Obamacare: Can You Handle Truth?

What does health care reform include … REALLY?  How does a boomer like me separate the the Facts(Bull) from the Myths(Crap)?  One side says one thing.  The other side says something completely different about the same fact.  One thing for sure, both sides have their own spin on what is and isn’t in the bill.  At least some of that spin seems to me to be a distortion of the English language.  Some of the spin is a blatant distortion of the truth.

Caution - The Clueless Will Be Impaled

At this point, some of the arguments your friends, neighbors or co-workers continue to debate don’t even factor into the legislation signed by President Obama.  Below are a few questions and answers.  

Questions From you … Answers from the White House.

So, what’s the truth behind the Affordable Health Care for America Act?  The following are a list of questions and answers with a definite White House “spin”.

Question: Will I be forced to change insurance? 
White House Answer: No. That’s a MYTH.  If you’re satisfied with your current plan, you can keep it.

Truth: That is technically true, until such time as your current plan is no longer offered because the Company you work for can no longer afford to offer it, or you can’t afford the higher cost of it.  Even then you will not be forced to change … you just won’t be able to afford it, so you will want to change!  Papa B.

Question: Will illegal immigrants now be covered by our money?
White House Answer: No. That’s a MYTH.  In fact, undocumented immigrants are expressly excluded from coverage. Only legal immigrants who pay their share will be covered.

Truth: They are already covered by our money! The only thing they are expressly excluded from is paying for it.  They have better coverage than you and I already! They show up in the emergency room and don’t pay a cent. I am thinking about looking into how to become one.  Papa B.

Question: Will I go to jail or be harassed by the IRS if I don’t have health coverage?
White House Answer: No. That’s a MYTH.  In 2014 Americans (except Native Americans, Inmates or those with religious objections) will be required to have health insurance or pay an annual penalty. True.   However, the law prevents the IRS from using levies, liens or seizing property. Additionally, the IRS cannot impose criminal penalties (such as time in jail).

Truth: In 2014 if you don’t have health care insurance you won’t go to Jail, but you will pay a fine(penalty).  As currently laid out in the bill, the IRS will check monthly to make sure you have insurance.  If you don’t have insurance they will begin deducting withholding from you to pay the penalty(fine).  The IRS will have no need to “harass” you, they will simply take it from you.  The good news is that the fine, as defined today, is far less expensive for most than paying for the insurance coverage.  So … why buy it if you don’t think you need it.  Go to the emergency room and let the rest of us pay it … like we do now.  Papa B.

Question: I heard there was going to be a 10% tax increase across the board. Is that true?
White House Answer: No. That is a MYTH.  While there will be tax implications, most of the biggest changes apply to medical manufacturers, insurers and pharmaceutical companies.  In fact, some Americans may see no changes at all. Tax changes that could affect average individuals include …
• A 10% sales tax on indoor tanning (yes, really)
• A 0.9% increase on the Medicare tax rate
• A 3.8% tax on investment income for individuals earning more than $200,000 and households earning more than $250,000
• Taxes on high-end or “Cadillac” health care plans (this excise tax would not begin until 2018 and only apply to insurers of plans that exceed $10,200 annually for individual coverage, or $27,500 annually for family coverage)

Truth: 100% Bull … nope, I mean 100% Crap… no, I mean 100% Bull Crap! I don’t even know where to start.  All taxes affect the average individual,  no matter where they are imposed, or how big the company is that they impose them on, the they are eventually paid for by the individual tax payer in the price of the product or service that “big company” provides! Tax increases to medical manufacturers, insures, and pharmaceuticals affect will affect every average American. Companies don’t pay taxes!  People Do!

Now the tanning tax, that’s just plain hilarious.  The reasoning behind that one is that tanning inside causes health care cost to go up because of cancer implications.  Probably true, but then why can I ride a motorcycle without a helmet without paying a tax?  It sort of the same logic as not being able to smoke in a bar but, let’s legalize marijuana! The good news is that if you already have a tan, or you don’t really want a tan, this is one tax you won’t have to pay. Papa B.

Question: Will the government now pay for abortions?
White House Answer: No. That’s a MYTH.  The law already in place which prevents using federal money to fund abortions (except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to a woman’s life) is not being altered.
Truth: Finally, … the truth! … The government doesn’t pay for anything!  The tax payer does! You, however, will only have to pay for “legal” abortions per the “current” bill!  Papa B.

Question: Will I have to pay for other people’s abortions?
White House Answer: No. That’s a MYTH.  Those opposed to abortion will not be forced to assist in funding them. You can simply select a plan that does not offer them. This applies not only to people who may have objections to abortions on moral grounds, but also to those who simply have no reason to pay an extra premium for that type of coverage (such as women past their child bearing years or single men).

Truth: Read that answer again.  The first part of the answer, “No. That’s a Myth.” is just not true! One more time … if the government pays for any abortions, it comes straight out of your (the taxpayers) pocket. Your taxes will be paying for legal abortions. The rest of that answer makes no sense at all to the question.  It simply says that you can select a plan for yourself that won’t cover your own abortions.   Papa B.

Question: Does the “Public Option” mean the government will run health care?
White House Answer: No. That’s a MYTH … and a non-factor at this point.  In fact, the “public option” did not make it into the final legislation that President Obama signed. THERE IS NO PUBLIC OPTION. Even before it was dropped from the bill, it was misunderstood to be government-run health care – wherein the government would make your health care decisions. Rather, it would have been government-provided insurance option to compete with private insurance.

Truth: True, it didn’t make the bill … yet.  But again, It doesn’t answer the question.  The question asks whether the ‘Public Option” means the government will run health care not whether it is included in the this bill.  However, I would define a “government-provided insurance option to compete with private insurance” as a government run “public option”.   Papa B.

Question: Will my Medicare benefits be cut in order to extend care to others?
White House Answer: No. That, too, is a MYTH.  Brooks Jackson, director of FactCheck.org, says that although the reform package includes $500 billion in “cuts”, it does NOT include traditional Medicare benefit reductions.

Truth: Read the answer. The question is, “Will my medicare benefits be cut”?  The answer above says that “although the reform package includes $500 billion in cuts”, it “does not include traditionalmedicare benefit reductions“. Define “traditional Medicare reductions” That simply says it won’t cut the benefits that they traditionally cut before.  It leaves a lot of other medicare benefits that weren’t traditionally cut! Papa B.

Question: Does this mean that “death panels” are now a reality?
White House Answer: No. And they never were.  This myth was based on misunderstanding of a provision in the original bill that required payment, by Medicare, for health care practitioner-led end-of-life counseling.  This is not part of the law.
Truth: Correct!  There are no “Death Panels” in this bill.  However, the term did not just refer to required payment for “end of life counseling.  It also referred to panels of people who will determine what procedures your government health care insurance will pay for based on your situation such as age, medical history, etc.  That, in fact, is a part of this bill. Papa B.

Confused?

Confusing doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Throughout the very long debate over health care reform, a great deal of misinformation, some of it spurred by presumption or misunderstanding, was circulating.  Additionally, many changes and alterations to the proposed law were made along the way.  It is so complex, there were so many changes, and so many spins, that no one really knows what it all means or cost.   A couple of things are for certain.

  1. If it really adds coverage for an additional 30 million people who currently don’t have insurance it can’t cost less.
  2. No matter what the cost  … You and I are going to pay for it!

As for me … I still very confused.   You can read more at whitehouse.gov/healthreform … just don’t believe everything you read!  Whether it is Fact or Myth it is still hard to sort through the Bull Crap!  Papa B.

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