Monday, April 21, 2014

Affordable Care Act continues to produce confusion and anger

From page A1 | December 18, 2013 | 26 Comments

Problems implementing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) continue, adding to the anger and confusion over the new law.

Breakdowns and security breaches have characterized the federal health exchange Website from the outset. Despite some improvements, problems persist.

According to a recent report from ABC News, one-third of the 149,000 people who have been able to sign up for Obamacare may not have health insurance come Jan. 1 even though the federal Website accepted their applications and confirmed they had coverage.

Apparently under the terms of Obamacare, policies are not considered in effect until the purchaser has paid at least the first month’s premium.

Other glitches in the Website include that it failed to notify insurers about new customers, allowed duplicate enrollments or cancellation notices for the same person, had incorrect information about family members, or made mistakes involving federal subsidies.

Issues have also arisen as millions of people have received cancellation notices because their insurance no longer includes the coverage mandated by the law despite President Obama’s repeated promise that people could keep their existing insurance if they wanted to.

Recently NBC News reported that “50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a ‘cancellation’ letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience ‘sticker shock.’”

In response to mounting criticism of the bill, on Nov. 14 Obama announced that for a year insurance companies could offer plans that didn’t meet the new healthcare standards. This was followed by the House of Representatives voting to allow companies to offer such plans indefinitely. That set up a conflict as Obama criticized the House action while some in Congress questioned his authority to arbitrarily change the law.

However at least eight states, including California, have decided to reject Obama’s proposal for a year’s grace period and are requiring residents to buy health insurance that meets the mandates of the law.

Meanwhile, more Americans are finding that their existing health insurance has indeed been canceled, their premiums and deductibles are being raised, and many are losing their doctors under their new health plans.

According to a recent article in the Washington Examiner, an estimated seven of every 10 physicians in California won’t participate in the state’s health insurance exchange, in part due to reimbursement rates being pegged to rates paid by Medi-Cal. California offers one of the lowest government reimbursement rates in the country — 30 percent lower than federal Medicare payments. Some worry that if enough doctors boycott the exchange, the state’s medical system could be overwhelmed.

A few local residents called to report similar problems with Obamacare.

Roland Kling of Diamond Springs said his daughter has been trying to access the Website “Covered California” for over a month now. Covered California is California’s new health insurance exchange for those signing up under Obamacare.

He said when his daughter tried calling the exchange, she was told the wait time was at least 30 minutes and if she didn’t want to wait, to leave a call back number. Several hours later she received a recorded message telling her to call again, which she did and got the same response. Kling said that so far his daughter has been unable to either enroll or talk to anyone. ”They spend $700 million and two years and can’t get it right,” he complained.

Another resident, Ethel Cirddle of El Dorado Hills, said her son, who is 62, recently received a letter from AARP telling him that the insurance he has with them doesn’t meet the requirements of Obamacare. AARP said it didn’t plan to drop him but there was a chance he’d be fined because his insurance doesn’t comply with the coverage mandated by Obamacare. Cirddle said her son is living on $900 a month, is already paying $115 a month for health insurance, and can’t afford to pay more.

“I’m worried about all these people with insurance plans that don’t meet Obamacare requirements,” said Cirddle. “Some insurance is better than none.”

Other members of her family are also having problems with the new health insurance program. Cirddle’s granddaughter, Carlie Maxwell of Placerville, is married with five children. She qualifies for Medi-Cal based on the income she and her husband earn and the size of the family. Medi-Cal recently informed her she would have to switch to one of two plans offered by companies providing managed care services to Medi-Cal clients. However, doing so means leaving the doctor that has been treating her son suffering from neurology problems after a car accident. She said she really doesn’t have any choice because she can’t afford to buy insurance as it would cost the family $2,500 a month.

Maxwell’s sister has also applied for a Medi-Cal-related health plan and has lost her doctor as well because he doesn’t accept the new plan she is under. “Now her only option is to go to Marshall Medical Center,” said Maxwell.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.


