Opposition to health insurance reform seemed to be crumbling across the country this week as employees began receiving notification that it was time for their annual benefits enrollment meetings.
“No! Anything but that!” said John Beck, head of the Atlanta-area Tea Party Movement and a systems analyst at BellSouth. “I’m not going to have to sit through one of those boring human resources presentations am I? I don’t think I can take that.”
“Oh, God. Is he going to use that same PowerPoint again?” he added. “No!”
Typically, most Americans who consider themselves satisfied with their healthcare coverage are receiving insurance benefits through their employers. The traditional process has been a painful autumn full of angst and frustration as workers learn how much will be deducted from their paychecks each week for medical coverage.
Enrollment is completed in November, then the holidays intervene, with most forgetting how much it’s costing them. By the beginning of the new year, most have returned to a vague notion that they’re getting healthcare for very little out-of-pocket expense.
At the moment, however, they’re wrestling with heavily shaded rows of spreadsheet data, clunky brochures and HR representatives whose answer to every question is “I’m not sure about that — you should really check out the website that Corporate has set up.”
“Was I supposed to be able to read those numbers?” commented Alan Jansen after he attended a presentation at the suburban Washington bank where he works. “They had like a 70% screen on the category that applied to my situation. I think they sent me something in the mail but my wife thought it was junk and she tossed it out.”
Jansen said he had been a strong opponent of the reform plan that seems most likely to pass the Senate next week, saying it represented a slippery slope toward socialized medicine. Now, he admits he’s reconsidering his position, especially since he’s forgotten both the user name and the password needed to sign up for his employer’s plan.
“It’s the same crappy routine every year,” Jansen said. “There’s always several smaller sites that are teleconferenced in to the meeting, and those people ask the dumbest questions. I can barely tolerate sitting through it.”
Harold Taylor, a part-time Republican campaign worker and a full-time document specialist at Chicago’s United Airlines headquarters, agreed. He complained about the flexible spending accounts, the health savings accounts and the so-called “wellness credit” that will reduce his premium by $1,000 if he completes a health questionnaire on-line and agrees to quarterly counseling sessions with some idiot grad student at the University of Michigan.
“I studied all the stuff they sent us before hand, and they still made me go to the meeting,” Taylor said. “I can’t believe there’s money taken out of our paycheck and yet we still have a co-pay, co-insurance and a deductible that would choke a horse. I’d take a death panel over this mess any day of the week.”
Tea Party leader Beck said he now feels like a fool for attending the anti-reform rally in Washington last month, and thinking that his employer and the big health insurance companies were giving him a better deal than the government could.
“I’ll admit, for maybe ten months out of the year, it feels like you’re well-covered,” Beck said. “Then you sit down and study the difference between ‘Plus’ and ‘Select’ and ‘Preferred’ and you think, aw, they’re just messing with us, now.”
“I hope I don’t have to try to get anything out of that ‘new dental partner’ they were talking about,” said Jansen after his company meeting. “Every year they say they’ve brought in someone new because the old plan was so bad. I could’ve told them that last year.”
“Long live Obama,” Taylor said. “I’m ready for Scandinavian-style socialism after watching that HR woman fumbling with her laptop. She didn’t even realize she accidentally backed up ten slides — she just read the same thing over again, in the same steady robotic tone. I say, bring on Big Brother!”