Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thank you, I'm feeling much better now

One of the big talking points for the health insurance reform bill pushed by that '50s rock group Obama and the Obamabots in preference to an actual health care reform bill was how dramatically it would aid seniors facing back-breaking health costs.

Um, yeah. Right.
A 65-year-old couple retiring this year will spend $240,000 out-of-pocket for care before their deaths, after accounting for Medicare coverage, Fidelity [Investments] said in an annual estimate released today. That’s an increase of $10,000 from last year and includes premiums and co-payments under Medicare and supplementary coverage called Medigap, the Boston-based mutual-fund manager said.

Passage of the health law saved money for seniors who among other benefits gained additional coverage for prescription drugs, said Sunit Patel, senior vice president for Fidelity Benefits Consulting, who led the project. The cost of losing those benefits, should the court overturn the law, would be about $20,000, Patel said in an interview.
So for a couple retiring today the difference due to the law is that between $260,000 over the rest of their lives and $240,000. Now, yes, admittedly, that is a savings, in fact a savings of a touch under 7.7 percent. But it is still a quarter of a million dollars and quite bluntly those savings come nowhere near living up to their advance billing.

What's galling about this and why I am, as I surely will be accused of being, prepared "to fight old battles" is that those of us who opposed the measure as more about the benefit of insurance companies and less about the benefit of consumers and as, dammit, just not good enough, we predicted this. We predicted the results would not live up to the claims. And we were sneered at, called everything from being right wing agents to believing in "magical ponies" when we were not ignored entirely.

But here's what's really galling: On those rare occasions when we were not ignored when we pointed out the shortcomings of the program, shortcomings which some of the bill's most ardent supporters flatly denied only to openly acknowledge as soon as it was safely passed, we were assured that this was just the start. "We'll be back next year" - and yes, "next year" was the phrase used - "to make it stronger." Those of us in the "not good enough" camp knew better, we knew all the energy would go into defending the existing program rather than to improving it - and of course, we were ignored.

So, hey, when is that big push to "make it stronger" going to start?

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