Woman cited by Obama as ObamaCare success story … can’t afford her new insurance

posted at 11:21 am on November 19, 2013 by Allahpundit

When she signed up for coverage for herself and her son in October, the Washington state O-Care exchange quoted her a monthly premium of $169 after subsidies. Wonderful, she thought, and dashed off an e-mail to O congratulating him on his policy triumph. He read that e-mail at his presser in late October in the Rose Garden, back when Democratic panic was around DefCon 3 rather than the DefCon 1 it’s at now. Meanwhile, back in Washington state, his correspondent was receiving new letters from the state O-Care exchange — which, mind you, is supposed to be one of the better functioning systems in the country.

There’d been an error.

Sanford said she received another letter informing her the Washington state health exchange had miscalculated her eligibility for a tax credit.

In other words, her monthly insurance bill had shot up from $198 a month (she had initially said $169 a month to the White House but she switched plans) to $280 a month for the same “gold” plan offered by the state exchange.

Rate shock, part one. But then came the sequel:

Last week, Sanford received another letter from the Washington state exchange, stating there had been another problem, a “system error” that resulted in some “applicants to qualify for higher than allowed health insurance premium tax credits.”…

The result was a higher quote, which Sanford said was for $390 per month for a “silver” plan with a higher deductible. Still too expensive

A cheaper “bronze” plan, Sanford said, came in at $324 per month, but also with a high deductible – also not in her budget.

Her problem is both simple and complicated. Read this Washington State Wire post for the complicated part. The first erroneous premium quote was due to — surprise — the feds and the state not having their act together in calculating subsidies. The feds were expecting each applicant’s annual income; the state gave them each applicant’s monthly income. That led to a massive overestimate of how much taxpayer money each applicant was entitled to. The second bad quote came from poor advice given by the state itself: They encouraged her to enroll her son, who has ADHD, in the state Medicaid program, but they didn’t tell her that that meant he couldn’t be counted towards her federal subsidies for her ObamaCare plan. After the second adjustment, she was entitled to no subsidy at all. The Kafkaesque result, per CNN: “Now I have been priced out and will not be able to afford the plans you offer. But, I get to pay $95 and up for not having health insurance.”

That’s the complicated part, although don’t confuse “complicated” for “unanticipated.” When you remake one-sixth of the country’s economy, you’re destined to have lots of screw-ups and inefficiencies even with a competent administration in charge. As it is, we’re stuck with people who pegged the success or failure of the country’s biggest domestic reform in 50 years to their ability to build a functioning website and, despite three years’ lead time and hundreds of millions of dollars available, still couldn’t do it. On the other hand, though, the issue here is mercifully simple: New plans on the exchange simply cost too much for lower middle class people. Obama and the insurance industry needed the new plans to be more expensive than the old “cut-rate” ones in order to fund the de facto subsidy for covering preexisting conditions; that’s a burden that the upper middle class and, with great effort, the middle class itself can bear, but for lower middle class people who make slightly too much each year not to qualify for subsidies in paying their premiums, the Affordable Care Act ain’t all that affordable. It’s Obama’s misfortune that he chose the letter from this woman, of all people, to tout at the White House as evidence that the program was working. He’d have been much better off picking someone who was very poor and unquestionably entitled to a subsidy as a showpiece.

Update: Speaking of misfortune, when it rains, it pours.


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Comment pages: 1 2

She still believes in the Affordable Care Act.

Yeah, that and $3 will get you a cup of coffee. Might even get some CHANGE BACK YOU CAN BELIEVE IN.

Marcola on November 19, 2013 at 1:00 PM

The first erroneous premium quote was due to — surprise — the feds and the state not having their act together in calculating subsidies. The feds were expecting each applicant’s annual income; the state gave them each applicant’s monthly income.

Math is hard. Hey, anybody got a 12 times table? Or maybe they were too tired in the 57th state.

But all that matters is that Obama got to bask in the praise of this poor myzled woman’s letter. After that, in the illustrative words of a former Secretary of State, what difference does it make?

Steve Z on November 19, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Sounds like some bait-and-switch scam “errors” up front to generate good publicity. Might have worked if more than six people had been able to sign up…

Marcola on November 19, 2013 at 1:03 PM

She still believes in the Affordable Care Act.

She’d benefit more from still believing in the Tooth Ferry or the Easter Bunny.

portlandon on November 19, 2013 at 1:06 PM

… that’s a burden that the upper middle class and, with great effort, the middle class itself can bear …

Speak for yourself.

I personally don’t find monthly premiums of nearly $2K per month and a $6K deductible “a burden” that I “can bear”.

