Friday, December 5, 2014

Forgive Me (Founding) Fathers, For I Have Signed

obama, obama jokes, political, humor, cartoon, conservative, hope n' change, hope and change, stilton jarlsberg, obamacare,, subsidy, insurance, redistribution
Although the road to Hell is sometimes paved with good intentions, it's even more frequently paved with unavoidable government regulations. And that's the road the Jarlsberg family just reluctantly traveled down (and down and down) to get our shiny new Obamacare policy.

As a point of principle, I didn't want to change my existing health insurance policy - but the Obamacare demons didn't give me much of a choice. Not only was the price raised another $4000 for next year (raising my premiums to around $21k), but to "provide affordable services for everyone" per ACA requirements, my insurer declared that my policy would no longer cover my rectal regions owing to some benign polyps found a decade ago.

In other words, if I ever got ass cancer (which, incidentally, Obama spreads like Typhoid Mary) my family would be wiped out (so to speak) by the totally uncovered medical bills.  So I had no choice but to get a new Obamacare policy. Gulp...

Fortunately, I have a friend who is an insurance broker who could help walk me through the process, rather than throwing myself on the tender mercies of the alleged "navigators" (and Acorn alumni) who give correct information even less frequently than the mouth-breathers manning the help lines at the IRS.

He suggested that I go through the eHealthInsurance website; no additional charge, access to Obamacare policies, and genuine tech support and advocacy if I needed it. So I filled out my application online - a very quick operation since the only questions are things like age, sex, race, citizenship (although the site emphasizes that you don't have to be a citizen to apply), whether you smoke, and if you're currently incarcerated. And of course, they ask you to take a wild guess at your income in 2015 so they can see if you'll get a magic subsidy from the government.

And that's where the (entirely legal) game playing began. According to, I have so little actual income (as opposed to assets) that my family's only option for coverage was on Medicaid. Which isn't even coverage at all; you get execrable healthcare (if you can even find it) and when you die the government forces your estate to return all of the money Medicaid spent on you. That's not insurance - it's a bad loan.

However, Obamacare also considers it "income" when I take taxable funds out of my retirement account (which I'm old enough to do). So by withdrawing a fixed amount of money, I could "create" the income of my choice to qualify for a plan better than the care given "free" to the homeless and indigents.

I then had access to a baffling range of policies, labeled Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum (there is also a "Platinum with Diamonds" tier, but it's only available to federal staffers).  The information about the policies was minimal, largely inaccessible, and sometimes flat out wrong - so my friend helped walk me through making a choice.

I finally settled on a Blue Cross Bronze plan with high deductibles. The cost for the policy was almost exactly the same as my current policy (at least, before Obamacare tacked on the extra $4k). But my personal cost would only be about $500 a month with American taxpayers kicking in another $11,000 on my behalf. So the "costs" didn't really come down - but someone else's wealth was redistributed to a fare-thee-well.

Having made my choice and finished the eHealthInsurance application, I put the policy in my cart, hit the "purchase" button, and the application went whisking its way to  Which sent me an error message within 30 seconds saying that they couldn't process my subsidy request, so they'd call me within an hour or two.

Four days later (sigh), I called eHealthInsurance and they said that the process pretty reliably hits a roadblock when gets involved. They assigned their "swat team" to shake things loose.

And sure enough, the very next day sent me a PDF file with the results of their in-depth, NSA cross-referenced subsidy investigation. A 14-page PDF file. Which had a lovely logo, a number of lines, some boxes, a scanning code, and no freaking text whatsoever.

In an act of desperation, I tried the "select all" command in the document - and magically lots of blue text boxes appeared on every page, albeit without any visible text. So I copied and pasted into a Word document and - voila! - the text appeared, minus anything remotely like formatting. Still, my subsidy was confirmed. I could finally become a truer American by being a burden to society like everyone else.

All that was left to do was pay my first premium in order to assure coverage by January 1, 2015. My eHealthInsurance account gave me a link to the Blue Cross website, where I confirmed a few quick factoids, chose my payment method, and clicked to send the money...

Boom! A big old error message informed me that I was not who I claimed to be and, to make matters even more surreal, that the year was 1984.

Seriously, 1984. Somewhere, George Orwell is laughing or crying.

