Obamacare subscribers: Beware of high deductibles

Wendell Potter

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi last Thursday rejected the notion that Democrat Alex Sink’s narrow loss to Republican David Jolly in last week’s special election in Florida — in a congressional district that Republicans have held for half a century — was a referendum on Obamacare.

“I’m very proud of our House Democrats, not only how they’ve embraced the Affordable Care Act … but how proud they are of it,” Pelosi said. “I think the Republicans are wasting their time using that as their election issue and they will find that out.”

Pelosi went on to say, however, that, “there are some things (about the law) that need to be fixed.”

She didn’t suggest what those things are, but I’m betting at the very least she wishes she and others who helped write the law had made it simpler for people to get the insurance protection they need.

The reform law made many of the insurance industry’s most despised practices illegal, like refusing to offer coverage to applicants with pre-existing conditions and canceling people’s policies when they get sick.

And the ACA now requires insurers to provide information about their policies in understandable language and in a format that enables people to compare one plan with another. It also established federal and state health insurance “exchanges” to make shopping for coverage more convenient and less stressful.

But despite those and other important benefits of the law, trying to figure out which health plan among many is best for you is anything but a walk in the park.

With only two weeks left before the March 31 deadline to enroll in a plan for 2014, I talked to Rachel DeGolia — one of the specially trained ACA navigators who is helping folks in Cleveland, Ohio, figure out how to move out of the ranks of the uninsured — to find out how she would fix the law if she had the power to do so.

I also consulted the 114-page “Navigator Resource Guide” developed by the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University Health Policy Institute to help navigators like DeGolia deal with all the questions they get every day from folks.

Although DeGolia still believes a single-payer system would be better than the multi-payer system the ACA is built upon, she nevertheless considers the law “a huge step in the right direction.”

But, she says, lawmakers need to figure out how to make coverage more affordable and to reduce the complexity that has defined the health insurance industry for decades.

There’s more to this story. Click here to read the rest at the Center for Public Integrity.

This story is part of Wendell Potter. Former CIGNA executive-turned-whistleblower Wendell Potter writes about the health care industry and the ongoing battle for health reform. Click here to read more stories in this blog.

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Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.