The Cost Of Owning Health Care Reform: The AARP Raises Rates

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This is the announcement today from AARP, one of the biggest backers of President Obama’s Health Care Reform law, via the Associated Press:

AARP adds that it’s changing copayments and deductibles to avoid a 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans that takes effect in 2018 under the law. . . .

“Most plan co-pays and deductibles have been modified,” Jennifer Hodges, AARP’s director of compensation and benefits, wrote employees in an Oct. 25 e-mail. “Plan value changes were necessary not only from a cost management standpoint but also to ensure that AARP’s plans fall below the threshold for high-cost group plans under health care reform.”

AARP officials said medical inflation is the main reason employee costs will be going up. The health care law is “a small part,” said David Certner, legislative affairs director.

But try explaining that to a dissatisfied electorate. This was, of course, one of the initial hazards of taking on health care reform: Now Obama owns the entire system in the public’s mind, even if they don’t understand it.

One of my clearest memories from the 2010 cycle was an August house party astride a cornfield in Indiana. Jackie Walorski, the Republican challenger in the second district, was making her case about the awfulness of “Obamacare,” when an elderly gentleman raised his hand. He said that he was on Medicare and had recently fallen into the prescription drug “donut hole,” and it was hurting his ability to pay for other things he needed. Then he said that when costs go up because of Obamacare he was sure to go bankrupt. This was why he was supporting Republicans.

He had no idea that health care reform had effectively closed the donut hole for people like him, making him one of the laws major beneficiaries. No doubt he voted for Walorski.