficult, but crucial to keeping future insurance rates from increasing. The administration said those age groups may put off enrolling until closer to the March 31 deadline.
"We have always anticipated that those with more health needs would sign up early on, and that young and healthy people would wait until the end," administration spokeswoman Joanne Peters said.
Some of the aging boomers were determined to get coverage in the marketplace, despite repeated problems and frustration with the federal website.
The hours spent online and over the phone paid off for real estate agent Greg Burke and his beautician wife, Pat. The empty-nesters qualified for a tax credit that will lower their monthly health insurance premiums by nearly half.
The Burkes, from Akron, Ohio, are among the 38 percent of marketplace enrollees in the state between 55 and 64 years old. He's 61 and had a knee replaced six years ago.
They will now spend $250 a month for health insurance, "a huge savings," Greg Burke said. Their deductibles also dropped from $2,500 each to $750 each, meaning they will pay less out of pocket.
In Miami, licensed practical nurse Marie Cadet, who is 54, often works double shifts to make ends meet for herself and her 12-year-old daughter. She had been paying more than $150 a month for health insurance, with a $3,000 deductible. In effect, she paid most medical costs out of her own pocket, including about $80 a month for blood pressure medicine.
After choosing a plan from the marketplace, Cadet's monthly payment dropped to $86 a month, with the government kicking in $300. Her deductible fell to a more affordable $900.
"Now," Cadet said, "I'm not scared anymore."

Associated Press writers Ramit Plushnick-Masti in Houston, Ann Sanner in Columbus, Ohio, and Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., contributed to this report. Huffington Post.


At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Professor Milburn Cleaver, OPA said...

Good morning students,
As much as I admire Mr. Yonki for his intelligence and wit, I must take exception to his views on Obamacare. The example listed are a mere molehill on a mountain of despair amongst the majority of Americans who have been victimized by this national health insurance debacle.
As I am on a very limited schedule this morning ( I have an appointment with one of my physicians) , I will provide a more detailed retort to his paper at a later date.
However, I shall close this brief session with a very simple synopsis of the status of health care in this nation.
The vast majority of the American public who are uninsured (and, to be fair some insured) eat unhealthy foods each day. They do not exercise choosing to watch the idiot box instead. They drink excessive amounts of alcohol. They intake unholy amounts of prescription and illegal narcotics. They smoke cigarettes…etc. etc.
And when they day comes that they get sick……….they want “ME” to pay for it?????!!!?????
Something to think about this morning……
Class Dismissed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its becoming more apparent that ObamaCare is sucking the life out of our economy.

Too many, like our blog editor are grasping for anecdotal evidence to support a crumbling premise.

There are too many REAL people that are getting hurt.

At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:50 PM

Too many "real" people getting hurt.

Examples please.
Has anyone been denied service? The only people that will have to adjust our the big insurance companies like Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Billions in service to providers but still 2 billion left over. C'mon. Are they the "real" people? At least Yonk had come up with a source.
Facts please.

At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Originally, my health insurance provider told me that my plan wasn't going to be canceled. The agent just said it wouldn't qualify under Obamacare and so, I'd have to pay a tax to keep it. That tax is a bit more substantial than you may have heard. If you don't have health insurance that meets the standards of Obamacare or isn't covered at all, the tax isn't just $95 next year; it's $95 or 1% of your income -- whichever is higher. Of course, that's just what it costs on year one. By 2016, the tax will be $695 per person or 2.5% of your income, whichever is higher.

Incidentally, that breaks another famous promise that Barack Obama made when he was originally running for office. Back then, he said, "I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

It's also worth noting that tax wouldn't be what I would pay for refusing to buy insurance; that's the tax I would pay to continue being insured under a plan that doesn't meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, I didn't even have that option. A few days ago, I received a robo-call from my health insurance provider telling me there are going to be changes to my health care plan beginning at the start of the year because of the Affordable Care Act. After calling in, I found that the "change" is that my plan is being cancelled.

It's difficult to blame my insurance company for that. After all, it's hard for a service to be viable when the government forces consumers who buy it to pay a massive new tax for the privilege.

So, since my old plan is going away, I asked what the cheapest comparable plan that meets the standards of the Affordable Care Act will be. As you might suspect, there is a substantial price increase involved.

Currently, I pay $191 per month. That will go up to $274. That's nearly $1000 a year more for a service that I already have. In addition, the deductible on my current plan is $200 and that will be going up to $6000.

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That breaks yet another famous promise that Barack Obama made, "I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family's premium by up to $2,500 a year."

Setting aside the fact that it's projected that more than 30 million Americans won't be covered under Obamacare, most Americans will be paying more. Insurance premiums are going up under Obamacare in 45 out of 50 states. As bad as that sounds, I still feel fortunate after some of the stories that have been in the news. When you hear about people who are going to be paying an extra $6000 a year out of $47,000 in income or people whose rates are going up tenfold from $54 a month to $591, it's hard to complain.

Yet and still, the high prices people are being asked to pay today are just the beginning. The massive new bureaucracy, reams of red tape, and reduced competition caused by Obamacare are going to cause insurance costs to soar into the stratosphere over the next few years. In return for unnecessarily throwing away more of our income on health insurance, we'll face doctor shortages, a reduced quality of care, and death panels arbitrarily cutting off and delaying effective treatments to save the government money. Meanwhile, the government workers implementing the plan don't have Obamacare while Congress and its aides are illegally getting a 75% subsidy that the rest of us are being forced to pay for on top of the higher costs created by the law.

Tens of millions of Americans are losing their insurance, paying more out of pocket, and being forced to buy plans they never wanted in the first place by people who are exempt from the law they're forcing on the public. The law couldn't pass today and had Obama told the truth instead of lying shamelessly, even Democrats would have never voted for this law in the first place. A law built on lies that hurts tens of millions of Americans just to further Barack Obama's political goals is immoral, unjust, and should not be allowed to stand.


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