Thursday, January 2, 2014

This Is Becoming So Boringly Common: Obamacare Cheerleader Disappointed That She Can't Afford Coverage Under It

This from the January 2, 2014 CBS Seattle:
One Oregon mother says that she is unable to afford health insurance for her and her 18-month-old son because it’s too expensive.
Kate Holly, 33, tells KOIN-TV that she originally championed President Barack Obama’s signature health care law because she thought it would help people in her situation.
“I’ve been a cheerleader for the Affordable Care Act since I heard about it and I assumed that it was designed for people in my situation,” Holly, a freelance yoga instructor, told KOIN. “I was planning on using the Affordable Care Act and I had done the online calculator in advance to make sure I was going to be able to afford it.”
Holly’s husband works for a non-profit organization that pays for his health care, but the couple is unable to afford to have her and their son covered under his plan. And she’s been told their combined income is too much to qualify for a subsidized health care plan under Cover Oregon.
This is what you get for ignoring adult warnings that there is no free lunch.  The Hollys must make reasonably good money, because two adults in Idaho still get a substantial subsidy at $62,000 per year.  I would expect with a child in  Oregon, the number would be quite a bit higher.

There are people with very low incomes who have a strong claim on our sympathies for their inability to afford health insurance (especially now that the Unaffordable Care Act has made it even more expensive than it used to be).  But this does not seem to be one of them.

I do wonder how much of the unaffordability problem is related to consumer purchasing habits.  I look at the cost of smart phone data plans, and how many young people seem to think that having a plain old cell phone is just not possible -- and I wonder how much of the "we need governmental help for health insurance even though we are in the high end of the five figure annual house income range" is really, "We like nice things, and think that stuff we really don't care that much about should be subsidized."  I worked with someone some years ago who insisted that the government needed to provide health insurance because it was too expensive -- but he drove a nearly new Audi A8.  These aren't cheap.

UPDATE: A reader points out that the story missed something rather important: if you have access to group health insurance through a spouse, you are not eligible for the exchanges.  The complaint is that the insurance through her husband's employer was too expensive.  Well, yes, but the Unaffordable Care Act was not supposed to solve that problem, and actually made it worse, by mandating various coverages that were not there before.


ErisGuy said...

This simply cannot be. Her family income cannot be as high as you speculate. How insulated (and thereby ignorant) can someone be if she expects a subsidy for health insurance when her family income is over $50,000?

Is she too lazy to look up income distribution on Wikipedia? She is not poor.

Tom Bridgeland said...

Health insurance isn't cheap, but not all that crazy expensive either.
I pay about $265 for two adults and two teens, bought on the open market, not through an employer. It is catastrophic, very high deductible, no copay so I pay for doctor visits. It will cover us if we have a catastrophe. If they don't have the spouse and kid covered, then to my way of thinking, they are irresponsible.
I can keep this plan until Dec 2014, then will have to find something else.

Christopher B said...

I've seen a couple of discussions of this story and I've come to the conclusion that there is some artful sentence construction going on (surprise surprise) and possibly a certain level of ignorant reporting.

If she and the kid have access to insurance via her husband's plan then I believe she's not eligible to use an exchange, regardless of income. It's possible his non-profit pulled a UPS and stopped covering spouses but that doesn't make sense given the statement that they are 'unable to afford' it, implying that coverage is available but not desired. Likely the husband's plan is actually substandard for the price, as opposed to deemed substandard because it doesn't cover contraceptives. It sounds like they were under the impression that they would be able to drop his insurance (or cover him only) and get a 'better' plan on the exchange. My son has a similar opinionand I've tried to gently explain that he is more than likely wrong but he's young and doesn't like to listen to Republicans.

smn said...

People like that are easily described as useful idiots.

RS said...

The solution is simple. Divorce.