I Want Obamacare but You Go First

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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YOLO, but YoGo1: I favor trying to make Obamacare work as a matter of principle, of course–we’re going to cover everybody somehow, and it makes sense to try competing private plans before resorting to something like  “Medicare for all.”  But I confess I also have a personal stake: I’m currently paying over $950 a month for a high-deductible Anthem Blue Cross plan; I’m hoping my local Obamacare exchange will save me some money.

Why am I paying so much, you ask? Well, I’m a single person stuck in the allegedly “dysfunctional” non-group health insurance market, unsubsidized by an employer. I think I’m healthy but my insurer doesn’t really know that, since I wound up in a sort of last-resort, no-questions-asked Anthem plan when my previous plan (with the State Bar) shut down. I’ve been too lazy to get the medical exam that could put me in a cheaper plan–after all, with Obamacare right around the corner, why bother?

In short, if Obamacare can’t work for those consumers like me who are stupidly paying through the nose, then what’s it good for?

We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted on the results. I have high hopes. But don’t expect me to be the first to sign up on October 1.** My attitude is: “You go first.” Stories like this are one reason why–I’d rather not be the guy who signs up before the Obama team figures out how to stop massive identity theft! But mainly, I want to be sure I’ll be able to keep all the excellent doctors I’ve been using. The Obamacare promotional literature is maddening in this regard–they offer various levels of plan, “gold” or “silver” or whatever, but the difference is whether they pay 90% of the bill or 70%, what the maximum out-of-pocket expense is, etc.. I don’t care whether my plan pays 90% or %70. I care if it will pay (whatever it pays) for me to see fancy schmancy doctors in Santa Monica instead of some sketchy characters out in Inglewood. They don’t give you that information on the Covered California web site.*** I’m happy to pay more for Santa Monica, of course–but will that even be available? I don’t know. I’m going to wait and see how it all shakes out. Let some of my friends sign up, and get sick, and see if they’re driven mad by delays and paperwork. That’s what guinea pigs friends are for.

Applying Kausfiles‘ First Rule of Journalism–“Always generalize wildly from your own personal experience”–leads me to wonder how many people like me there are, and whether we might pose a problem for Obama’s attempts to sign up enough healthy people to save the exchanges from an adverse selection death spiral. My guess is yes …


** –I notice that Covered California, my exchange, only promises enrollment “later this year.” Already avoiding commitment! …

***–According to the handy “cost calculator” on the site, the California Obamacare exchange will insure me at that “silver” level for only $661 per month–a big savings, if it covers my doctors.

Mickey Kaus