DOOLITTLE: The fuss about Obamacare

You may be wondering what all the fuss has been about since the rollout of Obamacare began on Oct. 1, 2013.
Jan 23, 2014

Well, on that day individuals and small businesses could begin to buy qualified health benefit plans in the new insurance marketplace called exchanges. Thirty-six states set up their own exchanges. The remainder, including Michigan, elected not to. As a Michigan resident, you access this new insurance marketplace though the federal exchange, typically via the website called HealthCare.gov.

Since only 5.7 percent of American are in private, non-group health plans, Obama may have figured this part of the rollout would not strain his newly established website (this one website, to serve 14 states, cost between $677 million and $1 billion; the remaining 36 states were given $4.4 billion to split up for creating their own websites). Obama was wrong. HealthCare.gov has been plagued by myriad technical problems including its backend; meaning that even if one successfully navigates the sign-up process, as of this writing, you stand a 35 percent chance that you’re not actually covered.

You can either have faith that the government will get this fixed, or you can worry that the problem will get worse as millions more Americans are compelled to access the website. Another problem is that Obama repeatedly promised that no one would lose his or her health insurance plan if he or she liked it, but the individual and small business health insurance market is characterized by a great many policies designed to be affordable through high deductibles and limited benefits. Obamacare sweeps away those insurance policies. According to NBC News, way back in July 2010, an internal government report estimated that “40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.”

Now you know what all the fuss has been about, but if you’re among the vast majority of Americans who get their health insurance through your employer, why worry? You have plenty of reason to worry – according to a memorandum available for viewing right on Obama’s healthcare website, more than 50 percent, and up to 66 percent, of employees with employer-provided health insurance will be compelled to move to a more expensive plan. The giant consulting firm Hewitt is more pessimistic, estimating 90 percent of current employer plans will be illegal by the end of 2014. Prestigious consulting firms Deloitte and McKinsey & Co. found that between 10 to 30 percent of employers “definitely or probably” will stop offering health insurance as a benefit under the new laws. If you work for one of those companies in Michigan, you’ll either have to find a new employer who offers health insurance, or you’ll have to log onto the federal health exchange website.

Now that you know Obamacare is likely to affect you, next time, let’s look at what health insurance is going to look like in the near future, and what it’s likely to cost you. 

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a weekly six-part series digging into the Affordable Care Act. Doolittle is a local writer, a former stockbroker and insurance salesman, and has a degree in business administration. He said that while this series does include some opinion – which may or may not be the opinion of the Tribune – he can back it all up with facts and hopes to be able to help people understand a very complicated Act and what it means to them.

 

Comments

Lanivan

Oh dear, Mr. Doolittle - this is becoming embarrassing. It's clear at this point you have no intention of factually explaining the ACA, but rather regurgitating right-wing misinformation, disinformation, and cherry-picked propaganda. For starters, you write:...(this one website, to serve 14 states, cost between $677 million and $1 billion;...This is patently false. "The Myth Of The $634 Million Obamacare Website....Independently, the Sunlight Foundation estimated it cost $70 million to build the much-maligned website, not $634 million. (Officially, CGI was awarded a $93 million contract for the healthcare.gov job.)

And today in his Fact Checker column in the Washington Post, Glenn Kessler looked at the question of the healthcare.gov cost and concluded, "A conservative figure would be $70 million. A more modest figure would be $125 million to $150 million." Kessler noted that the cost for the entire health care project beyond the website would be "at least $350 million." http://mediamatters.org/blog/201...

I might add that healthcare.gov is considered, by IT experts, thus... "The site is one of the most complicated Web-based undertakings ever envisioned not only by the federal government but possibly by any Internet product provider."

You are certainly entitled to your own opinions, Mr. Doolittle, but not to your own facts, and most certainly, you are not entitled to claim what amounts to unsubstantiated myth, gossip, and grousing, "including some opinion", in an article whose purpose clearly is to obfuscate with a paucity of facts.

christopher

By the way, Media Matters is not a suitable source of citation for anyone other than the most liberal leaning of situations. It is not any better than using Wikipedia as a source.

Lanivan

And the sources Doolittle used for his grossly overstated and totally inaccurate healthcare.gov costs are "suitable" - right?

christopher

Which one(s) specifically do you take issue with?

Lanivan

And therein lies the rub. Doolittle uses proven falsehoods masquerading as facts, given in a piece whose stated goal is to explain Obamacare. But in actuality, his writing is an opinion piece (which he has every right to write) based on misinformation and his feelings or emotions about Obamacare.

Doolittle deliberately alters and distorts the facts like a carnival fun-house mirror, while simultaneously telling us he is trying to clear things up. That's what I take issue with. How about you - alright with that just so long as it's a conservative viewpoint?

Tri-cities realist

Altering the facts, kind of like the $70million estimate. Scroll to the end...

Tri-cities realist

And Christopher, while your comment was good, no need to post it 4 times... I'm sure it was a mistake, this site is prone to it. You can go back and edit the 3 just be sure to type something. A period works, or as LTA does... Hiccup.

