Why Isn't Everyone More Worried about Me?

Apparently, there was a meeting of the editors at The New York Times op-ed page in which someone said, "You know how every time someone does a story about one of these Obamacare 'victims' whose insurance companies are cancelling their plans, it turns out they could do really well on the exchange, but no one bothers to check? We should get one of them to write an op-ed, but not bother to ask what options they'll have." And then someone else responded, "Right, don't bother with the fact-checking. But we need a new twist. What if we find someone who'll complain that the problem with Obamacare is that other people care too much about poor people and the uninsured, while what they ought to be doing is spending more time liking her Facebook post about her possibly increased premiums?" The editors looked at each other and said, "That's gold. Gold!"

And this was the result. Written by Lori Gottlieb, a Los Angeles psychotherapist and author, it relates how she got a cancellation letter from Anthem Blue Cross and was offered a plan for $5,400 more a year, then had a frustrating phone call with the company. Did she go to the California health exchange and find out what sorts of deals would be available to her? Apparently not. She took Anthem at their word—you can always trust insurance companies, after all!—then took to Facebook, where she "vented about the call and wrote that the president should be protecting the middle class, not making our lives substantially harder."

And here's where our story takes a shocking turn. Instead of expressing what she felt was the appropriate sympathy, those 1,037 people on Facebook she thought were her friends but turned out just to be "friends" had the nerve to point out that the Affordable Care Act will help millions of previously uninsured and uninsurable people get coverage. Gottlieb was disgusted with these people she termed the "smug insureds." And none of them even "liked" her post!

Like Bridget Jones's "smug marrieds," the "smug insureds" — friends who were covered through their own or spouses' employers or who were grandfathered into their plans — asked why I didn't "just" switch all of our long-term doctors, suck it up and pay an extra $200 a month for a restrictive network on the exchange, or marry the guy I'm dating. How romantic: "I didn't marry you just to save money, honey. I married you for your provider network."

Along with the smug insureds, President Obama doesn't care much about the relatively small percentage of us with canceled coverage and no viable replacement. He keeps apologizing while maintaining that it's for the good of the country, a vast improvement "over all."

And the "over all" might agree. But the self-employed middle class is being sacrificed at the altar of politically correct rhetoric, with nobody helping to ensure our health, fiscal or otherwise, because it's trendy to cheer for the underdog. Embracing the noble cause is all very well — as long as yours isn't the "fortunate" family that loses its access to comprehensive, affordable health care while the rest of the nation gets it.

The truly noble act here is being performed by my friend Nicole, who keeps posting Obamacare fiasco stories on my Facebook page, despite being conspicuously ignored, except for my single "like." It's the lone "like" that falls in the forest, the click nobody wants to hear.

How terribly smug, to think that the fate of millions of poor people who will now get insurance is as important as the suffering of this one person who might have to pay more for comprehensive coverage, and also happens to have access to The New York Times where she can air her grievances! If only it weren't so "trendy to cheer for the underdog."

It's one thing to feel your own problems more acutely than those of other people, even millions of other people, even many whose problems make yours look trivial by comparison. We all do that, and we could barely function if we didn't. It's quite another thing to expect that other people will see your problems as more important than those of millions. I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago, and I'll admit that in the time since I've given more thought to my ankle's recovery than I have to the 660,000 people who die every year from malaria. But if I asked you why you aren't thinking more about my ankle than you are about malaria, you'd wonder if it was my brain that I had sprained.

I imagine that after her disappointment at the response to her Facebook post, Gottlieb will be even more disappointed with the response to her op-ed explaining her disappointment with the response to her Facebook post. So if she wants to feel better, the first thing she ought to do is go to the exchange and she what her options are. There's almost certainly something better than the plan her insurance company is trying to get her to buy. And then she can go to Facebook and ask her "friends" to celebrate her good fortune.


Brilliant stuff: clear, incisive, correct.

Thank you for this brilliant piece. Cheering for the underdog is "trendy"!?! Good heavens.

Unfortunately, the New York Times comments section for this article has closed. Otherwise, I would have told Lori that her column arrived just in time. Here I was, fretting over the calamity that's befallen hundreds of thousands of people in the Philippines, when someone much more deserving of my sympathy was experiencing her own tribulations right here at home in the USA! What a relief to have to worry only about one of my fellow citizens for whom our President evidently has no consideration.

