Obamacare: I Have the Dish

For this week’s syndicated column, I’m going to continue my adventure with Obamacare (spoiler alert: it’s a disaster). Here’s a sneak preview:

Miracle of miracles, I was finally able to comparison shop on New York State’s healthcare marketplace.

If you’re like me, and you have a suffix (Sr., Jr., III, IV, V) in your name, the website does not know what to do. It kind of explodes.

All the plans offered by New York State do not allow you to go “out of network” for healthcare. In other words, you have to use a doctor in each private insurer’s list, or they don’t pay a cent of reimbursement. But — Catch-22 — there’s no way to find out whether your doctor, or your local hospital, or clinic — is on the list because the site’s primitive search function is “disabled” “due to overwhelming response.” Call me underwhelmed.

So that’s that.

Then there’s the rates: not low. Not affordable. Not, as Obama said, comparable to your cellphone bill.

New York State’s healthcare plans range from Fidelis Care’s “Bronze” plan at $810.84 per month to $2554.71 per month for something I didn’t bother to look up because if I had $2500+ a month to spend on doctors, I’d buy a doctor and have him/her live with me and dole out pills like I was Michael Jackson.

The deductibles — the amount you pay out of pocket every year before you the insurer has to give you anything at all — are outrageously high. Fidelis Care Bronze has a $3000/year deductible per person. I’m in pretty good health; it’s a rare year I spend that much on doctors.

After the $3000/year deductible, they pay 50% of your bills. So if you rack up $5000/year in medical bills, you pay $4000 and they pay $1000. Pretty damned crappy.

Worst of all, and contrary to the Obama Administration’s claims that we’d be able to apply for subsidies to offset these high insurance rates, there’s no sign of how or where you do that on New York State’s website.

This experience reminds me of Obama’s Make Home Affordable scheme, the voluntary refinancing plan the big banks used to avoid refinancing mortgages for distressed homeowners. I knew Obamacare would be bad, but I seriously had no idea it would be this bad.


  • This is good and I look forward to it. The costs, right out of the gate, are totally out of control. I simply cannot see any real-world scenario where the working class can afford any of these plans, even with subsidy, for anything useful. The only thing I see the working class or poorer folks can use are the bottom tier plans, which if they make little enough can be free. But — they are useless plans. They would only be useful for catastrophic care. Any regular ongoing care for those “free” plans would be too expensive for a working class person.

    The costs are what’s the real eye-opener here and we need some light on that. Next year when it’s in practice, we need some real-world cases to counteract the Obama propaganda that will keep telling us what a miracle and life-saving effort this is. Bullshit.

    Just wait — ten years (or less) from now this will be totally out of control cost-wise. It will collapse. It simply cannot be sustained.

  • Some young people with rare diseases MIGHT get the great benefit Obama described in his press conference on 1 Oct, where he denounced the shutdown and demanded that the Republicans allow the government to re-open with the ACA. Of course (as he gloated) the ACA was running just fine, since the computers it’s running on don’t use one cent of government money. Anyone could login to healthcare.gov and (he said) get health insurance for less than $100 a month. He showed a young woman standing next to him, and said she had a brain tumour. Before the ACA, should could not get any treatment. But now, with the ACA, she’ll get access to the best physicians and hospitals for less than $100 per month total out-of-pocket cost.

    Of course, those who tried could not get on. healthcare.gov gave me ‘Forbidden’ or ‘Wait’ never, ‘Enter your information and select your plan.’ But with Mr Rall’s suggestion of using Google, I got to the e-health computer that connects Texans with the various exchange plans in Texas, and was told they didn’t have any that would take me.

    A friend sent me a link to the Kaiser estimator. At my age, and with my pre-existing conditions, it said that average premiums for someone like me would be around $7,500 per year with massive deductibles and co-payments (if I were not in Texas).

    The press keeps saying the Republicans are shutting down the government to prevent people from getting affordable care. I’m not sure where this affordable care is that the shutdown is keeping them away from.

    Meanwhile, the Tea Party Republicans all SAY they’re shutting down the government to prevent a plan that would provide the lazy with free healthcare using more than 20% of the US GDP, while the hard workers would only get death panels. This is so far from the truth, the Obamabots are using it to show the complete irresponsibility of everyone opposed to the ACA.

  • ” He showed a young woman standing next to him, and said she had a brain tumour. Before the ACA, should could not get any treatment. But now, with the ACA, she’ll get access to the best physicians and hospitals for less than $100 per month total out-of-pocket cost.”

    Yes, as I noted — catastrophic health care problems will definitely be easier with Obamacare. Instead of being totally ruined financially, you’d only be out the yearly/lifetime maximums. That’s better than being out hundreds of thousands for cancer care.

    But, what about the person who has chronic ailments that require ongoing doctor visits and treatment? What about the person that has asthma, or diabetes? They need to see their specialist a few times per year and treatments/medications. For this type of situation, it’s terrible. As noted, the bronze plans are useless. Then, it’s matter of “do you want to pay more upfront, or pay more later”. Either way, you’ll be paying through the nose. I would suggest people would be better off just paying out of pocket, provided nothing catastrophic happens to you.

    People simply cannot afford these premiums. Hell, I make good money and I am outraged I need to fork over $4k for a silver plan, $6k for gold — and that’s the premiums alone. That doesn’t include deductibles and significant co-pays.

    This whole fucking thing is a god damn racket, a giveaway to insurance companies. We noted this then, and now we know it’s true. AND — these prices are going only one way: up.

  • alex_the_tired
    October 7, 2013 4:23 PM

    I keep hearing about this woman with a brain tumor.

    Does she have a name? Will she tearfully tell us about Kuwaiti babies being removed from incubators and left on the hospital floor to die?

    Why are NONE of these things ever pursued by the media?

  • […] Obamacare: I Have the Dish Ted Rall (Lambert). OMG, if there is only one link you read today, it needs to be this one. Get a load of some of the key bits: […]

  • @Ted: The site is back to “pre-fundraiser” performance levels. We’re back to 10-15 second page loads being the norm. Totally unacceptable. If complaints about Obamacare sites are the flavor of the day, clean up your house. If the site goes back to being essentially unusable, that could be it for rall.com. We had decent performance for a few months, so why the backslide?

    • @ex: Quite right about my website. We are running slow because we are currently preparing a complete relaunch within a week or two. So we’re kind of neglecting the existing site as we gear up for the new one. Sorry about the delays. I promise, it’s going to get better. Hopefully we’ll do a little bit better than the affordable care act.

  • @Ted: Cool — thanks for the update.

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