“The mystery is that we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Parry, who retired to the Jacksonville, Fla. area in 1990 after 32 years with the computer behemoth. “We’re sitting in limbo.”
This month, IBM announced that the benefits of about 110,000 of its retirees would be administered by Extend Health, a private exchange run by Towers Watson & Co., beginning on Jan. 1. IBM said it was making the move to help protect its retirees from skyrocketing costs.
For Parry, like many retired IBM employees, the reality of life after work is different than what they might have imagined as health costs have, indeed, climbed sharply. The 80-year-old, who pays about $150 a month into the company plan and $200 into a Medicare Advantage plan to cover he and his spouse, said the company’s culture had changed as much as anything.
Parry, who worked in everything from sales to installing systems, remembers managers telling workers that they were lucky to be at IBM because they were guaranteed benefits for life.
“They made promises they didn’t keep,” he said. “I’m angry. IBM used to be the greatest company in the world. IBM is participating in screwing its employees and the middle class.”
The Justice Department hit IBM for allegedly violating the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, when it posted online job openings for software and apps developers.
In the job postings, IBM allegedly stated a preference for F-1 and H-1B visa holders. F-1 visas are issued to foreign students and H-1B visas to foreign nationals with technical experience in a specialized field. ...
Under the terms of the settlement with the Justice Department, IBM agreed to: Pay $44,400 in civil penalties to the United States...
Selected reader comments from Slashdot.org follow:
Sources say this is primarily because India has been at the forefront of IBM Global Process Services (GPS), the business process outsourcing (BPO) services business of the company. In turn due to the huge presence it got in the country with the acquisition of Daksh eServices in 2004.
“This (the selloff) is expected to affect employees partly in countries such as India, Philippines, China and Australia, and several countries in Latin America,” sources said. “Among all these, India seems to have a greater concentration of IBM’s delivery presence in voice-based BPO and call centre space, followed by Philippines.”
“However, among all these, India seems to have a greater concentration of IBM’s delivery presence in voice-based BPO and call centre space followed by Philippines,” it added.
Cons: When I was young I wanted to be an IBMer. My parents knew people who were IBMers. IBM had a reputation of taking care of its own...that's where I wanted to be. That IBM is gone. There is no loyalty to employees. I've been through 8 resource actions in the last 10 years. Some were small..some were very large. When I started I knew I would retire here. Now, I don't even know if I'll have a job next month. It is so distracting and stressful. The state of the company is reflected in every aspect of our life...all the way to the inability to get pens! I have to buy my own because they are no longer supplied.
Working with too many people around the world! 4 different major time zones in one product. 4 different cultures. Much is lost in the translation resulting in undesirable results. Quality suffers as a result. It's not an issue of whether employees from other countries are intelligent enough to do the work; it's a problem with too much diversity, too much distance and not enough of the right tools to bridge the gaps. Web and phone meetings only get you so far.
IBM doesn't know what it wants to be. IBM drove the market in the past and successfully developed their own products. The IBM of today outsources and scatters their work in too many different places. Managers do not even know what direction we should be going.
No real benefits to being an IBMer today. IBM used to have the best benefits; IBM functions that made their employees feel special, and, if nothing else, you knew you had a job for life. None of that exists today. If you want that type of treatment you have to go somewhere else like Google...catered lunches, carnivals, free tickets to whatever, large bonuses,etc. Even the 401k match is lacking compared to other companies.
Used to have a lot of opportunities to move into other areas. Now the teams are squeezed so hard that everyone is paralyzed with work, managers cannot let you go because they need you and there are no jobs anyway because of all the cuts.
Advice to Senior Management:
Cons: - Managerial staff does not pay attention/care about your success at all; - To excel, you need experience, but most people are interested in only their development and refuse to help you get said experience; - Regarding the last point, hours can be insane, including required weekends. If you travel, say goodbye to a social life, and be sure your relationships can take extreme stress.
