The Uninsured Musician’s Guide to The Affordable Care Act

October 16, 2013 by  

According to one survey by The Future of Music Coalition, about 43% of artists and musicians currently lack health insurance. This is roughly 2.5x higher than the average national rate.

It seems natural to assume that as musicians and freelance creative workers, we’re going to be among those who are most affected by the new reforms around health care.

As of 2014, many of us will not only be able to afford health insurance for the first time, most of us will be required to buy it, or face a small tax for choosing to forgo the stuff.

The Insurance Store is Now Open

Despite the ongoing gridlock in Congress, the new Health Care Exchanges opened on October 1, 2013. This allows all of us to begin comparison shopping for health insurance – and to see if we’re eligible for any kind of Federal subsidy towards buying it.

Although the Federal exchanges had some trouble keeping up with the unexpectedly huge amount of traffic that flooded their servers in the first days, they’ve been getting progressively more stable.

The Economist reports that “glitches may be short-lived. Officials and contractors are rushing to fix them. New York’s exchange seems to have recovered. In one week it quadrupled the capacity of its computer servers, and as of October 8th more than 40,000 New Yorkers had signed up for coverage. But other exchanges are making slower progress.”

Earlier this week, I finished my own application, and was up in no time, comparing the cost of new plans on the New York State exchange. If all goes well, I’ll soon have insurance for the first time in a decade.

To get started yourself, visit https://www.healthcare.gov. I found that the entire sign-up process took about 1/20th the time of doing my taxes. It may not be instant, but it was over a lot sooner than I expected – even with freelance income to account for.

Who Can Expect Big Changes (And Who Will Be Unaffected)

If you’re one of those rare musicians, engineers or producers who already gets health insurance through an employer, don’t even worry about the exchanges. You don’t have to do a thing.

If you’re covered by Medicare or Medicaid, you’re already all set too. If you’re a young person on your parents plan? Cool. Now you can stay that way til you’re 26.

If you already pay for your own insurance and like it just fine, you may want to check out the exchanges anyway. There’s a good chance you’ll end up paying less, particularly if you’re young, have a pre-existing condition, or if you don’t make a ton of money.

For those who have been unable to afford healthcare in the past, there’s a good chance that’s going to change now.

How Much Do the New Plans Cost and What Do They Cover?

Caduceus.svgFor most musicians and younger people, the new plans are likely to cost less and cover more than what they’re used to seeing. For many others, prices may stay about the same.

If you make anything under $46,000 each year, chances are you’ll also qualify for subsidies that could dramatically reduce what you pay out of pocket.

Coverage plans start with the “Catastrophic” tier, which is now available in high-cost areas like New York City for as little as about $180 a month. (In less expensive states, like Virginia, a similar plan now costs as little as about $40 a month.)

If this sounds like a lot of money to you, chances are you haven’t shopped for insurance before. In my own fruitless attempts to find affordable health insurance over the past decade, I’ve generally found plans that cost almost twice as much and seem to cover even less than these do.

The “Catastrophic” plans, which are available only to those 30 and under, will usually have high deductibles – meaning that if you have a major health emergency you’ll have to pay out over $6,000 in costs out of pocket before insurance kicks in. This is no good for anyone who anticipates recurring medical costs, but it could be a great option for otherwise healthy young people.

Still, even these kinds of plans also offer more coverage than you might expect. Under the Affordable Care Act, annual checkups, major vaccines, essential screenings and many women’s health services are now included in the cost of the plan.

The next level of coverage, the “Bronze” plans, start at about $300 here in New York, depending on your age. These plans offer lower deductibles, prescription plans, copays for doctor’s visits and the like.

(Once again, the quoted prices here in New York City are very high compared to the rest of the nation. If you live outside the big cities where so many of our readers are located, please hit the exchanges yourself for more accurate pricing. In less expensive states, plans may cost 1/5th as much.)

In New York City, “Silver” plans start closer to $360, and get you quite a lot of coverage: Copays of $30 for doctors visits and $10-$70 for prescriptions. Even significant services or medical procedures may carry copays of just $50-$100.

After that, you’re looking at “Gold” and “Platinum” plans, which start at about $400 and $450 in New York, and range all the way up to around $850 for a single adult.

Again, copays and deductibles go down – this time to as little as $0. Once again, exact prices may vary significantly depending on age, location and certain risk factors. For exact pricing, the best thing you can do is check out the exchanges for yourself.

If you can afford them, these plans are a great idea for families, older people and those with regular medical expenses.

You Might Not Pay Full Price

What if I said you could take these sticker prices and chop them in half? Well, if you’re making significantly less than $46,000/year, that may be the case for you.

For instance, a 30-year-old making $35,000/year might expect a monthly subsidy of over $100/month, effectively reducing his or her cost out-of-pocket for a Bronze plan by 33%.

