President Trumpets Obamacare Rebates as Deadline Approaches

Today President Barack Obama will seek to redirect public attention away from the slow but steady drip of recent news stories about the imperfections of Obamacare.

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Evan Vucci / AP

President Barack Obama arrives to make a speech on climate change at Georgetown University in Washington on June 25, 2013

In a speech at the White House today, President Barack Obama will seek to redirect public attention away from the slow but steady drip of recent news stories about the imperfections of Obamacare. Exactly how the law will work is still a mystery to most Americans and, in this vacuum, Republican opponents of the law have renewed attacks on the health care overhaul and seized on the Administration’s admission that some parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will not be ready on schedule. The President’s speech is the latest response from a White House that has long been on campaign footing around the new law.

“There’s a lot that’s been said and kicked around about the Affordable Care Act, but tomorrow the President will break down in very real terms what this policy really means,” said a senior Administration official on a call with reporters on Wednesday afternoon. The President’s speech will highlight some $500 million in rebate checks sent to more than 8 million consumers as a result of Obamacare — an effort to “step away from the distraction, which is the Washington noise,” another official told reporters.

(MORE: Obamacare Delay Increases Costs and Complications)

Indeed, the insurance-company rebates sent out, which the Administration says average about $100 per family, are good news for some. A part of the ACA already in place and known as the “medical loss ratio” (MLR) requires insurers to keep no more than 20% of premiums for profit and administrative costs. If insurance companies exceed this threshold they are required by the ACA to return the difference. Some families that have received rebates as a result of this provision will surround the President while he delivers his speech on Thursday.

The White House is hoping this tableau will distract Americans from the Administration’s recent admission that the law’s requirement that larger employers provide health coverage for workers will be delayed. The employer mandate, as the requirement is known, will instead begin in 2015. On Wednesday, Republican leaders in the House orchestrated votes to delay by one year both the employer mandate and the individual mandate, the latter of which requires individuals to carry health insurance or face federal fines. Neither House vote will have real policy implications, as the employer mandate is already put off until 2015 and the Democrat-controlled Senate would likely block any effort to delay the individual mandate, a key component to the ACA functioning as intended.

The real test of whether Obamacare will work as promised will come in October, when state-based health-insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, come online for the start of an open-enrollment period. To prepare for this deadline, the Department of Health and Human Services has invested a reported $267 million in a massive computer system that will allow regulators to determine which Americans are eligible to buy coverage through the exchanges and receive Obamacare-funded subsidies to make coverage more affordable. In the call with reporters on Wednesday, senior Administration officials said they expect competition between insurers in the exchanges to produce more affordable health insurance and more consumer choice.

(MORE: Delay in Obamacare Law Provision Raises Doubts at Critical Stage of Rollout)

A study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, and set to be released today, shows that health-insurance costs in the exchanges may be lower than expected. Of 11 states included in the study, the cost for the cheapest “silver plan” to be offered in the exchanges will be, on average, 18% lower than estimates made by the Congressional Budget Office. (Policies in the exchanges will be categorized as bronze, silver, gold or platinum, depending on how comprehensive their coverage is.) Asked why the Administration focused on these 11 states, which don’t include any Southern states with large uninsured populations, the senior Administration officials said they were chosen based on the quality of their health-insurance price data.

In his speech today, it’s likely the President will mention a recent report that consumers buying insurance in New York State’s individual market will see dramatic declines in premiums in 2014 thanks to Obamacare.

President Obama has not hesitated to invest his own time in health care reform when it has seemed to be on the ropes politically. Close watchers of the debate that preceded passage of the Affordable Care Act will remember that Obama gave a special address to Congress to push for reform in September 2009 and spent an entire day in February 2010 moderating a public health-care-policy discussion between Republican and Democratic lawmakers to push the law over the finishing line.