Advice to Senior Management: Talk to your employees one-on-one and understand their struggles/concerns. Without that, they fail, and due to their inexperience, projects become lagged. Be sure those who are assigned to coach and guide actually coach and guide. Stop being so focused on meeting quotas and getting so many projects your employees are overworked and too stressed to complete any single assignment perfectly. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
Cons: Same as above. I should have put cons here, but couldn't find any pros at this point.
Advice to Senior Management: Get a grip. Bring the jobs back to the US where you started from. You need loyalty to your employees, not stockholders, and not moving everything to China. Shame on you!!!!!!!!!!! No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
Cons: There is ever increasing pressure to travel, regardless of family commitments; 4-5 days a week is not that unusual. There is disregard for the constant excessive demands placed on personal/family time or health, even following straight talk with management. Nobody seems to "retire" from IBM, people only quit or get released. Raises are unusual, but in order to potentially qualify for the mid-range of bonus possibilities, some find you need to work enough overtime to make up for any time used for vacations or stat holidays. People in consulting - don't expect your manager to help find your next assignment - that just might be for you to find - and if you don't do so within a certain period of time, that could affect the geography you work in or time with the company.
Advice to Senior Management: Employees matter for more than only the profitability they secured in the last month or quarter. Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend.
Insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act are expected to all but replace COBRA coverage in which ex-employees and dependents can remain on the company plan if they pay the premiums.
“As soon as the law was passed, the question among employers and benefits people was: Is there still going to be a reason for COBRA?” said Steve Wojcik, vice president of public policy for the National Business Group on Health, an employer group. Offered a choice between heavily subsidized coverage in the health act’s insurance exchanges or paying full price under COBRA, he said, “most people are going to choose the exchange.” ...
Because company cost sharing usually ceases when workers depart, COBRA members pay premiums exceeding $5,000 per year for single-person coverage and more for families. But because it’s so expensive, only people who know they’ll use the insurance are likely to sign up. ...
“If the employers know anything about their own experience, they’re going to be thrilled when these people go into the exchanges,” said Stephen Huth, a former Spencer’s editor, now retired, who managed the COBRA survey. “And when these former employees find out the [lower] cost, they’re going to be thrilled to go into them, too.”
This is the largest energy delivery system in New England and amazing they sit right there in Massachusetts with tons of brilliant peopleimage and this is the best they can do? With all the security risks and utility companies have been attacked as well, so let’s send all of our good expertise to India? Sure there’s nothing wrong with collaborating worldwide and sharing ideas and gaining knowledge, but this company is just flat out dumb and not taking advantage of the talent they have locally. Bank of America if you read this post you can see it has an entirely different perspective and is investing in their IT groups.
The 2014 health insurance information is not up on the ExtendHealth website yet, but I was interested in what they offered for 2013. Disclaimer: Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. I went to medicare.gov and also anonymously to the ExtendHealth website and this is what I found. The Medicare website lists 52 approved Medicare Advantage plans (I did not consider Medigap plans because the government does not list individual plans, just categories) for the Denver, CO area while ExtendHealth only lists 27 of these same plans for the same area. A further breakout is in the table below:
|2013 POLICY||Medicare.gov||ExtendHealth||% Plans Available in ExtendHealth|
|Health & Drug||20||9||45.0%|
There is no apparent pattern in the plans ExtendHealth chose not to carry. There is no pattern by either type, cost or rating. Also, there is absolutely no difference in the cost of these plans between the government and ExtendHealth websites, so ExtendHealth adds no value by negotiating prices.
My personal guess is that the plans excluded did not offer to pay ExtendHealth enough commission, but that is only my personal opinion. While that is a prerogative of an independent company, it is not in our best interest! IBM has chosen to force retirees into purchasing their individual health insurance plans through ExtendHealth by “Please note: You must enroll in a medical plan through Extend Health to receive an HRA contribution.” [IBM ExtendHealth Announcement Newsletter, page 2].
