Talking Points for Thanksgiving…

For this holiday, instead of talking turkey, you can talk health care. Or you may have to, anyway. Here’s a guide for the practical, the politics, and the policy, starting with what I said in Parade Magazine:

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, said it might be best to wait until around Thanksgiving. He said the problems should be cleared up by then, and he added: “The family’s health care is a great thing to discuss around the Thanksgiving table.” I think he was joking.

I really wasn’t joking–I was advising consumers not to rush and sign up in October, when there was invariably going to be technical glitches and issues, as enrollment counselors and others learn the best answers to the common questions about health insurance. Also, there was no benefit to signing up “early,” since coverage doesn’t start until January 1. But in order for coverage to start January 1, you need to sign up and select a plan by the deadline–now December 23rd. And I would advise to do it earlier, because there will be a spike of interest and potentially long wait times on the call center as we get closer to that deadline. So Thanksgiving, a time for appreciating the health of you and your family, is a perfect time to consider your health coverage options for the new year.

But invariably, your relatives may want to talk about the politics of Obamacare, and for this, Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post’s Wonkblog has provided a tongue-in-cheek service. We would add some California-specific talking points for Thanksgiving:

* However bumpy the start, the old system of getting health insurance as an individual was worse: 25-page intrusive medical questionnaires, denials for pre-existing conditions, rate hikes without review or justification, health plans cancelled, rescinded, and terminated without recourse, folks paying premiums and still going backrupt from out-of-pocket costs, etc. It’s better than what it was replacing–and getting better from its initial rollout.

* Don’t believe everything you’ve read. And whatever you’ve read, it’s working pretty well in California. Covered California is enrolling enough people (over 2K a day and rising) to meet its enrollment goals. And that’s doesn’t include the significant success with lower-income folks–over 650,000 already have new coverage today, and California is on track to have a million more in Medi-Cal by the first quarter of 2014.

* Again, don’t believe everything you’ve read. Congresspeople still have to get their coverage through these new exchanges, along with everyone else–Speaker John Boehner just signed up through DCLink in a few hours last week! And still no death panels.

For those who want to delve even further into the actual policy, here’s this week’s Thanksgiving-themed Health Wonk Review, over at InsureBlog. It’s stuffed with posts about all aspect of health reform.

Happy Thanksgiving!