“Ridiculous,” “bad,” and “atrocious” are just a few of the words independent agents and brokers have for President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law and his defense of it in last night’s State of the Union address.
Expected to address some of the ongoing issues with the federal exchange site HealthCare.gov and the lack of young, healthy Americans signing up for coverage, Obama instead focused on the improvements the Affordable Care Act has made in individual lives.
“For decades, few things exposed hard-working families to economic hardship more than the broken healthcare system,” the President said. “And in case you haven’t heard, we’re in the process of fixing that.”
Obama related the story of Arizona resident Amanda Shelley who received health insurance that allowed her to afford a necessary emergency surgery. Before healthcare reform, he said, Shelley would have been denied coverage.
“That’s what health insurance reform is all about—the peace of mind that if misfortune strikes, you don’t have to lose everything.”
That kind of success story isn’t shared by everyone, however, pointed out Matt Schwartz, president of the Kentucky Association of Health Underwriters.
“There’s happy people and unhappy people,” Schwartz told Insurance Business
earlier this month. “If you’re a high-risk individual or a little older, you’re suddenly paying a lot less for insurance. You’re pretty thrilled. If you’re a small business, though, you’re wondering how you’re going to do this.”
“Some of our small group clients are not going to be able to afford insurance anymore, and they’re the ones who have healthy employees,” he added. “We definitely have that concern.”
Schwartz did say, however, that he agreed that “everybody should have some sort of insurance plan.”
“It’s the right thing to do,” he commented.
IBA reader Norm Strehlow was even more forceful in his comments this morning.
“Congratulations to Mr. Obama for…finding at least one person who has benefitted from ACA,” Strehlow, a certified insurance counselor, wrote. “Unfortunately, he forgot to mention the large majority of Americans that have been adversely affected by ACA with loss of their desired providers, increased premiums, increased out of pocket maximums, forced coverage they do not want, or sometimes all of the above.”
Not all producers expressed unhappiness about health reform or its coverage in Obama’s State of the Union address, however. Merilee DeForest, owner of Strategy Insurance Brokers in Olympia, Wash., said she has seen positive changes in her clients’ lives, as well as her own.
“So far, so good,” DeForest said. “I’m Obamacare all the way, and when people complain to me, I don’t say anything.”
Did you watch the State of the Union address last night? What did you think of how President Obama addressed concerns with healthcare reform?