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A Message from the Health Insurers of America

After Obama announced his temporary fix to the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance companies were up in arms about how this would destabilize the market and cause people's premiums to rise.  Um, when was the last time the health insurance biz cared so much about raising premiums?  Methinks there are other motives at work.  This week's cartoon is a little reminder of health insurers' favorite refrain.
Remember during the health insurance Wild West before health care reform, when premiums were skyrocketing, not to mention loads of people getting dropped from their plans?  Remember leading up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, when premiums rose?  That suddenly seems like so long ago.  Remember the insurance companies complaining about rising premiums before?  Me neither.
Since I am a self-employed cartoonist, I've been living in the health insurance wilderness for quite a while.  My family's plan was canceled, like all those other people you've heard about lately.  (Although surprisingly, nationwide only 5% of people buy insurance on the open market like me.)  It turns out the plan I can buy on the exchange is way more expensive than my canceled plan, but it offers better coverage.  Since I'm not holding my breath that my insurance provider will "un-cancel" me, let alone offer my previous plan at the same price, off to California Covered I go!  Once I'm there, thanks to generous subsidies, my premium will be lower than before.  Ah, America!
What's your health insurance story?  Have you had a positive or negative experience since Obamacare?  Share your stories in the comments section, and be sure to like, share and check out additional links to stories behind the cartoon at my site.

Comments (24)

  • Annie


    22 November 2013 at 15:10 |
    Same here Mark. Except b4 Obamacare I could not afford health insurance at all becuz I am one of those pesky sick people. Now I have a decent policy at an affordable price.
    Oh, the tyranny...


  • Greg


    22 November 2013 at 21:08 |
    I haven't had health insurance for ten years I'm 60 years old. I just figured when the big one hit I would lay in bed for someone to find me.
    I decided to sign up for the hell of it and was accepted into the Washington State Apple plan which is at no cost. I'll still go to the same doctors I've been going to as a private self pay like I've been doing as the 2 doctors I see have been the same since 1985. I don't think if the big one hit I will do anything differently or anything at all.


  • Larry G

    Larry G

    22 November 2013 at 23:02 |
    I went from my current $600 a month plan with Cigna to a $287 a month plan with Blue Cross that is identical (maybe a little better even), through healthcare.gov in Florida.


  • Jane Kurzeja

    Jane Kurzeja

    23 November 2013 at 17:25 |
    Here is my health care story...

    First let me say, that I think my health care begins with me. I eat mostly fresh organic raw foods. I drink plenty of filtered water. I exercise, meditate, avoid stress, have good hygiene, get regular dental check ups, I take my vitamins and nutritional supplements and I get outside and play. I do volunteer work, which is very gratifying. I don't smoke. I drink an occasional glass of wine. I do have a cup of organic coffee every morning. And I feel great.

    I felt I needed health insurance in the event of something catastrophic.

    I guess I'm lucky because health insurance only costs me $17.00 per month. I wouldn't call it health care, though. I am insured through Washington State's Basic Health Plan, as of July 2008. In February 2009, I saw my designated allopathic doctor at my designated clinic, for a routine wellness exam. Of course, my insurance does not cover visits to the Naturopath who I would prefer to see. Anyway, Dr. Basic Health found I am healthy and in great shape, but she still tried to convince me that something could be wrong and I should have a bunch of tests, like a mammogram and a colonoscopy. Even when I told her, "I am fine and there is no history of any health issues in my family." she went to the trouble of bringing up an internet site with all kinds of statistics to prove to me that I need medically invasive, cell damaging, potentially dangerous tests. Needless to say, I didn't take her tests.

    People need to accept responsibility for their health. It's challenging when one watches ads on TV for mostly horrible stuff. Television commercials advertise: candy (full of artificial colors and flavors), disposable diapers (for the landfills), PupPoroni (chemical dog treats), Airwick (chemical air freshener), Epiduo jell (acne's cure with side effects), Covergirl (Olay's answer to ugliness), Slimquick (diet pills), Zyrtec (allergy medicine),Triscuit (genetically modified wheat and monoglycerides), infinite quest dot com (afterlife, astrology, numerology, tarot, psychic, reincarnation, shop), Shoes Under (every one needs more shoe storage), Orajel (don't see a dentist), Glad force flex (more plastics for the landfill), Energy Star (that's actually a good one), Naked Naturals (loaded with toxic chemicals), Web MD (that's actually a good one), Pledge Fabric Sweeper (what's wrong with vacuuming), Hershey's (uses child forced labor), Bio-Oil (for stretch marks), Empire (out-gassing, impossible to keep clean carpet), Re-Bath (low paid workers who cover up that mold in no time), Ultra Lift Pro Roller (for wrinkles), Wendy's (fast "food"), Oxi Clean (gnarly chemicals), Celebrex (arthritis treatment with severe risks, including death), Menactra (vaccine for a rare condition has serious side effects). All of this occurred within one half hour on The View, KOMO TV. Consume, consume, consume... cheap, unhealthy, environmentally unfriendly, unnecessary, junk. All of which we can get from Wal-Mart, the company who puts Mom & Pop out of business, under pays employees to the extent they need food stamps and can't afford health insurance, selling the junk made by slave labor from China.

