December 3, 2013

Letters to the editor: For many in Maine, Obamacare no bargain

My health insurance plan from Anthem Maine was canceled. I’ve spent a month studying the alternatives, and here are the results, as confirmed by the Maine Bureau of Insurance.

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Under the Affordable Care Act, residents of Augusta will pay less for the same insurance plan than those in Fort Kent, a reader says.

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The least expensive Anthem Bronze plan will cost $704/month, or $8,448/year. With the Internal Revenue Service deduction for medical expenses, the final cost will be $7,806/year or $650/month. This represents 12 percent of my gross income but 16 percent of my after-tax income, which I depend on to pay my bills, buy food, housing, heating, etc.

By comparison, my canceled plan cost $325/month or $3,900/year, which represented 6 percent of my gross income, or 8 percent of my net income.

The identical plan costs more depending on where you live in Maine. If you live in Augusta, the cost, including IRS deduction, is $8,955. If you live in Fort Kent or Ellsworth, the cost will be $10,628 or 16 percent of gross income and 22 percent of net income.

You won’t receive a penny of health care reimbursement from Anthem until you’ve paid for the deductible, which is $6,350 as mandated by Obamacare requirements.

So, if you live in Fort Kent, and make $65,000 per year, well above the income to receive any subsidies, you will pay 23 percent of your gross income and 30 percent of your living expenses and not receive any health care benefits.

This is just plain wrong. Who is looking out for us middle-class, self-employed Mainers? The fault for this is clearly with Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, who both voted for the Affordable Care Act, and their president, who wrote the one-size-fits-all regulations that resulted in these costs.

Pingree has known about these costs since July of this year, but has chosen to not help the people of Maine. But we’ll remember during the next election.

Scott Clark

Cape Elizabeth

Time Warner largely mum about Al Jazeera America

Time Warner subscribers get an avalanche of mail from the company. Couldn’t they have sent a notice that Al Jazeera America was joining their lineup Dec. 6? It was revealed in Public Notices in the Portland Press Herald on Nov. 7 and 20 in print so tiny I needed a magnifying glass.

The Al Jazeera America information was nestled among multitudinous other changes but was a fait accompli, not a possibility like some listings. I called Time Warner to ask if I’d missed something that had been mailed, and nothing had been.

My daughter told me not to be upset since I have a remote and can choose not to watch it. I reminded her of Al Jazeera’s unspeakable video coverage of our servicemen being killed in Iraq and its continuing anti-Semitism. While that’s Al Jazeera, not Al Jazeera America, both answer to the same foreign owners.

My objection is that Time Warner made no outreach to subscribers, who are like shareholders. We get notices from investment companies about impending developments and from the city about things like closing Baxter Boulevard, inviting our opinions.

I never had any interest in having Al Jazeera America as part of my cable plan – strongly to the contrary – yet the decision was made for me. Why didn’t Time Warner offer it as a premium channel? I feel that the Al Jazeera group is anti-American and anti-Semitic, and I don’t want it in my home.

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