Ten years into the 21st century, Health Insurance in America changed like it never had before. Barack Obama was elected President with the promise of getting affordable health insurance for every United States citizen. The cause was noble; the backlash severe. A concept that would have aided tens of millions became divided along mostly political party lines. After 12 years of its inception and dozens of attempts at repeal, who got it right?
Jane and David Asner (names changed to protect anonymity) were small-business owners in Essex, MD. Being from this famously tough, middle-middle-class, blue-collar area of Baltimore County, small business owners here would not be thought of being champions to a Democratic president, but the Asner’s didn’t need to be. They just needed to be sick. Jane suffered from untreated lung cancer for years. She went about her day, working hard with growing cancer in her chest. Maryland was at that time a state that had health insurance available to everyone by way of a high-risk pool but it was expensive and out of reach for the Asner’s. Her cancer grew.
I met with the Asner’s on a breezy fall day at their home on the water in 2011. Since Obamacare was so new and controversial, we both had no idea how the meeting would go. Not going anywhere near the political aspect, I logged on to my laptop and started doing the math. I used their income and pulled up plans and explained the benefits to them. Their jaw dropped when I showed them the prescription drug benefit. Ever so carefully the Asners and I went over the plan with a fine-tooth comb, I was feeling them out and got the impression that they were thinking it was too good to be true. We matter of factly concluded the presentation and they asked, dumbfounded, what they had to do. “I can enroll you today,” I said.
And I did.
Without a hitch, their plan was processed and they got their golden ID cards. “I don’t know how we can thank you” the call went to which I replied, “no problem, you earned it.” Soon Jane was able to get treated for her festering lung- cancer and the Asner’s were along their way. My $17 a month commission would hopefully accrue but since I specialize in Medicare plans where I make the majority of my income it was an afterthought. I bit my tongue as the Obama care debate swirled around me.
You Don’t Know How Good You Have it, Do You?
Meet George, another US small businessman, political party unknown.
George has a crafty accountant. George and I met over the phone, a referral from someone who knew I handled health insurance. This was several years later as I was starting to avoid Obamacare plans, now devoting almost all my time to Medicare Supplements. There are many moving parts with selling Obamacare plans, I specialize in health insurance, I’m not a CPA. Enrolling someone in an Obamacare plan entails you probing for their income and advising what to report and the tax consequences of misstating it. I dreaded the responsibility of this and feared enrolling someone into a plan that they would get a big tax bill on if the projection was inaccurate.
George couldn’t have cared less about the great benefits or the merits of Obamacare. Getting an accurate income out of him was like pulling teeth. He couldn’t give me an income estimate and seemed to be crafting what he would report to the specific plan he wanted. The meeting was ambiguous and my fiduciary role was being tested. I advised him that the state would use his tax returns to determine the correct subsidy. This was all a chore for George, he showed no appreciation of the huge subsidy he would have gotten or gratitude that he was getting an excellent plan at what would have been a stellar price. My frustration grew, I enrolled him according to protocol and left feeling less than satisfied. George’s case was nothing like the Asners who were grateful and humbled by the care they were to receive.
So is Obamacare the True Cancer or Cure?
Since I got my license in 2000 and from the time I started directly selling health insurance in 2005 I have read hundreds of articles about health insurance. The internet and news channels bombard us with the left-wing-rightwing-chicken-wing point-of-view. I am not an economical expert about the pros and cons, but I believe it is succeeding. The individual plans before Obamacare were heinous. There were annual and lifetimes maxes on benefits, the prescription coverage was paltry and people who were covered were still on the hook for thousands after costly treatments. Now, every man, woman, and child in the U.S. can see a doctor for a check-up (millions of people worldwide would love to have this simple pleasure) and be covered with any medical condition.
All those for it? Your response here. All those opposed? Again, your reply. Can it work financially? Well, the dust has settled, could it be adding to record inflation? I don’t know. Could it be economically feasible in the long run? Not quite sure. I am for it and if you ask the Asner’s they may whisper that they are too. Getting a sick person get the best insurance they will probably ever have at a great price is why I have been successfully selling g health insurance for 16 years and will wait for the world to come around. There are more Asners and fewer Georges and that keeps me selling. America can do this and good health can be fostered. That is what it’s all about, getting sick people insurance and waiting for the wingers in Washington to work it out.
Brendan A. Basmajian
MD Life and Health Insurance License #153080