Discussion | 26 comments

  • TruthwillsetyoufreeDecember 17, 2013 - 1:48 pm

    Dawn, It's rather obvious that you speak in terms of your ideology. I notice you've covered a large number of Tea Party events and rather glowingly I might add. I have heard many wonderful stories regarding ACA and had no problem signing my own family up for it (two working parents, two kids with pre-existing conditions and were priced out of market). I wonder if you fact checked your stories. They don't add up. In addition the loss of an existing plan is due to that plan not meeting basic criteria. They are losing junk plans. I would love the opportunity to speak with the people you have featured, and assess the accuracy of these claims. They may well end up realizing they do qualify, have better overall coverage and at a considerable savings. Consider it a challenge. I recall Fox "News" having similar issues with stories re: ACA. Either the persons being featured weren't informed of their options correctly, and didn't due their research or the journalists didn't practice due diligence and honest reporting of facts. I do hope this isn't the case with you. It believe a community is best served with honesty and integrity.

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  • EvelynDecember 17, 2013 - 2:10 pm

    Truth: (1) I am acquainted with people who have lost existing insurance plans with which they had been totally satisfied. (2) The three local persons whose experiences Dawn Hodson references do in fact exist (though I think "Cirddle" may be "Criddle") and therefore, IMHO, reduce the possibility that Ms Hodson has invented the recounted ACA experiences.

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  • TruthwillsetyoufreeDecember 17, 2013 - 6:21 pm

    Evelyn, good for them if some are content with what has been deemed junk insurance. Unfortunately some of those plans were offered by employees and others who wanted good coverage didn't have a choice. Maybe there should be a junk coverage plan available to those who want to over pay for inferior health plans. I don't doubt the people mentioned by Dawn exist. I questioned the factual account of the story. It's all about facts Evelyn. Facts matter. I still think it would be a wonderful idea to contact those same folks, verify, and make sure they were given the correct information, either by their previous insurance or ACA. Basically a journalists job but I'd be happy to do it. I for one don't believe everything I'm told, whether it's in person or on the phone.

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  • LeonDecember 18, 2013 - 3:13 pm

    Attempting to "reframe" concepts with words like "junk" is taking a page from the tea party book yourself. Here is my fact: I had a $125/mo high deductible plan. My newly offered plan is 2.5 times more expensive from the same provider (very similar rates from other large providers). I am just over the federal standard for subsidy, which if you have a california zip code is laughably low. The deductible is HIGHER with the new plan. My old plan was not junk. It was exactly what I wanted. Whatever "features" you think I want (like prescription, annual visits, maternity and counseling services), you are projecting your guesses incorrectly on me. What I really want from a plan is negotiated rates and maximum expenses -- the old and new plans don't differ significantly on this. The plain and simple FACT is that there is a percentage of the population that gets F*K*D by ACA. Simple. Stop trying to defend ACA by distorting reality. ACA helps some people and F*K*S some others. There are times that blindly clinging to your ideology is damaging. This is one of them.

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  • TruthwillsetyoufreeDecember 17, 2013 - 10:09 pm

    Correction: employers not employees

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  • cookie65December 18, 2013 - 4:28 am

    Delusionwillkeepyouenslaved, It's rather obvious that you speak in terms of your ideology.

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  • VernDecember 18, 2013 - 6:11 am

    ACA is working for our family with college age daughters and business owners like Ken S. and Riley. Good try Hodson

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  • PatriceDecember 18, 2013 - 8:29 am

    Vern, I am so glad for you and your family. Yes, one of my sons too is in his last year of college and will pay $55 a month. His relief of having healthcare is huge. I know of several people lower to upper income families with and without special needs have signed up and a huge worriesome, burden has been lifted. The ACA is working. For those that claim it does not work for them, I would ask if they have thoroughly compared. And there are those that no matter what is, and will be reported about the effectiveness of the ACA won't hear it while wanting it to fail. Those folks we can not change.

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  • cookie65December 18, 2013 - 8:38 am

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  • robertdnollDecember 18, 2013 - 8:07 am

    it works for me,same doctor,same HMO,same benefits, eight hundred dollars a month cheaper.Think i'll buy a round today

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  • cookie65December 18, 2013 - 8:30 am

    Based on yours and Vern's testimonials the mandate was completely unnecessary. People are falling over each other to sign up. I sense no conflict in your claims.

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  • Dink LaneDecember 18, 2013 - 1:01 pm

    The "Mandate" was to break the Insurance Companies ROAD BLOCK for high-risk people..... 1.3% will have higher insurance premiums..... 15% will get insurance who didn't have it before..... 80% will NOT see a change... But FOX and Breitbart (ACORN-Hoax people) and Daily Caller (Ann Colter & Tucker Carlson).... keep spilling out "Talking Points"....... In fact the Daily Caller's headlines.... "Top reporters agree: Thanks to ignorance....." ...... PLEASE read professional articles... not spin like Dawn's piece.....

