Obamacare = health care for the poor

I’m the secretary for the MIT Class of 1982. I recently sent out a request for news to be published in our alumni magazine. I asked folks if they had anything interesting/exciting/funny to share that related to Obamacare. I promised anonymity to anyone who was involved with the healthcare.gov debacle. This unleashed a firestorm of rage from Obama supporters and I was accused of “ridiculing efforts to provide health care to the poor.” Nobody questioned the equation of Obamacare with “health care for the poor.”

Given that this is a group with a lot of age, experience, and education, I think it is safe to say that Obamacare has won the PR battle. A fair number of people are attributing to it all of the things that they like about Medicaid (the actual government program to provide health care to the poor, established in 1965). I wrote about this in November 2012 and I’m wondering to what extent it is possible for politicians to take credit for doing things that the government is already doing. Could a politician convince voters, for example, that prior to his election there were no streets? That they needed to vote for him and his party in order that surface transportation remained possible? Probably not, but presumably there are harder-to-observe portions of government where the public might forget that a service predated a politician’s claim to have delivered it.

Anyway, it seems as though Obamacare will be permanent because all that supporters need to do to shut down any criticism is to assert that the critic is trying to strip poor people of health care. Especially at Christmas it would take quite the Scrooge to suggest that less than 100 percent of GDP might be spent on aiding the suffering.

[I should add that the most vociferous supporters of Obamacare among the class members, and the ones most likely to take the position that every American had a moral duty to support both President Obama and Obamacare, were physicians, i.e., folks who will draw approximately 67 percent of their revenue from the government. (source: Forbes). Employees of Lockheed Martin must be jealous.  If you say that you'd rather our national wealth be spent on something other than the government giving them $200 million for an extra F-35 fighter plane, Lockheed Martin workers who would collect some of this as salary can't call you immoral.]

13 Comments

  1. Election 2014

    December 24, 2013 @ 5:08 am

    1

    It’s becoming amazingly clear that most Harvard and MIT graduates are educated idiots, present company excluded, of course.

    “Anyway, it seems as though Obamacare will be permanent because all that supporters need to do to shut down any criticism is to assert that the critic is trying to strip poor people of health care.”

    This doesn’t work outside the coasts. Obamacare is basically poison everywhere else.

  2. jerry

    December 24, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

    2

    While I wouldn’t say Medicaid wasn’t real before, isn’t Medicaid expansion new, real, and helping out a lot more of the previously uninsured poor?

    (How many more people than before will Medicaid expansion cover?)

  3. Josh

    December 24, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

    3

    Considering there are people who stick up for Joe McCarthy and think that without Reagan Russia would still be the Soviet Union, this doesn’t seem like a new concept. Without either, the Communists would have taken over! Nevermind the fact US Communists existed in minute numbers, the Soviets were perfectly capable of spying on our military and diplomatic outposts regardless of who was in office, and neither side had much effect on anything… but without us, the United States wouldn’t exist!

    Every year candidates try to out-toughen each other on crime even though we’ve supposedly been at war with crime since 1960 and we have at least a dozen federal agencies not to mention the myriad of state and local agencies that help fight crime.

    Without your vote, your children won’t be able to walk the streets at night, your daughters will be raped, the Communists will take over, etc. It’s all so damn boring.

    Sarcastically, most Interstates are named after the guys who headed the committees that originally built them, so technically, yes, without them, there would have been no roads. :)

  4. Eric Shun

    December 25, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

    4

    To comply with obamacare, my high-deductible individual heath insurance plan doubled from $250 per month to $500 per month.

  5. Make Me Anonymous Please

    December 25, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

    5

    I actually filled out the online form for Obamacare, not really knowing what it was all about. I plan to work as an adjunct professor next semester. Anyway, it said that based on my adjunct salary I was too poor to receive Obamacare and would be enrolled in in Medicaid. I’m actually planning to buy my own insurance so this doesn’t seem to help me at all.

  6. Make Me Anonymous Please

    December 25, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

    6

    Here are the results of my application (identifying information excluded):

    Family Member(s) “Make Me Anonymous Please”

    Results “May be eligible for Medicaid”

    Next Steps “You will receive a final decision from [Make Me Anonymous Please] If you qualify for Medicaid, you won’t qualify for a tax credit and lower copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles for Health Insurance Marketplace coverage.

    Here is the deal: I don’t want Medicaid. I want help paying for my health insurance. I want and am able at this point to buy my own health insurance. I want Blue Cross Blue Shield. Any ideas?

  7. Make Me Anonymous Please

    December 25, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

    7

    I should add, that now that I have filled out the online form for Obamacare, I still don’t know what it is all about. The gist of the questions seemed to be very concerned about if I have ever been on government assistance (no, I have not) if I have ever been incarcerated (no, I have not) and the program repeatedly asked me questions about my race, even after I claimed once what my supposed “ethnicity” was.