The tech people at Blue Cross were nice enough, but couldn't resolve the problem - and seemed a bit skeptical about my problem until I sent them a screenshot of their time-traveling web page.

24 hours later, there was still no resolution - so I went back to, found a different link to Blue Cross (after about 20 failed attempts because I had a "pop-up" blocker on and seems to love pop-up windows), and followed it to a seemingly identical Blue Cross page which miraculously let me pay my $500.

All in all, the process was light-years from being "as easy as buying a TV on Amazon" per one of Barack Obama's myriad lies. But apart from being a royal pain in the rear (for which I will now be covered!) the entire process was disturbing on a lot of levels.

Do I really have insurance now, or are the errors just out of my sight (and control) now? How much other damage is being done by this bureaucracy and bungled computer programming? And if I'm ever in a strange emergency room, will I bleed out while doctors try to make sense of a blank PDF ostensibly containing my critical government medical records?

To be fair, Obamacare allowed me to spend less of my own money on health insurance and gives me better butt coverage - but only because Obamacare also made my previous, private health insurance unaffordably expensive and took away that coverage. The game is rigged, and its only goals are wealth-redistribution and consolidation of Big Government power over individuals.

But as bad as I feel about being forced into a subsidy, I can balm my conscience somewhat with the knowledge of how much I've previously poured into the government coffers over decades of self-employment - and the growing likelihood that in June of next year, the Supreme Court will declare all such subsidies by federally-run exchanges to be against the law.

At which point I fully expect to receive a bill from the government for $11,000...with interest penalties dating back to 1984.



Popular Front said...

21K per annum for health care 'insurance'? Are you fuqin' kidding me? You have to pay that amount per year even though you may never need it? That is preposterous. States have been overthrown and political leaders nailed upside down to trees for less. How on earth has a savvy nation like the USA allowed itself to get into such a situation? Isn't healthcare one of the reasons you pay tax, and plenty of it? Please, can somebody explain to this dumb Aussie in words of one syllable how this has happened.

REM1875 said...

Glad ya made it Doc, guess your old policy is now only for perfect assholes. Sad that it has come to this. Don't feel bad, this is purposely designed to eat at and embarrass the productive.

Judi King said...

O M G !!!!!!!!!!!

TrickyRicky said...

Thanks for the detailed description of your journey to the Brave New World of "healthcare" in our formerly prosperous and free nation. What an ungodly clusterfark. I can only hope that as more and more people have a similar experience our invertebrates in Washington will do something to terminate, eviscerate, or otherwise put a stake through the heart of this monstrosity. I know, I know, but a guy has to have dreams.

Geoff King said...

If signing up for Øblowmecare is so stressful, and stress being a major cause of many medical problems, do they consider these maladies pre-existing conditions because they occured immediately prior to your actually managing to get signed up?
At least they cannot take away our sense of humor about the entire fiasco:

"The White House says it's surpassed its goal for people enrolled in Obamacare. It's amazing what you can achieve when you make something mandatory and fine people if they don't do it, and keep extending the deadline for months." –Jimmy Fallon

"Many scam artists are trying to take advantage of the problems with the Obamacare website. Experts say you can tell it's a scam site if you enter your information and it quickly and efficiently signs you up for healthcare." –Conan O'Brien

"The ObamaCare website won't be accessible at night due to maintenance. And it won't be accessible during the day due to 'it sucking.'" –Conan O'Brien

"The Obama White House website still says if you like your health plan, you can keep it. That's false, of course. The president says they're trying to correct it, but his website people can't seem to log on." –Jay Leno

"President Obama said he is sorry that some Americans have lost their existing health coverage due to Obamacare. I think he's getting a little desperate. Today he said if you like your complete lack of coverage, you can keep your complete lack of coverage." –Jay Leno

Colby Muenster said...

A sad, heart wrenching tale of woe, but it is indeed a good thing you got "butt" insurance because, well... you have just been thoroughly raped. Lord only knows if you'll really have insurance come January; I guess you'll find out soon enough.

As my uncle Albert used to say, "The damn government could f**k up a wet dream." May every damn Senator and Congressman who voted for this law rot in hell. And may they all meet their ends sitting in doctor's waiting rooms, clutching their tickets that say, "You are customer number 12,489,563; please wait until your number is called."

