The Corner

AmeriCorps Volunteers Surprised to Be Hit by Obamacare, Too

I am always amazed when I go back to France to see how little French newspapers report about the problems of President Obama. For instance, talking to people there, I realized they hadn’t heard about things like the IRS scandal or Benghazi. In particular, if you only read French papers, you do know about the difficulties of, but you haven’t heard much about insurance plans being canceled and people being deeply upset with the president over the whole issue. I suspect that they can afford to continue the biased reporting because no one is actually subjected to the direct consequences of the president’s health-care law.

That is not the case in the United States. We have heard, of course, about the many people who said they supported the law until they realized that their insurance would be canceled and/or that their new insurance would be much more expensive. As it turns out, the ranks of those disillusioned with Obamacare once they had to face its consequences are growing. 

Over at InsureBlog, Bob Vineyard reports that teachers in Georgia are so upset about Obamacare that they have formed a group called Teachers Rally Against Georgia Insurance Changes (TRAGIC). Here is a tidbit:

Apparently some teachers failed to do their homework. While fellow Georgian’s were losing coverage and seeing their rates skyrocket this group marched forward, oblivious to the fact their ox was about to be gored.

Local governments plus public school systems have the option of participating in the Georgia State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) or securing their own coverage. Many of the public school boards simply default to the SHBP which makes their job easier.

Prior to 2014 the SHBP had two insurance carriers acting in a TPA capacity and charged with administering the plan for some 650,000 employees. As recently as 2013 there were over half a dozen plan choices including copay plans, HSA and HRA.

That all changed in 2014 when Blue Cross of Georgia was named the lone TPA and the plan choices were reduced to three Obamacare metal plans: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Gone were copay plans. Your only choice now is a high deductible HRA.

Personal responsibility is the watchword of the day and those covered under the SHBP must now pick from a small pool of participating doctors and hospitals while at the same time becoming informed shoppers when it comes to health care.

Oops. They aren’t alone. How upset do you think people who got turned out from hospitals because they couldn’t figure out whether their coverage was active or not are right now?

Hospital staff in Northern Virginia are turning away sick people on a frigid Thursday morning because they can’t determine whether their Obamacare insurance plans are in effect.

Patients in a close-in DC suburb who think they’ve signed up for new insurance plans are struggling to show their December enrollments are in force, and health care administrators aren’t taking their word for it.

In place of quick service and painless billing, these Virginians are now facing the threat of sticker-shock that comes with bills they can’t afford.

’They had no idea if my insurance was active or not!’ a coughing Maria Galvez told MailOnline outside the Inova Healthplex facility in the town of Springfield.

She was leaving the building without getting a needed chest x-ray.

Then you have the volunteers for an AmeriCorps program called Vista who were recently informed that that “their government-provided health coverage does not measure up to the standards of the new health care law, and that they may be subject to financial penalties unless they obtain insurance elsewhere. ” The New York Times has the story:

Abby Grosslein, a Vista member in New Orleans, said she thought it was strange that the health benefits provided by a federal agency did not meet the standards of a law adopted more than three and a half years ago. “It would be nice if the government waived the penalty because we are a federally funded program,” said Ms. Grosslein, 24, who is completing her third year of service with AmeriCorps. “It’s as if the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.”

Moreover, she said: “The Affordable Care Act has been on the books since 2010. Why are we hearing only now that our health plan is not compliant?” . . .

Sarah L. Sklaw, a 22-year-old Vista member from New York City, said: “I really support the Affordable Care Act, and I don’t want to be a naysayer. But it was surprising and frustrating to be told that our health coverage would not meet the law’s standards, especially because the Corporation for National and Community Service told us at orientation in August that we did not need to worry about the issue.”

Slaw is just one more person in America to find out that there is much that was said about the law that didn’t come to pass. 


Veronique de Rugy — Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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