    There is a clear “maximum” to receive assistance from Obamacare, based on my “results”. What is the minimum?

  8. Randy

    December 25, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

    8

    Obamacare is also for those with a pre-existing condition who couldn’t get health insurance or change jobs because they would lose their health insurance. I was incredibly relieved by the passage of Obamacare because I knew that my college aged daughter with a chronic condition could get health insurance (outside of Massachusetts) after she graduated.

    It is also for entrepreneurs who might be stuck in a job just to keep health insurance for their family. By being able to purchase reasonably priced insurance (even with an existing condition), they can take the risks of going out on their own.

    Sure it helps the poor (who had to piece together care), but it helps a lot of other folks too. I am thinking the wealthy don’t really need quite as much help in this area and that is ok too.

  9. CHenry

    December 25, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

    9

    I guess the prohibition against exclusions of preexisting conditions is a positive thing. It should actually promote community rating vice the standards that existed before.

    I am not so sure how people who have been barely able to afford coverage are better served by super-high deductible plans they are now compelled to buy at the bottom of the price scale of the metals plans on the exchanges. Assuming they do not qualify for Medicaid.

    I am not sure people directed to Medicaid will find doctors when their plan does not pay enough to cover the overhead for their services and the states continue to treat Medicaid claims as they do: paying months late or not paying at all when their oversubscribed budgets run dry, or by the myriad Medicaid HMOs already notorious for non-payment. Feeding even more people into disreputable government plans hardly can be called providing “coverage.”

    I am not sure how much interest those at the bottom of the payscale who use hospital emergency rooms for their emergent and non-emergent needs will be encouraged to do differently, particularly if they are not accustomed to paying their charges as-is. There doesn’t seem to be much incentive for those to do differently. It would appear the expectation of the administration is that these folks will enroll because it its the right thing to do. Will they enroll to avoid tax penalties? I wonder. If your exposure on declared income is minimal, I can’t see what motivation a minimal “penalty” would offer to do differently. They still can’t be turned away, even if they have Medicaid and could use a Federally-Qualified Health Clinic to receive non-emergent services at much lower cost.

  10. Make Me Anonymous Please

    December 25, 2013 @ 10:16 pm

    10

    The responses thus far are enlightening. Well, in any regard, I’d still like to get some clarification on what Obamacare is about, if it can help me, and if I am now forced to take Medicaid although I want and am willing to pay for my own health insurance. Since I am writing this post from the first class seat on a major airline (although an upgrade) I don’t think I fit into the classification of someone who really needs Medicaid and I do not want to take it. I’m interested now if I am forced to take it, by the government.

    I’d also be interested to see if the policy helps one of my family relatives who is very ill and elderly and does fall into some of the categories that Obamacare does claim to assist. Will find out more as the saga unfolds and post back.

  11. dsgntd_plyr

    December 26, 2013 @ 11:52 am

    11

    “I think it is safe to say that Obamacare has won the PR battle. A fair number of people are attributing to it all of the things that they like about Medicaid (the actual government program to provide health care to the poor, established in 1965). I wrote about this in November 2012 and I’m wondering to what extent it is possible for politicians to take credit for doing things that the government is already doing.”

    I’ve pointed this out to progressive Obama supporters and it only pisses them off. The 26yo provision is an extension of the 25 yo rule via Clinton. And so is most of the pre-existing conditons parts of the ACA. Plus COBRA takes care of (most) people between jobs.

  12. Eric Shun

    December 26, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

    12

    @Randy: “Obamacare is also for those with a pre-existing condition who couldn’t get health insurance…”

    Didn’t need obamacare to protect against this. Why not just simply prohibit insurers from denying coverage due to a pre-existing condition?

    “Obamacare is also for those…[who] change jobs because they would lose their health insurance.”

    Again, didn’t need obamacare to protect against this. One could always buy an individual health insurance plan, often at reasonable rates and much lower than obamacare rates, through ehealthinsurance.com

  13. Neal

    December 26, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

    13

    Eric,

    If we “simply prohibit insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing condition” without requiring everyone to purchase insurance, the insurance market would collapse. No one would buy insurance until they got sick.

    “One could always buy an individual health insurance plan…through ehealthinsurance.com” IF you didn’t have a pre-existing condition. Note that before Obama care, you didn’t actually have to be sick to be denied coverage; many insurers considered high cholesterol a sufficient reason to deny coverage.

    Even if you managed to get insurance on the individual market or through a small employer, you weren’t out of the woods. If you got sick with a chronic condition, your (or your employer’s) policy might not be renewed leaving you uninsured and uninsurable.

    Even if you were employed with a large employer, if you became too sick to work you would lose your insurance once COBRA runs out (6-12 months).

    Philip’s point is valid though. Once you became impoverished (lost your house, cars, and bank accounts), Medicaid was (and still is) there to help pay for medical care.

Log in