Health

Former Democratic Congressional Staffer Klinkhamer Now Regrets Supporting Obamacare

| by Jonathan Wolfe

Sue Klinkhamer, a former staffer for Illinois Democratic Congressman Bill Foster, supported Obamacare for years. She and the rest of Foster’s staff openly campaigned for the bill until Foster lost his congressional election in 2010.

When that happened, Klinkhamer was out of a job and forced to buy a health insurance policy on the open market. So she did. Her policy started out at $225 a month with a $2,500 deductible. Her policy increased in price a little bit every year, and as of September of 2013 she was paying $291 a month with a $3,500 deductible.

Then Klinkhamer received a letter in the mail recently from Blue Cross, her insurance provider.

She explained: “Blue Cross stated my current coverage would expire on Dec. 31, and here are my options: I can have a plan with similar benefits for $647.12 [or] I can have a plan with similar [but higher] pricing for $322.32 but with a $6,500 deductible.”

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An upset Klinkhamer spoke to the Chicago Sun Times recently about the change in her insurance plan. She says she now regrets supporting the Affordable Care Act so fervently over the years.

“I spent two years defending Obamacare,” she said. “I had constituents scream at me, spit at me and call me names that I can’t put in print. The congressman was not re-elected in 2010 mainly because of the anti-Obamacare anger. When the congressman was not re-elected, I also (along with the rest of our staff) lost my job. I was upset that because of the health care issue, I didn’t have a job anymore but still defended Obamacare because it would make health care available to everyone at, what I assumed, would be an affordable price. I have now learned that I was wrong. Very wrong.”

Klinkhamer suggests the Affordable Care Act be renamed “the Available Care Act” instead.

It’s easy to point fingers at the ACA and blame legislators for the early rise in policy costs, but the issue is a complex one.

For starters, the public would be remiss not to criticize insurance companies for their role in increased health care costs as well. What occurred in the ACA was essentially a bargain between the government and insurance companies. Insurance companies agreed to accept patients with pre-existing conditions, stop charging the elderly egregious rates, and spend 80 percent of all premium costs on care. In exchange, the government enforced a health care mandate that would provide companies with millions of new customers. 

But, as Examiner writer Chris Greenwood notes, insurance companies have found that they need to raise their rates to maintain profit margins. As anyone familiar with the market knows, shareholders don’t just happily accept diminishing profit margins. So, of course, rates have gone up.

Healthcare is a complicated and hotly debated issue at the moment, and the ongoing implementation of the ACA ensures it will continue to be for some time. But let’s not act as though the ACA is coming in and ruining what was a perfectly good healthcare system. For years, the United States has consistently been ranked last or near-last amongst all modern nations in health care value and quality measurements. 

Sources: Chicago Sun Times, Reason, Examiner, Wikipedia