    We all know it's about the money. It's not just the health care system that's broken, but that is a great place to start. Medical schools need to teach about health. We have faith in our doctors. I'm sure we would listen to somebody who would teach us about getting and staying healthy. Until medical schools start producing these individuals, we have to consider alternative medicine as part of the health care system, because it's the only place I've found ethical medical professionals who care about my well being.


  • bob


    23 November 2013 at 19:33 |
    RanknFile--I dont want my health insurance held hostage to GOP MARKET FORCES!! I will work and fight for SINGLE PAYER!!5446


  • Ginny Mayer

    Ginny Mayer

    23 November 2013 at 20:08 |
    My story is similar up to the last part - instead my premiums will be more costly with a far higher deductible than my old cancelled plan. Yet I see the benefits - depending on how my health is, I may save due to preventive care being free of charge! But if the preventive care finds problems, then I'll keep paying toward the higher deductible and between that and the higher premiums, will pay more. But still, I see the positive - I can't be dropped, preventive care is free of additional charges, I can keep my own doctors, and ....the relatively low out-of-pocket maximum (which is the same as the deductible) means not having to lose everything.


  • Michael Frankel

    Michael Frankel

    23 November 2013 at 20:15 |
    While I have not watched this video, I received one of these letters from Anthem Blue Cross, telling us about the "new" plans. Despite the fact that our current plan is PERFECT for us, we are being FORCED to move to a plan that offers services we don't need, premiums that are over 40% higher (from $663 / month to $1069 / month), and has MUCH higher out-of-pocket costs. And, we do not qualify for a "subsidy", so we are basically left out in the cold. As far as I'm concerned, the ACA is a complete give-away to the Health Insurance providers since they will now have a larger subscriber base (i.e, a captive audience) and will be charging higher premiums. If this is what they call "Affordable", then they are smoking something...


  • Tim


    23 November 2013 at 20:16 |
    Well, here's my insurance story. I have a chronic medical condition for which I take drugs. Since initiating treatment for my condition the price of these drugs per my drug provider has not lowered. One of the drugs was developed in the 1950's and proved to be too toxic for treatment of cancer (not my condition) and was put on the shelf. The other, devloped in the late 70s, same story. Then in the eighties the drugs were taken off the shelf and used to treat my condition with disasterous results. Taking results from lab rate studies in the fifties, the pharmaceutical industries took it upon themselves to start the dosage of this drug at over 10 times the normal introductory drug dosage protocol. As a result, tens of thousands of people died in America, Europe and Canada. The drug was 1/4 the price in Canada than it was in the U.S. To this day that drug still costs over $1400 per month in the U.S. Fortunately, that drug is no longer used to fight my disease, as newer drugs have come on the market. My point is, insurance companies must pay for those drugs and they do so with the U.S. government giving large subsidies to big Pharma to develop those drugs in the 50's, 60's and 70's. IOW, that drug was a huge windfall of money for the drug company at no expense for them (even though subsidized, they took a tax deduction on R&D costs).This is a common story of drugs, subsidized R&D by the taxpayer, and windfall profits when it is used to treat exotic forms of a disease like cancer, liver diseases, HIV and the list goes on. So what does my insurance company do? They hiked my premiums over 500 percent over a 4 year period. When I cancelled their coverage, I was paying $1011 per month for coverage, as a SINGLE MAN...more than my mortgage on my house!! In conclusion, 70% of the American public, as measured by several partisan and non-partisan polls wanted single payer, Medicare for all coverage in 2010 but Obama/Reid buckled and made a deal with the devil, I mean the insurance companies, to drive 47 million new customers into the "free" market of insurance rip-off policies. And this mess is what they got. Obama care will work if given the time to mature through its growing pains. Otherwise the conservatives, big Insurance included, will try to chop it off at the knees and dwarf it into oblivion. AMERICA, STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS and the chance to lead a decent healthy life!!!


