Democrats Blame Insurers for Obamacare woes

Posted: Nov 04, 2013 11:22 AM

NBC News, CNN, CBS News, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, and The Los Angeles Times all ran stories last week documenting how Obamacare is forcing millions of Americans out of the current health care plans and into more expensive plans with limited access to health care providers.

President Obama's supporters have fought back with a number of specious arguments, including claims that all of the cancelled health care plans were junk, and that consumers just don't know what is good for them.

Now, the activists at Talking Points Memo have a new line of attack: insurers are "hiding Obamacare benefits" from Americans. TPM's Dylan Scott writes:

Donna received the letter canceling her insurance plan on Sept. 16. Her insurance company, LifeWise of Washington, told her that they'd identified a new plan for her. If she did nothing, she'd be covered.

A 56-year-old Seattle resident with a 57-year-old husband and 15-year-old daughter, Donna had been looking forward to the savings that the Affordable Care Act had to offer.

But that's not what she found. Instead, she'd be paying an additional $300 a month for coverage. The letter made no mention of the health insurance marketplace that would soon open in Washington, where she could shop for competitive plans, and only an oblique reference to financial help that she might qualify for, if she made the effort to call and find out.

Otherwise, she'd be automatically rolled over to a new plan -- and, as the letter said, "If you're happy with this plan, do nothing."

If Donna had done nothing, she would have ended up spending about $1,000 more a month for insurance than she will now that she went to the marketplace, picked the best plan for her family and accessed tax credits at the heart of the health care reform law.

"The info that we were sent by LifeWise was totally bogus. Why the heck did they try to screw us?" Donna said. "People who are afraid of the ACA should be much more afraid of the insurance companies who will exploit their fear and end up overcharging them."

But was the info sent by LifeWise really "totally bogus"? Here is what the letter actually says:

What, if anything, is misleading about that? The letter factually states that Donna's policy will be cancelled, by law under Obamacare, on December 31, 2013.

The letter then informs Donna that LifeWise will continue to insure her under a new policy if she does nothing. Lifewise is legally required to do this by Obamacare.

LifeWise then informs Donna they have other less expensive options she might like, and then informs her that her family might qualify for "help with the cost of their coverage" through a "health premium tax credit."

The letter explicitly informed Donna she may be eligible for benefits to reduce her health care costs. How is that "hiding Obamacare benefits" for consumers?

And where is the "bogus" statement in the letter? At what point specifically does LifeWise ever mislead Donna?

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