For those that can count, that’s $30K just for starters.

Considering it takes approximately $50K in gross income to net $30K, someone (Allahpundit) needs to re-examine their definition of bearable burdens.

Carnac on November 19, 2013 at 1:18 PM

It’s schadenfreude-tastic!

Axeman on November 19, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Only a lefty would continue to defend a law with the word “affordable” in its title while not being able to afford it.

anuts on November 19, 2013 at 1:52 PM

“Now I have been priced out and will not be able to afford the plans you offer. But, I get to pay $95 and up for not having health insurance.”

LOL. It’s worse than that, honey. Now you don’t get insurance, and you have to pay a $500 non-compliance penalty (er, tax) for not being able to afford Obamacare insurance.

The penalty . . . tax (whatever) . . . is $95 OR 1% of your income, whichever is greater. You make around $50k a year, so your penalty will be $500 (not $95), and that’s just the first year of the penalty. It escalates in succeeding years.

Enjoy the hope and change you voted for!

AZCoyote on November 19, 2013 at 2:04 PM

And there you go. Voting for big government is so much easier than the hard work of marrying a faithful man and keeping a marriage together.

Good marriages and families are the foundation of a healthy nation. When you don’t have them, you get big government. When you get big government, you get high debt and bad economies.

The “fiscal conservatives” who complain about “social conservatives” should read and heed. Without strong families, you will never have fiscal conservatism.

There Goes the Neighborhood on November 19, 2013 at 12:23 PM

EXACTLY. fiscal and social issues are connected. it’s funny when people try to pretend they are two completely separate things, and that they can be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. it doesn’t quite work out well that way.

Chicken and the egg in my mind.

Do we have weaker families because of big government or do we have big government because of weaker families?

If we reduce the size of big government, do we not automatically incentivize stronger families? If people can’t rely upon the government for their needs, they will have to find other means for support.

I believe smaller government leads to stronger families and that stronger families leads to smaller government.

weaselyone on November 19, 2013 at 12:28 PM

true. each thing causes the other to happen. conservatives have to promote a message of smaller government AND a strong family. it saddens me that so many people dismiss the importance that social conservatives place on traditional family values. most people do not realize how important that concept is and they just see it as needless “judging,” “meddling” and “nosiness” (oh and “religious craziness” of course). and then those same people who ignore social conservatives wonder why society has so many problems!

Sachiko on November 19, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Yeah, but you can offset that deductible by up to $2500 in a flexible spending account if you buy your insurance through your employer.

Oh, wait. She bought her insurance through the exchange.

Uh oh.

The Obama administration has reduced flexible spending plans to a max of $2500, presumably on the theory that, with Obamacare, you wouldn’t need more.

Now, with Obamacare, people need big flexible spending plans more than ever.

The Obama administration has been an absolute disaster for the poor and middle class.

There Goes the Neighborhood on November 19, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Not exactly. They maxed out the plans at $2500 as a stealth tax increase. That change increased my AGI enough last year to remove several deductions and force my tax bill to be almost $10K higher.

I am working less this year to compensate.

stvnscott on November 19, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Of course she can’t. NO ONE CAN!

mmcnamer1 on November 19, 2013 at 3:16 PM

She looks like an Obama supporter. Hard to feel sorry for someone who’s been screwed blue, yet STILL supports this pillaging of 1/6th of our economy.

CaptFlood on November 19, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Sachiko on November 19, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Not only that but one of the common arguments used by “fiscal cons” is that nobody should be able to tell an “adult” what they can do. But we have an ever decreasing expectation on what it means to be an adult in our society. And that society has always used a communal definition of adulthood.

Government either has to accept whatever standards of “adult” that the community offers, or if it re-engineers it, then redetermines what the community can consider and adult. However, it is then subject to the linearizing effects of our current system: if it grants any privileges to “adults” then it must justify every single principle, or nothing will stand against adult-equality.

But then it is the state using adulthood in its political struggles but also determining adulthood for everybody, thus giving itself in a role of regulating and distributing this status. And face it people, adulthood is a status and not a right for everybody to claim equally like you swallowed whole from the libs the last time.

Axeman on November 19, 2013 at 4:38 PM

That is an Obama success story. Obama hates you America. He wants you all to suffer, and he is working feverishly to make sure that you do.

Keep voting democrat you godless reprobates!

Murphy9 on November 19, 2013 at 4:46 PM

As a freelance court reporter, Sanford, 48, doesn’t make a lot – a little less than $50,000 a year. That doesn’t go very far when there is a child in the household and his father doesn’t pay child support

Bogus—Netting 3500 a month or so is plenty—change your lifestyle if not…I know, cause wife and I live on 2500 and we have health sharing ministry coverage…she deserves ZERO help via tax credits..

hillsoftx on November 19, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Why doesn’t the father pay child support?