A person making even less might spend as little as $130 for a Silver plan, even in New York City.

Those of you who live in other areas might pay next-to-nothing, even without qualifying for a government program like Medicare or Medicaid. (Which incidentally, have recently been expanded.)

Many more of those who make very little income will now be eligible for Medicaid, the government-assisted health program. In New York, the cutoff is now at about 133% of the Federal Poverty rate. That’s about $15,800 a year for a single person, or $32,500 for a family of four.

Opting Out of Health Insurance Will Cost You (But Not Much)

The other big part of the Affordable Care Act is the “mandate.” This means that if you don’t buy healthcare to help support what is essentially a volume discount for Americans across the board, you will have to pay a small tax to help offset the cost that your uncovered risk adds to the system.

If you could plausibly afford health insurance but choose to go without it anyway, you’ll eventually have to pay a fee of $695, or 2.5% of your income, whichever is greater. But that doesn’t really kick in until 2016. The opt-out fee for next year is comparatively slim.

In 2014, if you make over $9,500/year and don’t otherwise qualify for a “hardship exemption,” you’d only have to pay $95, or 1% of your income if you decide to go without health insurance. In 2015, that fee ramps up to $325 or 2%. Only in 2016, does the full fee finally kick in, should you choose to forgo insurance altogether.

You Still Have Some Time (But Not Much)

If you’re currently uninsured but haven’t checked out the exchanges yet, now is the time to start.

If you want to have your coverage kick in by January 1st, 2014, you’ll have to decide on a plan and make your purchase by December 15, 2013 at the latest. Get moving, because that’s just two months away.

You can delay just a little bit longer if you’re not ready to take the plunge. Those who are uninsured for less than three months in any given year get to avoid paying any opt-out fee. So, if you want your plan to kick in for March, 2014 and avoid paying any fee, that means you have until February 15th, 2014 to sign up and buy your plan.

At the end of March, 2014, the exchanges will close for the year, and you’ll have to wait for the next window in the fall of 2014 to shop for coverage.

(Why do the exchanges close? So that people can’t wait until they’re sick to sign up for coverage. Purchase windows like these have been common throughout the health insurance industry for some time.)

There’s Help If You Need It

Health insurance plans now come with extra coverage, lower prices, and for those who make under $46,000, Federal subsidies to help make them more affordable.

But those aren’t the only perks. Federal and State governments also have trained healthcare “Navigators” to help regular people find their way around this new system.

For personal assistance, in person or over the phone, visit healthcare.gov or call toll-free at 1-800-318-2596.

For local assistance in New York, visit nystateofhealth.ny.gov or call toll-free at 1-855-355-5777.

One more good resource is the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on major health care issues and gives good written and video primers on the new law (below), and how it effects you.

The Politics of The Affordable Care Act

For one reason or another, The Affordable Care Act has become a partisan lightning rod. On a purely logical level, this is difficult to understand. Of all the bills in recent years, one would imagine this one would get the most bipartisan support.

The reality is that the Affordable Care Act (aka, “Obamacare”) is intended to be a market-based solution. The principle of the act was originally advanced by folks like the American right, including the conservative think tank, Heritage Foundation, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

The idea was eventually picked up by Democrats like President Obama as a politically feasible alternative to a tax-based single-payer system, which is unlikely to ever fly in the market-focused USA. The law was then passed by both houses of Congress, and later upheld as Constitutional by a largely conservative Supreme Court.

In a saner political environment, a law like this one might be perceived as one of the great bipartisan compromises of modern history. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case at this moment. But as the exchanges open, and millions of Americans – musicians, artists and freelancers especially – are able to find affordable coverage for the first time, that legacy may change. I was personally surprised to find myself looking at health insurance I could afford for the first time in my adult life. Only time can tell if it will stay that way, and if the tradeoffs presented by the law prove worthwhile.

But don’t take my word for it. Go on the exchanges today and decide for yourself. If, for some reason, you don’t like what you see, you can always opt out and check back in the future. With any luck, basic health care costs should continue to go down over the years as the bargaining power of consumers goes up. That’s the idea, anyway. We’ll see what history has in store.

Happy hunting – and stay healthy.

Justin Colletti is an audio engineer, educator and journalist.

  • pppPerryandtheMETS

    Shame on you for promoting this law. BTW – many your facts are wrong, and your theory of the ACA being bi-partisan is a joke. President Obama made zero attempt to allow ANY input on the law. If you like your plan or your Dr. You can’t keep them in many individual cases. Frankly, what you wrote here is only half correct and very misleading. This law was only deemed legal by the SCOTUS because the Chief Justice declared it a tax, (you are aware that’s subsidies are essentially taxes) it would have never been passed if it was offered as tax originally. Further, Obamacare doesn’t accomplish what it was the President and Dems intended it to do, it fails entirely and they knew it all along too.

