Sue Spanke of Missoula, Mont., was highly displeased this fall when she learned her health insurance had been canceled.
“I got so mad that I went to my phone and started calling all the political people and giving them what for,” Spanke told The Billings Gazette. That was before she learned she was eligible for a policy at a much lower cost.
After angrily calling her state auditor’s office, Spanke, a self-employed artist in her 50s, found she was eligible for a federal subsidy. Her new insurance will cover her for a mere $30 to $40 a month with a deductible of only $500. She had been paying $350 a month for a Blue Cross policy with a $5,000 deductible. “I went from a horrible policy that didn’t cover anything, that was breaking me, to the best policy at the best price I’ve had since I was in my 20s,” she said.
With the website largely fixed, one of the last lines of attack against Obamacare is that the president lied when he said if people like their insurance plans, they can keep them. The White House is hoping stories like Spanke’s will inoculate them against those arguments. And the positive stories abound.
Another man interviewed by The Billings Gazette, Gary Mermel, said he received cancellation notices for his family’s Blue Cross policies only to find later that he and his family were eligible for much more affordable insurance. Mermel, a retired physician with a preexisting health condition, had been paying almost $1,700 a month to cover his family, and last month Blue Cross informed him his rates would go up to nearly $2,100 a month for the remainder of the year. Under the Affordable Care Act he was able to find insurance covering his entire family for just $1,200 a month with comparable benefits and a lower deductible than he’d had previously.
He also won’t have to worry about being denied coverage or getting charged more for preexisting conditions. “Before, the insurance companies had full control,” he said. “They were allowed to place people at risk [of financial ruin] and they no longer can do that.”
Other local outlets have documented the success post-insurance cancellation stories as well.
In Lancaster, Pa., Lori Lapman, 58, learned her health plan was being canceled in September — by October things were looking up. Per The Sunday News: “Sitting at a laptop with a certified health law helper, Lapman went to HealthCare.gov, found it running smoothly, and bought a subsidized Highmark plan that allows her to keep her doctors while saving her money. Her canceled plan cost her $520 a month. Her new coverage? Only $111.73.”
In Harrisburg, Pa., The Patriot News documented the case of Lynn Keltz, one of the hundreds of thousands nationwide who received a cancellation notice. Keitz, who happens to be one of the federally funded navigators helping state residents find new coverage under the Affordable Care Act, said her new policy provides her better coverage and costs $80 per month less.
In a letter to the editor in The Santa Maria Times, Allan Pacela told the story of how after his wife lost her insurance this fall, she found much better coverage under Obamacare. The couple is now saving $8,000 per year for a “much better plan.”
These stories can be found in national media outlets as well. The Huffington Post relayed the story of an HIV patient from Michigan who, after learning his old plan was canceled, found a cheaper plan under Obamacare with better coverage (not to mention he got it with a preexisting condition). Meanwhile, NPR told the story of 58-year-old Doug Normington, who, after receiving a cancellation letter, found a plan that will cost him half what he had been paying in premiums and a third the deductible. Another NPR story interviewed a number of Californians who greeted their canceled insurance policies with smiles. And The New York Times ran the story of Stephanie Lincoln, who, with the help of a navigator signed up for coverage costing $113 a month with no deductible. The entire process took just one hour. “I am one of the people whose plans were canceled,” she said. “It was just the easiest thing in the world.”
No doubt there will be some Obamacare losers — most of them healthy, wealthy people who will have to pay a bit more. And there will be plenty of libertarian critics who will denounce the perceived paternalism of the situation. But there is no shortage of winners.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”