If this pattern continues into the offerings for 2014, this is definitely one of the issues I intend to raise with IBM directly. (Yeah, I know, lots of luck!)
Each person has to decide on enrolling with EH or losing the IBM funding, if they have that, if they go outside EH. As well as other factors that are important to them.
My dentist of 14 years does not participate with any dental insurance networks - so looks like my choice if I want to stay with my current dentist is to drop dental insurance. In any case looks like for the first few months or full year 2014 - anything major required will not be covered even if you used a different dentist.
There are (at least) two subjects under discussion here, though, with the other subject being the de-risking of pension plans by transferring the obligation to an insurance or investment company. IBM has not proposed making this latter change, though it’s a hot industry topic.
Kathi Cooper posted a pdf here recently from the Pension Rights Center (they’re good guys) which explains some of the potential problems which retirees could face. PBGC/ERISA pension protection has been initiated and evolved over decades to protect pensioners, especially after they’ve commenced annuity payments.
The transfer to an outside company may well be a good thing, but as the PRC points out, there are risks which need to be controlled before companies walk away from obligations. Insurance companies reorganize and buy/sell divisions all the time. While the original transfer from the employer demands a fiduciary responsibility, things down the line can be a real bag of worms.
"After you turn 64 years of age, you'll begin to receive updates from Extend Health on a regular basis that will remind you of important dates and help you plan for your benefits coverage after you become Medicare-eligible. You'll receive your enrollment material in November with details of the plans available to you."
To facilitate communications, when discussing plans and prices, we should begin to identify our AGE or GROUP with the posts. My plans and costs will be different from Medicare plans and costs and we need the facts to be identified correctly. Otherwise, it will get very confusing for everyone.
I've had 4 operations this years and UHC has not paid squat because I have not hit my $5,500 out-of-pocket max. Appears that Medicare will have to pay $27,500 before UHC pays a dime.
So my question is why do we all buy 20% coverage, when Medicare pays 89% and I only have to pay 20% of the Medicare rate.
Seems that we pay for something nobody gets to use just so some asshole insurance company CEO can be paid $100 million a year.
The Extend Health folks said several times that they will be calling people ... people that they haven't heard from and people that don't call in for their scheduled calls. They were anxious to make sure that they got in touch with all eligible retirees. They seemed very motivated not to have any retirees not make the 12/31 cutoff.
This doesn't effect me but it is likely to effect some folks. They had a written Q&A about a remarriage after retirement. It appeared to me that there will be an HRA deposit for a spouse that was in place at retirement BUT for a spouse from a marriage after retirement there would not be an HRA deposit.
They said several times that they are "licensed agents".
This time everyone is "guaranteed issue" since it is a transition from a group plan. In future years, those that chose a Medicare Advantage Plan will be guaranteed but those choosing a Medigap/Supplement Plan could be subject to re-qualification (not sure that is the right word).
Interesting point in that our 2013 IBM Plans were paid in arrears (i.e. we pay for Dec in January) and the Extend Health Plans need to be paid earlier (for a Medigap plan 1st month is due at signup). So there is some overlapping payments we are going to experience.
We are not going to see anything like the IBM customized plans with extend health, which is simply offering the standard Medicare plans stated in the back of your Medicare booklet. Even the example that Extend Health gave at their meetings in Raleigh Cost 240 bucks per month with drug coverage included. and that was 2013 costs.
None of us are going to see anything like what we had. The only reason to use Extend Health is to receive whatever subsidy IBM will offer us.
I'm betting the supplement from IBM wont be very large either. (They wouldn't give a toothpick to a starving woodpecker today).
MEDICARE WEBSITE: http://tinyurl.com/mpyj2wj:
ELDERLAW WEBSITE: http://tinyurl.com/n8dp4a5
IBM 2012 Annual Report, page 127, discussing the non-pension post-retirement benefit plan: “The company assumes that the healthcare cost trend rate for 2013 will be 7.0 percent. In addition, the company assumes that the same trend rate will decrease to 5 percent over the next four years.”
