November 27, 2013
by James Wigderson
Special Guest Perspective for the MacIver Institute
Set an extra plate at the table this Thanksgiving. President Barack Obama is inviting himself into your Thanksgiving dinner. In between the mashed potatoes and the green bean casserole, Obama wants everyone to discuss the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.
It’s a turkey of an idea. Do you really want to discuss health care law with your relatives? It’s a formula for finding out what the emergency room deductible in your current policy is for an electric carving knife accident.
For that matter, does Obama really want us to discuss the changes he made to the nation’s health insurance system? According to the polls, Obama is more unpopular than ever, and a majority of the country thinks he’s dishonest. The polls are probably giving Obama and his Democratic colleagues in the Senate serious indigestion long before the pumpkin pie hits the table.
But apparently they do want the discussion to continue, even as your cousin Edna explains how she has to find a new doctor since her old doctor won’t be in her new plan that costs twice as much as before. Obama is going to pardon the Thanksgiving turkey; you would think he could spare the rest of us.
You know that smug, know-it-all cousin that just finished her second year of college so she knows everything that’s wrong with America and insists on ruining every family gathering? There’s a step-by-step process created by Organizing for Action, Obama’s activist arm, for discussing health care on Thanksgiving, and it must have been written by her.
One, “Send a packing list.” Ask your family members who are traveling to bring along all of their personal information, including their Social Security number and their existing insurance policies. Since the Obamacare website is probably already leaking personal information like a sieve, according to some web security experts, why not ask your relatives to put their personal information in their luggage that will be lost at the airport? At this point, what is the risk?
Two, “Take a moment to plan when, where, and how you’ll talk to your family about health insurance.” This is good advice. My advice would be anytime other than a family holiday gathering.
However, if you insist on being annoying, I would strongly suggest not bringing up health care during that important fourth quarter drive by the Green Bay Packers. The health care choices you may be discussing will probably be yours. Instead, wait for the tryptophan from the turkey and gravy to kick in, so everyone is too lethargic to listen anyway. Just think of the arguments you avoided.
Three, ask them, “Have you thought about signing up for health insurance on the new marketplace?” At this point somebody in the room should point out that, as annoying as it is to talk to your insurance agent about different types of coverage, he or she is usually just a quick phone call away. Most insurance is so easy to buy even a caveman can do it. So why is the Obamacare website running like the Packer offense under TJ Rubley?
You may want to reconsider this question. If any of your relatives are among the five to seven million people projected to have their health insurance plans cancelled this year, I’m sure they’ve thought quite a bit about signing up for insurance. If they’re unfortunate enough to live in a state that expanded Medicaid with (what is likely to be temporary) federal money, they may have discovered that they’ve moved from the private insurance market to a federal program. The others are probably discovering the increased premiums of their new plans that cover all sorts of things they don’t need just so the plan “qualifies” under the new health care law. Even with the federal subsidies, some of your relatives probably can’t afford the new policies.
Don’t forget to mention how your relatives are going to love their new doctors since their old doctors are not going to be in their provider networks.
I’m sure your relatives will be thrilled to discuss how much they have thought about signing up for the new insurance. Still, better to have this conversation this year, because next year employer-based plans will start dropping coverage, too. A brief by the Justice Department defending Obamacare in court estimates the health care plans of 80 million Americans could lose their grandfather status in coming years.
Four, “Make a pledge to have a conversation with your family about health insurance this holiday season.” Don’t be surprised if you get a stocking full of coal for Christmas. Oh wait, Organizing for Action also wants us all to thank Obama this Thanksgiving for taking “climate action.” So no coal for you. Just higher utility bills. Thanks Obama.