I’d honestly never heard of Julie Boonstra before today, and I have no particular interest in debating whether the Affordable Care Act leaves people better off in general (I think it does, marginally, but that’s not the point of this post). What I find astonishing is this:
Boonstra said Monday her new plan she dislikes is the Blue Cross Premier Gold health care plan, which caps patient responsibility for out-of-pocket costs at $5,100 a year, lower than the federal law’s maximum of $6,350 a year. It means the new plan will save her at least $1,200 compared with her former insurance plan she preferred that was ended under Obamacare’s coverage requirements.
Boonstra’s old plan cost $1,100 a month in premiums or $13,200 a year, she previously told The News. That didn’t include money she spent on co-pays, prescription drugs and other out-of-pocket expenses.
By contrast, the Blues’ plan premium costs $571 a month or $6,852 for the year. Since out-of-pocket costs are capped at $5,100 for in-network doctors and hospitals, including deductibles, the maximum Boonstra would pay this year for all of her cancer treatment is $11,952.
When advised of the details of her Blues’ plan, Boonstra said the idea that it would be cheaper “can’t be true.”
“I personally do not believe that,” Boonstra said.
She said she still fears her costs will be unaffordable because she could be hit with large out-of-pocket bills in the early months when she wouldn’t have the money to pay. She also said her out-of-pocket maximum could be higher than advertised because there’s one prescription that was previously covered by her old plan that isn’t and she now buys with a separate prescription discount card.
Hetzel said he understands patients may be confused by their benefits as they adjust. Boonstra’s health plan covers all prescriptions, Hetzel said, who advises she use the coverage instead of a prescription discount card so co-pays would go toward meeting the out-of-pocket maximum.
On the chance of being assessed the full maximum in the first month or so of a health plan, he said: “It is possible, but it’s highly unlikely.”
This isn’t about how many people in the abstract will pay less or more for health insurance than they did before because of the ACA; it’s about one woman whose specific circumstance has been fact checked, and that fact checking shows that she will save money under the ACA. If this is not a “fact” then we need to retire that word from the lexicon. But Ms. Boonstra’s reaction to this fact that contradicts her earlier belief is to stick with the now-erroneous belief. She continues to believe the falsehood and “[does] not believe” the fact, but facts are not things that we get to “believe” or not believe as it suits our purposes.
Instead of accepting the fact and adjusting her opinion accordingly, Boonstra invents a scenario under which her erroneous opinion might still be true, a scenario that someone who is actually in the insurance industry calls “highly unlikely.” Now, Boonstra may just be acting in deliberate bad faith here for political reasons, but even if she is, the vocabulary she uses (“believing” in a fact) is used by people who want to deny everything from the importance and safety of vaccines to the current presence of armed Russian soldiers in Crimea. The fact (there it is again) that it makes sense to some people that you might choose not to believe in a fact is startling.
When did we turn facts into things that you can choose to believe in or not? Has it always been this way? I’m genuinely not sure. My gut feeling about our society is that we are better informed than ever but probably getting dumber rather than smarter, and this kind of thing aligns with that feeling. Am I wrong? Lacking perspective? I’m happy to be convinced that I’m wrong about this stuff.