In last week’s email newsletter to constituents, our congressman, Rep. Tom Reed, had this to say about Obamacare: “We continue to receive stories of employers and employees being hurt by the law’s mandates …”
Obamacare scare stories are a staple of Fox News, but upon examination they typically turn out to have little or no substance. Complainants have paid too much attention to Tea Party misinformation about Obamacare, and haven’t taken the time needed to understand the law or bothered to explore their options on the health insurance exchanges.
The most recent instance of an Obamacare story that fell apart involves “Bette from Spokane.” Bette was cited by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) last week, when Rodgers delivered the Republican response to the President’s State of the Union Address. According to Rodgers, Bette’s insurance had been canceled because of Obamacare, and a replacement policy was going to cost $700 more per month.
A Spokane reporter tracked down Bette and learned that her $552 per month catastrophic care policy for herself and her husband had indeed been canceled and that her insurance company had offered her a policy that complied with the Affordable Care Act for $1,052 per month.
There was a problem with that $552 per month policy — it had a $10,000 deductible. Were a serious health problem to arise — as it certainly would eventually — Bette and her husband would have suffered a major financial setback before their policy paid a dime.
We don’t know Bette’s income or what assistance she would have been eligible for under the Affordable Care Act, but if she had gone on the exchange, she could have found comprehensive health insurance with deductibles in the $20 to $50 range at a price she could afford. Misled by Tea Party ideology, however, Bette refused to look. “I wouldn’t go on that Obama website at all,” Bette told the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
In perpetuating Obamacare scare stories, Rep. Reed is doing a disservice to his constituents. These stories will tend to discourage people in the 23rd who need good insurance from applying. Instead, Rep. Reed should be helping his constituents to understand and explore the excellent opportunities for affordable health care that are now available to them.
Obamacare scare stories are not going to help Rep. Reed win re-election. As time passes and the implementation of Obamacare moves forward, those who already have comprehensive insurance through their employer or through Medicare will understand that their situation hasn’t been affected at all. Parents whose children can now remain on their policies until they are 26 will appreciate that those they love continue to be insured while they finish their educations and look for jobs. Those who had been denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions will be grateful for the coverage they have gained. Previously uninsured middle income constituents will be thankful that they have been able to purchase affordable, comprehensive policies on the exchanges, and those newly eligible for Medicaid will be enjoying a level of health care they never had before.
Constituents who have gained so much from Obamacare are not likely to vote for a candidate who has consistently voted to repeal it — and who still tries to undermine it with “stories.”