Lanivan

Well - yes and no. Scroll to the end.....

christopher

Hello Lanivan,
Here is part of the problem . . . it is so hard to find reliable facts. The Obama administration (as well as others in the past . . . this is NOT necessarily a unique trait) has proven themselves an untrustworthy provider of "facts". They continually delay the release of number and milestones related to this roll out. Seriously ... they COULD know in real time how many people are enrolling and accessing the system. AND this information could be displayed on a public dashboard in real time.

Instead of providing this information in real time they seem to want to filter all of the numbers for political protection. Again, this is NOT meant to be a biased statement. I would say it is a problematic state of the DC elite. They seem to feel that we do not have the right to the information they collect. I always get the feeling that the DC elite and our president act as if we are too dumb to handle the raw information. Somehow they feel they are superior and need to filter and summarize for us.

With the lack of transparency and trustworthiness it leaves both sides speculating (and maybe at worse manipulating) the numbers. I do not know who to trust. You have obviously made a decision that the numbers in this article are wrong and that you want to trust your own biased sources. Maybe I am just cynical but I believe both "sides" are subject to exaggeration (at best) and lying with manipulative intent (at the worst).

I am willing to admit my bias against ACA / Obama Care, but I also believe it is natural (not necessarily attractive / or morally right) for any advocate to bend facts. It DOES happen everywhere. Dems / Liberals do NOT have the high ground on this and Media Matters is a particularly good example of this type of non-sense.

Lanivan

I appreciate your reasoned argument. You bring up a good point - reliable, unbiased facts, in the political realm, are hard to find, and reliable, unbiased websites are even harder to find. Everyone has an agenda - but it is possible to search out facts that seem to make sense, that seem reasonable, articles whose language is not slanted, but one must keep an open mind. However, cynic that I've become, I do admit I'm guilty of searching for websites that support my bias - do it all the time when writing in this forum and others. But all I'm doing is standard debate - establishing a premise, and then following up with links and statistics to back up that premise.

But having said that, there are ways to keep the bar high. There are times, such as with this Doolittle piece, that require an ethical responsibility to be as accurate with the numbers and facts that are used to support the writing, as is possible. My complaint, and I stand by it 100%, is that, although you are correct and justified in pointing out the manipulation and exaggeration that often goes on in writing regardless of political persuasion, Mr. Doolittle has an obligation to the readership to use every means at his disposal to be as accurate as possible when attempting to explain a complicated law. Otherwise, he needs to ditch the explanation classification, and just give his opinion, which he could easily do in one op-ed piece. At this point, with what he has written so far, I don't trust anything he writes in this 6-part series to be facts, just his viewpoint.

christopher

Hello Lanivan,
Here is part of the problem . . . it is so hard to find reliable facts. The Obama administration (as well as others in the past . . . this is NOT necessarily a unique trait) has proven themselves an untrustworthy provider of "facts". They continually delay the release of number and milestones related to this roll out. Seriously ... they COULD know in real time how many people are enrolling and accessing the system. AND this information could be displayed on a public dashboard in real time.

Instead of providing this information in real time they seem to want to filter all of the numbers for political protection. Again, this is NOT meant to be a biased statement. I would say it is a problematic state of the DC elite. They seem to feel that we do not have the right to the information they collect. I always get the feeling that the DC elite and our president act as if we are too dumb to handle the raw information. Somehow they feel they are superior and need to filter and summarize for us.

With the lack of transparency and trustworthiness it leaves both sides speculating (and maybe at worse manipulating) the numbers. I do not know who to trust. You have obviously made a decision that the numbers in this article are wrong and that you want to trust your own biased sources. Maybe I am just cynical but I believe both "sides" are subject to exaggeration (at best) and lying with manipulative intent (at the worst).

I am willing to admit my bias against ACA / Obama Care, but I also believe it is natural (not necessarily attractive / or morally right) for any advocate to bend facts. It DOES happen everywhere. Dems / Liberals do NOT have the high ground on this and Media Matters is a particularly good example of this type of non-sense.

christopher

Hello Lanivan,
Here is part of the problem . . . it is so hard to find reliable facts. The Obama administration (as well as others in the past . . . this is NOT necessarily a unique trait) has proven themselves an untrustworthy provider of "facts". They continually delay the release of number and milestones related to this roll out. Seriously ... they COULD know in real time how many people are enrolling and accessing the system. AND this information could be displayed on a public dashboard in real time.

Instead of providing this information in real time they seem to want to filter all of the numbers for political protection. Again, this is NOT meant to be a biased statement. I would say it is a problematic state of the DC elite. They seem to feel that we do not have the right to the information they collect. I always get the feeling that the DC elite and our president act as if we are too dumb to handle the raw information. Somehow they feel they are superior and need to filter and summarize for us.

With the lack of transparency and trustworthiness it leaves both sides speculating (and maybe at worse manipulating) the numbers. I do not know who to trust. You have obviously made a decision that the numbers in this article are wrong and that you want to trust your own biased sources. Maybe I am just cynical but I believe both "sides" are subject to exaggeration (at best) and lying with manipulative intent (at the worst).

