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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

From HONOLULU – December 23, 2013  President Obama has enrolled in the federal health-care insurance exchanges, selecting just a bronze-tiered insurance plan on the D.C. marketplace, the White House announced today – Monday.

 Obama signed up for coverage over the weekend during the start of his holiday vacation here in Hawaii in what a White House official described as a “symbolic” act to promote the Affordable Care Act, his signature legislative achievement.

The president’s health care will continue to be provided by the military, according to a statement distributed to reporters from a White House official who demanded anonymity.

Still, the White House official added, Obama “was pleased to participate in a plan as a show of support for these marketplaces which are providing quality, affordable health-care options to more than a million people.”

Also, the deadline for Americans to sign up through this new federal health insurance exchange for health plans that begin Jan. 1, 2014 was extended from midnight Monday – to Christmas eve – Tuesday  – to give last-minute shoppers an extra day to enroll.

About the Obama enrollment, we understand that while he is President he just does not need this insurance because the military will take care of him in any case. Our question is what happens after he leaves the White House. Will this mean that the ex-President opted to be just one of the people and get for himself this Bronze insurance?

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Obama signs up for health care, buying bronze plan the White House calls ‘symbolic’

HONOLULU — He doesn’t need it and will never use it, but President Obama signed up for Obamacare anyway.The political maneuver, announced Monday by the White House, was aimed at showing solidarity with hundreds of ­thousands of Americans enrolling in the new federal and state health-care exchanges. The move came after months of prodding from Republicans, who argued that the president should participate in his signature health-care law — although the exchanges are designed primarily for those who don’t have or can’t afford coverage.
Obama was enrolled in the D.C. exchange over the weekend, aides said, purchasing a “bronze”-level plan that will set him back about $400 a month (with a salary of $400,000, the president doesn’t qualify for subsidies). But aides said he won’t use the plan: Obama and his family will continue to receive, as all recent presidents have, medical care through the U.S. military.As this act of political theater played out here in Hawaii, where Obama is vacationing , his administration continued to scramble back in Washington to prepare for the Jan. 1 start of coverage. Administration officials disclosed Monday that they had quietly changed the rules to allow last-minute shoppers an extra day to enroll, pushing the deadline back to midnight Tuesday.Aides said Obama’s unique situation as president meant that he was unable to sign up for a plan online. The databases that HealthCare.gov and related sites use to verify people’s identities did not contain Obama’s personal information, aides said, so staffers had to go in person to the D.C. exchange offices over the weekend to get him enrolled.Obama selected a bronze plan — the cheapest of four categories, below platinum, gold and silver, that designate how much of overall health-care costs are covered by an insurer.

Thus Obama is paying $5,000 a year out of pocket for a plan that a White House official said was merely “symbolic.”

The president “was pleased to participate in a plan as a show of support for these marketplaces, which are providing quality, affordable health-care options to more than a million people,” said an official who was kept anonymous in a statement issued by the White House.

For weeks, Republicans on Capitol Hill have prodded Obama to sign up for coverage under the new law and — as they view it — share in the suffering of other Americans.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), noted that Obama “had the option to keep the plan he had, along with access to the doctors and hospitals he was comfortable with.”

Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), said: “Americans are looking for a lot more than symbolic gestures. This law is a train wreck, and no one should be forced to take part in it.”

But one of the House Republicans leading the charge against the health-care law, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), said he was pleased that Obama had enrolled.

“I’m not going to take a cheap shot at him for signing up,” Chaffetz said. “It really wasn’t necessary, but if he didn’t do it, we would all bark at him. .?.?. He’s the president of the United States. His health care is a little different than the rest of us. We get that.”

The GOP push to get Obama to sign up dates to the crafting of the law in 2010. As the Senate neared debate on the bill that would become the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced an amendment that would require Obama and Vice President Biden, as well as the Cabinet and top White House staff members, to purchase health insurance through the marketplaces.

“It’s pretty unbelievable that the president and his closest advisers remain untouched by the reforms they pushed for the rest of the country,” Grassley said at the time. “In other words, President Obama’s health-care reform won’t apply to President Obama.”

Senate Democrats rejected that approach, arguing that the purpose was to cover those not already offered insurance by their employers. Congress approved a separate provision requiring lawmakers and some of their staff members to use the exchanges, but not the president or his aides.

Nonetheless, the White House said at the time that Obama would sign up for an insurance plan through the program once the marketplaces went online.

The issue receded until earlier this month, when White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked whether Obama still planned to sign up and when. Carney confirmed that he would enroll but declined to provide a deadline.

Asked whether the news media could observe the president signing up, Carney did not offer any guarantee. “I’ll get back to you,” he said.

Obama’s enrollment, which aides characterized as an important show of support for the law, was handled with little fanfare. News photographers and reporters were not allowed to witness the president shopping for insurance plans or filling out paperwork. News that he had signed up was distributed to reporters in a one-paragraph statement attributed anonymously to a White House official.

Republican strategist Kevin Madden, a former senior adviser to 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, called the move “a tactic of last resort” during the week of Christmas, when many Americans are focused on the holiday rather than the news.

“It’s not a triumphant moment,” Madden said.

Goldfarb reported from Washington.

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A Contrarian’s Point of  view:

 

Why I’m Choosing to Pay $300 to Stay Uninsured

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

24 December 2013

 

ould you pay $5 to save $1? I didn’t ace Math in school, but I do at least know that a Lincoln is worth more than a Washington. If you were presented with this deal in a store, to buy a $5 item to get $1 off another, most people don’t see that as a deal. Now, multiply those numbers by a thousand, and you may start to understand why the “young invincibles” of America aren’t participating in the healthcare exchanges.