  • Mere


    23 November 2013 at 21:10 |
    Very Clever and Right On the Money, Honey!
    1975 TX RN .. I've seen insurance fraud lead to higher premiums coinciding with increased medical care costs aligned with Corporate Monopoly covering their tracks with case management, limited direct patient care providers professionally.
    Personally .. that's a whole 'nother ballgame, Sugar!
    You can bet your sweet ass that this is the beginning of the demise of corporate healthcare. The ACA allows for increased family practitioners (Physicians/Nurse Practitioners) and community clinics. Physicians are already severing ties to corporations that have 'purchased their practices' and some are building their own small hospitals, i.e. Diagnostics and Day Surgery Centers.


  • Kristine M Smith

    Kristine M Smith

    23 November 2013 at 22:01 |
    Before Obamacare I was paying $355.70 for a substandard health care policy because it was the best I could afford. Now that I have an Obamacare plan, I will be paying just $27 and change for a Bronze Plan (after the subsidy I'm eligible to receive, as an under $26,000/year gross earner). I will be able to use the balance I was paying to pay off my one outstanding debt and get my head above water for the first time in seven years. As a freelance, self-employed copywriter, I will now be able to retain my lower prices and serve more small business owners without worrying as much about whether or not I'll make enough money to make ends meet month after month. So the ACA not only serves me well, it serves all the people I serve because I won't have to raise my prices. If I ever make more than $44k/annually I will be thrilled to pay more for health insurance and get off the subsidy I'm allowed now but until then, this will work wonders for me and for the small business owners and entrepreneurs I serve. We are the backbone of this country and will be the folks who pull it out of the slump, so every break we can get so we can offer our services at affordable prices is a boon to everyone. Thank you, President Obama and all of the rest of you who have our backs! God bless you!!!


  • angela castillo

    angela castillo

    23 November 2013 at 22:36 |
    my step dad is the best in all the world. a signpainter all my life, years of poorly ventilated shop space & dangerous paints no longer on the mkt he developed heart problems. before ACA all we could do was hope he survived until he was old enough for medicaid. but thanks to the ACA he will now have health insurance 4 the very 1st time in his 59 years of life. God Help the Democrat who runs against Obamas record & not ON IT. Thank u Mr President


  • sadie


    23 November 2013 at 23:00 |
    My healthcare premiums keep going up even though I live on a fixed income and it's been the same for over 6 years. So, what are folks like me suppose to do? I can't afford what it costs me out of pocket now! I was so looking forward to maybe a $100 difference between my monthly payments to something closer to $300 instead of the $435 or so I pay now - and that's with a $1,000 deductible. I don't qualify for medicaid - so, I don't believe there's much to hope for now. Obama has made too many concessions on loads of things that affect us all. I have lost faith in our political system. It's run by big business and bigger corporations. Our President has sold out to more than a handful of organizations which impact his ability to do what's best for this country. Of course this is exactly why I am feeling as though there is no hope left for the majority of us - the same folks that voted for him in both elections. It's left me with more than a bad taste in my mouth.


  • Donna


    23 November 2013 at 23:57 |
    Prior to the affordable care act, my privately purchased health insurance premium was $1269 PER MONTH (I live in the Syracuse, NY, area). As a result of the changes brought about by health care reform, my monthly premium will drop to $609 per month. This is obviously a hugh savings for me.


  • Catherine Critz

    Catherine Critz

    24 November 2013 at 00:22 |
    I had a colonoscopy and it cost me much less than before when I had one. Also, my blood tests are paid for now that the ACA is in effect.


  • Barry Cowan

    Barry Cowan

    24 November 2013 at 01:15 |
    Well done, Mark! As an illustrator with similar political, uh, leanings, keep up the good work!


  • Timothy Albright

    Timothy Albright

    24 November 2013 at 05:08 |
    I saw this tweet from Randy Prine:
    Randy Prine ‏@randyprine
    "Florida Bans Obamacare Navigators From Helping Uninsured At County Health Departments" Sabotage-->Cruelty


    I say that the Feds need 2 step up & place navigators in unused SSA office space where states can't obstruct like Florida

    See http://whitecollargreenspace.blogspot.com/ 4plan 2have HHS use up to 10,000 empty desks@ 1300 SSA offices across the US 2provide Obamacare Walk-in service

    I also saw this news story:
    Walgreens and CVS and Rite Aid pharmacies have signed on to help folks shop and enroll both on the exchanges and off. They are acting as brokers during the enrollment period and have in-store advisors and navigators...