Manfred said...

All these things are merely the consequence of going along with unconscionable and unconstitutional garbage such Omabacare. A very welcome provision in that morass of crap allows folks to obtain health care through a few alternatives, such as Liberty HealthShare. A pox on gubmint social programs!

Sallysmom said...

And just think, the website is so much better this year.

Fred Ciampi said...

Stilt, it would almost be worth it to join the Marine Corps, serve a tour, get honorably discharged, and sigh up for Veterans' Benefits. Yes, there are some good VA medical centers, I happen to be one of the lucky ones going to the one in Salem, VA. Even at your age, a tour in the USMC would probably be less physically demanding and certainly less stressful than signing up for obonercare. And, I don't know if it's true but I heard somewhere that any medical benefits you get will be treated the same as income. Wahoo!!

Anonymous said...

The only thing that would have made this better would have been you telling us that Barry O, M.D. required a prostate check prior to approving your coverage. By the way, this reminds me of the old riddle: What can a duck do and does, that Obama can do but won't?.........Stick his bill up his ass. - Peace

Burner said...

Conservatives (not necessarily Republicans) should start screaming 'War on Healthcare' at every Dem & Lib.

mjloehrer said...

This is a keeper article; should be in every publication across the country.

Anonymous said...

Man, that's a depressing insight on how it works now.

My wife & I have (for the time being) both survived the first illnesses which tried to kill us; that was back in the good old days. I really wonder if the process would go as well now.

Just keeping a primary care physician in a small town or rural area is a game of leap-frog now as they bail out for larger institutions & cities. I'm on #3 in 7 years; first 2 left town.

Your next challenge may be to find & keep needed providers who accept your coverage. Things keep changing under the new plans.

RyDaddy said...

If it gets to a point where it seems my only choice is to enroll in ObamaCare, I will still find an alternate choice. Christian-based MediShare programs will be my route. No open to all; I believe you have to prove you ARE a Christian, basically proving you have a home church...a permission note from your Pastor or something, I don't know. :)

Froaderick Barbarossa said...

The DMV of healthcare ....

Why do people believe that when government gets involved with anything it gets better? Or even stays the same? Why?

I am totally scared to death about Obamacare. But then I am about the NSA and everything else this dictator is doing. My main concern these days is a peaceful transition come 20 January 2017.

CenTexTim said...

"my insurer declared that my policy would no longer cover my rectal regions owing to some benign polyps found a decade ago"

So much for covering pre-existing conditions.

"with American taxpayers kicking in another $11,000 on my behalf"

You're welcome ;-)

Seriously, glad you got 'affordable care.' I really wish there was some way to make all those assholes in D.C. live by the same rules they cram down our throats (or up our rectal regions).

graylady said...

I pray to God I never have to go through what you did just trying to sign up. My heart would quit from the stress and I would end up dying from no coverage.
Dear, dear sweet Boss, please keep health insurance as a bennie!!!!!!!

David in SoCal said...

Stilton: Many of the 'folks(insert tooth-whistle here)' in Amerika are finding out they really DON'T have the O-care they were told they did,(by the website),when they actually go to the Doctor for treatment. In an Emergency Room situation, this could be fatal to one's assets, and the assets of their siblings. I would be calling the Health Care Providers ahead of time, just to be sure.

For those of us who have had Colon Polyps before, me thinks the new O-care motto should be: 'Obamacare; designed by assholes, but NOT for yours'.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Popular Front- I enthusiastically agree that I was paying an insane amount. Which is why I completely support health insurance reform. The problem is that Obamacare was never about "reform" nor, for that matter, health.

@REM1875- No question that, despite saving money, I feel a sense of shame and sadness about this. Maybe I can find an Obamacare psychiatrist to help clear up my neurotic need to be productive and responsible.

@Judi King- And hey, I got off easy because of a smart friend willing to hold my hand.

@TrickyRicky- It would be nice if this mess got fixed, but how many people have the time or platform to really voice their complaints with hope of being listened to?

Plus, a lot of people aren't going to know how broken the system is until they need it.

@Geoff King- They say that stress is the silent killer. I do not intend to go silently.

