Monday, July 20, 2009

Why I mistrust Obamacare, pt 1

This is what I wrote in response to dday's "Whitling Down to Nothing" at Digby's Hullabaloo earlier this month.

First, I quoted another commenter, "pataphysician":

"I'm worried that a Health Care "reform" bill will be passed and signed that will include mandates, and taxing of Employer health benefits, with no public option and only subsidies for those who rank among the poor. Obama ran against many of these ideas, only to say now that he is Ok with them. That he says that now, makes me worried that they will happen. This would be much, much worse than our current system, as we will all be paying taxes essentially to private insurance companies for some of the crappiest care possible."

[incidentally, the comment thread led me to believe that Digby's commenters, by and large, seem to "get it" more than the people who write the blog. The bloggers are undoubtedly decent and well-meaning, but their perspective seems compromised by their apparent need to carry water for supposedly mainstream congressional democrats.-JV]

I wrote:

As Digby said earlier, if any sort of healthcare reform bill passes, the democrats will own it. Mandates and extra taxes will stoke class resentment while essentially helping nobody-- apart from the private insurance companies and people eager to paint democrats as being the stuff of the worst republican stereotypes: intrusive government(mandates), and more taxes for negligible benefits that only accrue to the very poor.

I am poor, and I don't want the democrat's plan. It's not because I'm stupid, but because it will likely cause me harm and make me poorer still. Consider: if a plan with mandates forcing employers to provide health insurance for their workers or for individuals to buy their own insurance passes, poor people like me will just have to hand over a certain portion of our very meager incomes to insurance companies for worthless insurance plans just so we can "stay legal."

Oh, but what about your employer? If your subsistence job as a cashier used to offer no benefits, now it will have to...

I doubt it. Far more likely I will lose my job and be reoffered the same job, only reclassified as an "independent contractor," doing the same work after agreeing to the new job(shh! employment contract) description in which I "voluntarily" surrender my benefits. Maybe my employer will even provide a handy toll-free number to call where I can have a call center rep offer me advice on how to score government benefits, or choose between private plans.

well, if that happens, you would get assistance paying for your insurance from the government...

I doubt this too. The 1st TNR article you quote says that subsidies presently taper off at around 88 thou for a family of four. How much do you want to bet this will be adjusted downward in the negotiation towards a final bill, and that if I get a job that pays as little as ten bucks an hour I will suddenly find myself making too much for the subsidy? (And besides, why should I be humbled into accepting a subsidy because I'm suddenly obligated to by insurance? Screw paternalistic politicians of all stripes, on both the left and the right, who want me to beg.)

Well, at least you'll have insurance...

Will I? Digby and dday, I invite you to go to some online price-comparison service that offers health insurance quotes. If you do go to such a site(they often have ads on Yahoo and other mass portals), you'll see that many of the larger insurance companies offer multiple insurance products, that range from over 500 bucks a month to less than 100/month.

If I'm making 10 or even 11 an hour, even if single and without dependents like me, the bells-and-whistles policies are essentially out of reach, and all I might hope to afford is a sub-100/month policy.

They usually have a 5,000/yr dollar deductible. I saw one company that also offered a max deductible of 7500/yr. Generally these policies only pay once you've met the deductible, period. No payment for a routine dr's visit, or even to go to the emergency room, and no prescription drug benefit.(I've also seen slightly more "expensive" plans that do offer prescription drug coverage, usually paying 50% of the cash cost, usually with a 500 or 1,000/yr limit.

So, if it plays out as I've suggested, and if I'm making 10 bucks an hour(I wish!)and don't qualify for a subsidy, maybe I'll have to shell out 600,700,800 or more bucks a year for phoney-baloney coverage, even though I'm poor, just so the government doesn't fine me and pays me my tax refund.(Money I could be otherwise spending, on say, actual healthcare, like when I need to fill a prescription.)

No thanks.

If this kind of twisted "health care reform" passes, it'll be worse if than nothing passes for the working poor.

In fact it will also make subsequent fixing of the bad law substantially harder, because the private insurance companies will fight like hell to hold on to the subsidy they gained under Obama in 2009.

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At July 20, 2009 8:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My view on the health care plan was stated at my blog.

At July 20, 2009 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading d-day's essay I am left with the sad realization that most of the Donklebots actually believe that:

1) it matters whether the Democrats have a "magical 60 votes" to pass actual meaningful changes

2) it matters whether there is "bipartisan support" as a topical, public-affairs issue

3) it matters whether something "can make it through the Congress" and therefore a lot of compromises must be struck

What the Donkle really doesn't understand is how this shit works. They think that the process is everything. They don't realize that the process is a charade, and the desired result is already foretold by the DNC and DLC, who are owned by all those who have worked together to drive health care beyond affordability, beyond reason, beyond fairness, beyond justification.

I don't understand how people can be as stupid and deluded, as blind and moronic, as the Donkle.

At July 21, 2009 9:47 AM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

I don't know just how "magical" those 60 votes are, considering they include the likes of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson.

And of course, far more to the point, if controlling both houses and the White House still means that single-payer is dead in the water and the only viable bills will help insurance companies remain firmly in the driver's seat, how does it actually even matter?

At July 21, 2009 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


to you and me and many others (but not too many, of course), the answer should be obvious... and it is this:

1) If real meaningful legislative action requires domination of both House and Senate, the Democrats have no excuses. They have control of the full Congress.

2) If the Democrats control the full Congress and there is an opportunity to create legislative repairs for health care (for example), and no efforts arise, then the obvious conclusion is that the Congress does not want to do anything to fix health care.

It's surprising how quickly the Congress rallied in a "bipartisan fashion" to hand billions to Wall Street, to AIG, to other segments of the financial world -- isn't it?

The self-delusion required to believe the Congress really wants to fix health care, but cannot... it's stunning.

At July 23, 2009 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the real problem on health care, both as it is being discussed at the fed level and as it is discussed in the blogworld, is this:

those who are discussing health care are not poor people who have been without health insurance, or health care, for many years.

None of them knows what it's like for us who do not have health insurance and have not had it for many years. They are comfortable, they have health benefits, and they pay very little out-of-pocket for health care. They have no clue how it affects people who don't have such advantages.

The liberal - progressive blogworld is populated by similar people, and/or those who simply subjugate themselves to whatever their "hero" (i.e. Obama) tells them... regardless of their personal reality. A lot of bloggers like Digby and dday are dunces. They're not at all "well-meaning." They're stooges. Someone who has the intellect to see the world clearly, yet chooses to be another's lackey, that person is NOT well-meaning.


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