It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's More Disingenuous Trump Horseshit About Obamacare!

Wonkshop by Doktor Zoom

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar took to the Washington Post's op-ed page Thursday to shill for Donald Trump's exciting new junk insurance plans that won't cover much of anything, but will have very low premiums. It's a load of bullshit, of course, but it sure has a nifty lying headline: "Obamacare forgot about you. But Trump didn't." All hail the Great Man for selling us "insurance" that insures very, very little -- it's the perfect coverage for people whose idea of "buying a car" is having an undrive-able hulk up on cinder blocks in the front yard.

Azar starts lying in the very first sentence. It's really quite impressive! From there, he rolls into a great big glob of grimy greasy GoFuckYourself:

For all the discussion of Obamacare since its passage, it is too rarely known that the law effectively split the United States' individual insurance market in two.

One group of Americans — about 8 million enrollees in 2017 — now pay, on average, less than a quarter of the cost of their health insurance, receiving ever-growing taxpayer subsidies to insulate them from Obamacare's high premiums. But there is a second group of Americans who have faced the full premium increases driven by the law's broken regulations. Roughly 5 million Americans, as of 2017, have chosen to pay those premiums without any subsidies, while 28 million other Americans remain uninsured, many priced out of coverage entirely.

Hey, kids, let's play "Spot the disingenuous bullshit," shall we? Here's the thing about those nasty, nasty premium increases: They're largely due to the Trump administration's endless attempts to kill Obamacare. So Trump's HHS has enacted policy after policy aimed at wrecking the markets, causing premium increases, and now it's time to resent those lucky duckies who are insulated by the premium increases by the subsidies doing exactly what they were designed to do.

And just look at how terrible the marketplaces have become -- thanks to Trump, Azar, and his predecessor, Tom Price, although Azar leaves that out:

An independent analysis found that the entire unsubsidized individual insurance market shrank by more than 40 percent from the first quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2018. In other words, Obamacare has forced unsubsidized Americans to choose between unaffordable insurance and no insurance at all.

Oh, hey, Azar's even lying about the Kaiser Family Foundation study he cites, which notes that the decline in individual enrollment occurred almost exclusively in sales of plans that weren't part of the ACA exchanges anyway. As for the exchanges, the report notes that while premiums increased in 2017, that appeared to be a "one-time market correction" -- at least until Trump and the Republicans sabotaged the markets by ending the individual mandate and cost-sharing payments which led to more uncertainty, and higher premiums. GOSH THANKS.

Fortunately, because Donald Trump hasn't forgotten you, if you've been priced out of the individual market by the premium increases Trump created, you can now save a lot of money by buying one of those terrific short-term junk insurance plans that don't include any of the stuff that people like about Obamacare, like protections for pre-existing conditions or coverage of the stuff you'd expect to be covered. They've even brought back annual and lifetime coverage caps, so what is covered can be cut off, like in the middle of chemo. Azar really, really wants you to be excited! Which is why he makes the fact that they're not really full coverage sound like a terrific bargain:

These plans are free from most Obamacare regulations, allowing them to cost between 50 and 80 percent less. [...]

[These] short-term plans can be a good option for many Americans priced out of Obamacare's regulations — especially small-business owners, independent contractors in today's "gig economy" and younger Americans transitioning between school and employment.

No, the HHS press release linked to with "free from most Obamacare regulations" doesn't go into detail about just how hollowed-out the short-term plans are, either. Not a word about exclusions for pre-existing conditions. But if you like your junk insurance, you can keep your junk insurance up to three years, and maybe you won't get sick or injured or need to go to the ER or stuff, so, WINNING. And if you have a health crisis that isn't covered and you go bankrupt, well hey, buyer beware. Azar carefully offers this remarkably detail-free disclaimer, at least:

The Trump administration has gone to significant lengths to ensure customers know that these plans are not subject to the same regulations as Obamacare plans and that they are not the right choice for everyone.

This would be because they're garbage plans. In fact, they're so skimpy that some states, like Connecticut, have already prohibited their sale because they violate state consumer protection laws.

But wait! What about all the predictions that short-term plans, however lousy, would attract younger, healthier consumers and leave the ACA exchanges with sicker enrollees, thus driving up premiums even more? NOT A PROBLEM, says Azar, because after all, people with subsidized plans will be shielded from the worst premium increases, and besides, those without subsidies "have already left those plans in droves because of premium hikes under the law." OK, actually, the law didn't create those premium hikes, Trump's fuckery did.

But at least now that Trump has sabotaged the ACA, at least he's willing to let people buy really shitty plans as an "alternative." Isn't that thoughtful of him? And just think, HHS will be going to court to argue for elimination of all protections for pre-existing conditions, and just before the elections, too.

Oh boy, you are going to LOVE the new tinfoil and plywood cars the administration has planned. For a little extra, you can even get one with an engine.

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[WaPo / Kaiser Family Foundation / Governing]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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