I am willing to admit my bias against ACA / Obama Care, but I also believe it is natural (not necessarily attractive / or morally right) for any advocate to bend facts. It DOES happen everywhere. Dems / Liberals do NOT have the high ground on this and Media Matters is a particularly good example of this type of non-sense.

christopher

Hello Lanivan,
Here is part of the problem . . . it is so hard to find reliable facts. The Obama administration (as well as others in the past . . . this is NOT necessarily a unique trait) has proven themselves an untrustworthy provider of "facts". They continually delay the release of number and milestones related to this roll out. Seriously ... they COULD know in real time how many people are enrolling and accessing the system. AND this information could be displayed on a public dashboard in real time.

Instead of providing this information in real time they seem to want to filter all of the numbers for political protection. Again, this is NOT meant to be a biased statement. I would say it is a problematic state of the DC elite. They seem to feel that we do not have the right to the information they collect. I always get the feeling that the DC elite and our president act as if we are too dumb to handle the raw information. Somehow they feel they are superior and need to filter and summarize for us.

With the lack of transparency and trustworthiness it leaves both sides speculating (and maybe at worse manipulating) the numbers. I do not know who to trust. You have obviously made a decision that the numbers in this article are wrong and that you want to trust your own biased sources. Maybe I am just cynical but I believe both "sides" are subject to exaggeration (at best) and lying with manipulative intent (at the worst).

I am willing to admit my bias against ACA / Obama Care, but I also believe it is natural (not necessarily attractive / or morally right) for any advocate to bend facts. It DOES happen everywhere. Dems / Liberals do NOT have the high ground on this and Media Matters is a particularly good example of this type of non-sense.

Vladtheimp

NY Times editor: Obama White House 'the most secretive' she's ever covered http://www.examiner.com/article/...

Lanivan

I certainly hope so. With Republican congressmen constantly talking about hanging him, shooting him, sending him back to Kenya, how they are disgusted to even stand next to him, etc, I would expect the Obama Team to keep a very tight wrap on leaks, as well as his accessibility. Besides, who cares?

Tri-cities realist

Really? Who cares about a president who claimed to be the most transparent in history, while actually being one of the most secretive? Really? Are you honestly asking this, or was it an attempt at humor? If it's the former, enjoy the kool aid.

And since you are fond of evidence, please post the quotes and links of these supposed republican congressman that have talked about hanging, shooting, etc.

Boycotter

Oh dear Mr. Lanivan, you sound like another pompous liberal !

Lanivan

Oh yeah...you nailed it! Apparently only pompous liberals have the ability to sniff out falsehoods and misconceptions - by your logic.

Barry Soetoro

We're getting all six parts tonight? I'll make the popcorn (again).

Lanivan

I just got some nice, fresh gummi bears I can send over....

Barry Soetoro

Why thank you, Mr. L!

christopher

OK ... @Lanivan ... let's say it is $70 million ... or even $10 million. Is that an excuse for the incompetence associated with the site roll out? Does 10 or 70 million not seem like a lot of money to you? I guess if it is "other people's money" it doesn't count?

Barry Soetoro

I would tell about something else that cost twenty-four billion but don't want to steal Lani's thunder.

Lanivan

It's "Mr.Lani" to you.....

bigdeal

LOL

Lanivan

Perhaps you misread my comment. In this particular context, the actual dollar amount is not relevant. What IS relevant is that Mr. Doolittle chose a dollar amount that has been bandied about - primarily within conservative circles - but which has been proven to be false. He chose this dollar amount to print in an article for public consumption not to educate or explain, but as a set of numbers to prove what an expensive website he believes healthcare.gov to be.

I was not discussing the website roll-out per se. There is no excuse for the incompetent roll-out. The taxpayers were badly served by the company responsible for it's creation. Your comment, "other people's money", demonstrates and promotes another kind of fallacy - but that's another discussion.

By the way, while we're on the topic of health reform costs, did you know this about Bush's Medicare Part D reform law?....(it's roll-out was a botch job, too)..."The Bush White House lied to Congress about the cost. Within two months of signing the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) into law, President Bush quietly informed Congress that the true cost of the program would be $550 billion, not $395 billion, over the next decade. When Medicare actuary Richard Foster sought to present the true price tag to Congress in late 2003, then agency chief Thomas Scully threatened to fire him. By the time the program was launched in 2006, the estimated 10 year price tag for the Medicare prescription plan had increased to $720 billion". And to add insult to injury, and unlike the ACA, this hugely expensive reform was totally unfunded!

To put these costs into perspective, Christopher, the October 2013 Tea Party-driven, 16-day government shut-down cost taxpayers and the economy over $24 billion. Maybe because it's "other people's money" it doesn't count, eh?

Vladtheimp

Barack Hussein, the Bystander President, had nothing to do with it - it's still Boosh's fault; it's the Tea Party's fault - when will you serfs understand the nuances of Obama?

Lanivan

Finally!! You get it!!....somersaults, jumping jacks, leg kicks!!....

Captain Obvious

Hi Vlad...I can't quite figure out if you are playing the race card, or implying that the President is not one of us. Either way, name calling detracts from your credibility. An interesting study from ancestry.com traces the President's roots back about 400 years in America. How far do yours go back? Or is the proper test skin color? http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/3...

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