Two days before Christmas was the last day for people to enroll in the health insurance programs on healthcare.gov to be ready by January 1st. We’re all supposed to enroll by March of 2014 to not be penalized $300 for being uninsured. But for me, $300 is much cheaper than the alternatives. I’m a 26-year-old man who eats his veggies and exercises daily. I don’t get flu shots, and haven’t gotten the flu since I was in middle school (knock on wood). I also meditate daily. As a result, the sickest I ever get is a sniffle here and there. I was 15 years old the last time I got an annual physical exam, and am no worse for wear now than I was 11 years ago.

So why am I paying the $300 penalty? Through healthcare.gov, I found that as a single 26 year-old male living in Dane County, Wisconsin, who expects to make somewhere around $30,000 next year, the most affordable health insurance package for me comes with a deductible anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. That’s roughly 15 percent of my income that comes out of pocket before my health insurance even kicks in. This “affordable care” would cost me about $150 a month, and I’m having a hard enough time even putting away $100 a month into my savings account when you take rent, a car loan, groceries, gas, heat, and phone bills into account. And unlike most people my age, I was privileged enough to attend college without having to take out student loans, so I’m a lot better off financially than most of my peers.

The biggest healthcare cost of my life was $6,000 in surgery back in Fall of 2011, when I broke my elbow in two places. I was uninsured, so the cost of that procedure came out of pocket. Parents and elderly friends gave me plenty of shit for not having health insurance, saying I could have saved myself a lot of money by being insured. However, if I’d had the health insurance package I mentioned above, $5,000 of that surgery would still have to be paid for out of my own pocket. Sure, I’d save $1,000 in the end, but I’d have to pay $5,000 to do it.

I didn’t suffer any other catastrophic accidents until January of 2013, when I was run off the road while riding a bike in Florida and fractured my right arm. Since I was uninsured, the emergency care clinic down the road from my accident wouldn’t even see me, so I had to drive myself to an emergency room at a hospital close to Immokalee. The total cost of a doctor X-raying my arm and wrapping it up in a bandage and a sling was in the neighborhood of $2,500.

Even if I’d had the health insurance plan I mentioned above back when the accident happened, that entire cost would have still come out of my own pocket. And since I didn’t see the doctor for the rest of the year or hurt myself bad enough to go to a hospital, I wouldn’t have even paid my whole deductible before my health insurance kicked in. I would’ve just paid $150 a month for the remainder of the year, an $1800 blow to my already strained finances – for nothing.

The administration is really hoping that people my age will sign up for health insurance on healthcare.gov. But only 29 percent of people my age say they’ll be signing up. The whole premise of the individual mandate is that when everyone signs up for health insurance, the risk pool becomes healthier as a result, and health insurance becomes less costly for everyone. However, it’s been found that young healthy people not participating would have a very minimal effect on health insurance costs, so our non-participation isn’t the end of the world.

And given situations like mine, why the hell would any young person, in this tenuous economy, want to pay upwards of $1800 in premiums on top of a $2,000 to $5,000 deductible for healthcare costs that may or may not even occur? Does it make more fiscal sense to pay $3800 to $6800 a year to have health insurance and see a doctor when shit happens, or to pay $300 to be uninsured and hope for the best?

This is precisely the problem with the American healthcare system, and with our worthless representatives in Congress. No other developed country makes its citizens endure so much financial strain just to have access to a doctor when they’re hurt or sick. I personally wouldn’t mind paying a few percentage points more in taxes each year so I can see the doctor without worrying about which bill I’ll have to not pay in order to do it. And judging by the debacle of a giant taxpayer-funded subsidy to the private health insurance companies known as Obamacare, I bet most Americans who can’t afford our current healthcare system could alternatively afford a marginally-higher tax rate to have guaranteed healthcare.

The entire reason single payer healthcare – in which one payer, the taxpayer, pays for healthcare – or a public health insurance alternative to the private insurance companies didn’t make it into the final healthcare reform bill was because of corporate-owned senators like Max Baucus, Joe Liebermann, and the entire GOP caucus. It isn’t because they were so concerned about people being able to have the best access to healthcare, but because all of those senators count on the private health insurance industry’s bribes to win the next election cycle. Liebermann’s wife was a lobbyist for Hill & Knowlton, a firm that represented big pharmaceutical and health insurance companies. Insurance companies are the top industry contributing to Baucus’s campaign war chest between 2009 and 2014. Most Americans can put two and two together.

It’s crucial to understand that the only reason private health insurance companies exist is to profit from the illness and injury of others. That’s literally the only reason they’re in business. Sure, abolishing the private health insurance industry may cost a few jobs, but if your job is based on figuring out the best way to make money off of someone else’s suffering, that’s definitely a job that never should have existed in the first place. Healthcare is a human right, not a commodity only the rich deserve.

We won’t have universal healthcare until we have a Congress that listens to the American people. We won’t have a Congress with integrity until the bad ones get voted out. The bad ones won’t get voted out until we get big money out of politics altogether. And that won’t happen until we the people organize for enough states to sign onto a constitutional amendment that says corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech. So until then, I’ll pay my $300 penalty for being uninsured, and try my best to stay healthy and well while I organize for those things to happen.

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