Friday, November 22, 2013

#326 / Ms. Hopkins' Complaint

Nicole Hopkins is a writer who lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother, Charlene Hopkins, lives in Pierce County Washington. I know this because I read an opinion piece published in the November 21, 2013 edition of The Wall Street Journal. The Journal column was authored by the younger Ms. Hopkins. She has a complaint, and this complaint is apparently shared by her mother.

The older Ms. Hopkins has been paying for catastrophic level health care coverage, and that coverage has been costing her $276 per month. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, her current health care policy will be terminated on December 31, 2013. This phenomenon is occurring all over the country. You have probably been reading about this in the newspapers. It is too bad for President Obama that he said something that turns out not to have been true: "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period." This misstatement has been causing him a lot of political grief. 

Let us examine the case of Ms. Hopkins, however, to see what kind of a legitimate complaint she really has because she "can't keep her current health care plan." First, to reiterate, it is absolutely true that Ms. Hopkins' insurance provider is going to terminate her current $276/month plan. The company has offered her another policy, that will comply with the coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act, but that policy would cost her $415.20 per month. That is not affordable for Ms. Hopkins (the mother), and she is really mad because the replacement policy, were she to be able to pay for it, would provide her coverage that she doesn't need. Maternity care, for instance. In other words, it appears that the Affordable Care Act is making Ms. Hopkins pay for coverage she doesn't need, and will raise her health care insurance costs - pretty much the opposite of the "affordable" promise implied in the name of the new health care law. 

But wait! There is more to the story. 

As it turns out, Ms. Hopkins, like everyone else whose current health care insurance policy is being terminated, can utilize an online health care exchange to find other (and hopefully "affordable") options.

And Ms. Hopkins did go online, using a site called "Washington Apple Health." (The younger Ms. Hopkins doesn't like the name).

What does the Washington Apple Health site tell the older Ms. Hopkins? 

Here's the terrible news: Ms. Hopkins can be enrolled in Medicaid, providing her much better coverage than she is currently receiving, and her cost will be: ZERO! 

That's right, the older Ms. Hopkins can get better health care for free, under the Affordable Care Act, and boy is she mad!

She and her daughter believe that this is "demoralizing." She wants to be self-sufficient, and she is offended that the United States Government has decided that virtually every person in the country should be covered for their fundamental health care needs. 

Are you offended, too? I am not.

I think we are "all in this together," and it's a good thing that we are going to "self-insure," as a nation, and make sure that ALL of us get affordable health care. 

I'm sorry that the President said something that turns out not to have been true. I am also sorry that the website implementation didn't work well, right out of the box. 

But I am NOT sorry (or offended) that Ms. Hopkins and millions of other Americans can now get adequate health care (including maternity care, for those who need it), and that we are making sure that it's affordable, and are raising the revenues to provide that care at the cost (to Ms. Hopkins) of ZERO.

I don't call that "dependency," as she does. I call it a national commitment to better health. Check out the image above. We just extended the umbrella.

I am NOT pissed!

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