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  • It is easy to get InsuranceDecember 18, 2013 - 1:26 pm

    Why this piece is not considered "Opinion"? With words such as "may not" and "will experience." Both phrases sound vague and far from actual facts. No one has paid their insurance yet? It hasn't started yet. Jan 1 ............... Dawn, what site and what numbers are you pulling this data from? ................... I did not have any trouble with the "Shop and Compare" page on Covered California. ......... 1) If you have health care through your job you are covered. ........ 2) Tell ETHEL CIRDDLE that her premiums will not go UP! (Details on site says that) and ......... 3) The site gives phone #s if lost and various places library, community centers have assistants to help ......... (This is not Texas where they passed a LAW to make it illegal to help anyone shop for Health Insurance.)

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  • Dee#1December 18, 2013 - 1:46 pm

    Dink, please state references for your numbers. Thank you.

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  • Dink LaneDecember 18, 2013 - 2:00 pm

    Dee: U.S. Census Bureau AND Economist Steve Rattner's blog

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  • Dee#1December 18, 2013 - 2:02 pm

    Dink, thank you. Would you please give a direct link to the census bureau. It is a rather cumbersome site.

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  • Dee#1December 18, 2013 - 2:13 pm

    Dink, Ratners charts, while verifying your numbers has no explanation as to what resources he used or how he complied his numbers. Also, I have difficulty accepting these charts without verification because they are specifically created for "Morning Joe". This info from his bio is interesting,-------" Previously, Mr. Rattner served as Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury and led the Obama Administration’s successful effort to restructure the automobile industry,". So I think I will your missive as I usually do.

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  • Dink LaneDecember 18, 2013 - 2:28 pm

    Rattner -- was an investment banker at Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, and Lazard Freres & Co., where he rose to deputy chairman and deputy chief executive officer, who PERSONALLY manages Michael Bloomberg portfolio. And Dee's qualifications come from what? Reading "Ted Cruz's Coloring Book"?...... I don't always agree with Rattner, but I know he's a qualified spokesman.

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  • Dink LaneDecember 18, 2013 - 2:31 pm

    The "Ted Cruz's coloring book" comment was uncalled for. I apologize.

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  • Dee#1December 18, 2013 - 2:15 pm

    ----I will IGNORE your missives, as I usually do.

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  • Dee#1December 18, 2013 - 8:10 pm

    Dink, I don't believe I was nasty or belittling to you. Rattners is a Keynesian , a system of economics that has created disaster over and over again. He was an important member of of the most deceitful, lying, law breaking Administration our Country has ever seen. He posted graphs designed for Morning Joe and posted them on his blog without reference to his research or explanation of how he arrived at his conclusions. If he is using Government statistics they have no validity because of the constant stream of fraudulent numbers the Administration releases. All these factors point to less than reliable conclusions by Rattner. You are free to believe Rattner. I am free to interpret his information and your credibility by what I read through my Austrian School of Economics philosophy. Your comments lack substance.

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  • Arnold LangeDecember 19, 2013 - 8:42 am

    "Affordable Care Act continues to produce confusion and anger the only people who are confused and angry are the sheep listening to Fox News and right wing radio. the rest of us are doing just fine.

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  • cookie65December 19, 2013 - 2:39 pm

    I realize for some the answer to everything opposed to what they have been told to believe is either Fox or talk radio but even our own worthless local news has story after story after story.

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  • Dink LaneDecember 19, 2013 - 3:55 pm

    ACA Enrollment deadline: Dec 23 --> Coverage begins Jan 1 --> 1st payment paid by Jan 6......... Deadline Jan 15, 2014 --> Coverage begins Feb 1 --> 1st payment by Jan 28 ..... according to the COVERED CALIFORNIA website.... that works great!

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  • Dink LaneDecember 19, 2013 - 3:58 pm

    According to #coveredCA tweets..... "Covered CA has exceeded all projections of enrolling" to meet March deadline...

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  • PatriceDecember 19, 2013 - 6:38 pm

    Yes, isn't this great, Dink? In the states that want it to work, it is working.

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