Obamacare is hard. It’s a great big behemoth of a health care overhaul, packed with complex changes for a complex labyrinth of a system. No normal person could be expected to stay awake through the law’s 800-plus pages. But it’s important — both as policy and because it could affect your care and your wallet.
So sometimes, we get a little desperate to explain it. And hey, who doesn’t? MIT professor Jon Gruber even turned it into a comic book. The Kaiser Family Foundation made a game-like video, and has just put out a new cartoon: “The YouToons Get Ready for Obamacare.” We’ve tried “listicles” — 10 Things About Obamacare You May Not Know But Should — and distilling it into a 3-minute video.
But now we’re getting extra desperate because the real Obamacare countdown has begun. The Washington Post even started a 100-day countdown until millions of Americans can start enrolling in the overhaul’s health insurance expansion.
So we’re trying yet another ploy: A cheesy soap opera. Below, CommonHealth intern Sascha Garrey uses her creative powers to sneak a dozen key points you should know about Obamacare into an over-the-top melodrama. For Cliff Notes types, we’ve highlighted the points in bold and listed them at the end. And for aural learners, click on the “play” button above to hear a delicious excerpt as a radio drama, produced by WBUR’s George Hicks.
By Sascha Garrey
“I didn’t need that fourth glass of wine,” Cassandra St. James grumbled to herself as she slammed off her wailing alarm. Her headache from last night’s binge was beyond splitting, making her simultaneously grouchy and grateful that, thanks to federal health reform, her health insurance plan was banned from putting annual limits on essential services – lately, she’d been going through her prescription migraine pills like they were Skittles.
“Uggghh…I cannot face another day at work!”
Cassandra had been feeling the heat at her job lately, perhaps sparking this new interest in multiple glasses of wine per evening. Being a customer service representative at a Boston-based health insurance company during the advent of federal Health Reform was stressful to say the least. But tension at work wasn’t the only reason for Cassandra’s hangover.
Cassandra was engaged to a man she hardly knew, even though she was still heartbroken over the loss of her true love, Dr. Lance Jones. It’s been almost three years since the freak boating accident that took Dr. Jones’ life along the Cape, but his body was never found, leaving Cassandra without closure. Maybe that’s why she’d agreed to marry Chip Montebello.
To be sure, Chip had a good heart, but his health insurance situation left something to be desired. His decision to defy the state’s individual mandate left him with a greater tax burden and no health benefits.
What’s more she had financial woes coming at her in every direction. It didn’t help that the health insurance available to her through her employer was all but affordable, with over 9.5% of her income put towards her premium each month. In more desperate moods, Cassandra fantasized about having the freedom to buy insurance over the Health Connector, but that fantasy was too farfetched even for her. Massachusetts law prohibits anyone with insurance available to them through their job to seek coverage elsewhere, regardless of its affordability.
But it wouldn’t matter even if she could stray to the Connector. Ever since her so-called “big promotion” her salary was boosted to $45,960 and with her household size of one, that boost put Cassandra at 400% of the federal poverty line. With an income at that level, she wouldn’t even qualify for any of the state subsidies for purchasing insurance on the Connector, available only to those with incomes between 133 – 300% of the federal poverty line.
“And then there’s my mother,” Cassandra said under her breath as the phone rang. Continue reading