Selling the Marketplace health insurance exchanges


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Tea PartyRemember back when FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity had old white people carrying signs saying "Keep your government hands off my Medicare"? These teabaggers were so hopelessly ignorant that many genuinely believed that Medicare is not a government-mandated health care program.

Apparently none of them were ever intellectually curious enough to look at their paychecks for all of those years and wonder "Who is this FICA guy, and why is he taking my money?" [The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax is for Social Security tax withholding (6.2% up to the annual maximum), and Medicare tax withholding (1.45%)].

As Timothy Noah pointed out at the time, "Medicare, you may have heard, is a government program, and the only way
to take the government's hands off it would be to abolish it—but the
joke is starting to wear thin." "Medicare isn't government" meme. – Slate Magazine:

The big lie that Medicare isn't, nor ever should be, financed and regulated by the government, is a nice illustration of Slate founder Michael Kinsley's hypothesis, articulated in his 1995 book Big Babies,
that infantile denial lies at the heart of much contemporary political

The American people, Kinsley wrote, "make flagrantly
incompatible demands—cut my taxes, preserve my benefits, balance the
budget—then explode in self-righteous outrage when the politicians fail
to deliver." Although Kinsley conceded that big babyism had been enabled
by both conservative and liberal politics, he wrote: "It is
conservatives, more than liberals, who stoke the fires of resentment and
encourage vast swaths of the electorate to indulge in fantasies of
victimization by others." This is perhaps 1,000 times more true today than it was 14 years ago.

This infantile denial on Medicare is being repeated with the Affordable Care Act aka "ObamaCare."

A story by Jason Cherkis at the Huffington Post that has gone viral illustrates this point. Kentucky Health Workers Pitch Obamacare At State Fair Alongside Corn Dogs, Fried Kool-Aid:

A middle-aged man in a red golf shirt shuffles up to a small folding
table with gold trim, in a booth adorned with a flotilla of helium
balloons, where government workers at the Kentucky State Fair are
hawking the virtues of Kynect, the state’s health benefit exchange established by Obamacare.

The man is impressed. "This beats Obamacare I hope," he mutters to one of the workers.

“Do I burst his bubble?” wonders Reina Diaz-Dempsey, overseeing the
operation. She doesn't. If he signs up, it's a win-win, whether he knows
he's been ensnared by Obamacare or not.

* * *

Diaz-Dempsey has managed to distill it all down to three sentences.

We are Kynect — part of the new health care law.

Do you know anyone who doesn’t have health insurance?

You may qualify for Medicaid or a tax credit based on your income.

* * *

Diaz-Dempsey has a secret weapon: tote bags, designed with a tableau
of Kentucky residents under a bright sun and the Kynect logo. The state
had spent millions establishing the exchange, staffing up outreach, and
conducting market research that included holding a dozen focus groups in
Louisville, Paducah and London, according to Gwenda Bond, assistant
communications director with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
The respondents, according to the final focus-group report, felt the
logo designs were “comforting,” “hopeful” and “reassuring.” The bags
stuck to that theme. They showed only one obese character.

Diaz-Dempsey and company cannot hold onto the bags. At a recent Louisville Bats
minor league game, Kynect staff say they handed out 600 bags in 20
minutes (“It was Bobblehead Night too.”). In less than seven days at the
fair, they've given out roughly 15,000 bags. Kentucky voters may hate
the idea of government handouts for the uninsured, but they had their
hands out for these tote bags. With each bag, Diaz-Dempsey and her staff
drop packets of information on signing up for Obamacare into
outstretched hands.

On Oct. 1, the health exchanges, a central component of Obamacare,
will open up for business across the country. For the exchanges to
provide affordable, dependable coverage, millions of the uninsured need
to sign up.

* * *

The crush of people don't greet Diaz-Dempsey with tea party dogma or
amateur constitutional scholarship. No one is there to complain about
the individual mandate or heckle about death panels. They have

They wonder if they could get coverage despite having a pre-existing
medical condition, how much it will cost them. They ask if Indiana has a
similar program, or if this was only for Kentucky. Could they just
enroll their child? They talk about their sons and daughters, neighbors
going without health care, and ask about the subsidies.

The vast majority are relieved to learn about the health exchange.
Linda Parrish, 47, showed up at the table and gushed to Diaz-Dempsey:
"This is what I've been waiting on." Parrish has health insurance, but
her best friend doesn't.

* * *

The new Obamacare rates in Kentucky have yet to be made public. The
specifics of the plans are still a mystery. Who knows how many young
adults will sign up or how the Medicaid expansion might impact access to

* * *

“Most people don’t really understand it yet,” said Gov. Steve Beshear
(D) in an interview with The Huffington Post. “I do not find that most
people have any kind of negative feeling about it. It’s just that most
people don’t quite understand the act or what they’re supposed to do

The good news for the state –- if the state is open to accepting it
–- is that federal officials are impressed with Kynect. “I know that the
administration believes that Kentucky and Vermont are the two best
exchanges that were created, that are models for the country,” Yarmuth,
the Democratic congressman, says. “They’ve said that numerous times to
the Democratic caucus.”

Sarah Kliff at the Washington Post makes an important point for all those media villagers who fixate on polls in These three paragraphs say everything about Obamacare:

This speaks to a point that others, particularly Jonathan Bernstein,
have already made: When Americans actually interact with Obamacare, it
won’t be called Obamacare at all. In Kentucky, for example, it will be
Kynect, the state health marketplace . . .  If you watch the ads that states have produced to support their
marketplaces, they rarely mention the federal law that has set these
changes in action.

This means it’s entirely possible that, even as people start signing up
for Obamacare, the program won’t get much more popular at all, something
Democrats have roundly expected. “If the ACA works as its sponsors
hope, quite a lot of people — maybe the majority — who get their
insurance from the exchanges will tell you that, no, they have private
insurance,” Bernstein wrote recently in the American Prospect.  ”They
aren’t getting anything from Obamacare.”

Like government-mandated Medicare, Americans will be ignorant of the fact or fail to acknowledge (infantile denial) that their ability to purchase health insurance from the Marketplace health insurance exchanges is only because of the government-mandated Affordable Care Act. While they enjoy the benefits, many will still express hatred for "ObamaCare." As the old proverb says, "no good deed goes unpunished."

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.