Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Leave it to President Trump to come up with a fraudulent version of healthcare.

This morning we received, in quick succession, a number of phone calls from all over the country including Rhode Island, South Carolina, and other points of the compass.  Each call had a booming recorded voice telling us that we didn't have to wait for the sign-up period of ObamaCare, but could sign up for insurance right now and it would be really easy and lots of fun. They also claimed they represented or "worked with" a number of different health insurance companies including Blue Cross and Cigna.

They lied, of course.

Curious, I pressed "1" for more information and actually talked to one of the representatives and he showed his colors very quickly.  He initially used confusing language, saying that their healthcare policy would "work with other companies" including the ACA or Obamacare.  When I specifically asked him if this was an ACA plan or an Obamacare plan he admitted that it was not.

I told him in so many words to get lost, and he called back to tell me that he put my number on some sort of telemarketing list.  No doubt now, as to whether this was a con.   They used a number of different phone numbers, basically random phone numbers, which if you call back, go to disconnected lines.   Legitimate companies don't do this - and you should never do business with any company you can't call back, or who uses a fake phone number. They claim to be calling from all over the country, but they're actually calling from one company. And when you find out that they're basically fraudsters, they try to retaliate by putting you on some sort of telemarketing list.

I'll bet the guy I talked to is a real big Trump supporter too.

To recap, Donald Trump has instituted a new form of healthcare which is informally referred to as Trumpcare. Under existing laws, insurance companies can offer temporary insurance for a few months at a time. Trump extended this to one year and insurance companies, particularly sketchy ones, have going crazy promoting these plans.

If you Google "Trumpcare" you will see ads for such plans.  They even use a URL to "healthcare.com" which of course, is riffing off the Obamacare site of healthcare.gov.   If you use the "dot com" site, it asks you a few questions, and then claims there are a number of plans available - calling them "silver" or "bronze" as in Obamacare.  But they won't show you the plans, you have to provide your name and contact information so they can call you.  I wonder how many people fall down this rabbit hole and think they are signing up for Obamacare, when they are not.  It is kind of scary and sad at the same time.  

What is even more scary is how Google increasingly pushes commercial interests over basic searching.   If I search my own blog, for example, it only goes back two years.  Unless I search using the prefix "site:livingstingy.blogspot.com" (thanks, reader, for this tip) and then a search term in exact quotes, it won't find my blog entries.   For example, if I search "livingstingy life insurance over 50" all I get are ads for Colonial Penn insurance.  My entry about the topic fails to come up.  Even when I do get 'hits' it shows only two of my blog entries, followed by numerous ads for the ripoffs I am railing against.  Sadly, it seems that those lovely people who run these tech companies - Google, Facebook, Amazon, et al., are increasingly seeing the light and becoming more and more conservative.   The prospect of a "President Warren" scares the crap out of Zuckerberg, who is now sucking Nazi dick, full-time.

But I digress, but not by much.  What is scary about this, is that these fraudulent companies can continue to do business, unabated, with "Social Media" and search engines as their ally.   If you want to find out if something is a con, well, Google will surely tell you it ain't.   Oh, and Google runs this blogsite, so don't be surprised if it suddenly goes dark as I am accused of violating the ToS.   But I digress again.

Getting back to Trumpcare, people sign up for theses policies based on verbal promises, otherwise known as lies, made by these telemarketers. The premiums are astoundingly low, but the coverage is correspondingly nonexistent. Many of the people signing up for these plans are fervent Trump supporters who believe the President has come up with an alternative to Obamacare.  But of course, Obamacare is free or very low-cost for low-income participants - and provides serious coverage.

It's only when they go to the hospital or have a procedure done that they realize that a Trumpcare plan pays only a few thousand dollars in coverage which really is meaningless when you're presented with a $200,000 emergency room bill.

The other problem with these plans, is that unlike Obamacare, they don't cover pre-existing conditions.  In the old days, before Obamacare, most policies didn't, either.  But if you signed up for a Blue Cross plan back then, they would not cover pre-existing conditions for the first year, after which, they would be covered.  The idea was, they didn't want people not signing up for insurance until they got sick.  The "mandate" of Obamacare was supposed to have a similar effect, but it was one of the aspects of the program that Trump has nixed.

Since Trumpcare plans are only a year in length and do not "renew" (but rather, expire and a new plan is put into effect the next year) you are not covered for pre-existing conditions, ever.   This means that if you get sick one year, you are only covered (such as it is - a few grand at best) for that one year.  The next year, if you still have that illness, you are out of luck.

Trumpcare is a sick joke, if you'll pardon the pun.  You might as well go without insurance as to have it.  Or, better yet, have an ACA plan or Medicare - before these too, are cancelled by Republicans for being "Unconstitutional."

Trumpcare plans are, in a way, like burial insurance or what they call "life insurance for seniors". People are told they can get a life insurance policy for only a few dollars a month, as insurance company sent their brains to the dry cleaners and decided that insuring people near the end of life makes sense.  But the reality is, most of these policies are worthless or provide only a few thousand dollars in burial expenses.  The average policyholder will spend more than that on premiums or will stop paying premiums before they die.  Insurance companies aren't stupid.

Is this fraud? Well technically they can argue it isn't, because they fully disclosed the terms of these policies and if people don't read the fine print, that's their problem.  But you and I know that it's a rip-off from the get-go, designed to snare the elderly and infirm, who are in the early stages of dementia, or the poor and illiterate, who can't read and understand fine print on a contract.   That's perfectly legal to do, in this country - harvesting the stupid is not against the law.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, we've moved from a manufacturing economy, to an information-based economy - as Al Gore once put it -  but now have morphed into a fraud-based economy.  In the future - or perhaps even today - we will spend all day long basically defrauding one another, rather than actually producing real products or services.

Trumpcare is just another fraudulent concept in a long line of fraudulent concepts, including life insurance for seniors, reverse mortgages, check cashing stores, payday loans, title pawn loans, buy-here pay-here used cars, and a whole host of other cons including for-profit colleges and private student loans.   Even our president had his own for-profit college.  No word as to whether he owns a chain of check cashing stores.

Of course, the question remains why these things are allowed to go on for so long?  Why don't people get fed up and tired of this and vote these crooks out of office?  And the answer is, as I have said before, that the people who allow these sort of things to happen are the same ones who promised to outlaw abortion, or prevent there son from getting gay-married, or prevent some poor Christian cake-baker from having to bake some lesbian wedding cake.  People are told by the media that these are pressing and important issues and economic arguments are pushed to the side.

In fact, the media doesn't really talk about these economic issues as their advertisers are often the same people perpetrating these sort of frauds.   The media only wants to present the idea of living economically or frugally as something stupid or idiotic.  I recounted before how I have been contacted, more than once by producers for "reality television" shows, who want to do a show about "stingy people" but of course, portray them as annoying and stupid - and of course creating tension with family members, so they can have arguments and yell at each other, just like on all the other reality television shows.   At the commercial break, an ad for "rocket mortgage" - why not refinance your house and pay off those credit card bills?   It's a smart move!  Followed, of course, by an ad for some SUV which you can "afford" if you lease it, like all the smart people do!

But it's Abraham Lincoln put it, you can't fool all the people all the time. Eventually they will reach a breaking point - chaos theory predicts this.  There will reach a point where public sentiment changes in an avalanche fashion, and people will finally wake up and realize they're being lied to. When this will happen is anyone's guess.

I can only hope Abraham Lincoln was right.