    In a simple basic explanation imagine that every time you bought a new piece of gear you had to pay a 25% tax on the gear to go into a fund for other people that can’t afford gear to buy the same gear you bought at a discounted price.

    DONT WASTE YOUR TIME PEOPLE STAY AWAY AND WAIT UNTIL THE DUST SETTLES, THIS LAW WILL FAIL, it’s almost impossible for it to succeed. All of your personal information will not be dangerously insecure either.

  • TrustMeI’mAScientist

    Okay. Now tell us how you REALLY feel. :D

  • pppPerryandtheMETS

    Obviously, I feel your description of the law is REALLY incorrect, misleading, and out of place in a recording blog. You should provide readers with accurate info to make their own decision.

  • TrustMeI’mAScientist

    Thanks — I understand how you feel. And if you can be specific about what is “incorrect” or “misleading” and support it with facts, we’d be happy to hear it.

    We are doing our best to provide our readers with accurate information. That is why every single fact and figure is presented with a link to a reputable source.

    Again, if you have contrary data from reputable sources, please don’t hesitate to provide them. All that we ask is they be relevant and you try to be civil.

    Ultimately, we can agree that our readers “should make their own decision.” That’s why we encourage them to look at the exchanges for themselves.

    The fact remains that as of January 1, 2014, this law will go into effect. Better I think, to understand the ins and outs of it, than to remain ignorant of the details.

    Due to the sheer number of us that are uninsured, this law will certainly affect musicians and freelance creative pros more than most. And that’s why this article appears on this blog.

    Thanks for reading, and for weighing in.

  • SD

    I feel just like pppP… reading this article made me sick, help I need to
    find a new Dr. after I lost mine. I did go through the registration – it was a
    Painful experience over 10 days. But the shock was when I got the price. more
    expensive and with less of what I currently have.

    You can’t live in NYC supporting yourself if you earn less than$50K,
    which put you out of subsidies.

    and as far as Bronze-silver-Gold plans go, you pay this almost out of reach
    monthly premium and when you need to use it you get hit with 50-30% of the
    bill. you will have a different prospective after the first time.

    This Law is Domed, it is not happening, it is just a matter of time.

    I just wish that on a site like SonicScoop we don’t get a politically skewed
    view of reality.

    SD.

  • pppPerryandtheMETS

    You’re asking for polite discourse, yet you refer to my comment as polarizing and call me a troll twice ! … hardly polite discourse.

    My initial post was in no way rude, I certainly didn’t intend it that way. I just felt you painted a rosy picture and left an awful lot of pertinent info out.

    Your cited and linked facts are from Progressive, Liberal publications, and opinion writers, ALL of them except for one.
    That’s fine. Honestly, I wouldn’t consider the “Weekly Standard” as an unbiased source for facts to support my argument.

    If you want to use the conservative Heritage Foundation as a reference fine, but I’ll provide a link to the original policy paper “A National Health System for America” pdf from Jan 2, 1989 … a 24 year old policy paper, not a bill or law. It was also hardly universally welcomed by the GOP and Conservatives and it was discussed in conservative circles often.

    Here’s the link :

    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/1989/a-national-health-system-for-america

    Further, this idea of the Heritage Foundation and its relation to Obamacare only came about as part of the Obama Administration’s argument in the appeals court, its all in the Forbes article you provided a link to. BTW, did you catch the update at the end of the article ? It states the theories of Obamacare didn’t really come from the Heritage Foundation. Here’s a link to what the Heritage Foundation does think of Obamacare’s points relating to business as of 2013, losing coverage, jobs, and lets not forget increasing the price of shipping gear and parts for musicians too.

    http://blog.heritage.org/2013/08/22/when-you-cant-actually-keep-your-health-care-plan/

    In the 2012 General Election, Gov Romney regularly stated he’d cancel Obamacare immediately if elected, the guy who passed healthcare in his own state, made it plain it was one thing in the state of MA, entirely different for the entire country. Further, Gov Romney passed the law via a bi-partisan vote and they called it a tax. The President NEVER called Obamacare a tax, in fact, he said he wasn’t. Chief Justice Roberts declared it legal by calling it a tax. You’ll notice most supporters still don’t refer to it as a tax either. And lastly, the law was passed by strict party lines, I think one GOP Rep may have voted for it.

    The President, and Dem majority rejected ANY bipartisan input, they invited the GOP minority to offer ideas for exactly a half hour, said thanks, ended the discussion and walked out.

    I could go on, but I think I’ve proven the idea this law and its origins are bipartisan is completely false.

    Obamacare is not a market based system, the GOP wanted to open up the exchanges across state lines in order create more competition and therefore lower prices, as well including Tort reform which again would lower premiums.

