Karmel Alon Allison, the pregnant diabetic woman who fainted in the Rose Garden Monday, has claimed that the Affordable Care Act would drive down her health care costs.
But there’s almost no circumstance where the UCSD grad student and sometime entrepreneur would pay less for her health insurance under Obamacare. And, according to a leading health care expert, Allison’s situation as a grad student and spouse of a tech executive is “irrelevant” to Obamacare.
Additionally, both Karmel and her husband, David, are longstanding progressive Obama supporters, according to their Twitter feeds.
Allison wrote favorably of Obamacare on her blog on October 7, when she revealed that she has been with health insurance provider Kaiser Permanente since before her diagnosis at age 9.
“I have been with the same HMO, Kaiser, since before I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of nine,” she wrote. “I have therefore felt married to Kaiser; in Kaiser’s eyes, I do not have a pre-existing condition, whereas switching health insurance companies might expose me to being labeled with the big scarlet D for diabetic.”
The key word here is “might.” California law already had provisions blocking insurers from charging higher insurance rates for Type-1 diabetics. Federally, it has been illegal since 1997, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, for insurers to drop coverage because someone gets sick.
Frederick Lynch, associate professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in Los Angeles and an expert in health policy, doubts Allison needs Obamacare at all.
“The point is that she has coverage through her employer or UC and is — frankly, like most Americans right now — not likely to be affected by Obamacare one way or the other,” Lynch told TheDC. “If she were unemployed, it looks like she would be covered by her husband’s policy.”
Even in a worst case scenario, Lynch says, Allison would have health insurance.
“The hypothetical ‘if’ — if she became unemployed, divorced, lost insurance — is tricky,” Lynch says. “If she was without insurance for a year and tried to again purchase on the individual market, she would likely have problems. Type I Diabetes is very expensive and — to judge from a quick look at her blog — hers is a rather moderate to heavy case. To be covered by the non-discrimination provisions to obtain individual policies, you cannot have been uninsured for a long period — more than 63 days from the look of it. The individual market in CA has been a mess–policies denied and rescinded rather capriciously.”
In other words, Allison isn’t really affected by Obamacare. But that fact hasn’t stopped Allison from gushing about the president’s signature legislative achievement.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Allison wrote. “After almost two decades of feeling tied to a single option– an option I like and am extremely grateful for, but still a single option — I felt liberated. Even now, I get chills just thinking about that feeling of, ‘Hey, you’re just one of us now.’ It’s incredible. It’s profoundly American, to feel like I have choices and the freedom to move.”
While Allison is pleased with her hypothetical options, many of California’s individual policy holders are losing the coverage they once enjoyed.
“Health plans are sending hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters to people who buy their own coverage, frustrating some consumers who want to keep what they have and forcing others to buy more costly policies,” reports NBCNews.com.
Allison’s own insurance plan, Kaiser Permanente in California, has sent notices to 160,000 people – about half of its individual business in the state.
Blue Shield of California sent roughly 119,000 cancellation notices out in mid-September, about 60 percent of its individual business. About two-thirds of those policyholders will see rate increases in their new policies, spokesman Steve Shivinsky has said.