Throughout the past several months, as Republican lawmakers have renewed efforts to repeal pieces or all of the law in the House and the Administration has been forced to concede that some of the law’s implementation regulations will not be ready on schedule, Obama has been back on the stump. In May, he delivered a White House speech on Mother’s Day touting the ACA and followed up in June with a similar speech in California. Whether today’s health care speech can hold up the reputation of the ACA until it actually begins working depends simply on what happens tomorrow.

MORE: And Now, the Selling of Obamacare

44 comments
sacredh
sacredh

If Obama doesn't wind up on Mount Rushmore something is seriously wrong with our country. Thank you Mr. President.

Lulugud
Lulugud

We purchase our own health insurance because my husband is a self employed one man consulting company.  Our rates have gone up $100 a month every year for the last four years.  We currently are paying $1,600 a month, that's $19,200 a year!  Our policy ensures my husband and me, as well as our three under aged kids, and two of our 20+ year old kids. So far this year we have turned in less than $700 in claims, of that $600 was for my step daughter, who is 22 and works as an RN at a VA hospital.  She could get her own health insurance through her employer but chooses not to, I'm guessing she gets paid not to take their insurance.  Our other adult daughter has her own health insurance in addition to being on our health insurance.  It currently costs us the same whether or not we have the two adult kids on our health insurance plan so we keep them on.

I have yet to receive a rebate from our health insurance.

According to the Covered California website insurance for our family would cost our family $200 more per month than what we are currently paying (just under $1,800 a month).  If I drop the two adult kids, our insurance goes to just over $1,300 a month.


gianniveegina
gianniveegina

So smoke in mirrors, 500 million into 300 million plus americans comes to about a buck fifty each.  During the time of Obamacare my premium has more than doubled and my medications are more than ten times what they were five years ago.  Nice to know the Clintons and probably the Obamas are heavily invested in pharmaceuticals...Peace to all of you during our transition to American Fascism....

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

The ACA has already been good to me. My company was arranging to switch from health insurance to an HSA (Health Savings Account) with a small annual contribution from the company. Which would be a lousy idea if I and my co-workers were in our 20s, but we're not, so it's worse than lousy -- it's catastrophic. An HSA is preposterously useless to those of us (most of us) in our 40s and 50s. Company retirement age is 62 -- "voluntary' in name only -- so there's no time to save anything in an HSA. It's the moral equivalent of no health care at all.

Thanks to the ACA, the company will be required by law to continue our health care, and the HSA is now fading, thankfully, into the past. Our health-care plan isn't the greatest, but it's a damn sight better than an HSA. It's clear we missed a bullet. Thank you, Mr. Obama.

DarleneRitterGoodfellow
DarleneRitterGoodfellow

The administration should have invited me to DC - we have crappy major medical that we have never filed a claim in more 10 years because the out-of-pocket expenses are too high. But the last two years we have gotten back more than $1,000 from Mid-West Life of Tennessee. I can't wait to apply through the federal exchange in October (thanks Fl Rs for refusing to play, I know anything you came up with would have been crappy). Just goes to show you how much Mid-West Life has been hosing us down all these years. Thank you, Obama Cares!

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

Really have to give the Republicans credit for their continued assault on the ACA, Americans (especially the middle class), and logic.  Also have to give props to their inability to accept defeat.  Of course they are still trying to undo social security (what's that, about 80 years), so we should not expect anything less from the selfish greed mongers.  I refuse to call ACA "Obamacare" because this is not the insurance any intelligent Democrat wanted, including Obama.  When single payer was ruled out, the Democrats caved in to Republican demand after demand even though none of the R's voted for it (Kurt Vonnegut would love this story).   ACA is hugely Republican, it was favored by them before they didn't favor it, it is a huge win for the insurance lobby (how many of them are Democrats do you suppose?).  I'm happy it is helping people but feel very sad that we didn't just put everyone into Medicare which, despite all the nonsense you hear from Republicans is a very efficient operation compared to private insurance companies, and no huge million dollar salaries for executives or profit.  If we had fanagled a way to push into Medicare existing premiums from all sources (both employer/employee contributions as well as individuals premiums), existing payments for the uninsured and underinsured it would have helped considerably towards the deficit of the program.  And, making too much sense, we should make doctors and hospitals charge reasonable and consistent prices.  Only in America do we let private for profit insurance companies decide what sort of health care we get, which is still true.  ACA really only tells us that you have to have insurance and that there are minimum guidelines the insurers are only TOO happy to follow.

