Parking Lot

Normally when I car commute to work after 8 AM, the Beltline Highway in Madison WI is fairly uncongested with other wage slaves in their vehicles, but not today. It was like a parking lot most of the way across town from east to west. To make matters worse, there was no apparent reason for it. I didn't even see any particularly imbecilic drivers or tail gaters. There was one douchy tail gater but he wasn't causing any trouble as far as I could tell. Tail gaters are weird. They seem to think that their speed is inversely proportional to the distance they are from the bumper of the guy in front even though that hypothesis is disproven every single time it is tested.

Grading Obamacare

The mainstream corporate media have done a poor job of investigating and reporting on the realities of Obamacare. How easy is it to get? How much does it cost? Can you keep your doctor?

It's not surprising that they obfuscate. They are underwritten by corporate advertisers, including the private health insurance industry, for whom Obacare has been a goldmine. Who wouldn't want the government to mandate that everyone become their customer? That's why you don't hear the private health insurance lobby decrying Obamacare.

I decided to find out for myself what Obamacare is all about. I enrolled. My findings are not that great.

As far as I can tell, the only thing Obamacare does is mandate that you become a customer of a private health insurance company or pay a penalty. There's no real cost savings. You'll probably actually pay more. Enrolling was cumbersome, which had nothing to do with the healthcare.gov web site.

Here's what I found as a healthy, middle aged male, making a middle class income (approximately $60K per year the past two years, though probably less this year).

ENROLLING

Grade: D

You can be rejected from Obamacare for a lot of dumb reasons. If you recently left a job, as I did, and your job offers COBRA coverage, Obamacare won't let you sign up, even if your former employer's COBRA coverage is exorbitantly expensive. My former employer offered a COBRA plan, but it was unaffordable on my self-employed income. So I basically had to fib on the enrollment web site. They asked, "Does my former employer offer COBRA coverage that I am eligible for?" I rationalized my no answer on economic grounds. My bank account makes me ineligible for it.

When I finally gave the right enough answers to enroll in a plan and pay the first month's premium, I got no communication from the insurance company to let me know I was in their system. I didn't hear anything for a couple of weeks and finally called them, to be told I was in the system, but I had not been fully processed yet. On hold and transferred to several people, I determined this system was worse than what I had before with my employer's insurance.

AFFORDABLE?

Grade: D

I will be paying $342/month for the cheapest HMO plan I could find in my area that has fixed copays for visiting my primary care physician and getting prescriptions. That's more than what I was paying on my employer's plan, because on that plan I was only paying half, and my employer was paying the other half. I live in Wisconsin, and thanks to Scott Walker's rejection of federal ACA dollars, there are no offsets. We in Wisconsin will pay full price for our insurance.

I also got no dental or vision with this plan. Vision wasn't even available and if I wanted to buy a separate dental plan, it would not cover my geographic area. Weak.

In addition, there's a donut hole for the poor. Scott Walker lowered the income eligibility for Badgercare (Medicaid in WI) to 100% of the poverty line (it had been 200%) to make his conservative budget look better. However, Obamacare rejects anyone making 139% of the poverty line or below, saying they must take Medicare. That means those making between 100% and 139% of the poverty line get...wait for it...NOTHING. I would probably give ACA an F grade for affordability if I fell in that donut hole.

KEEPING YOUR DOCTOR AND INSURANCE PLAN

Grade: F

In theory, I could have kept my employer plan and thus my doctor. But first I would have had to donate my arm and leg, because that's how much more I would be paying to do so, either via COBRA or Obamacare.

"You can keep your existing provider. Period." What Obama did not say was that it would bankrupt you to do so. It's a lie of omission.

PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

Grade: N/A

I can't actually speak to this because I do not have any pre-existing conditions. However, during the enrollment process there were a lot of factors that could disqualify people.

DISENFRANCHISE THE CHARLATANS

What can you do?

Disenfranchise the system.

Eat healthy. Exercise. Don't smoke. These things can go a long way toward minimizing your interactions with and the cost of obtaining healthcare. Sure, you'll still probably get sick now and then, but if you lead a healthy lifestyle, you are statistically going to prevent a lot of health problems throughout your life, and that means less money in the pockets of the corporate politicians and private health insurance charlatans.

I have been exercising daily in an effort to minimize the amount of money I pay to insurance companies and hospitals. You should too.