Obamacare

Facebook posting

I picked up on this from a Facebook posting, one of the main reasons I have a Facebook account. The story is from the Tampa Bay Times:

Says a man opted out of Obamacare after the marketplace launched on Oct. 1, 2013, and was informed he owed a $4,000 fine.

Facebook posts on Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 in viral posts on the Internet
A closer look at a Facebook post on a man’s struggle with the Obamacare marketplace

This post on the Facebook page of HealthCare.gov, detailing a man’s struggles with big fines for not buying insurance, went viral.

Shortly after the the Obamacare insurance marketplace launched on Oct. 1, users of social media experienced a burst of complaints on Twitter and Facebook, ranging from technical glitches to substantive concerns.

But for our readers, one post stood out.

Many readers sent us a Facebook post that went viral and has since been circulated by chain-email. It was originally posted on the Facebook page of Healthcare.gov, the federal government’s portal to the new insurance marketplace created under President Barack Obama’s health care law. The marketplace is designed to offer one-stop shopping for health insurance plans for Americans whose employers do not offer coverage.

The Facebook post claims to be from a man named Will Sheehan. (We couldn’t confirm his identity.) The post says that he tried to sign up for Obamacare and then decided to not go along with it; he then said he received an email detailing fines he would face.

The Tampa Bay Times printed the total post of a person calling himself Will Sheehan:

“I actually made it through this morning at 8:00 A.M. I have a preexisting condition (Type 1 Diabetes) and my income base was 45K-55K annually I chose tier 2 ‘Silver Plan’ and my monthly premiums came out to $597.00 with $13,988 yearly deductible!!! There is NO POSSIBLE way that I can afford this so I ‘opt-out’ and chose to continue along with no insurance. I received an email tonight at 5:00 P.M. informing me that my fine would be $4,037 and could be attached to my yearly income tax return. Then you make it to the ‘REPERCUSSIONS PORTION’ for ‘non-payment’ of yearly fine. First, your drivers license will be suspended until paid, and if you go 24 consecutive months with ‘Non-Payment’ and you happen to be a home owner, you will have a federal tax lien placed on your home. You can agree to give your bank information so that they can easy ‘Automatically withdraw’ your ‘penalties’ weekly, bi-weekly or monthly! This by no means is ‘Free’ or even ‘Affordable’.”

A follow-up investigation by the PolitiFact.com brought the conclusion: this is a pants on fire not true. PolitiFact concludes:

Our ruling

The Facebook post tells the story of a man who says he opted out of Obamacare soon after the marketplace was launched on Oct. 1, 2013, and was informed that he owed a fine of more than $4,000.

The post includes many elements that make no sense or are flat-out wrong — and can be easily debunked by reading the law or reliable summaries of it. We rate it Pants on Fire.

So, who or what is Will Sheehan? A bit of search turned up some additional fluff. Mother Jones weighed in. They noted, in part:

The Affordable Care Act itself states that the IRS cannot file a lien on a property because an uninsured person fails to pay a penalty. Nor can it seize bank accounts or garnish paychecks to recover Obamacare fines. Nor will Americans who refuse to pay for mandatory health insurance be subject to criminal prosecution of any kind.

Mother Jones also had coverage on the roll out of the ACA, including the following note:

The initial response to yesterday’s opening of the state and federal exchanges that are providing affordable insurance plans to Americans who previously could not obtain coverage has Obamacare proponents dancing. Millions of Americans were not scared away by Koch-financed ads (including this rapey spot). Sure, there were glitches and websites crashed. But that’s natural, given the overwhelming demand. And the exchanges have weeks to work out the kinks before the December 15 deadline to finish enrolling people for the coming year.

The referenced ad, by Generation Opportunity, is also covered:

Republicans Oppose Invasive Gynecological Procedures, New Ad Alleges

This spot, from the Koch brothers-backed group Generation Opportunity, which is focused on young conservatives, is the creepiest political ad you’ll see this month:

The appearance of Sam, America’s creepy uncle, at the end is kind of rapey. And the idea that rich people would spend so much money discouraging people from purchasing health insurance (and thereby becoming dependent on either their parents or taxpayers) is kind of messed up.

Anyhow, this drama is going to play out for a while, and it promises to be quite a show. I missed out on the Social Security roll out, so I can’t relate any personal history. However, it was promoted and enacted by a liberal Democratic administration and was opposed by the Republican Party, which was growing ever more conservative. John Kennedy campaigned on his plan for Medicare, with the same opposition from the Republicans. That was 53 years ago, and I have been enjoying the benefits of Medicare for the past eight years.

More recently President George W. Bush attempted to dismantle Social Security by converting it to a private enterprise. He took his campaign on the road, addressing large gatherings.

And the people all said sit down.
And the people all said sit down.
Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down.
Sit down, you’re rocking the boat.

With apologies to Frank Loesser.

If the Republicans do not prevail, what has come to be called Obamacare will become as entrenched in our society as have Social Security and Medicare, and voters will sting any politician who attempts to dismantle it.

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One thought on “Obamacare

  1. Pingback: The Government You Paid For | Skeptical Analysis

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