Jacksinternet
Jacksinternet

This BHO speech show just how OUT OF TOUCH he really is on ObamaCareLess........

SmoothEdward1
SmoothEdward1

I'm so tired of watching every piece of good news about premiums be trashed by people dragging their personal issues into an effort to discredit something they didn't want in the first place. My guess is the conservatives who didn't want this would not have supported a single-payer plan either, so they really are arguing for is the status quo. The status quo wasn't working either. People who should know better act as if there is one giant healthcare budget under which all forms of health care delivery act and any increase in one place means a decrease for them somewhere else. That is not the truth. People who are receiving Medicare benefits or getting care by the Veterans Administration are guided by a different budget and policies, unless they were getting coverage under Medicare Plus, and that was proven to be too expensive to maintain. Nothing is perfect from the beginning. There will be need to be adjustments, changes, but the idea of everyone needing to carry insurance is sound. Too many people still want to take the gamble of going without insurance so they can avoid spending money on a policy. Sticking everyone else with your bills if you need care may have worked for your personal agenda, but it was unfair to everyone else. If you truly believe in competition, as many conservatives say they do, then give the competition produced by the bill time to work.

MrObvious
MrObvious

 A study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, and set to be released today, shows that health-insurance costs in the exchanges may be lower than expected


The basics of competition. The law is not perfect but the alternative of nothing comes with a higher price for those who can afford health insurance and the same terrible situation for the people who can't.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@sacredh I have not heard that anyone is contemplating Mt Rushmore for BO, but do recall there was somewhat serious talk for Ronnie Raygun, which probably would have put me into an institution.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ahandout  This has what to do with Obamacare exactly? Don't let your hate make you seem more stupid than you already do.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@Lulugud Not sure what your point it.  Insurance has been going up every year for years, long before HCA.  Direct your anger at the insurance industry, that is where it belongs.  They do nothing to contain costs because they can just raise prices.  They pay huge salaries to their executives and have redundant staff (each company has to have their own billing, claims, administrators, sales force, marketing, etc.).  Single payer, non profit, Medicare for all is the answer. 

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@PerryWhite1 HSA's were the brainchild of the R wing.  Really great for the institutions that would get to hold onto your funds.  Devastating to families who could not afford the high deductibles.  Also devastating results as people would postpone treatment because they wanted to save money.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@notLostInSpace 

Healthcare isn't just any commodity, where we choose whether we want that brand or another. It's unique , since it affects all of us, the Wall st. CEO and the  welfare mother. Until the day comes that we have the stark debate on whether equal access to healthcare is a right for everyone no matter there station in life, we will continue to have a discussion that doesn't go anywhere. The GOP, by calling universal healthcare "socialism" does all they can to stifle that debate, because they know they have a losing argument. Scare words don't work.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@Jacksinternet 


OK Einstein. We are all ears. Without dumping on Obama, what is your solution to how we get to the point where everyone has equal   affordable access to necessary healthcare? Or do you believe that some lives are more equal than others?

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@SmoothEdward1 

"Sticking everyone else with your bills if you need care may have worked for your personal agenda, but it was unfair to everyone else."

so how is it fair that my insurance premiums go up because of this? i'm getting stuck paying more because a bunch of previously uninsured people now have it. 

"but the idea of everyone needing to carry insurance is sound"

it's a nice thought, but forcing insurance on everyone is bull. health insurance isn't a right, it's a privilege. you have the right to health care, i'm not arguing that. but insurance is not a right.