“The process of engaging with Extend Health’s benefit advisors, and the health plans available through the Extend Health Medicare Exchange, are not part of the IBM Benefits Plan for Retired Employees (Plan). Only the Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) is part of the Plan.
Complete details of the HRA can be found in the formal plan documents, which are the complete and exclusive statement of the company’s obligations under the Plan. The official Plan documents shall govern in the event of a conflict between information contained in these or other documents and statements.
The Plan Administrator retains exclusive authority and discretion to interpret the terms of the HRA under the Plan.
The Company reserves the right, in its sole discretion...
…to do whatever it wants.
I assume the ‘Plan Administrator’ role will be within each of the contracted insurance companies, and each company will have their own appeals process, with which Extend Health has said they will provide support.
For stockholders and fund managers, this is great. The bonus-receiving managers don't value acrewed the knowledge of the individual. They don't bother to measure that and include it as part of their decision process. They are simply above it all. For the rest of you, it is heartbreaking. -Anonymous-
Take David Beatty, a 70-year-old Toronto native who ran food processing giant Weston Foods and a holding company called the Gardiner Group during a career that has included service on more than 30 corporate boards and a recent appointment to the Order of Canada, one of the nation’s highest honors. By temperament and demeanor, Beatty is the kind of tough-minded, suffer-no-fools wealth creator who conservatives typically cheer.
Yet over breakfast in Toronto not long ago, Beatty told me how baffled he and Canadian business colleagues are when they listen to the U.S. health-care debate. He cherishes Canada’s single-payer system for its quality and cost-effectiveness (Canada boasts much lower costs per person than the United States). And don’t get him started on the system’s administrative simplicity — you just show your card at the point of service, and that’s it. Though he’s a well-to-do man who can pay for whatever care he wants, Beatty told me he’s relied on the system just as ordinary Canadians do, including for a recent knee replacement operation. The one time he went outside the system was to pay extra for a physical therapist closer to his home than the one to which he’d been assigned.
It’s just “common sense” in Beatty’s view that government takes the lead in assuring basic health security for its citizens. He’s amazed at the contortions of the debate in the United States, and wonders why big U.S. companies “want to be in the business of providing health care anyway” (“that’s a government function,” he says simply). Beatty also marvels at the way the U.S. regime’s dysfunction comes to dominate everyday conversation. He shakes his head recalling how much time and passion American friends devoted one evening to comparing notes on their various supplemental Medicare plans. Talk about your sparkling dinner conversation. ...
Martin told me that Canada’s lower spending, better outcomes and universal coverage make it superior by definition. Plus, it’s “incredibly hassle-free.” In the United States every time he took his kids in for an earache his wife spent hours fighting with the health plan or filling out reams of paperwork. In Canada, he says, “the entire administrative cost is pulling your card out of your pocket, giving it to them and putting it back.”
There’s more. Canadian divisions of multinational firms love Canada’s system because when they bid on projects they have no health costs to load in. Also, there’s no crazy “job lock” as with the employer-based system in the United States — where people with (say) a sick child cling to their job for fear of being pronounced uninsurable. His peers, he says, view the U.S. debate as “ideological and not based on economics.” ...
One well-known billionaire told me a few years back that the right answer for the United States was single payer for basic coverage, with the ability for folks to buy additional private supplements atop that. But he won’t say this in public; the gang at the club just wouldn’t understand. Maybe when U.S. business leaders muster the common sense of their Canadian counterparts, they’ll deliver the message the Ted Cruzes of the world need to hear: sit down and shut up.
Today fewer than one-third (28%) of workers at the large firms that currently provide health care benefits get retirement coverage. Added to that, only 5% of workers at small firms get health benefits in retirement.
In the past three weeks, both IBM and Time-Warner have announced that in January they will transfer retirees into defined-contribution private exchanges. IBM’s change affects 110,000 retirees. That number represents only a small segment, however, of the millions of retirees expected to be transferred to Medicare private exchanges in the next few years. ...
