Recently, we attended a meeting put together to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act, ACA, or Obamacare. Our interest was stimulated by an assignment from one of our editors to cover the basics for readers in our circulation area.
At first, we thought everybody knew what it was all about, but we were wrong.
Though human resources departments are up on what the ACA is, as well as insurance agents who represent many different insurance companies and help people navigate through the regulation thicket, most readers of her publication were not in that elite group.
However, when we talked to the owner of a local small business, who had no idea of what the connection was between the federal government, state governments and private health care insurance companies, we knew it was our duty to explain what was coming to our readers.
Many people have tried, but so far have not succeeded in (as reported in today’s WSJ) accessing the federal government’s website, healthcare.gov. Purchases of insurance through that website are one-tenth what the government said they should have been for the month of October.
After going to a press conference called by the local insurance agency and conducting several interviews, we wrote a fairly inclusive story, hitting the highlights of what had to be done, when, and with whom.
Today’s lunch meeting was for a more sophisticated audience – bigger businesses, wealthy retired folks, and moi, IFO. IFO was pleased and relieved to learn that the story she had filed this morning was accurate.
At our table was an employee of a large local company and the two speakers. What luck for IFO! The speakers represented one of the largest health care insurance companies in our state. We had a pleasant discussion, with IFO thanking her lucky stars that most of the time her mouth was full of a sandwich, so she couldn’t talk much.
The conversation included difficulty in accessing information, increased coverage, increased complexity, and reduced income from healthy patients.
During a pause, she said to the senior insurance company executive, “From what I have been able to learn while writing my business story on the ACA, it seems to me that health insurance companies will all be out of business in less than 10 years. Is that right?”
To her amazement, he calmly nodded Yes! No argument. No anger. Just . . . Yep. After a few moments of reflection, she realized that he would be retired by that time. Why should he worry?
For my readers on this blog who want to review their stock portfolios, see tomorrow’s post.