@Colby Muenster- I've had a couple of phone calls and emails from Blue Cross welcoming me to the fold, so I think it's likely (knock on wood) that I actually have the new policy kicking in on New Year's Day.

And I agree to the soles of my shoes that NO politician (including Mr. Like It, Keep It) should have access to any non-Obamacare plans. And they especially shouldn't receive subsidies despite having high salaries and benefit packages.

@Manfred- I agree. "Going along" with Obamacare is the last thing I wanted to do, but they're pretty clever about cutting off other options. And by "clever" I mean evil.

@Sallysmom- I'm not actually sure how good or bad the website is this year because my experience is based on three interconnected websites slamming together like speeding traffic at a failed stoplight. In fairness, eHealthInsurance was very easy to use - except when the process got handed off to

@Fred Ciampi- Believe me, when the Marine Corps starts accepting recruits of my age and lack of physical fitness, the country is truly finished.

And yes, I believe that it's still a goal of the Dems to count employer provided healthcare (and other perks) as income for tax purposes: another way of forcing people onto the government plans.

@Japheaux- I actually think this qualifies as a "virtual prostate exam."

Also - good duck joke!

@Burner- I think a number of people have been doing that for awhile (including right here). But of course, it gets no traction.

@mjloehrer- There's nothing profound about my commentary today, but I thought it was worthwhile (and hopefully entertaining) to share my real experiences. Because it's real people (like you, me, and everyone else) who are affected by this mess.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Anonymous- Glad you beat your threatening illnesses in the days before "painkillers instead of pacemakers" became law.

Primary care physicians are a way more endangered species than polar bears these days, not that you see anyone on the Left complaining about it. I predict that in a very short time, it will be common to be seen by barely trained "Medical Navigators" using the government equivalent of WebMD instead of actual doctors.

And one mistake I didn't make when getting my new policy: I first checked to make sure that our current doctors would accept the new plan (a PPO; our doctors wouldn't touch the cheaper HSA plans).

@RyDaddy- I have a good friend who is on one of the Christian MediShare programs and he loves it. I think that's a great alternative for those who qualify.

@Froaderick Barbarossa- Government bureaucracy makes nothing better ever. It slows things down, makes things more expensive, and introduces countless opportunities for error (and/or deliberate abuse).

@CenTexTim- To be clear, my existing plan was "grandfathered" and not an Obamacare plan.

When I originally got it, they refused to cover my Carlsbad Cavern because I'd had some polyps in a previous colonoscopy. Years later, after having no problems, they issued a waiver saying that I'd be covered after all.

BUT (in every sense), although Obamacare made it illegal for grandfathered policies to change, apparently it wasn't illegal for my insured to say "we're withdrawing the waiver, and your poop chute is now uncovered." And they made clear that they did this because they were forced to cut back because the "Affordable" Care Act had raised their costs.

@graylady- I think I would have been more stressed by the process if I didn't know I'd be able to share the funnier aspects of it with all of you good folks.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@David in SoCal- I'm reassured by the fact that I've had a couple of conversations with Blue Cross already, and they claim I'm in. That being said, I'm not cancelling my existing insurance until I get a membership card in my hot little hands.

By the way, regarding colonoscopies - Obamacare brags about how they're available for "free" as preventive care. But it's not quite that simple: if polyps are found and removed during the procedure (as happens around half the time), the procedure is reclassified as treatment rather than diagnostic - and suddenly you're paying for the whole thing (to the limit of your deductible).

Also, Obamacare only authorizes one colonoscopy every ten years for people over 50, despite the common standard being five years, or even three years for people with a previous history of polyps. That policy is going to kill a lot of people (who won't then be receiving Medicare or Social Security, which really helps balance those government books!)

John the Econ said...

Thank you @Stilton for providing what may be the best example yet of how Progressives are actively seeking out to destroy what is left of the "middle class".

Of course, at every opportunity they proclaim the exact opposite. In fact, over the last half-decade, Obama and his minions rarely make a speech without throwing in how whatever they're talking about is supposed to benefit "the middle class", "main street" or some other populist, unifying metaphor. But the reality is 180-degrees the opposite. (And isn't it strange as to how rarely the "poor" are mentioned anymore, either by the President or the media? Don't worry, that will go back to normal once the White House changes hands again)

So exactly how are they destroying the middle class?