Firms make no secret that the change is to reduce their future exposure to rising health costs. IBM chief medical director Dr. Kyu Rhee said in his videotaped announcement to retirees that the company is switching to a private exchange to protect retirees and the company from healthcare costs that otherwise would triple in the next few years. As Rhee noted, much of that increased cost would be paid by retirees in premiums and cost-sharing. But IBM would likely shoulder a larger share of the cost than it will now. ...
Large firms have longed for defined-contribution health plans for more than a decade, according to a study by the Employee Benefits Research Institute. The Affordable Care Act legitimized the concept of exchanges by creating public ones starting in 2014, with the government making defined contributions for lower-income individuals. Private exchanges, however, are administered by for-profit companies that contract with insurance companies. Most of a private exchange’s income is from commissions and shelf-space fees. ...
The largest Medicare private exchange is operated by ExtendHealth, which advertises that it has “thousands of plans from more than 75 of the nation’s leading health insurers.” A subsidiary of Towers Watson Consulting, ExtendHealth’s prospects are bright enough that it has filed with the SEC for a public offering that’s expected late this year. In 2007 ExtendHealth had only three corporate customers and by the end of 2010 it had 76 employers under contract. Now it provides retiree health coverage for more than 300 large companies including IBM, Caterpillar, DuPont, General Motors, and Whirlpool. ...
Yet the downside to private exchanges is substantial when they are compared to traditional employer plans. Even though retirees have more choices in private exchanges than in their old plans, the choices may not be as good as for people who don’t have employer coverage. As one example, Kaiser Permanente sponsors more than one-half of the Advantage plans with five-star ratings, but it is not available in a private exchange. That means that the one million retirees currently in private exchanges cannot enroll in Kaiser Advantage plans without permanently losing their defined contribution coverage. ...
IBM has said that it will contribute amounts comparable to what it now pays for retiree health plans, but they have no obligation to increase that amount in future years. And it’s good to remember that the reason companies are moving retirees into private exchanges is that they believe that health care costs will increase at more rapidly than their contributions. That in turn will mean retirees in private exchanges will face ever-greater cost-sharing. ...
Meanwhile Ted Benna, the father of 401k plans, has regrets about the way they have evolved. He says that the earliest 401k plans were simple and easy-to-understand vehicles with two or three basic investment options. Gradually the number of choices increased, which gave workers more opportunities to chase fads, usually to their detriment. The vanishing company pension plan, by contrast, has always been managed by professionals able to quantify risk.
Likewise a company’s retirement health plan options have always been selected by experts hired by the employers wanting to make sure their money was spent wisely. In many cases companies self-insured their health plans, which meant they bore much of the risk and gave them an added incentive to choose well.
Several insurers, including Humana Inc. and some Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, have recently warned customers of big rate hikes if they don't immediately renew their policies for 2014.
But some of those customers may be able to find cheaper policies on the insurance exchanges launching under the new federal health law. In some cases, the regulators say, insurers aren't making it clear to consumers that they may switch carriers or shop on the new exchanges.
At issue is a battle for healthy policyholders. Each company wants as many healthy people as possible on its books in hopes that their premiums will help offset an increase in costs from an expected wave of new customers who—with the help of the new health law—will be gaining insurance for the first time and may have health conditions to address. ...
The Kentucky Department of Insurance fined Humana earlier this month for instructing existing individual policyholders to renew their current plans for 2014 within 30 days of receiving the letter in late August or be switched to a pricier policy. Humana's letter to 6,500 policyholders in Kentucky was "misleading," the insurance department said.
Humana disclosed only in a footnote that policyholders have the option to enroll in rival plans on the exchanges, and it didn't mention that some policyholders might be eligible for federal subsidies to purchase coverage on the exchanges, the regulator found.
