Friday, October 18, 2013

Salon Fact Checks Hannity, Franklin Couple on Obamacare

Posted By on Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 1:40 PM

Salon writer Eric Stern watched an episode of Hannity the other night — sometimes journalism takes you to dark, scary places — and saw Sean hosting three couples, "average Americans" that were "feeling the pain of Obamacare." Each couple took a turn sharing their horror story involving the health care law.

But none of it smelled right to me," Stern writes. "Nothing these folks were saying jibed with the basic facts of the Affordable Care Act as I understand them. I understand them fairly well; I have worked as a senior adviser to a governor and helped him deal with the new federal rules."

So he decided to report the three stories —  "...the stories that the media refuses to cover,” as Hannity put it — on his own, conducting phone interviews with each of the couples. And in each case he seems to have found the solution for their troubles...Obamacare.

In each case, Stern finds that the couple's primary complaint about Obamacare seems to be rooted in a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of the law, or simply a failure to take advantage of it. One case in particular caught our eye due to proximity. That of a couple from Franklin, Tenn.

Finally, I called Robbie and Tina Robison from Franklin, Tenn. Robbie is self-employed as a Christian youth motivational speaker. (You can see his work here.) On Hannity, the couple said that they, too, were recently notified that their Blue Cross policy would be expiring for lack of ACA compliance. They told Hannity that the replacement plans Blue Cross was offering would come with a rate increase of 50 percent or even 75 percent, and that the new offerings would contain all sorts of benefits they don’t need, like maternity care, pediatric care, prenatal care and so forth. Their kids are grown and moved out, so why should they be forced to pay extra for a health plan with superfluous features?

When I spoke to Robbie, he said he and Tina have been paying a little over $800 a month for their plan, about $10,000 a year. And the ACA-compliant policy will cost 50-75 percent more? They said this information was related to them by their insurance agent.

Had they shopped on the exchange yet, I asked? No, Tina said, nor would they. They oppose Obamacare and want nothing to do with it. Fair enough, but they should know that I found a plan for them for, at most, $3,700 a year, a 63 percent less than their current bill. It might cover things that they don’t need, but so does every insurance policy.

Stern concedes that some of the concerns conservatives have raised about a fully implemented Affordable Care Act could still come true. And Ezra Klein called the Obamacare rollout a "disaster" just a few days ago. Is it really too much to ask for the crack team at Hannity to at least try?

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