You are tempted to indulge a little Schadenfreude, but the issue is too serious for mirth.
To their chagrin many New York professionals have just discovered the truth of Nancy Pelosi’s dictum: they have just learned what is in the Affordable Care Act. They don’t like it.
The New York Times— which, incidentally, has been doing some excellent reporting about the calamity that is Obamacare— reported yesterday:
Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.
They did not know that they were voting for it. They did not know that the president was lying when he said that if they liked their plan they could keep it. They did not know that the president was lying when he said that if they liked their doctors they could keep them.
Now they know.
Will they hold him to account? Will they demand accountability?
Some might, but many won’t.
In the past these people got their insurance through group policies offered by professional associations. No longer:
But under the Affordable Care Act, they will be treated as individuals, responsible for their own insurance policies. For many of them, that is likely to mean they will no longer have access to a wide network of doctors and a range of plans tailored to their needs. And many of them are finding that if they want to keep their premiums from rising, they will have to accept higher deductible and co-pay costs or inferior coverage.
Lawyer Barbara Meinwald learned the truth the hard way:
Ms. Meinwald, 61, has been paying $10,000 a year for her insurance through the New York City Bar. A broker told her that a new temporary plan with fewer doctors would cost $5,000 more, after factoring in the cost of her medications.
Ms. Meinwald also looked on the state’s health insurance exchange. But she said she found that those plans did not have a good choice of doctors, and that it was hard to even find out who the doctors were, and which hospitals were covered. “It’s like you’re blindfolded and you’re told that you have to buy something,” she said.
It’s not just the doctors and lawyers who are losing their coverage:
The people affected include not just writers, artists, doctors and the like, but also independent tradespeople, like home builders or carpenters, who work on their own.
Some have received notices already; others, whose plans have not yet expired, will soon receive letters in the mail. It is unclear exactly how many New Yorkers are affected; according to state health officials, as many as 400,000 independent practitioners get health insurance through job-related group plans, but that number also includes people who receive coverage through their spouses’ employers.
All of this is happening because Obamacare was constructed to redistribute money from the wealthy to the uninsured. The people who are losing their plans are not very wealthy— by New York standards— but, many of them are supposed to be very bright. How did they get duped into thinking that only the 1% would pick up the tab?
Of course, liberal New Yorkers tend to believe that the fault lies with the insurance companies or their professional associations. When they discover that they have become martyrs for the cause of Obamacare, somehow they feel less angry:
Roy Lyons, managing director of Marsh U.S. Consumer, an insurance brokerage, said he had heard complaints from physicians, lawyers, pharmacists and optometrists. “At first they think it’s the bar association making the decision or the insurance company doing it,” Mr. Lyons said. “We have to explain that this is the Affordable Care Act; that’s what was put into law. Once they understand, they’re less emotional, but they’re not happy with it.”
It’s not easy accepting that you have been duped, and that your lofty liberal principles are going to cost you your health care and perhaps even your health.
Lawyer Meinwald would have changed her vote:
It is not lost on many of the professionals that they are exactly the sort of people — liberal, concerned with social justice — who supported the Obama health plan in the first place. Ms. Meinwald, the lawyer, said she was a lifelong Democrat who still supported better health care for all, but had she known what was in store for her, she would have voted for Mitt Romney.
Others— let’s call them bitter-enders— are ready to go down with the good ship Obamacare:
“We are the Obama people,” said Camille Sweeney, a New York writer and member of the Authors Guild. Her insurance is being canceled, and she is dismayed that neither her pediatrician nor her general practitioner appears to be on the exchange plans. What to do has become a hot topic on Facebook and at dinner parties frequented by her fellow writers and artists.
“I’m for it,” she said. “But what is the reality of it?”
How can you be for it when you don’t know what’s in it?
How long will it be before these proud Obama voters come to realize that they have been had?
In many cases, this is going to lead to some bad outcomes. No one wants anyone to suffer because he or she has lost her doctor and her health insurance. No one wants to see cancer victims being refused the best care—at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York— because the hospital will not accept anyone who has bought a policy on the Obamacare exchanges.
These people have a serious grievance. If they overcome their knee-jerk habit of voting for liberal democrats without having a clue about what they are voting for, then perhaps things will start to change.