    Like Rite Aid and Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy is offering Affordable Care Act information in its 7,500 stores and 650 MinuteClinics; it has launched an informational web site, as well. CVS also plans to have health insurance experts answer customer questions in various stores nationwide during the enrollment period...

    This is just as scary as BC/BS providing negative seminars and pamphlets and web sites that do not mention the federal HHS 800# for .ACA or the availability of unbiased navigators and application helpers. Will the pharmacies steer customers to plans that benefits their corporation rather than the individual consumers. There are some insurance companies that can or do steer more business their way. It leaves a lot of room for kickbacks and quid pro quo.

    Yes folks, that's the American way.

    The only Obamacare outreach we have had in Ogemaw County Michigan was staged by representatives from BC/BS of Michigan and the Small Business Association of Michigan. (SBAM)
    There were about 100 in attendance which is a good turn-out for our small town. Many of those attending appeared to be self-employed or small business owners. A pall of gloom and discontent hung over the crowd. Everyone seemed to feel that an outside source was threatening to ruin our community and its citizens. Kind of like when the towns people gathered to decide what to do about the Frankenstein monster who was terrorizing the village. The only thing missing was the torches and pitch forks. The speakers seem to feed into this anger:
    •ACA is making it much more expensive and complicated for small businesses to provide insurance to their employees.
    •Healthcare.gov isn't working and if it ever does, it will be too complicated for most people.
    •Ins. reps advised people to see an insurance broker or agents as they are better trained than navigators or application helpers and they have their own database to search for ins. plans.
    •BC/BS used to have 400 different insurance plans with millions of options and now they will be limited to just 42. Yet in the same sentence they said that ACA has made everything so much more complicated. BC/BS had to spend millions to re-program their computers. They couldn't maintain any of the older plans that might qualify to be grand-fathered as it would be too complicated.
    •If you estimate your earnings incorrectly you could end up owing IRS a lot of money at the end of the year. It is complicated since ACA does not use the adjusted gross from our tax returns it uses a modified adjusted gross. (MAGI) (I believe this is the same figure that Medicare uses to determine if people must pay higher Part B premiums)
    •BC/BS used to use a scaled of 1 to 10 and they would charge employers more depending on how dangerous their industry was. ACA will not let them do this anymore.
    •One speaker told an anecdote about an associate who had been on an airplane and sat next to a CEO of a Canadian hospital. He needed heart surgery and the staff at his hospital said it could be scheduled in the next 2 or 3 months. The CEO decided to fly to Detroit and he had the surgery within two weeks.
    •The tone and comments of presenters and the audience seem to imply that the President or the White House has done us an injustice. "What di we do to deserve this?"
    •Other scare tactics include the frequent use of buzzwords like Sticker Shock and Very Very Expensive, especially when referring to premiums, co-pays, and deductibles.
    •BC/BS of Michigan handed out their pamphlet entitled, "Health Care Reform Basics." (CB 13448 Aug 13) There is no mention of healthcare..gov and no explanation that citizens can get help from navigators, application helpers, as well as insurance agents. It uses the generic term "Health insurance Marketplace." It can be viewed at http://ciainsurancemi.com/images/Health-Care-Reform-Basic-Brochure.pdf The only phone number is 855-499-0547 which connects you with BC/BS advisors. Try typing the number into a google search.

    •SBAM handed out a 5 page fact sheet, entitled "Health Care Reform Checklist." it gives https://www.sbam.org/HealthCareReform and a phone number of 800-362-5461. It is geared toward small businesses.


  • glen moore

    glen moore

    24 November 2013 at 05:13 |
    My kid is 24, in grad school at a private college. Just signed her into an ACA plan called Apple-something here in Washington. Her premium is ZERO, and the process took 15 minutes. I now know why the Republicans want to kill the program.


  • glen moore

    glen moore

    24 November 2013 at 05:21 |
    My grad student daughter with her free ACA plann will be learning how important it is to have the security of healthcare coverage. Her mindset will change from "Can't afford it" to "Can't afford to live without it". Think about that mindset whenever you see someone walking down the street, face-in-smartfone-screen, texting blather, who also claims they cannot afford coverage: It's about priorities.