I was happy to see that Lori opted out of an insurance policy that paid for pregnancies once she entered menopause (though she seems not to have exited same). But I wonder: has she been paying into Medicare all these years? If so, why? She's not old enough yet to collect it, so why should she support all those old geezers who have the effrontery to use this government program to help pay for their medical needs?

It will be interesting to learn whether Lori finds a better--or at least less expensive--policy on the health care exchange, which she apparently didn't try to do before writing her column. She also might check out the meaning of shared risk, which is at the basis of any kind of insurance. However, those topics probably won't make as entertaining and self-pitying an op-ed as the one she has written.

I am so SICK of this self-righteous attitude here. Yes, I am SURE that there are people suffering a great deal in the Philippines. However that has nothing to do with what we are talking about. What we are talking about is that, the GOVERNMENT has, actively, taken away many working class families insurance. Insurance that had previously PROCURED for themselves; it’s as simple as that. The costs have gone up very significantly. I get that its shared-risk, it has always been shared risk and the industry was able to provide that to us for a specific dollar amount, what –ever that may be. But now the GOVERNMENT, in order to help the poor has changed the landscape. And for many WORKING-CLASS families their costs have gone up and now they are worried that they may not be able to afford it.

If the exchange is SOOOO great, go price out some pre-obamacare insurance plans and compare them to the plans in the exchange. If you did this then there is NO WAY you could claim they “could do well” on the exchange.
I get that, now, we are helping the POOR, but get off your HIGH HORSE, you’re not Robin Hood! You are NOT stealing from the rich to give to the poor; you are stealing from the struggling middle class to give to the poor.

Let me save you the time on the research: (this is a repost from one of my erlier posts)

Blue Shield Bronze 60:
$4500 Deductible
40% Co-insurance
40% Copayments for all services
$6350 Maximum Out-of-pocket
Pre-Obamacare Plan:
KP Deducatble 40/3000
$3000 Deductable
20% Co-insurance
$10 Drug Copayment
$40 Other Copayment
$6000 Maximum Out-of-pocket

New obama-plan has:
50% Higher Deductable.
DOUBLE (yes Double) the coinsurance
and 100% more or higher drug co-insurance.

Blue Shield Silver 70:
$2000 Deductible
20% Co-insurance
$19 Drug Co-payment
$45-$65 Other Co-payment
$6350 Maximum Out-of-pocket
Pre-Obamacare Plan:
KP Deductible 0/1500
$1500 Deductible
0% Co-insurance (yes ZERO)
$10 Drug Co-payment
$0 Office visit copay (yes ZERO)
$3000 Maximum Out-of-pocket

So, the Obamacare Plan has:
5% higher premium.
INFINITY higher co-insurance!
33% higher Deductible
and 111% Higher Out of pocket!

You've compared two plans on an exchange with two-"pre-Obamacare" plans. What is the basis for the "pre-Obamacare" plans you picked as comparisons? Why would "KP Deductible 0/1500" be an apt comparator to "Blue Shield Silver 70?" Is this your idiosyncratic choice, or is there some objective basis for comparing the plans to one another?

Sorry, I thought it was obvious:
I chose the CHEAPEST/Best Deal available plan in the lower two Obama-care Tiers. I then found pre-obamacare plans whose monthly premium was "roughly" the same (within 5%) i.e "what you could have afforded last year"
These prices reflect a 35-year old male in CA

Please note:
In general I tried to choose the plan in the Obama-care tiers that shines the “best possible light” on Obama-care! It could be WORSE!
I could have, for example chosen:
Obama-care Anthem Bronze 60 PPO that offer identical coverage as above, but with a $10 higher Monthly Premium.
Or I could have chosen the Obama-care KP Silver 70 HMO which is nearly exactly the same as the Blue Shield Silver 70 except it costs $45 more per month!

Why would you think my Chosen "Pre-Obamacare" plans are NOT apt competitors? They are QUITE obviously MUCH BETTER plans!

