‘Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled by Obamacare’

by Sterling Beard

It seems that insurance-plan cancellations know no partisanship.

San Franciscans Lee Hammack and his wife, JoEllen Brothers, are supporters of President Obama. They’ve donated to Organizing for Action, a liberal organization that supports Obama’s election, and manned phone banks for the president’s reelection campaign. But they recently learned that their $550-a-month policy from California insurer Kaiser Permanente would be cancelled because it didn’t meet Obamacare requirements.

ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein, who interviewed them, was skeptical of the couple’s claims. In theory, consumers should be able to find find cheaper coverage through the health-insurance exchanges because of subsidies or had terrible plans in the first place. So, he went looking for “flaws” in their story. 

“I couldn’t find any,” Ornstein wrote.

The couple’s plan, known as 40/4000, was populated by healthy people, and had a $4,000 deductible per person and $40 copay for visits to the doctor. When Kaiser informed them — and approximately 30 to 35,000 others — that the plan had been cancelled, it offered a new plan, $1,3000 a month for less security.

They examined the plans offered on California’s exchange, Covered California, and found them wanting: The cheapest available plan came with a $975 monhtly price tag and large copays and deductibles. Since Hammack makes a little more than four times the federal poverty level, the two are ineligible for federal subsidies – though he says he’s considering lowering his salary or putting money towards a retirement account in order to qualify for them.

The two have written to a trio of California Democrats, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, their representative.

“We believe that the Act is good for health care, the economy, & the future of our nation. However, ACA options for middle income individuals ages 59 & 60 are unaffordable,” they wrote. “We’re learning that many others are similarly affected. In that spirit we ask that you fix this, for all of our sakes.”

They are not changing their views, but found it hurtful “to hear Obama saying, just the other day, that if our plan has been dropped it’s because it wasn’t any good, and our costs would go up only slightly,” Hammack said.

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