Friday, August 9, 2013

The GOP and Obamacare

Republicans have ridden a long way being opposed to Obamacare. They need to put the breaks on that because they can't stop it at this point. It's law. Like it or not, the individual market, and in many cases the small group market, will be Obamacare in 2014.

Some voters will continue to be insured through their work or through Medicare and will experience little or no change. Perhaps they'll have a negative change in rates or coverage. Those of these that are part of the Republican base will keep yelling to repeal Obamacare and defund it.

There are those of us who will be a part of Obamacare, whether we like it or not. Some people will add their 25 year old to their insurance policy or see their child with pre-existing conditions insured.

Then there are individuals and small businesses that'll get their insurance through exchanges. This will, assumably, happen everywhere, whether your exchange is administered by the Federal government or state government. Those of us that do this will want our experience to be as easy as possible. Republicans throwing up road blocks to this process will only hurt the GOP with those voters.

The Republican Party has jumped all over rate announcements that predict higher rates. The problem there is that these are very general predictions, using the average rate paid now and the average rate on the exchange. No one knows how much the individuals who will use the exchange are paying now and which plan they'll choose.

I'm one of those people. I've been with Blue Cross for 15 years. Why? There are two reasons. First, I had two health plans tell me they couldn't tell me my rate until after I joined. Second, I have two minor pre-existing conditions. One of them from before I was with Blue Cross and one while with Blue Cross. Blue Cross only counts the one before I joined against me, but other insurance companies would count both.

I was told the new exchanges will solve these problems. First, rates will be easy to get and you won't have to make a bunch of phone calls and hope someone will tell you a rate. Second, the insurance companies are only allowed to factor in age, gender, and whether the person is a smoker into the rate. So not only can't they refuse people with pre-existing conditions, they also can't give them higher rates.

Given this, my rate is almost certain to come down. And it'll probably go down for many other people, if for no other reason that they'll be presented all the options and prices easily.

Now my vote won't be won or lost based on the positive experience with Obamacare I think I'll end up having. But others may be swayed. Before the GOP yells about how awful Obamacare is, they need to let people experience it and see if it is indeed awful. If most people have a positive experience, then yelling about how awful Obamacare is won't win you votes. It may lose them.

The Republican party needs to hold their breath and see what happens. It may be an election weapon for them or it may be one for the Democrats. And whatever the GOP does, they need to make sure that any problems with Obamacare aren't blamed on them.

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