"This letter was preying on people's lack of knowledge about their consumer protections, their rights," said Sharon P. Clark, Kentucky's insurance department commissioner. The regulator fined Louisville-based Humana $65,000. ...
Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Insurance rejected Aetna Inc.'s request to distribute an advertising brochure in the state touting a "one-time opportunity" for savings. The ad read: "Health Care Reform is here. Higher rates can wait." In a letter to the carrier, the department said the advertisement contained "several misleading and possibly untruthful statements."
No overall cost estimates for the bill were available and the legislation contains no provision to ensure insurance coverage for millions of lower-income Americans who are scheduled under current law to be enrolled in Medicaid. Nor are there replacements for several ACA requirements, including the mandate that health plans retain children up to the age of 26 on their parents’ coverage and another barring lifetime limits on coverage. Although the bill would likely pass the House should it come up for a vote, it is unlikely to be considered in the Senate until after the 2014 election at the earliest.
From California to Illinois to New Hampshire, and in many states in between, insurers are driving down premiums by restricting the number of providers who will treat patients in their new health plans.
When insurance marketplaces open on Oct. 1, most of those shopping for coverage will be low- and moderate-income people for whom price is paramount. To hold down costs, insurers say, they have created smaller networks of doctors and hospitals than are typically found in commercial insurance. And those health care providers will, in many cases, be paid less than what they have been receiving from commercial insurers. ...
Consumers should be prepared for “much tighter, narrower networks” of doctors and hospitals, said Adam M. Linker, a health policy analyst at the North Carolina Justice Center, a statewide advocacy group. “That can be positive for consumers if it holds down premiums and drives people to higher-quality providers,” Mr. Linker said. “But there is also a risk because, under some health plans, consumers can end up with astronomical costs if they go to providers outside the network.” ...
Cigna illustrates the strategy of many insurers. It intends to participate next year in the insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee and Texas. “The networks will be narrower than the networks typically offered to large groups of employees in the commercial market,” said Joseph Mondy, a spokesman for Cigna.
One targets young men, the other young women. In the “for him” version, a young man tells his doctor that he saw an ad for the Affordable Care Act and “figured, why not?” The doctor tells him to take his pants off, “hop up here, lay down and bend your knees to your chest.” He leaves the room. Then a man wearing an Uncle Sam mask snaps on a blue glove. As if the message weren’t perfectly clear, the ad states: “Don’t let government play doctor.”
The “for her” version is much the same, except in that case Uncle Sam’s performing a gynecological exam. ...
Young people who sign up for exchanges won’t be getting access to government-run healthcare (if only they were!), but to privately run insurance. Nor does the A.C.A. force doctors to ask patients about their sex lives or perform unwanted exams—as Politifact explained recently. Under the A.C.A., government doesn’t “play doctor,” it merely enables access to doctors who then decide, using their professional judgment, the best course of action.
Signing up for an exchange isn’t an act of political (or sexual) submission. It’s just a way to get insurance if you don’t have a job or your employer doesn’t provide it. The Generation Opportunity crowd surely knows that and obviously doesn’t care because its priority now, as ever, is bringing down President Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment. The group also doesn’t care about the possibility that some number of young people, scared by its ads, will forgo access to affordable care, get sick, and go bankrupt paying their medical bills.
Looking quickly at the helpful graphics in the article, we see that the average shop has $800,000 a year in sales. A $4,000 annual increase on a store with $800,000 in sales is an increase of 0.5% relative to sales. A quick look for a Firehouse Sub menu on the internet shows the price of a sandwich at $5.79. If all of the additional cost was passed on to consumers, it would be a whopping 3 cents per Sandwich, raising the price to $5.82. I suspect that most customers won’t mind paying an additional 3 cents to know that the people handling their food have access to health care.
Even a 3 cent increase assumes all of the costs are passed on to consumers. Health benefits have positive impacts on worker productivity and reduce absenteeism and turnover. Replacing one worker in the fast food industry is estimated to cost about $2,000 a year. Once this is factored in, the actual cost to the sub shop is likely to be well under the already very low $4,000. The notion that these costs would effect growth in any way defies economic logic.