Sorry to be long winded but:
Do you think it’s better to:
A) Pay $3516/year for coverage
-that you pay the first $1500 of any care
-After that you pay only small fixed copays

B) Pay $3684/year
-That you pay the first $2000 of any care
-Then 20% of everything after that up to $6350

It seems so unbelievably simple to me which is a better deal, and that Obamacare has made this WORSE; MUCH, MUCH worse, like, several HUNDRED percent worse, like, average middle class people no longer being able to afford it worse! But the liberals just seem to wave their hands and say “nothing to see here… Everything is getting better…”

Your comparisons might be good ones, but I can't say for sure. You never compared networks, and any out-ofnetwork coverage. And it looks like you compared last year's Kaiser Permanente rates to this year's Blue Cross rates. If you look at my big comment below, you'll see that I am not exactly the shill for what's happening with Obamacare. But I can't accept your comparison here. I can't be certain that it's apples to apples.

This is not a matter of my grinding an axe. I'm doing my best to be careful and thorough as I evaluate this stuff. There is too much facile commentary of the sort that we've both criticized. I don't intend to make the same mistake that the author this article did. Hope you can understand where I'm coming from.

I do understand your points, a couple of reasons I chose Kaiser for my comparisons:

1) I have been with Kaiser my whole life (was born there)
2) Their rates are "easy" to look up, as they have a convenient page to get rate quotes.

I could have compared this year’s Kaiser's plans to last year’s Kaiser's plans and they fair no better than the Blue Cross (In fact they are more expensive for what you get than the Blue Cross).

There are some things I like about the ACA: the no retroactively canceling a policy; the pre-existing conditions clauses; etc... But the costs are really bad! We, the middle class, were already choking on high insurance rates and even higher medical bills. We REALLY needed a solution to drive costs down. Instead we got a solution that might have solved some problems but made the worst problem even more horrible: the high cost of insurance.

Geez, it is so easy and righteous to a member of The Left ... to feel superior charitableness as long it is other people's money. And to sneer with such self-satisfaction when people dissent from the thievery.

It doesn't seem to matter to such fine and cultured beings that Obama's deliberate lie "If you like your healthcare, you can keep your healthcare. If you like your doctors, you can keep your doctors. Period." is not only of no matter, but the 52 million who will lose their current policies, doctors and hospitals not only should suck-it-up, but should bend over and ask "may I have another, sir!"

You people have no shame.

People who moan piteously about "other people's money" are invariably the worst people ever. Just FYI.

But, people who condone stealing other people’s money are AWESOME! :p

I know a couple in Oregon whose insurance will be cancelled at the end of the year after many years with that company. It is expensive coverage, but it covers the variety of providers that they use. The first thing they did was check that state's exchange.

So did I after I talked with them, and discovered that the vast majority of options are very restrictive "bronze" or "silver" plans that have terrible or non-existent out-of-network coverage. The few "gold" plans were much more expensive, and still very restrictive with respect to networks, and came with much higher deductibles and out-of-pocket limits.

I wonder how many of the smug, accusatory articles are written by people who have group coverage that won't be affected. As someone who's disabled, on Medicare, and gets a very expensive Medigap policy through a state-mandated risk pool, I know very well just how worrisome any changes in coverage or premiums can be.

So keep spitting on people who are understandably worried about their coverage. See where the hell that gets you. By the way, since everyone in our poisonous political climate judges everything on tribal affiliation, I am a life-long Democrat who voted for Obama twice and who has been willing to give Obamacare a chance. I still am, but I have very little patience with the heartless arrogance displayed by this article's author, and most of the commenters.

You see, I'm one of those people who ultimately judges those who serve me, be they in government or private industry, by their performance. I think health care, and peace of mind, are closely connected, and that we should try to maximize both at costs we can live with. Apparently the American Prospect places little value on any of that, and looks only for ways to tear apart someone who expresses very real and legitimate worry about what's going to happen come January 1st.

You people should be ashamed of yourselves, your arrogance, and your overbearing self-righteousness. You are a shining example of how cluelessness, tribal loyalty, and outright cruelty know no political boundaries. I can only hope that, in the months ahead, people who actually want to solve problems will step forward and start solving them.

By the way, that couple in Oregon? Even if they'd found a plan on the state exchange, it doesn't work. And the people on the phone lines are, to put it charitably, not up to speed. Not that Paul Waldman or most of the commenters here could care. I used to think the Democrats cared more about people than the Republicans. How naive could I ever have been? Stupid me.

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(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)