Mich. Car Dealer Is a Microcosm of What to Really Expect as Admin Ramps Up to Hype Obamacare 'Success Stories'

December 31st, 2013 3:55 PM

Drudge's headline linking to a Politico item by Carrie Budoff Brown and John Allen about the Obama administration's plans to aggressively identify and promote Obamacare successes in 2014 ("White House Plans to Step up Obamacare Propaganda in 2014") is far better than the tired one Politico itself used ("White House looks to spread good Obamacare news").

What Team Obama plans to pursue will be propaganda, because as it identifies and "spread(s) good news," it's going to have to ignore a far larger volume of bad news. An NBC investigative report (video at link; HT Political Outcast) two days ago about the situation at a Michigan car dealership makes that point about as well as it can be made (bolds are mine):

Workers at auto dealership come face to face with Obamacare trade-offs


The 41 employees of Extreme Dodge in Jackson, Mich., are very familiar with trade-ins, but this year they’re learning about trade-offs as they come face to face with the new realities of health care. A few workers say they’re getting a great deal, but most have a severe case of sticker shock.

“I feel like I’ve been taken to the cleaners,” said Neal Campbell, a salesman.

... Rather than officially sponsor a new policy, the company -- voted one of the 100 best car dealerships to work for in the country last year -- will instead provide its employees with $2,400 apiece to buy their own insurance, or to pocket and pay the new federal penalty if they elect to go without it.

... A handful of the Extreme Dodge workers came out winners -- mostly low-wage earners who qualify for subsidies and therefore pay very little for insurance. The biggest winner is Brandon Chisholm, a detailer with two daughters, who will get health insurance for the first time, and will have to pay virtually nothing for it because he qualifies for a big government subsidy. That means he can bank the $200 a month the company is giving workers to replace the health insurance it previously provided.

... Twenty-six of the dealership's workers had been covered this year under the old company plan. Twenty-one have now decided to go with the new group plan recommended by the company for next year, though they realize that they face sharply higher out-of-pocket costs next year.

Their deductibles will go from $1,125 this year to $3,000 next year, and maximum out-of-pocket costs jump from $2,250 to $6,350. And for families, those numbers double: to a $6,000 deductible and $12,700 out-of-pocket maximum.

“How is this helping the average American that’s working 40 to 50 hours per week?” said Terry Hardcastle, a salesperson. “How are we supposed to live?”

Cathy Smith, who’d hoped she’d qualify for a subsidy and made just a little too much money, had tears in her eyes. "You don't make that much money to begin with,” she said, “and the prescriptions are going to kill me."

Before going further, Extreme Dodge is an example of an Obamacare-driven decision at a small employer to end a long-standing health plan. Obama's false "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" guarantee obviously has already damaged the financial situations of many beyond the individual insurance market to which the President has limited his "I'm sorry you misunderstood us, but we screwed up" form of an "apology."

In terms of "winners and losers" at Extreme Dodge (a favorite media term used any time a tax cut gets proposed), there's far more of the latter (at least 21) than the former ("a handful"). This will not be an unusual situation. I daresay it will be pretty typical.

The administration is banking on its media apparatchiks in the establishment press doing the opposite of what NBC's Lisa Myers did in the report excerpted here — emphasizing the relatively small amount of good news over the much larger stack of bad. I wouldn't bet against them.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.