It didn't take a long time for another example of hospitals cutting back in the face of Obamacare to pop up, though. On Wednesday, the Cleveland Clinic announced it would cut its budget and staff. Here's how Reuters reported the news...
In fact, the "Obamacare is killing jobs" story isn't really accurate. It's not totally false — the Cleveland Clinic will in fact take in less money because of the law — but it's a more complicated story about changes in medicine. When I reached Sheil on Thursday, she seemed a bit confused by the emphasis on Obamacare in reports. "We've been working on reducing costs for years," she said.
"We felt health-care reform was absolutely necessary," Sheil said. "This is the new normal. This is where hospitals have to focus to be viable in the long run. This is not doomsday for the clinic. We're still growing — we're still hiring. The hardest thing is when it affects people."
Actually, much of what the Cleveland Clinic system is doing follows the recommendations of health-care analysts closely. For example, it has consolidated closely located neonatal intensive care units, because high volumes tend to lead to better results. It's working to reduce the number of procedures its staff performs, since in the current system "physicians are rewarded to do more, not to do the right thing for the patient," as Sheil put it. And there's a new focus on chronic diseases, which are an increasingly important and costly area for treatment.
Seriously. That’s what all the yelling and screaming is about. As my grandmother used to say, it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry.
The GOP has tried its best to make Obamacare a synonym for bogeyman and convince people that it’s coming in the night to snatch the children. In fact, and I know this comes as a shock to some, Obamacare is not a mythical creature. It is a law, incorporating what were originally Republican ideas, that will make it possible for up to 30 million people now lacking health insurance to obtain it. ...
Other rich countries provide truly universal care through single-payer systems of various kinds. Obama chose instead to model the Affordable Care Act after a program implemented on the state level by the Republican governor who became Obama’s opponent in the 2012 presidential election. Yes, before Obamacare there was Romneycare, a private-sector, free-market solution designed to be in accord with the GOP’s most hallowed principles.
But in the years between Mitt Romney’s tenure in Massachusetts and his presidential run, the Republican Party lost its way, or perhaps its mind.
The party shows no serious interest in finding a GOP-friendly way to provide the uninsured with access to health care. Rather, it pursues two goals at any cost: opposing Obama no matter what he does, and making people see Obamacare as a failure.
For the radical far right, making health care more widely available through the existing network of insurers, most of them for-profit companies, is a giant leap toward godless socialism. These extremists hold outsize power in the GOP — enough to make sane Republican officials fear, with some reason, that anything short of massive resistance to Obamacare could lead to a primary challenge and a shortened career. ...
Now the central provisions of the Affordable Care Act are set to come into effect — the individual mandate, the insurance exchanges, the guarantee of coverage for those with preexisting conditions. Republicans scream that Obamacare is sure to fail. But what they really fear is that it will succeed. ...
Keeping premiums under control will require persuading lots of young, healthy people to buy insurance — and thus, in effect, subsidize those who are older and sicker. That is why a group called Generation Opportunity, funded by the ultraconservative Koch brothers, plans to tour college campuses with disgusting ads in which a creepy Uncle Sam subjects a young woman to a pelvic examination.
The GOP message: Whatever you do, don’t buy health insurance. It may be — shudder — good for you.
The report, released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services, showed significant variation in the insurance premiums that Americans shopping on the individual market could pay under the president’s health-care overhaul. Across the 48 states for which data were available, the unsubsidized monthly premiums could be as low as $70 for an individual and as high as $1,200 for a moderate plan for a family of four. ...
Most people using the marketplaces will have incomes low enough to qualify for a government subsidy. A recent administration report found that 56 percent of the roughly 41 million uninsured people eligible for the marketplaces could pay monthly premiums of $100 or less.