    You also fail to mention that Obamacare is a tax, and any subsidy provided is coming from others paying into the fund.
    If your young you pay more for the older people to get typical procedures such as angioplasty, pacemakers, (they’ll be a 2.5% TAX on that and all medical equipment) For comparitive purposes, the letter I got from Horizon BCBS makes it clear my current plan doesn’t meet Obamacare requirements, you see I have to pay for pediatric dental care among other things. I’m in my 40′s, single, and have no kids.

    You neglect to mention that many of the new plans you describe have monthly premiums that are more expensive than the ones a young musician 18-30 years old can get right now through eHealthinsurance online. However, the plans provided by the exchanges often have very high deductibles. So some 20-something will pay $300 p/ month and STILL have to pay up to $4K before these benefits kick in. And what if they go on Medicaid ? Shouldn’t you tell them this will affect their ability to buy a car, a house and how much they can earn while still legally getting subsidies and healthcare. You entirely left out the possibility that certain Dr.’s and facilities won’t take them anymore and they may need to travel further to facilities that will accept their coverage. Or worse, as a musician they may deny an ear or hand operation or procedure simply because its not life threatening.

    Your article never mentioned that many engineers/musicians working other jobs to make ends meet will be cut to 29 hrs p/week so their employers will be able to avoid a penalty and kick them off their healthcare plan. If as an engineer you work as an independent contractor, sub chapter s, LLC, or LLP. Your allowance of the amount you pay for healthcare goes up.

    You are providing a link to go to the exchanges in the article in addition to a video by the Kaiser Family Foundation, you even provided the NY phone number, that IS promoting Obamacare. I don’t see how you could possibly argue that its not.

    You asked for just one example, thats three, maybe four.

    Much like you said in in your article regarding personal finance, If you’re still here good for you. As you can probably tell I read the law, and read books about the law. I’m proud to say my state Representative knows me by name, as I have worked for him as well as other political campaigns. As you might have guessed I also have a strong interest in politics and the direction our country is going. Its hard to understand what the Affordable Care Act really does between all the static. I simply feel you left an awful lot of information out and painted a rosy picture without informing readers there will be surprises and speed bumps along the way and they’ll be awfully surprised by the law and its out of pocket cost to them. Most important, the law itself is fundamentally flawed and the law will ultimately make affordable quality care harder to get.

  • Truthteller

    Thanks for providing this info. It actually was quite clearly and simply explained. There is much disinformation being put out there by the political right which is interested in scuttling a large Democratic legacy policy that will benefit many and put the Repubs at an electoral disadvantage for many years, hence the hysteria, regardless of its benefit to society at large.

    I just wish that those that are opposed would become educated on even the largest strokes of the law before spreading their FUD.

  • pppPerryandtheMETS

    You know with all due respect I clearly sense a bit of condescending attitude and name calling again. First I’m a “polarizing troll” and now an “extremist”. Again, there was no intent of any of this on my part. But I must say I’m pretty disappointed and a little taken aback. I’ve been reading your articles for a while and have found them to be witty and relevant by offering real life scenarios most young engineers need to know to get through life they generally don’t consider important. IMO you have a talent and unique ability to not sound like their parents, or stuffy authority figure as you make these points too. I’d assume if we met in person we’d spend more time talking gear and studio stories than anything else. I resent the extremist remark and feel its uncalled for. Frankly, I don’t care what your views are socially or politically and I’m certainly not interested changing your opinions. You seem rather intelligent and more than capable of drawing your own conclusions. I’ll let my reply post above speak for itself, its certainly “civil”, full of reputable information, and not at all extreme. It does address the gaps you left in your original article.

  • TrustMeI’mAScientist

    Thanks, this is much more thorough and substantial. And I’m happy to let these remarks stand.

    I’ll just rebut a few, if I may:

    1) First, this article does in fact, refer to the opt-out tax as a tax, because that’s precisely what it is! So a claim of bias on that front frankly does not stand.

    You may be right that some politicians who supported this law when it was a bill skirted around the issue and refuse to call a spade a spade.

    But that’s pretty par for the course with both parties, isn’t it? In any event, this article consciously calls a spade a spade. So no bias is evident there.

    2) There’s a wide cross-section of sources posted. Some of the news outlets cited may have more of a slant in *either* direction than others.

    But we’re not linking to “opinions”. We’re linking to actual evidence of actual prices in the market or actual specifics of the law. And if you look more carefully, you should find a mix of sources.

    3) It is true that both Romney and the Heritage Foundation reversed course on this reform — but only after Obama came out in favor of it.

    This part IS an opinion: I believe that to was a partisan *political* move, rather than a principled one.

    And this is coming from someone who is sympathetic to many conservative principles!