Well, it's exclusively the middle class that has to deal with what @Stilton has described above. If you are "poor" (or "illegal"), "health insurance" is both useless and meaningless to you. You have no assets to protect, and when you are sick, you can merely walk into any emergency room in the country and you will be cared for. (Frequently with greater speed and quality than those who actually pay, btw) If you are "rich", the cost of insurance and care is largely irrelevant to you. You simply call your concierge service and health care immediately comes to you. It really doesn't affect Warren Buffet if his health insurance costs $21k per year or $121k.

So it's exclusively the "middle class" that is left to live with this illogical, unworkable, incompetent morass that was never intended to work in the first place.

My current predicament is similar to @Stilton's, but I haven't yet gone down that road. (Although his description here fills me with even more loathing and foreboding) As I've said here many, many times before, my care and insurance costs (for a "healthy" family no less) has long since gone from "absurd" to "unbearable". (I could be purchasing a brand-new luxury car every 2 years with what I am paying post-ObamaCare) With the subsidies available, it really now makes more sense for me to semi-retire than to work full-time. From a macro-economic point-of-view, this is absurd; encouraging people who should be at the peak of their productive careers to actually work less, pay less taxes, and contribute less to the economy. And yet, we are now going from encouraging such destructive behavior to making it unavoidable.

Over the long-haul, there's only one way this will go for our country; the "middle class" will get merged with "the poor" and the elites will seek to rule over us all with impunity. It's the "New Feudalism".

Colby Muenster said...

@Popular Front,
First, I have serious doubts that you are a "dumb" Aussie, only because you are posting here in a rational manner, rather than having a mouth frothing moonbat fit.

Single syllable words can not describe what has happened. The words progressive, obama, pelosi, clinton, dumbass-lo-info-voter all have multiple syllables.

Jay Carlson said...

That is a great piece and wonderfully written. Kudos and good luck with your policy form 1984

The son of a Irish Rebel said...

I feel your fact the whole nation feels your pain. [in the 0bama seems to have a thing for ass.]

Joseph ET said...

I’ve been laughing my head off for a couple of years whenever I hear the Democratic politicians and pundits brag about all the millions of Americans they are putting into Medicaid. In the early 1970's while in college, I worked as a nurses aid. A former boss that I liked asked me to cover for a weekend at the care home where she was then working. I found that the facility was very under staffed as I was responsible for about 20 elderly men and resources were very limited including a limited amount of clean linen to change soiled bedding. This was a place that only took Medicaid patients. It seemed it was really just a place to warehouse elderly poor folks until they died. I told her that I would NOT be working there ever again. By the way, at that time the Physicians seemed to just love Medicare and knew how get the most out of it. Can’t blame them though. They don’t like it that much these days.

I was lucky as I was able to keep the health plan from my work place when I retired and added Medicare to it as the primary provider. Blue Cross likes Medicare being primary as it gets them off the hook for most of the cost. Our part of the premium has gone up about 30% since 2011 and there is still a $5k annual deductible plus co-pays. I have difficulty seeing anyway the insurance company could lose any money. I’ve never had insurance that had this high of a deductible. I think the $5k should be a life time deal not an annual thing. I have to remember to keep any major needed care under control until January to get my whole years worth. If one isn’t careful you could owe $5k in December then owe another $5k in January. Also, Blue refers medical questions to “WebMD”.

PRY said...

We had health care problems in 2009 that should have been addressed on a case-by-case basis. Sadly, President Obama so misunderstood the 2008 election that he felt that the country was ready for something big on health care, but it really wasn't.

We needed simple laws that addressed pre-existing conditions, people who lose their health insurance over job changes or layoffs, and a plan to take care of the uninsured. Most of all, we should have given the middle class tax credits to purchase family plans if they didn't get them at work.

President Obama would have enjoyed bipartisan support for those kinds of solutions. They could have happened in 2009, and the Democrats would have benefited politically from commonsense solutions to the problems.

Instead, they are burdened with Obamacare and not happy about it.

Socialists! What ya gonna do?

Butterkäse said...

I will never understand why just letting the marketplace do its thing (without government interference and without the government flooding the market with money through Medicare/Medicaid, and tax law) would not have sufficed with a couple of exceptions. One needed to expand the risk pools to include all the states - I have no idea why insurance was restricted across state lines (in general).

