“Congratulations, You’re on Welfare”

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 18 2014 3:22 PM

“Congratulations, You’re on Welfare”

My piece from yesterday about the progressive health reform advocates' inability to tell a positive story generated some interesting mail from readers. While I race toward an unrelated deadline, I can share some of the good stuff. From Courtney, a reform advocate:

I know this likely reads like a rant and, perhaps, it is in a way, but my heart breaks that, for all intents and purposes, previously dedicated consumer advocates have rolled over like beaten dogs in their quest to convince people this is a great thing.  And, I am not so blind as to not realize that for many, it may well be a beneficial alternative to current situations but that's not my point.

My point is, why is no one on this side of the fence (progressives) talking about the dangerous weaknesses in the bill and propose improvements to it.  The only "improvements" we hear about are those proposed by the right.  We would not get any such improvement at this time, but setting the stage for the need for them is necessary and also it would be a relief to hear some progressives actually talking about the best interests of the consumers on this issue vs the current wall of silence.

The lack of honesty does not serve anyone well; there have already been stories of how surprised people were to find their doctors of decades are not covered, how their essential medications for serious illnesses are not covered, how they did not understand how high the out of pocket expenses are, etc.

I'm convinced this absurd brief enrollment period was designed to stifle such inquiries; people were made to pretty much rush through this process in choosing plans, then having to sit on hold as I did (for a total 3 hours, 14 minutes for two phone calls to the Exchange here in NY), to sign up quickly to not miss the deadline even as their website was down (again, as I did but eventually changed to another plan when I had more time to research them).

I am disheartened to see that the only people pointing out the pitfalls of this are people on the right and they are doing so mostly because of their concerns for business, not their constituents.
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A professor named John:

I am a 30-something professor and pastor who was denied health coverage several years ago after being diagnosed with, and treated for, cancer.  I supported the ACA when it was passed, breathed a sigh of relief when SCOTUS upheald it, and was relieved to see how affordable coverage would be for my family of five when Kentucky's Exchange opened for business late last year.  I am glad to be able to pay for affordable health care once again.
To prove your point, just this past week I was visiting with my grandmother.  She hasn't kept up with my health care saga and was shocked to learn how the ACA had helped me and my family.  She told me that she had not heard of one person who the law had helped (she had only heard of those who did not like it).  Now she knows of at least one, and she was very happy for me.
I wish there was more attention given to folks with stories like mine.  I'm not opposed to hearing about those for whom the ACA is making things more difficult--those are important stories and need to be taken into account--but they are not the only stories!  There are even folks who support the law even though health care is more expensive for them under the ACA. The truth, as always, is more complex than many news outlets and their viewers want it to be.

And from a reader named Brian:

I am one of the people that has been helped by Obamacare. My policy costs $284.50. After a subsidy of $282, I pay $2.50 a month net. It has a $500 deductible with a $750 total out of pocket. I was flabbergasted that it was such a deal. I told friends about this and the first person, instead of being happy for me, said, "Congratulations, you are now on welfare, you should be so proud." This pretty much shut me up and made me feel embarrassed about the subsidy. I dont look at it as welfare but I guess a lot of people do.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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