SmoothEdward1
SmoothEdward1

No, the Germans have a god national health program. They think we're insane because of the system we have, as does much if the world.

SmoothEdward1
SmoothEdward1

That is one possible scenario. The deficit happens to be going down. When the economy gets back to full strength and more people are working revenues will improve. Stop being so negative. New technologies will create new industries that will pay for our future.

grape_crush
grape_crush

 @MrObvious >The basics of competition.

 Well, at least until they form a cartel and start with the price fixing. There's still a need to standardize costs for services and medical goods. The additional people paying into the plan will only maintain profitability, not increase it...unless publicly-held health care orgs accept existence along the lines of a well-regulated utility company, there's only about two other ways to increase profits. First is gaining market share, so they'll either have to chase individuals or acquire other companies. Second is by charging more.

ahandout
ahandout

@mantisdragon91 @ahandout   Obamacare is a disaster.  Obama's policies are creating part time jobs out of full time jobs.  Obamacare is the incentive to not hire full time workers.  Spell it out simple enough for you?

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

@notLostInSpace @PerryWhite1 Right. In a way, they're like another right-wing idea, the 401k, to replace the pension (and alleviate companies from any financial responsibility for their workers). And, like the HSA, it feeds middle class money to the wealthy, makes middle-class life more tenuous and insecure, and doesn't really do its alleged job (retirement nest egg). Both the HSA and the 401k did their job perfectly: They made the rich richer, and sold the middle class down the river.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@tommyudo @notLostInSpace Part of being a citizen of the "greatest country in the world" or the "greatest country of all time" (these are words I hear from Republicans a lot in a incredibly stupid/ignorant/offensive sort of way), I would think, is that all citizens can get decent health care, not just the wealthy.  With our declining middle class (thanks Republicans) it is becoming just a two class system.  Rich will get what they want, no surprise there.  This is just part of a bigger picture.  The rich (Republicans generally) don't want to share, have greed fully in their hearts.  They really don't care about anyone other than themselves.  They don't want to fund education, social security, medicare, Medicaid, which are all programs that benefit most everyone eventually (as a former insurance person, I was amazed at the contortions that rich people do to make themselves "poor" so they can qualify for nursing homes---Medicaid).  

LizYoung
LizYoung

@tommyudo @Jacksinternet What's your answer?  Where does the money come from to pay for healthcare?  It comes from taxpayers.  Do you believe you're getting free healthcare?  No you idiot!  We have to pay for it.  Healthcare costs are not affordable, they are not free, and they don't come from the government for nothing.  The IRS is going to come after your idiotic rear end when you can't prove you have health insurance.  I can't wait to see all the idiot Democrats that were expecting something for nothing only to receive a huge IRS tax bill for not paying for healthcare.  Democrats think the government magically makes things happen without realizing there is a true cost.  The cost comes in the form of taxes and borrowing money from China.  We can hardly pay the interest on our debt at this point.   There is no chance of getting out of debt as long as Obama keeps the printing presses running.  You're just clueless idiots who can't figure out that obamacare is NOT free. 

michele_p12000
michele_p12000

@SmoothEdward1 don't assume everyone makes you foot the bill. most of us without insurance don't ever go to the dr. when we need to because we have no way to pay. not everyone out there is out to get you. so many americans go without until they absolutely have to or it's to late.

bobcn
bobcn

@cjh2nd @SmoothEdward1

"so how is it fair that my insurance premiums go up..."

Since ObamaCare is reducing premiums dramatically (about 29% less for better coverage in Californai)  -- so how is it fair that ObamaCare opponents keep trying to repeal it and make my insurance premiums go up?