    4) Opening up the exchanges across state lines does not sound feasible on a basic economic level due to wildly varying *actual* medical costs from region to region.

    Tort reform may be a noble goal, and if you want to advocate for it, go ahead! But it’s a double-edged sword, just like anything else. Any reform is likely to feature heavy compromise, just like this one did.

    5) This law is most definitely a compromise. It’s not called the “American Single-Payer Universal Healthcare Act”, is it? :D

    6) There is really no such thing as “promoting” a law. This is not a bill. It’s a L.A.W. The law is the law. You either follow it, or you break it. You either are conscious of it, or you are not.

    Yes: People should call the state hotlines and ask for help, just like people should call the state hotlines to ask for help with their drivers’ licenses.

    Informing people about how to get a driver license or how to navigate a government health exchange is not a “political” act. Remember: This is a LAW. Not a bill.

    7) Actually, yes, your first post was pretty rude and sensationalist. Hence the “troll” remark :)

    But we’ll let that slide! Nobody’s perfect. I know I’m not. You’re being polite but firm now, and I respect that. Please keep it up, should you choose to continue.

    8) As someone who has been looking at insurance prices from age 18-31, I can tell you for a fact that the average prices of the current plans for someone in my position are the lowest I’ve ever seen, and with more coverage to boot. And that’s not even taking inflation or increased medical costs into account!

    9) I personally lived comfortably in New York City at or need the poverty line for far longer than I’d like to admit, so yes, it is very much possible to make it by on under $50k here! :D (I do work in the music industry, after all. ; )

    10) In closing: Everyone’s got their worldview.

    I’m not a Democrat or a Republican.

    When people ask me if I’m a “conservative” or a “liberal”, I say “both, just like everybody else.”

    At the end of the day, I try to be an empiricist. I’m not saying I’m perfect at it, but I will say that I’m among the best you’re going to get on that front.

    For full disclosure of my personal political views, try here:

    http://trustmeimascientist.com/2013/01/07/can-you-be-a-conservative-and-a-liberal-at-the-same-time-spoiler-alert-yes-more-than-you-know/

    I tend to play it pretty much down the center, unless I find considerable evidence that tilts to one side or the other.

    I assure you, this is of unending frustration to my friends on both the far right and the far left.

    (There seem to be more of both today, and they scare me equally from time to time!)

    But don’t worry. In this political climate, I’m used to it! :D

    Best of luck and stay healthy,

    Justin

  • TrustMeI’mAScientist

    Thanks for the kind words. I do appreciate the soothing tones.

    We’ll have to disagree on the civility and substance of your original post, but hey — I’m sure I’ve done worse in my day!

    I’m sure there are a lot of other things we may agree on. And I know that this law — nor any other — is perfect. I think we allow for that in the article, particularly toward the end.

    Am I cautiously optimistic about the new law? Yes, absolutely. It’s easier to get of out of bed in the morning that way.

    I also really do think that a mostly market-based solution like this may be a better fit for America than a universal single payer system. I can only imagine what your response to this article might have been like if it was about the ins and outs of the brand new “American Universal Healthcare Act”! :)

    Personally, my ideal would be something like the German system: A basic level of universal public coverage with a private market options on top for additional coverage.

    (I’m a data guy, and they’ve currently got some of the best health care in the world, based on just about any metric you can think of. And for the most part, they seem to be measuring the right things.)

    But this article isn’t about that. It’s not about what either of us might like or might fear could happen. It’s about what *is*. Right now. And on that front, I stand by this article 100%.

    Thanks as always, for reading,

    -Justin

  • pppPerryandtheMETS

    Well, I still disagree with many of your arguments and still think my first post was plenty civil, but I’m perfectly happy to disagree. I can take it and have been accused of and called worse. ( I once was a monitor engineer … briefly )

    I’ve always joked, recording engineers / producers will generally make great politicians. It takes a lot of skill to get everyone in the band to think they’re right and kept happy while your focusing on a mix or ambiguously saying yes, sure, no problem to anything.

    In short, the Affordable Care Act wasn’t written to lower costs or improve care. How it will work is still not well understood and its reliance on youth is quite the Achilles heal. A lot of people will be in for a rude awakening. The saddest part is affordable healthcare in the US is 100% possible. I’ll bet it doesn’t work much better than the roll out has so far. The big question is what happens after its likely failure/collapse.

  • billindallas

    Justin, what we needed (and could have had) was

    1) pre-existing condition coverage

    2) tort reform

    3) portability

    4) interstate competition.

    We got one of those in the ACA.

    Also, the law was provided as an end-run in the Senate. Many parts of the law were open to as-yet-to-be-written regulations and details. (10,000 pages and counting so far). The law we have today is a far cry from the law that was passed.

    There were 16 doctors in the Congress at the time – none of them were consulted – they were Republicans.

