When Success is Failure…

There are lies, damn lies and (misrepresentation of) statistics.

Before the Affordable Care Act passed–when the country was debating the whys and wherefores of reform–proponents of major change (of whom I was one) pointed to the undeniable problems with America’s patchwork health delivery: the fact that we spent more per-person than any other country (by massive amounts) with significantly worse outcomes; that millions of Americans couldn’t obtain coverage either because they couldn’t afford it or due to pre-existing conditions; and that millions of people were stuck in jobs they hated because they’d lose coverage if they quit. 

How many new businesses, we asked, weren’t started because the would-be entrepreneur had a child with a pre-existing condition? How many people of a “certain age” wanted to cut back, but couldn’t because they’d lose their health coverage? How many Americans were effectively “slaves” to a job they didn’t want, staying solely for the health insurance?

Eliminating that “slavery” was a major goal of reform. It was one reason that many of us argued for decoupling health insurance from employment entirely, and making it part of social security, as it is elsewhere. We didn’t get that done, but the ACA is at least a step in the right direction.

A couple of days ago, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report showing real progress toward that goal of freeing people from jobs they hated:

With the expansion of insurance coverage, more workers will choose not to work and others will choose to work fewer hours than they might have otherwise, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The usual suspects immediately went into propaganda mode. “See,” they screamed, “Obamacare is killing jobs.”

Of course, that isn’t what the CBO said. It said people were voluntarily leaving jobs. The jobs are still there, and will need to be filled when the newly-freed depart–which should be good news to unemployed folks looking for work.

Somehow, in the fevered imaginations of the uninformed–and the dishonest rhetoric of the politically self-serving–meeting one of the original goals of health reform is evidence that it doesn’t work.

I’m getting dizzy from the spin cycle.


  1. That same voluntary departure (or partial departure) of many people from the workforce would have been one desired outcome of lowering the Medicare age to 55. But no, that would have cut medical, pharmaceutical, and insurance industry profits and pushed us on that slippery slope to a single-payer system with lower costs. So right now, I am trapped in the morass of the ACA, having successfully enrolled in November but still waiting for Anthem BCBS to acknowledge that and provide me with account information. Guess who the federal government has brought in to deal with all the botched cases like mine? Medicare! That’s right: My customer service representative is an employee of the Medicare (CMS) division of HHS. She told me that there are thousands of people like me, enrolled but not actually insured, especially in states like Indiana that declined to create their own programs. Meanwhile, I hope I don’t get dizzy and fall down while I search for full-time employment.

  2. ACA was Insurance Reform but not really health care reform.

    No more pre-existing conditions.
    Women won’t be charged more than men.
    No life time limits.
    College age students can stay on parent’s coverage, etc.

    Then we need to get rid of these deductibles, in network and out of network b.s. and make sure that our premiums are actually paying for something.

    Now we have to work on HEALTH CARE Reform. Meaning that these insurance companies needs to consider alternative methods for treatment like Naturopatic care, Chinese acupuncture and supplements for vitamin deficiencies.

    Then and only then will be have Health Care Reform.

  3. EFK and AgingLittleGirl; you are both 100% correct regarding deductibles rendering those paying into health care coverage who are actually NOT insured for any medical care. My son and daughter-in-law, through Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield pay $450 monthly but have a $9,000 annual deduction so they pay the monthly premium and all their own medical bills. I have Medicare supplemental; but do not think Medicare is the answer to problems of rising costs. I have spent almost a year dealing with unnecessary testing and referrals because no one looked into my records or listened to anything I told them. In January alone, dealing with a necrotic ulcer on a pressure sore on my big toe, I have seen my primary physician who sent me immediately to a vascular surgeon to REPEAT circulatory tests done on August 28th (cost over $4,000) showing no circulatory problems except in toes – the result of long ago frostbite. The PCP didn’t like the vascular surgeon’s test results (I never saw the surgeon) of no circulatory problems except in toes and that sore toe. She had me sent immediately to the ER where they repeated the tests and added a CT Scan. All results were good circulation except for the toes and that necrotic ulcer on one toe and I was referred to a Podiatrist. The bill from the vascular tests were over $12,000; the bill from the ER was over $6,000. Had anyone, beginning with my primary care physician, looked at my medical records none of these almost $19,000 in tests would have been done for a sore toe. These bills, plus the Podiatrist and my PCP, will be paid by Medicare. Any questions as to why Medicare wants to cut back on payments to physicians and insurance companies? ACA is not the problem; greed and GOP scare tactics are the culprits. Think about this on election days.

