Covered California: I Died and Woke Up in Canada

Covered CaliforniaSo I finally got around to getting on the Obamacare exchange here, which is called Covered California. It was a remarkably easy thing to do. I think it took me about a half hour. And I make so much money that my monthly premiums for Kaiser Permanente are $1. It seemed like a joke. It reminds me of those idiots on Fox and Friends who were calling for everyone to have to pay at least something in income taxes so that they had “skin in the game.” (It was pretty clear that if this happened, they would only want more to the point where everyone payed the same amount — but that’s a topic for another time.)

A new feature of Covered California this year is dental insurance. I was able to sign up with Delta Dental for $13.95 per month. I picked it because when I managed a dental office, Delta of California was by far the best insurer. You may not know this but about 80% of managing a dental office is fighting with insurance companies. And Delta was very good about paying without a lot of fuss. And when I saw that the co-pay on root canals wae only $300, I was hooked. (Now if I can just find a regular dentist who is up for doing a couple of molar root canals, I’ll be set.)

Obamacare is something that conservatives think is evil. But these are the same people who think that unions are evil. And that minimum wage is evil. And that forcing employers to provide healthcare is evil.

I feel like I died and woke up in Canada. I’ve always been positive about Obamacare. But not like this. This seems to me very much like universal care. And I very much wish that I had had this back a decade ago when I almost died and ended up owing over a $100,000 in medical bills. But more than that, I’m just looking forward to going in and getting a physical and a checkup and starting the process of my dental triage.

But think about this. Obamacare is something that conservatives think is evil. But these are the same people who think that unions are evil. And that the minimum wage is evil. And that forcing employers to provide healthcare is evil. They are the big proponents of the “gig economy.” Well folks, I am the poster boy of the gig economy. I’m self-employed. I get money from a number of different sources. And if it weren’t for Obamacare, I’d be screwed. I’d be forced to join the Freelancers Union, which I have mixed feelings about politically and which is mostly just a for-profit insurance company that offers far more expensive insurance and (as far as I can tell) no dental.

It’s weird. The American conservative movement is mostly made up of a bunch of people with cushy jobs that are more like what people did in the 1950s with employer provided healthcare and retirement plans. In fact, I know people like this. My brother-in-law has a great union job, but has this attitude the young people are lazy. But it’s the young people who are out hustling to make a living. His father got him the job he has had for decades. All he has to do is show up and do his work, which is a great advantage compared to what people like me have to do in the modern economy.

So the fight against Obamacare continues on. But for the people of California it seems we are now living at least on the outskirts of civilizations. I could hardly ask for anything more. I feel very lucky indeed. It is like I died and woke up in Canada.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

17 thoughts on “Covered California: I Died and Woke Up in Canada

  1. Congratulations. Too bad we don’t all live in California, much less Canada. I won’t get into the details of my own situation, let’s just put it this way — your experience, Frank, is ONLY your experience. And that may be the single worst thing one can say about Obamacare. Well, except for the thing I keep harping on — as long as Obamacare is dug into place, nothing better can happen. For all sorts of reasons, not least of which is the fact that some people WILL benefit, even if very unevenly, and that will serve as a bulwark against adopting a better solution. I keep envisioning the architects of Obamacare with little desktop placards — “Divide and Rule” instead of “It’s the Economy, Stupid”.

    • I’m with you — I consider the Affordable Care Act a heinous crime. Public support was there for a government-run plan. And the Obama administration declined it, even as a voluntary option.

      The chance existed to demonstrate how government can be more efficient than privately-run, for-profit companies. And that chance was flushed away. Now everyone will blame their horrible health-insurance paperwork on “Obamacare.” It’s certainly good for some people in some states. It makes life better. It also feeds the beast of “gummint iz awful” for everyone who isn’t clearly helped by it.

      There are good and bad things to be said about the Obama administration. The worst, to me, is selling low on health care reform. I think that will resonate for decades. Somehow, someway, we’ve become convinced that spending 20 minutes on the cyborg phone menu is an attribute of government, not businesses. And so government is “inefficient.”

      I don’t think this can be undone. The chance was there to change it. And that chance was abandoned, and we’re going to live with the fallout for a long time.

      • I think you are wrong. It only gets easier and more transparent as time goes on. My problem is that it keeps insurance companies in business. But it is a major step in the right direction. And if it hadn’t been for John Roberts, there would be millions of poor people who would have health insurance. I don’t blame that on Obamacare. The uninsured rate in the US is down to 10%. It isn’t enough, but it is a vast improvement from what it was — not to mention what it would have been because employer provided healthcare is going away.

        • I hope you’re right. At this moment, “Obamacare” is a rallying cry for conservatives. And since the law doesn’t do enough, most Americans can’t realize how it was an important move forward. Their insurance companies still suck.

          We’ll see. I think you have more faith in the American voter than I do. That’s not a bad thing!

          • The big problem is that the law is mostly transparent. There are tens of millions of people who are benefiting from it but they don’t know it. This is a common problem with modern liberalism. This is why I use every opportunity to point out to home owners just what big welfare recipients they are.

            • That is a problem with information overload-something like the ACA has the law, the regulations, and what insurance companies have as policies.

              I have too much free time so I have read all of them and can break it down for my friends but they often don’t want to hear it because all they know is they are screwed by their insurance company and it has to be the ACA’s fault because their insurance company never did that before.

    • I think that eventually Obamacare will be universal. Even now I see conservatives waking up to the fact that there really isn’t a reason why they are against it. But you are right: I am super lucky to live in California — especially when it comes to the dental. And as everyone should know, dental health is critically important to general health.

      But Obamacare doesn’t stop us from improving things. What it did (except for the jerk Republicans and John Roberts) is create a greater percentage of the people who have universal healthcare. The Medicaid expansion was a step toward Medicare for all.

      But I think the day will come when this fight will look as strange as the free silver fights of the late 1800s. And, of course, conservatives will all claim that they were always for universal care. And everyone will allow them that lie because it would be rude to tell the truth.

  2. I looked up the Freelancers Union and for some reason they don’t have any lawyers for people to use to help them in their gigs with negotiations of contracts or when they are being exploited. To me that is part of what a union is about-helping prevent abuse of workers. If I do ever become a lawyer, that may be where I wind up.

    • No. It’s basically just an insurance company. They do some lobbying, much of which I agree with. But mostly, it’s just a money making enterprise for whatever that woman is who started it.

          • Then it is really unfortunate that it doesn’t help with people who have legal claims since so few people have help with their employers who rip them off.

            • I think freelance is a little different. We expect to get ripped off to some extent. It’s about developing relationships.

              • I don’t like it. If someone is okay with a little bit of being ripped off but some people who really have been had they should have the legal recourse available to them.

                • There is. But any group has to focus on a limited number of things. The tax law for freelancers is bad and it needs to be changed. I’d also like to standardize (and make fair) the way that arbitration is used. My main employer now is British and I was shocked (and thrilled) that he didn’t have any of the standard arbitration boilerplate that I always have to fight to remove from American companies. But I fully admit that I’m in a good position, working with good people. The problem is mostly when you take a small one-off job and people dick you around. In those cases, it is generally better to just write it off.

                  • That is the other thing-if you get enough of a block, you can get the law changed. So having a freelancer’s union that was an actual union with help with contracts, health care, and voting, then you can actually get something done.

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