The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):


  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”


Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

One person's experience with “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.”

David Frum has recently written a column on The Daily Beast’s site, dated Oct. 29, 2013, entitled “The Obamacare Ripoff: More Money for Less Insurance,” and beginning with the following header:

The president said over and over again that if I liked my health insurance I could keep it. Now I'm one of the thousands of people with canceled policies.


The actual text of the posting follows:

It's always exciting to be part of a chapter in American history. I happen to be one of the hundreds of thousands of people whose insurance coverage was canceled for not complying with the terms of the Affordable Care Act. As a result, not only will I pay more, but I have had to divert many otherwise useful hours to futzing around with websites and paperwork.

President Obama promised, “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.” It was a more ambiguous promise than it sounded. Who likes his or her health insurance? But it was there, and it did its job.

I probably need to be clear straight off that I am not presenting myself as any kind of hard-luck case. Maybe from some social justice perspective it's perfectly fair and reasonable to load all the costs of health reform onto people like me. The trouble is, this administration has been less than candid about what those costs would be.

As best I can tell, the ACA will require me to pay $200 a month more for a policy that is marginally worse than the one I have now.


Get that? He’s going to get a plan that is worse, albeit only “marginally,” than his present plan, yet he’s going to have to pay $200 more per month — $2400 per year — than he’s paying now.

Here's the before and after contrast:

My family was enrolled in a Carefirst high-deductible plan that cost $667.63 per month. In-network deductible, $5,400; out of network, $10,800. Out-of-pocket limit: $6,400 in-network; $12,800 out of network. The plan was joined to an HSA.


Now, before getting into the details of what he has to settle for under the ACA, Frum makes an observation that I’d never seen before:

The ACA was ingeniously designed to deliver benefits to Democratic constituencies and impose costs on Republican ones.


I wish he’d been more explicit there; I’d have liked to see this spelled out in some detail. But he now goes on:

The most directly comparable plan on the D.C. health exchange will cost $865. The deductibles are somewhat higher: $6,000 and $12,000. The out-of-pocket limits are very slightly lower: $6,000 and $12,000.

That $200 a month differential seems to be the cost of community rating: I had to answer a bunch of questions about my health before qualifying for my prior plan; the new plan will be issued, no questions asked. Presumably somewhere there is a D.C. resident who smokes or who has some pre-existing condition who will receive a corresponding $200 a month windfall.

If that extra $2,400 per year in insurance premiums were the end of my ACA costs, I'd congratulate myself on getting off easy: I'll also be paying considerably more than that in higher taxes to support the program. As I said, I'm not a hard-luck case.


Now Frum repeats himself – perhaps he didn’t proofread his post carefully:

The ACA was ingeniously designed to deliver benefits to Democratic constituencies and impose costs on Republican ones. The big surprise in the ACA rollout is that this design is going awry. It's not only plutocrats and one-percenters who will find themselves worse off; not only the comparatively affluent retirees enrolled in Medicare Plus programs. Self-employed professionals who earn too much to qualify for ACA subsidies will soon discover what I have discovered: They are paying more for a worse product.


Frum then goes on with an observation about politics in the District of Columbia, which is worth reading as well:

The District of Columbia is an expensive place in which to live. Those Washingtonians who earn too much to qualify for subsidies probably do not regard themselves as wealthy. An extra $2,400 a year to keep a high-deductible policy may feel to many of them like—if not a hardship—then certainly a serious nuisance. Unlike me, they probably voted for President Obama. Unlike me, they probably believed his promise that the ACA would deliver improvements for them personally.

How do they feel right now? Or, more exactly, how will they feel when and if they find the time to work their way through the kludgey website to discover what I've discovered?


Need anything be added to this? Probably not.

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