The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

CAGW's Obamacare Horror Stories

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


You may remember Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) infamous floor speech on February 26 regarding Obamacare Horror stories.  He said:

Despite all that good news, there are plenty of horror stories being told.  All of them are untrue, but they are being told all over America…

Those tales turned out to be just that – tales, stories made up from whole cloth, lies, distorted by the Republicans to grab headlines or make political advertisements…

What the right wants are struggling average Americans, preferably women, facing financial devastation from health reform.  So those are the tales they're telling, even though they haven't been able to come up with any real examples…”

But there were far too many stories being printed in newspapers across the country or discussed on television and radio shows about people losing plans they liked and lost because their plans were not compliant with the Affordable Care Act’s (Obamacare) mandates.  American citizens were being forced to purchase more expensive policies that included benefits they did not want or need, such as older women or single, young men being required to have coverage for maternity and pediatric care.

There were stories of exorbitant premiums and high out-of-pocket cuts and people losing doctors they had had a relationship with for years or healthcare facilities they had routinely utilized but were not in their new policy’s network.

Surely, the stories couldn’t all be lies!

In light of that, CAGW decided to poll some of its own membership for their Obamacare story.  We received hundreds of narratives from across the nation and they paralleled what we had been reading in news reports.

Our first group of stories can be found on our Obamacare Horror Stories Website.  We contacted each individual and got permission to post their story.  We will continue to do this with many of the stories we receive.

Here are a few:

Michael W. from California:

I am a biotech entrepreneur in San Diego, having started two successful personalized medicine companies, both eventually employing hundreds of fine people nationwide.  Through both companies, I selected Aetna as our health insurance provider, a relationship dating back to the late 1990s.  As I transitioned to a consulting practice, I selected Aetna for myself and my family, and held this personal policy for about three years, as a satisfied health care consumer.  In late June of 2013, I received a letter from Aetna informing me that they were canceling my family health care policy, due to non-compliance with the ACA regulations, effective January 1st, 2014.  After an extensive search, I was forced to accept a policy from Blue Shield to maintain relatively similar benefits, at a 40% increase in premium.  Today, I am a very unhappy health consumer.  Despite the increased premiums, I now find that several of the network of physicians and health care organizations that I had been using are no longer "in-network" and we have been scrambling to find alternatives.  Each of the medical offices appear to be confused, many are finding out only now that they are no longer an "in-network" provider for many of their patients and their families.  This is an unmitigated disaster - destruction of the best health care on the planet for the transparent purpose of wealth redistribution, and no one is being held accountable. Nor is there any tangible progress towards repealing this legislation.  And the worst is yet to come, as the business community, already limiting employment due to this law, prepares to send tens of millions of innocent, tax-paying Americans out into the streets to fight for demonstrably lower quality care at much higher prices. Americans deserve better.

Reginald R. from North Dakota:

It took almost 20 years for my Blue Cross Blue Shield premiums to go from $350 a month to $738 a month.  In the few years since the passage of ObamaCare my premiums have gone from $738 to $1261 a month.  I just received my rate increase and my premium will now cost an additional $181 for a total of $1442 per month.  Obama told us the law would save us $2500 a year.  The reality is his plan will cost me nearly $8500 more a year.

Donna B. from Texas:

I am a full time graduate student. My field of study is in diabetes in honor of my son who died of the disease.  I earn $800 a month as a graduate assistant and $200 working at my church. When I applied for insurance, I was shocked that based on my income, the "affordable" premium was over $500 a month with a $6000 deductible.  My prescriptions alone without insurance will be another $400 a month.  How is that affordable?  I'm sorry, but the penalty is more affordable for me.  I'll continue to pay for my prescriptions and pray I don't become ill.  I am disappointed.

In spite of the fact these types of Obamacare stories are quite prevalent and according to a recent Real Clear Politics poll that Obamacare’s unfavorability rating is at 53 percent, many politicians and policy wonks still do not believe there are problems with the healthcare “reform” law.

For example, many Democrats are facing tough re-election fights this year because of Obamacare, including New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen.  Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto’s wrote in his blog, “Best of the Web,” on April 23 that Senator Shaheen is “facing hard questions from constituents suffering under the new health-care regime.  Her approach to answering them seems an unpromising one.  It is to suggest that they don't know what they're talking about.”

Taranto goes on to give some examples of the standard line Shaheen gives to her constituents who are complaining about Obamacare and that is “there is a lot of misinformation” about healthcare reform law being spread around and that her office will get back to them.

One would think it would sink in that the negative stories can’t all be due to misinformation about the law.

This doesn’t mean of course that no one has been helped by Obamacare.  After all, if the government throws more than a trillion dollars at something, it is bound to have some positive effect somewhere.

Unfortunately, indications are more people have been harmed by Obamacare than helped.  According to AP, some 4.7 million or more lost their insurance because their policies didn’t meet Obamacare’s mandates.  Americans can expect that number to climb because a lot of Obamacare’s mandates have been delayed for political purposes.  Or, does the president hope to delay the law’s numerous onerous mandates forever?

It is hard to determine how successful, if at all, Obamacare has been.  We still do not know how many of the 8 million people who have “signed-up” for Obamacare were previously uninsured and how many have paid their first month’s premium, the only true metric to find out who is enrolled in a health plan.

According to the Washington Post, early estimates are approximately one-quarter to one-third were previously uninsured.  That means at the high end, about 2.9 million people were previously uninsured.  That’s pretty far afield from the supposed non-elderly 47 million people that had no insurance in 2012.  Of course, assisting the uninsured to get healthcare coverage was the reason for Obamacare being passed into law in the first place.

And according to Bob Laszewski, a health insurance expert, about 15 to 20 percent of new Obamacare enrollees are not paying their premiums.

Eventually, all the enrollment figures will be sorted out and American citizens will get a better handle on how well trillions of their tax dollars have been spent on healthcare reform.

Meanwhile, we will keep posting our Obamacare horror stories as we get them.

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