When Dianne Barrette appeared on CBS This Morning last week, she instantly became the poster child for all of those Americans whose insurance companies are terminating their plans due to the higher standards dictated by the Affordable Care Act. Now, in an interview with The New Republic, the 56-year-old Florida resident admits that losing her existing health insurance plan my not be so terrible after all.
Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher debunked much of CBS News’ reporting in a column that called the segment “misleading” and revealed the details of Barrette’s bare bones insurance plan. “The plan that Barrette paid $54 a month for is barely health insurance at all,” Christopher wrote. ‘It’s part of a subset of insurance that Consumer Reports calls “junk health insurance” (and which even the company that sells it recommends that customers not rely solely upon) and it pays only $50 towards most of the services it covers.”
The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn, who cites Christopher’s article as an initial source in his piece, takes this approach one step further by extensively outlining the variety of plans likely available for Barrette under Obamacare. He concludes that given her income, the cheapest plan available for Barrette after federal subsidies are subtracted would cost around $100 per month, or just $50 more than she was paying before and would protect her from bankruptcy, something her old plan did not do. For $150 per month, her coverage would be significantly more comprehensive.
When Cohn explained these options to Barrette, she responded: “I would jump at it. With my age, things can happen. I don’t want to have bills that could make me bankrupt. I don’t want to lose my house.” Whereas on CBS Barrette explained how “happy” she was with her current insurance and asked “Why do I have to be forced into something else?” after learning more about her new options she’s striking a different tone. “Maybe, it’s a blessing in disguise,” she told Cohn.
Of course, as both CBS News’ Jan Crawford and The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn both out in their respective reports, if Barrette was able to easily and successfully log on to HealthCare.gov she would have been able to discover the information about her new options without a reporter doing it for her. There are no doubt many more Americans out there like Barrette, who received termination letters in the mail, but, for now at least, do not have the ability to figure out just how Obamacare can help them get better coverage.
Ultimately, Barrette’s story does less to undermine the substance of the Affordable Care Act than to underscore how crucial it is that Obamacare’s online exchange system starts functioning properly as soon as possible.
Watch the original report below, via CBS This Morning:
[photo via screengrab]
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