    Insurance coverage is NOT the same thing as health care.

    As a fellow audio engineer, I hope your mixing chops are better than your analytical and journalistic skills. You’ve omitted some items and looked the other way on others – not exactly lying, but you’ve steered the article to your desired destination.

  • seriousfun

    Congratulations for promoting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act!

    Your facts are right – anyone who disagrees with this needs to Think Outside The FOX.

  • pppPerryandtheMETS

    Nicely stated, as you can see, if interested, I had a long back and forth with Justin regarding this article. To be brief and to the point, I agreed to disagree with him. His arguments weren’t exactly strong in each response and truth be told he’s written other articles that had information I would consider a little inaccurate in them too.

    I simply chose to express what I felt he left out and felt was pertinent to readers. Having said that, I think he’s a talented writer, likely a very good engineer, and seems like a really nice and intelligent guy. As I told him I’m sure if I were to meet him, you, and other Sonic Scoop readers we’d spend time talking about gear and recording/production techniques than healthcare and politics.

    You seem to be knowledgeable of the law and understand how a lot of engineers/musicians who think they’ve just been granted affordable healthcare are gonna be surprised when it finally starts to affect them. I felt he should have addressed this and didn’t in the article.

    FWIW – it seems so far there’s basically 3 commenters for and 3 against the ACA, and even one of those “for” the law opens his comment by thanking Justin for “promoting” the law, although in his opinion the article didn’t.

  • seriousfun

    No, you can’t have pre-existing condition coverage without the mandate. This was essential to the Heritage plan that was proposed as an alternative to Hilary Clinton’s proposal in the ’90s, that has been adopted in MA under Romney and now in the U.S.

    You don’t even know what a tort is, I’ll bet. We in California reformed our litigation regulation far beyond what has been dangled in front of ignorant Confederate voters as “tort reform” and it has not changed the system, so bringing up “tort reform” now is just plain wrong.

    Portability is in the ACA, and couldn’t have happened without strong Federal regulation. We couldn’t have this if we allowed the state with the weakest regulations to sell in all 50 states. think.

    The 16 GOP “doctors” in Congress wanted to privatize Medicare, extend HSAs (great, if it weren’t for the fact that people who can’t afford insurance can’t afford to save millions to cover cancer or a major car accident), etc. They are all elitist scumbags of the highest order, and it boggles the mind to wonder why anyone who isn’t already a billionaire would vote for a Broun or a Paul.

    PPACA was passed in reconciliation, which is a common procedure. It was upheld in court at least 14 times.

  • TomsRiverSongwriter

    Believe it or not there are a lot of people who do not want health insurance and who spend time and money on a healthier lifestyle. While you are thinking about that remember than for 100s of years (and more) some people lived healthy lives well into their 80s without going to hospitals.

    Obamacare will be good for a lot of people.
    Obamacare will be bad for a lot a people.

    IDEA: Let’s force the entire United States to buy a new ProTools 11 HD rig.
    The world would be a better place, right?

  • Tom

    “the unexpectedly huge amounts of traffic…” how could that have been “unexpected”??? The bill was campaigned for based on the millions of people who don’t have insurance, and then you mandate that they get it or pay a penalty, and then you’re surprised when they try? This is incompentence at its finest. If that is the caliber of the people implementing this plan, then those that say it is doomed are probably right.

    unexpectedly huge amount of traffic
    unexpectedly huge amount of traffic
    unexpectedly huge amount of traffic

  • Dan Chapman

    Tort reform would not lower prices for consumers, it accounts for a minuscule percentage of actual costs. I’ll let someone else argue points #3 and #4, there are great arguments against them but I don’t remember them.

    I just remember the actual costs that tort reform may affect are below 1% of total costs. Fractions of a percent. Legal costs have gone down, prices have gone up. Prices of healthcare have gone up by MULTIPLES since I’ve been buying insurance.

    It’s been a while since I worked at my first job where I used to work with these numbers, so you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t have them at hand, but that’s one of those solutions where the person arguing has their OWN interests in mind, and have no intent of actually helping you.

    Like the guy who broke into your house telling you that you should leave your doors unlocked, because at least then you’d not have to replace the broken windows.

  • Jared Chambers

    #2 Tort reform is corporate propaganda to disenfranchise the civic judicial system and, by extension, the public’s ability to receive payment for damages that can be life-changing (and in some cases ending).

    The reality is that “fraudulent” lawsuits are rare and hard to prove; juries are not prone to just giving out money to plaintiffs for no reason–even the “quintessential” example of a fraudulent lawsuit, the McDonald’s Hotcoffee case where an elderly woman suffered 3rd degree burns, was not fraudulent.

