What with House Republicans apparently willing to shut down the federal government and tank our nation's economy in pursuit of defunding Obamacare, and with all the intentional misinformation flying about, there's a ton of confusion and anxiety out there over the coming health insurance exchanges, and their impact on individual families. For example, the following email from Hans Nelsen of Vashon Island is rather typical of the sort of scare stories we've been hearing:
I just learned that my health care rates will double under the Affordable Health Care Act. I got a letter from my provider, Group Health, that stated as much. I called them, and their customer service people said they were getting a lot of calls on this.
I'm not a conservative hater of social programs. I consider myself to be a socialist.
I also learned that I will be covered for maternity care, newborn care, and pediatric dental, although I'm male and 60 years old. Are they nuts?
I can't afford the new rates. I thought the rates would go down. A good friend of mine is Spanish and lives in Spain, and pays nothing for health care.
Not so typical, though, was the extra effort Hans put into educating himself, prompting the followup email he sent us just one day later:
I sent you a letter yesterday about the Affordable Health Care Act. See below. I did some more checking and I was totally wrong! My rates will actually go down with the federal subsidies available to my income level, and not only that, but my coverage will be much better. My misunderstanding was the fault of really poor communication on the part of my provider and their customer service department, who utterly failed to inform me about the true situation. I spoke too soon. Very sorry.
Hans graciously gave us permission to post both his emails as an illustration to others. The whole health insurance exchange and federal subsidy thing can be awfully damn confusing, and a lot of insurers and businesses are doing a crappy job of informing customers and employees. Part of the problem is that everybody is just new at this. Part of it is that businesses are sticking to bullshit legalize in a fit of excess caution. But the important thing to remember is that for most people, if your employer provides you insurance, that will not change, and if you are buying on the individual market you will likely be offered better insurance at a lower cost than you are buying now. Just like Hans.