The two exceptions are what has been noted above - pre-existing conditions and those in between jobs - including the deep poor.

But I have "catastrophic health insurance" and I see that as something that would be helpful to combating the rise in prices. That means one pays for simple things - and creates market forces to keep costs down.

Why not?

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@John the Econ- You and I have previously discussed the repercussions when folks like us get pulled involuntarily into the system and become "takers" in some regard.

And you're absolutely right about the middle class being eviscerated; all the better to make them kneel to the government. "New Feudalism" is right.

@Colby Muenster- I'll just say that even if I have to use polysyllables, my sentiments about the architects of Obamacare all have four-letter roots.

@Jay Carlson- I believe you're referring to the form 1984-EZ. I believe it was written by Franz Kafka.

@The Son of an Irish Rebel- I appreciate your empathy.

@Joseph ET- I have a horror of Medicaid services, for reasons that would be too lengthy to go into. No one in my family will be subjected to that as long as I'm drawing breath.

Glad that you've got decent-sounding coverage even if the costs have gone up. And frankly, I like WebMD - outside of the fact that pretty much every symptom you may have will lead to a possible diagnosis of something that can kill you.

@PRY- Exactly. What the nation needed was health insurance reform, not a socialist wealth redistribution scheme disguised as health insurance.

Butterkäse- The free market isn't perfect, but it's a lot better than anything the government has been able to come up with.

Catastrophic insurance is really all most people would need, but it wouldn't bring in enough money for the government to offer (ahem) free day-to-day services to the masses in return for their votes. So instead, we all have to overpay for services we'll never use (in some case, services it would be physically impossible for us to use) to keep the money flowing. Which is, after all, the only purpose of Obamacare.

Pecozbill said...

Yo, Stilton,
Regarding your comment of fewer colonoscopies - Medicare & Tricare (my insurers) offer NO colonoscopies after age 75 and no PSA tests. Their logic is that if they discover colon or prostate cancer at that age, you'll probably die from something else before the cancer kills you anyway! I don't think the rule applies to retired Presidents however.

I had to read your article describing your trek to health care coverage twice, just to make sure it wasn't parody!! Loved it!

Pecozbill said...

BTW, did you note the fact that a full 50% of those Senators who voted for the ACA will not be in the 114th Congress???

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that a policy that was already issued, had no pre-existing conditions exclusions, changed because of PPACA, so you had to switch to PPACA coverage to get the pre-existing condition covered?

Where is the proviso in Medicaid that your estate is liable for all benefits paid out?

I am just to the right of Attila the Hun politically, and like to have facts for such stuff.

Enjoy your stuff, and the attitude that goes with it.

-Terry Schuck

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Terry Schuck- Obamacare only allows people to keep their grandfathered plans if the plans don't change their coverage. BUT... When I originally got my very expensive policy, they excluded a couple of pre-existing conditions for my wife and myself. After a number of years, I asked them to review this and they issued a waiver to the exclusions - so we were finally fully covered.

But this past year, owing to "expenses related to the ACA" they tore up the waiver (apparently that's allowed) so suddenly our pre-existing conditions weren't covered anymore. So we had to change to an Obamacare policy.

Regarding the Medicaid information, it varies state to state (but not much). Here's how it reads for Texas:

On March 1, 2005, Texas implemented the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) in compliance with federal Medicaid laws. The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) manages the program.

Under this program, the state may file a claim against the estate of a deceased Medicaid recipient, age 55 and older, who applied for certain long-term care services on or after March 1, 2005. Claims include the cost of services, hospital care and prescription drugs supported by Medicaid.

For someone like me with little income but decent assets, that means Obamacare wants me enrolled in Medicaid to get sucky or nonexistent healthcare. But when I die, perhaps owing to that minimal standard of healthcare and maximum amount of government bureaucracy, the state will file suit with my estate to collect every freaking penny which was ever laid out on my behalf. In other words, I end up paying the entire bill - exactly as if I were uninsured.

Mike Bennett said...

Now that I'm only part-time and making less hours at a lower hourly rate, my health insurance is now $300 a month instead of $45! What's wrong with this picture?!!!