A car wreck a few months ago left Jean Wentzel and her husband unharmed but shaken about being without affordable insurance to protect against the unexpected. “It spooks you, because you know you could walk out your door and something totally out of control could happen, even if you’ve done all the right things yourself.”
Jean, 63, and her husband, Roy, 64, retired recently and live in Columbus, Ohio. Both worked for large telecommunications companies and moved around a fair amount for their jobs. Jean worked for AT&T for 22 and a half years; she intended to stay the 25 required to qualify for insurance after retirement, until the office she worked in closed. She and Roy, who are too young for Medicare, are currently without retirement health plans.
Both exercise frequently, and neither is on any kind of medication. They have worked hard and lived frugally — as Jean says, “done all the right things.” Yet retiring without employer-provided insurance left them with few choices. Jean is on a private plan that is beyond her budget. She has no vision or dental coverage and has a $5,500 deductible, which she doesn’t reach, so she pays for her care out of pocket. Roy had hip-replacement surgery several years ago — considered a preexisting condition — which has made it impossible for him to get coverage. Instead he relies on limited veteran’s benefits, and has seen a doctor for only a couple of annual physicals and minor issues.
Their experience has made the couple enthusiastic supporters of the Affordable Care Act. Roy will be 65 — eligible for Medicare — this December, a date they’ve been counting down to and planning life events around for some time. Jean, a year younger, cannot wait to shop for a more affordable insurance plan on Ohio’s exchange in October. Without the ACA, “we would have no options besides what we have now, other than go back to work in a job with insurance. But finding a job at 63 and 64 at a company that would provide insurance? I don’t know how easy that would be.”
Jean is bothered by the perception that people who don’t have insurance are unemployed, don’t have money, or don’t want to pay. “There are a lot of people with very valid reasons for needing different approaches to insurance than what we have now.” She doesn’t mind paying more for insurance at her age, either, but the problem until now has been limited options.
Jean volunteers with ACA outreach efforts to help others learn about their insurance opportunities under the law, and she says the response has been overwhelmingly positive. “A lot of people in my community are passionate about this,” she says. “We’ve all got a story.”
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."