    As far as doctors practicing “defensive” medicine to avoid malpractice suits via “excessive testing” is another myth. Testing is simply easier to do and more accurate than traditional diagnosis methods, and in some cases more profitable. To drive this point home, the total payouts for medical malpractice suits in 2012 was $3.6 billion dollars, which was a 3% drop from 2011. The healthcare industry has revenues over $1.5 trillion, meaning that tort reform would address not even a quarter of a percentage point of the problem.

    #3 and #4 would not help the situation at all and are corporate propaganda to allow greedy employers out of providing quality health insurance to employees by allowing them to buy plans from states with lax regulations and requirements. Furthermore, most states (and regions in most cases) are subject to insurance monopolies or duopolies that are, themselves, subjected to HOSPITAL monopolies and duopolies. Interstate competition would not promote competition but further the cartel-like pricing schemes that have causes rampant inflation of medical costs.

    Yes, insurance is not the same as healthcare, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

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  • mrmikemrmike

    Justin, I on the other hand cannot congratulate you.

    This debacle is the gift that keeps giving. And the Americans that believe in this Fascist approach to Health Care have only to thank their pathetic misunderstanding of how our government works. The Insurance Companies wrote the law. Everyone is getting screwed vs. the 1 Percenters and prime shareholder of the Insurance Co.’s laughing all the way to the bank. I have been one of those Sound Guys with no heath insurance and that is a bit of misnomer unless your were strict 1099 or under the table.

    The Healthcare.gov website is data farm nightmare with high security risks and according to Consumer Reports “Stay away from Healthcare.gov for at least another month if you can. Hopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess they’ve made.” http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/10/tips-for-creating-heathcare-gov-acount/index.htm

    John McAfee, the security superstar and gazzillioniare basically stated the that healthcare dot gov security is a joke and that “hackers could “spoof” the website” and “I’ll ask you your Social Security, your date of birth, [so] an hour later I can empty your bank account,” John McAfee,
    who founded the cybersecurity company of the same name but is no longer
    associated with it, complained on Fox News. The Obamacare websites, he
    said, have “no safeguards,” and the main site’s architecture is
    “outrageous.” http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/15/how-safe-is-the-obamacare-website-john-mcafee-thinks-the-lack-of-security-is-outrageous/

    And if you Obama Care lovers want to criticizes with human interest, how about bringing that Baby Killing War Criminal in the WH to justice? President Drone. Yeah that’s what I thought. Better yet why don’t you let .gov record and produce Music and Film too!

    What a joke, and many of you dare call yourselves Americans.
    I apologize for the rant Justin, you’re good guy, but stick to the facts and maybe the truth will set you free.

    There is no Left vs. Right, only Tyranny vs. Freedom!

  • mrmikemrmike

    Dude there is no Left vs. Right, Only Tyranny vs.Freedom!
    WAKE UP! You are being had! Or I guess you support NSA spying and Drone strikes on children, Lefty?

  • mrmikemrmike

    Better dead than Red.
    The communists had a thriving music scene.
    Rock n Roll totally flurished. I wonder if Biafra or Dylan would have been published in the USSR or even China.

  • Dave

    This article shills for the President and his plan. This is obvious because the author doesn’t compare specific price comparisons before and after Obamacare was passed. Why? What is wrong with you? You’re wrong about the facts too: Obamacare raises

    I haven’t looked yet at the prices for myself, as I’m reluctant to submit information to a website that allegedly has 500 million lines of code in it, it must be full of security holes. All the information I’ve seen shows that for most people such as the young, the healthy, including an article that did a comparison on prices from the New York Times said that Obamacare raises prices. This makes sense given it’s what the insurance companies have to do to survive under one Obamacare mandate that higher-risk premiums cannot be more than three times the lowest offered premium. If you cap the high-end, then the low-end must come up. Then ones for whom it lowers prices are the old and the sick.

  • Dave

    This article shills for the President and his plan. This is obvious because the author doesn’t compare specific price comparisons before and after Obamacare was passed. Why? What is wrong with you? You’re wrong about the facts too: Obamacare raises prices.

    I haven’t looked yet at the prices for myself, as I’m reluctant to submit information to a website that allegedly has 500 million lines of code in it, it must be full of security holes. All the information I’ve seen shows that for most people such as the young, the healthy, including an article that did a comparison on prices from the New York Times said that Obamacare raises prices. This makes sense given it’s what the insurance companies have to do to survive under one Obamacare mandate that higher-risk premiums cannot be more than three times the lowest offered premium. If you cap the high-end, then the low-end must come up. Then ones for whom it lowers prices are the old and the sick.