Happy Nomad on November 19, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Exactly. We’re expected to subsidize his irresponsibility? If they’d go after Mr. Deadbeat Dad – she could probably afford her son’s medication and then some. What the hell? I don’t mind helping those in need, but show that you’ve exhausted all available private means of support before you come for your public handout.

Hill60 on November 19, 2013 at 7:21 PM

…good for her!

KOOLAID2 on November 19, 2013 at 7:32 PM

It’s Obama’s misfortune that he chose the letter from this woman, of all people, to tout at the White House as evidence that the program was working.

That seems a pretty bearable misfortune, considering what he’s putting everyone else through.

David Blue on November 19, 2013 at 8:55 PM

Been calling this the FUCA for awhile now.
Fxxxxxg Unaffordable Care Act

Whiterock on November 19, 2013 at 9:00 PM

I too am a WA res. Know a 49 year old woman, single, no kids. Was happy with her $200 / mo plan. She just got cancellation notice. WA Bronze for her is 300/ mo, 3500 deductible, don’t know the co-pay. She only makes <30000 per year, but has been told " no subsidy" . She is at home crying. Those responsible should be real proud about now.

Whiterock on November 19, 2013 at 9:08 PM

Including the chicken sh!t Repubs that stood around and watched this happen, and now say “It’s the law, nothin’ we can do”. We should be hearing the battle cry “Give us the 60% in both houses next year and we will get rid of this p.o.s.

Whiterock on November 19, 2013 at 9:15 PM

What kind of Santa would Barry make?

Even Bad Santa turned out okay in the end!

Barry takes your job, your insurance, and even your light bulbs.

Bloomberg Elf takes your unhealthy feast and Moochelle devours it.

Heck, he won’t even give no coal to the naughty kids. He leaves an exploding lithium battery instead.

This guy is on a level previously unknown.

New territory.

Talk about Malaise Incarnate!

Sherman1864 on November 20, 2013 at 12:04 AM

What kind of Santa would Barry make?

Sherman1864 on November 20, 2013 at 12:04 AM

Death to White Privilege and White Entitlement Santa.

Twenty years in the race-hate church of Jeremiah Wright, and he never heard a thing he regarded as unacceptable till the Rev. made himself too obtrusive to live with during Obama’s first presidential election campaign.

David Blue on November 20, 2013 at 2:01 AM

She says she wants to make it clear she has no beef with Obama and Obamacare. She still believes in the Affordable Care Act. “I don’t want this to be a political thing,” she says. “I don’t want to be bashing the president. I don’t want to be bashing the ACA. I don’t want to come across as saying that. I am a big Obama fan.

“But to me there is a big problem with the way the state is handling it. It is like a big machine – you put your stuff in there and once you do it, it is impossible to do anything. You can’t get through to them [on the phone], the website is really limited. So you are stuck on this big treadmill of bureaucracy, and you know, it feels very out of control.”

Really amazing that she is in love with having a socialist government that runs our lives, then goes on to describe why the “big machine” can’t do anything right.

Cognitive dissonance on Line 1.

Dear Ms. Sanford, the above is why the free-from-government marketplace is where things can be done better, quicker, and less expensive. Government has no business in business. I do hope the light comes on for you soon. And feed your son less sugary food, avoiding artificial colorings, watch his ADHD vanish.

Freelancer on November 20, 2013 at 11:37 PM

Preexisting conditions are a welfare issue, not an insurance issue. It absurd to vilify insurance companies for not covering something that has already happened. Let me explain,

Insurance companies buy your future risk. In other words you are paying them to absorb your future risk. They guess what your future bills will be and quote you a price based on this guess.

If you have a broken leg today, there is 100% risk you will have medical expenses for a broken leg. If you then seek insurance, there’s no guessing to it, it is 100% risk. To break even the insurance company has to bill you the full amount of your medical care, plus overhead just to break even. This is the business they are in, they are not hiding it, and they are heavily regulated.

When insurance companies are forced to take the loss from a preexisting condition (100% risk), the loss always becomes overhead, which is always passed on to the consumer. This is unfair for the consumer, and the villain is not the insurance company.

I’m not implying those with preexisting conditions should fend for themselves; I’m saying this is an area where government is the appropriate solution, not insurance companies. If it’s a case of someone abusing the system, we have criminal and civil courts.

BTW, I have no allegiance to any insurance company, only an allegiance to the truth.

KyserS on November 21, 2013 at 4:08 PM

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