Health experts say it is a good sign for consumers that premiums have come in lower than expected. Under the law, the plans must offer a basic set of benefits, including mental health and maternity care, which previously were not included in many private plans. Insurers are also forbidden from rejecting or charging people more because of preexisting conditions.
My retiree contract has retiree health insurance for my son until he is 26. Both my husband and I are covered under this plan until I am Medicare age. Can my son stay on my retiree health plan as before? At 26, when he comes off my plan, what does he need to do? Is there a specific time of the year that he needs to get insurance at 26? ...
Are there any resources out there that rate the quality of various health plans or can help me see differences and compare plans? ...
I am a retiree and eligible for Social Security retirement but I am not eligible to be covered by Medicare yet. I am currently covered under the retired employee healthcare coverage with my last employer and the premium is so expensive. Can I enroll in the ACA health exchange on Oct. 1st and be covered immediately for both me and my spouse? ...
My husband currently has health insurance coverage through his employer and I am covered as a family member. The price is affordable and the coverage is relatively good. Will I have to obtain my own policy or can I continue on under his plan? ...
This program doesn't look anything like the bill of goods we were sold at election time. Who has the time and the savvy to work through this bureaucratic labyrinth of plans graded as metals and prices that can change anytime? It is an unmitigated mess and the only people who will benefit are the insurers and their high-priced executives and the lawyers who will have to be called in to make some sense of it. ...
I become eligible for Medicare in April of 2014. Must I buy health insurance for the first quarter in order to escape paying a fine?
So why then is Kentucky — more quickly than almost any other state — moving to implement the Affordable Care Act?
Because there’s a huge disconnect between the rank partisanship of national politics and the outlook of governors whose job it is to help beleaguered families, strengthen work forces, attract companies and create a balanced budget.
It’s no coincidence that numerous governors — not just Democrats like me but also Republicans like Jan Brewer of Arizona, John Kasich of Ohio and Rick Snyder of Michigan — see the Affordable Care Act not as a referendum on President Obama but as a tool for historic change.
That is especially true in Kentucky, a state where residents’ collective health has long been horrendous. The state ranks among the worst, if not the worst, in almost every major health category, including smoking, cancer deaths, preventable hospitalizations, premature death, heart disease and diabetes. ...
For the first time, we will make affordable health insurance available to every single citizen in the state. Right now, 640,000 people in Kentucky are uninsured. That’s almost one in six Kentuckians.
Lack of health coverage puts their health and financial security at risk.
They roll the dice and pray they don’t get sick. They choose between food and medicine. They ignore checkups that would catch serious conditions early. They put off doctor’s appointments, hoping a condition turns out to be nothing. And they live knowing that bankruptcy is just one bad diagnosis away.
"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich." From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.
Denying food to the hungry, chemo to the cancer-stricken? That is not American. That is what ruthless dictators do. That is the stuff of Kim Jong-il. That is not how Americans treat each other.
It is, however, exactly what the cult of the selfish is seeking. It wants an America without community, where everyone is out for himself. Alone. Self-seeking. Self-dealing. In that world, the CEO who succeeds did it all by himself—no credit should be given to dedicated workers or community tax breaks or federal copyright protections. Similarly, in that world, the worker who is laid off has no one to blame but himself, not a crash on Wall Street, not the failure of a CEO to properly market products, not a technological transformation.
Decades ago, these scam artists tried to persuade Great Depression victims that their joblessness was their own, individual faults, not a result of the 1929 Black Friday market catastrophe. They’re resurgent now, trying to blame the 2008 Wall Street debacle on individual mortgage holders. They contend those working 40 hours a week for minimum wage deserve an income too paltry to pay for food and shelter. They insist that Social Security and Medicare be slashed, and if that means workers who paid into the programs their entire lives must live on cat food in retirement, well, that’s their individual fault.
What’s frightening is how close they’re getting to what they want—a country in which the rich get richer and everyone else blames themselves for falling behind.
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