  4. Good point. I know of a case where a man is over 65 and still working because his under 65 aged wife would have no health insurance if he quit his job. His wife works but her employer does not provide health insurance and does not have to because there are only a few employees. This man’s health is not good and I am sure he hates going to work every day but he is trapped until his wife reaches 65. There are young men who would do his job better and be happier than he is to do it. How many people are in this situation across this country? This couple is in Indiana. I am sure they will not apply for Obamacare because they have been brainwashed by Fox News that doing such a thing would be against all the values this country stands for. Instead, I am sure this man will drop dead one day in this job he hates. How much better these people lives would be if only they had been born in Europe.

  5. Lili, for me, it’s a leap of projection to assume the above mentioned 65+ year old man hates going to work every day and feels trapped. Perhaps, I’d feel trapped in a similar situation, perhaps you’d feel trapped likewise, but maybe he doesn’t feel trapped, maybe his job and his self-worth are inter-woven in a complex tapestry that even he doesn’t recognize. I don’t know, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m pretty sure that a person’s retirement from his/her life’s work is more complicated for some people than for others. Some folks can simply walk away at age 65 or earlier; however, others experience inner conflict and might even view retirement as slip-sliding toward the grave. Who knows, only the individual knows.

  6. Having worked for teachers for many years, I can attest to a number of folks who kept working until age 65 because they could not afford to lose part of their earned pension benefits and pay for their own health insurance until Medicare eligibility. If they retired
    at age 60, their fewer years of service already reduced their pension, but state law further reduced their earned benefits with an early retirement penalty. After years of trying, the legislature finally permitted earlier retirement without reducing teachers’ earned benefits. Collectively bargained contracts also afforded many of them a ‘bridge’ in health insurance benefits until they qualified for Medicare.

    School districts and taxpayers benefitted since new teachers could be hired for much less than the cost of the health insurance ‘bridge’. Teachers who had devoted their entire adult lives to our children but who felt their health was preventing their desired job performance were able to retire early with dignity and security. Everyone won.

    Too much of today’s political rhetoric is about scoring political points and even about seeking political vengeance rather than solving problems. Unfortunately, when it comes to health care, people can die much too soon as a result.

  7. I had to hunt for this blog but determined to find it after a conversation with my daughter-in-law this evening; I have mentioned her before because she and my son pay $450 monthly for family health care through Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield and have a $9,000 annual deduction. She began trying to reach the ACA on line application site when it began; finally was able to fill out her application in January. After a lengthy wait and numerous calls she learned they had lost her application so she reapplied by phone. Are any of you aware that in Indiana to apply for ACA you must first be denied coverage by Medicaid and Healthcare Indiana, Hoosier Healthwise, etc? Now the problems begin; my son, daughter-in-law and their three sons may qualifiy for one of these Indiana based health care systems but have been REFUSED a decision until April or May. The ACA deadline is March 31st; when she called to explain her problem they told her to call immediately and apply for Healthcare Indiana who told her they will not accept applications until AFTER March 31st. Any fool can see this is another way Indiana is helping John Boehner and his never-ending attempts to do away with ACA. There must be something illegal about this situation that probably thousands of Indiana residents are facing with the deadline only days away. Any suggestions as to a source of help here?

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