SmoothEdward1
SmoothEdward1

The argument is not whether having health insurance is a right, it's whether healthcare should be a right. Since all the other advanced countries have decided it is a right and provide through a variety national program methods. Perhaps you should embrace that. No civilized, advanced and wealthy country should allow people to remain sick or die. If you don't agree with that, fine, but then we have nothing to discuss because we are too far apart, and just wasting each other's time.

ahandout
ahandout

@SmoothEdward1 And where do they get all they R&D from?  You know research and development?  No, you don't know?  That's what I thought.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@SmoothEdward1  The R wing crowd uses scare tactics to try and do things like destroy ACA and social security, medicare, etc.  Simple tweaks can fix the problems but the grid lock in government prevents sensible action from taking place.  The gridlock from the Republicans is intentional because they want social programs to fail.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@grape_crush @MrObvious Never over look the republican way of fixing prices. It was revealed recently that Goldman Sachs was intentionally ripping off customers of aluminum.  GS has aluminum interests in multiple warehouses and was moving it around solely for the purpose of being able to engineer price increases.  Something like $5 billion in over charges last three years.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@LizYoung  Great narrative from a truly ignorant person.  Keep up your patronage to Rush and Hannity, they are keeping you seriously delusional. Pelosi and Boxer are millionaires, so what.  ACA is not a entitlement program, get some facts will ya?  It is brought to you by your friendly insurance company, with the added feature of using the Irs to collect if you don't play.  Millions of jobs added since BO became President, as compared to W's loss of 700,000 per MONTH when he was in his last year.  W and his friends drove us into the Grand Canyon, hard to climb out but we are climbing.  Health care premiums in NY and California going down, that doesn't sit in the craws of the R's very well, but they never let facts interfere with a good scare story.

LizYoung
LizYoung

@tommyudo @notLostInSpace  What are you two nutcase libtards talking about?  Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer are both millionaires.  Do they get Obamacare?  NO!  They are greedy selfish hustlers using tax payer dollars to buy votes under the guise of entitlement programs.  You are suckers for believing Democrats are good and Republicans are bad.  Democrats support unions that drove all the manufacturing jobs from the US with their idiotic demands and pension plans that are impossible to sustain.  Democrats are destroying this country.  Obama keeps borrowing and spending.  The man has never created a job, created a product, or run a business.  All the idiot knows how to do is spend and tax.  He's also good at handing out welfare checks.  He's the king of welfare and entitlement.  

tommyudo
tommyudo

@notLostInSpace @tommyudo 


Even more amazing than the contortions of the rich are the rubes and suckers who continually vote against their own interests and keep putting the same GOP cretins back in office.  They use wedge social issues to  divide and conquer. The Martin/Zimmerman trial is catnip for them so as to continue to stir up race resentment. They are dragging all of us down to the point that there  may not be a return point.

LizYoung
LizYoung

@SmoothEdward1 And that's why the countries that have socialized healthcare gladly come to America to get treatment when they can afford to pay for it.  I have many friends from England and Canada that absolutely hate the quality of healthcare they receive.  They also hate the taxes they pay to cover the cost of their horrible healthcare.  We might as well become unemployed, live on a beach, and take advantage of the system like all the illegal immigrants.  They get better healthcare than the suckers that are legal hard working citizens with insurance.  

What Obama and the left wing lunatics are proposing is absolutely not better than what we had before.  I work for a small business and I can see that the costs for healthcare have dramatically risen.  This doesn't do anything for me because my costs have gone up as well.  I'm too busy covering the cost of the lazy people who don't want to work and the underemployed people who feel they are entitled to the money I make.  You and your leftist friends are the cancer that is destroying this country.  Take take take and demand even more at the expense of the hard working people who are forced to support the rest of the stragglers who gladly take advantage of us.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@mantisdragon91 @dakinsky @SmoothEdward1  After WW2 Europe took a left turn and developed national health care and other social programs.  America took a right turn and let the insurance companies (and a few others such as the gun lobby) take over.  I don't like Europe's taxes, but they have less personal expenses (like college).  They live longer because they have better health and education systems.  Its that simple.