  • steve zimmett

    steve zimmett

    24 November 2013 at 23:19 |
    Margret Flowers on Bill Moyers feels that the Obama health care plan is a big scam http://billmoyers.com/segment/fighting-the-good-fight/


  • Sandy Keese

    Sandy Keese

    25 November 2013 at 14:04 |
    When my late fiancé was diagnosed w/ cancer, in '97, his ins. co., who covered Mass. full time college students, refused to cover him after what they deemed a preexisting condition, although they refused to define what that, exactly, was. Dick was a smoker, but this did not deter the ins. co. out of Texas, from signing him up in the first place. As his healthcare advocate, I tried, diligently, for a month to get this ins. co. to cover his treatment, but still refused. I called my Congmn. Barney Frank's office & it was only then, they covered him for 80k, less than 1/3 of his treatment. The rest was taken up by Mass. Health, that we, the taxpayers paid for. Never in his life did he not work, nor even collect unemployment. No way to treat an insuree, but this is what these crap policies being cancelled are all about. The taxpayers, again, take up the ins. co's slack.


  • Nancy Maekawa

    Nancy Maekawa

    27 November 2013 at 20:09 |
    Great cartoon! Wow, guess what, before Obamacare, my insurance premium definitely rose every year! And I expected it to rise - lol!

    I am now one happy insured person, having successfully applied to Covered California. I no longer have to worry about being turned down for insurance. Here's my story: I lost my healthcare when I lost my job due to the downturn in the economy a few years back. Since I had been insured by Kaiser ever since moving to California, I thought that when I applied for an individual policy that I would be approved. Wow, I was wrong. I was refused healthcare because I had visited my doctor more than once in a year, I was menopausal (yep, being a woman can really work against you), was on "dangerous drugs," (um, who hasn't taken Vicodin for pain once in awhile?), and, the real kicker, I had a family history of colon cancer (my father died of colon cancer at age 56). I didn't have cancer, I just possibly could get cancer because it runs in my family. But, Kaiser didn't want to spend the money to keep me healthy, so I was denied insurance. I even had my doctors at Kaiser write letters on my behalf. Still rejected I appealed twice; each time I was rejected. So, I decided to apply to Blue Shield. However, I had to reveal that I had been rejected by Kaiser, so I was once again rejected. I am in my 50's, was too young to qualify for Medicare, so my only option was to pay an extremely high premium (unaffordable) to stay on my current plan. At that time, the Affordable Care Act was developing and the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan was introduced. The only caveat was that I had to be without insurance for 6 months in order to qualify for the plan. I crossed my fingers and went without health insurance for 6 months and luckily, did not need to go to the hospital or have any expensive tests during those 6 long months (whew!). Granted, it was not a cheap plan, but it was affordable and I had coverage until the Affordable Care Act kicked in.

    With the Affordable Healthcare Act, I cannot be turned down for a pre-existing condition (that I don't even have), and my premiums are more affordable! My husband and I actually discussed moving to another country to get affordable healthcare and now that will not be necessary.

    I am tired of hearing all of the reasons why we should not have healthcare in this country. We should be thankful that we finally will not be discriminated against for a health condition, will not go bankrupt because of a health problem, and can afford to be proactive about our healthcare because the cost is not prohibitive. Thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act, we may finally be healthy! And I don't know what those healthcare providers are upset about -- they will have even more customers now!


  • Bob


    27 November 2013 at 22:38 |
    Wow this guy has really fun way to speak the truth
    I don't understand why there are people talking negative about him
    He just put what is in the news in a funny sarcastic way

    Don't stop doing it. I really enjoy it
    hopefully soon we can see your cartoons on TV45


  • Jim Shipp

    Jim Shipp

    30 November 2013 at 19:43 |
    So true, Mark! In the years leading up the ACA, our group plan had annual rate increases of up to 39% per year, for several years in a row. That led my employer to cap company payments, putting the raises completely on the shoulders of the employees. How soon we forget that free markets are not free, or even reasonably-priced. How I wish we had gone to single-payer, Medicare-for-all instead of this, but at least this is a step in the right direction. Now my three adult sons will all have health insurance!


  • Maggie


    06 December 2013 at 04:50 |
    I have been wondering why no-one has pointed out that the health insurance companies have no interest in making the ACA work, so they have made sure it doesn't.


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