A Shameful Aspect of Obamacare

On May 27th, the New York Times ran a story in the Business Section highlighting a truly shameful aspect of the ACA, aka Obama Care.  Employers are now trying to avoid the so-called Cadillac Tax on what are considered to be high-end benefits, but which are really union negotiated benefits that everyone should have (and which all enjoy in countries with national health plans). Author Reed Adelson focused on a woman named Abbey Bruce who works as a nursing assistant and who, to make ends meet, has a second job as a cleaner.  Casey, Abbey’s husband, has cystic fibrosis.  He obviously wasn’t a responsible reproductive consumer and didn’t choose his parents well.  Before the new law, Abbey and her husband had an annual limit of $3000 to pay out of pocket on their medical expenses and $2000 on their pharmaceutical bills.  Now, thanks to Obamacare, they will have to pay $6,600 out of pocket annually.  To pay for their relentless bills, Abbey has had to quit school.  Which makes great economic sense!! Keep people from improving their lives because they have to pay for health care.

And there is no relief to come.  Cynthia Weidner, a benefits consultant (one of the endless cadres of consultants who are making a killing off of this version of reform) informs us in the article that,”the consumer should continue to expect that their plan will be more expensive, and that they will have less benefits.”

Am I missing something?  The premise behind this bill is that we will no longer be “patients” but will rather “consumers,” making rational economic choices when it comes to health care.  In what economic universe do consumers continue to pay more and more and get less and less?  What this reveals is that patients like Abbey and her husband Casey are not “consumers.” Rather they are prisoners of their employers’ desire to pay less for health care.  Abbey and her husband are not the “consumer,” their employer is.  The final irony here is that Abbey is represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which uncritically championed the ACA, helped to scuttle the public option, and refused to join other unions in opposing taxes on decent union negotiated health plans.  Congrats SEIU — you have just helped another worker to lose decent benefits in your efforts to become the best company union ever!!!

Showing 4 comments
  • Disillusioned Dixie Nurse

    I said from the beginning this insurance mandate was going to screw the working poor, and that it was a lousy approach to meaningful reform. I got some very hostile feedback from people who are determined to totally agree with anything Obama does. This law was shoved through Congress. Citizens weren’t allowed to vote on an issue that would have a profound effect on their lives. How arrogant and condescending to assume the people don’t have sense enough to make an informed decision regarding their health care. I know people who struggle just to make rent and buy groceries, and we’re expecting them to take on another living expense? And my working conditions have worsened since health care reform. I have a lot more paperwork and a lot more additional duties. I feel more like a pack mule than a nurse these days. And it’s just going to keep on getting worse. And I’m bringing home less money than I did two years ago. So I am ready for this guy to leave office. Yeah, I voted for him. What other choice was there? But I am truly displeased with all but a small handful of people in DC. We need to just clean house.

  • Abbey Bruce

    Hi Suzanne, I agree with your assessment that my husband and I are ” prisoners of their employers’ desire to pay less for health care” but would like to also point out that before the ACA, if we’d had even a 1-day gap in his medical coverage, he could have legally been denied from every plan we later applied for due to his pre-existing condition. Also, while Ms. Adelson implied that Providence was somehow forced into making these cuts by the ACA, in fact the previously offered benefits were absolutely not at the level where the ‘Cadillac Tax’ would have applied to them. So it was an economic decision, but one that was completely optional and made freely by a fiscally healthy corporation.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this topic, and allowing us to share ours 🙂

  • Casey Bruce

    Hi Suzanne, this is Casey Bruce, husband of Abbey, who was interviewed in the article you linked to. I want to address that both my wife and I are huge proponents of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. What the New York Times didn’t mention was that Providence, my wife’s employer, was nowhere near the level of incurring the ‘cadillac tax’ before they slashed their employees’ healthcare plans. This change occurred when the company was sold by the Sisters Of Providence to a larger corporation. I believe this was a decision arrived at through greed, and not through necessity. They are all too happy to allow others (such as the New York Times and yourself) to inappropriately lay blame on “Obamacare” and other factors though. This is another of the all-too-many cases of companies in the healthcare field cutting benefits to their lower-paid employees while giving CEOs and other higher-ups bonuses due to how much money they have made the company.
    Prior to the passing of the ACA, had I ever had even a singly day’s break in coverage, health insurance companies would have been able to deny me coverage. For this reason, during times of transition, I used to have to pay for multiple insurance policies at once just to be completely sure I would not have a break.
    This situation is completely the fault of Providence hospitals, and not “a shameful aspect of Obamacare,” as you refer to it. “Shameful,” yes, but only for the behavior of Abbey’s employers. We are one of the many, many families who are better off with President Obama’s passing of the ACA.

  • Lawyer Up Netrunner

    Admiring the dedication you put into your blog aand detailed information you provide.

    It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed material.
    Grsat read! I’ve bookmarked our site and I’m adding
    your RSS feeds to my Google account.

Leave a Comment