  • Dave

    This article shills for the President and his plan. This is obvious because the author doesn’t make specific price comparisons before and after Obamacare was passed. Why? What is wrong with you? You’re wrong about the facts too: Obamacare raises

    I haven’t looked yet at the prices for myself, as I’m reluctant to submit information to a website that allegedly has 500 million lines of code in it, it must be full of security holes. An article from the NY Times did a comparison on prices state-by-state that showed Obamacare raises prices for most states except a few like California and New York. This makes sense given it’s what the insurance companies have to do to survive under one Obamacare mandate that higher-risk premiums cannot be more than three times the lowest offered premium. If you cap the high-end, then the low-end must come up. Then ones for whom it lowers prices are the old and the sick.

  • http://www.bigboldimpact.com/ David Hooper

    Glad to see people talking about this. Definitely a good thing for musicians. Way too many “benefit shows” going on, because people aren’t doing what they need to take care of themselves. Hoping this will make it easier for them to do that…

  • http://www.bigboldimpact.com/ David Hooper

    I hear ya, man, but even people with healthy lifestyles can have accidents that would need this kind of thing. You don’t want to be another musician on the receiving end of a “benefit show.” That stuff is nice, but the few bucks they earn are a drop in the bucket for what health care costs.

  • sam

    The “trick” that adds $1K to Social Security Checks is certainly a trick. The “reports” should be called Bogus reports, not Bonus.

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  • TrustMeI’mAScientist

    Hi Dave,

    You might not have had a chance to read the article, but it does in fact rely heavily on before-and-after price comparisons. If you’d like to take a moment and have a look, you’ll also find that those price comparisons are supported by links to sources.

    I can understand criticisms of the law, but the fact remains that the premiums that are kicking in next year tend to be less expensive, on average. For many Americans, the effective price of insurance is brought down even further still through tax subsidies.

    Of course, if you wanted to, there are valid arguments you could make instead of the unsupported one that you’re making now. For instance: It would be fair to argue that the new tax subsidies for lower income earners are essentially an additional cost that will weigh more heavily on those who could already afford care before the law.

    Similarly, you could make a case that there is no a tax increase on those who remain uninsured, and that perhaps Federal taxes on what are deemed to be “poor personal choices” are inappropriate. You might also suggest that the new subsidies for lower income earners may increase pressure for future tax increases on the middle class.

    Here’s another good argument: You might ask whether prices are likely *remain* lower for the long haul.
    In some (but not all) cases, price controls can lead shortages, higher
    costs and reduced competition in the long run. If you want to make the
    Milton Friedman argument, feel free.

    (Of course, we’d also have to acknowledge that the price cap is a soft one. Consumers can still buy plans off-exchange, paying as much as they want for coverage. Additionally, profits are capped at 15%, which is a total margin that most businesses are darn lucky to get as it is. Still, arguments against price caps may be sound, especially from the perspective that they may in some cases decrease competition or lead to shortages or rationing of services.)

    One thing you say is true: Sticker prices have not yet gone down as significantly in very rural areas as they have in urban ones, mostly because the prices in those areas are already so darn low already, nationally speaking. So they attract less competition.

    One would figure that eventually, as the larger, bigger money markets begin to get tapped out, new competitors are likely begin entering those markets, chasing the Federal subsidy dollars that are likely to start flooding into poorer and more rural areas. But I have yet to see any data to suggest that rates are going UP next year in the boonies, on average.

    So, once again: You’re welcome to advocate against the wisdom of this law. But
    please try to stick to arguments that you can support with evidence.

    At the moment, it appears next year’s plans are slated to be less expensive, not more, on average, for most people. And this is especially true for both the previously uninsured and those who earn less than $45,000.

    If you have broad data to the contrary from reputable sources, I’d be very interested to see it. We’ve provided ours. Now show us yours. If you can’t do so, please stick to the arguments you can back up. There are plenty of others to choose from.

    Thanks in advance,
    Justin

  • Tomboy123

    “The reality is that [Obamacare] is intended to be a market-based solution.”

    Now, wait a minute. This is just a flat-out lie. A “market” is a system where people voluntarily trade with one another. A system where one party forces people to transact is not a market, it’s tyranny. But this is what Obamacare does.

    Obamacare forces individuals to purchase products or pay a penalty. Obamacare forces people to purchase “insurance” that government approves of and outlaws other insurance produces from being sold. (this is why people are losing their insurance policies.)

    The so-called government run and controlled “marketplace” is mandated by force of law. If anyone disagrees with the standards that sellers must meet, it’s just too bad, because government forces these requirements on everyone. (Did you know that the term “marketplace” was intentionally selected, not because it describes what the government system is, but because they did marketing studies that showed that people respond better to “marketplace” than to “government run?”)

    Whatever you want to say about Obamacare, let’s at least be honest about
    what is it: it’s further government control over health care and a step towards socialized medicine. And let’s not pretend that there’s no alternative view, namely, the view that freedom is being undermined and that this is harmful. This view exists and it warrants honestly addressing it, whether one agrees or not.

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