Julie Boonstra Continues to Play (Ridiculously) Dumb, as Americans for Prosperity Now Concedes She’s Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth
In post-initial-ad interviews with fact checkers and with her hometown newspaper, [Boonstra] claimed that the problem was the uncertainty now of not knowing month-to-month what her out-of-pocket expenses will be, whereas she had always reached the low monthly out-of-pocket expenses, and budgeted for that amount monthly.
In other words, her entire complaint is that she might spend the additional $550 a month as soon as she gets it, on something unrelated to her medical care, and then her out-of-pocket expenses totaling an annual maximum of her yearly savings of about $500 on her monthly premiums will become unaffordable.
— Julie Boonstra’s Follow-Up Ill-Woman-Who-Cries-Wolf AFP Ad Is Here!, me, yesterday
Weirdly, in an article by Cameron Joseph on The Hill blog yesterday and updated today, AFP President Tim Phillips concedes that Boonstra’s real problem is that she can’t do simple math and therefore can’t budget from one month to the next. Joseph reports:
Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips told The Hill in a recent interview that the question of unaffordability didn’t just mean the total yearly costs — that because she’s on a fixed income, higher monthly out-of-pocket costs early in the year before she hits the out-of-pocket cap are financially unstable. But Phillips didn’t argue that the plan itself is more expensive.
“Predictability is crucial for her because she’s on a fixed income with two kids, battling this disease. Her old policy took a higher premium with really no out-of-pocket expenses. Predictable. So the new policy, the premium drops, but the out-of-pocket is dramatically different,” Phillips told The Hill on Friday.
“When you’re on a fixed income, you can’t suddenly go ‘Wow, I’ve got three CAT scans, I’ve got an MRI, I’ve got a new medication at a higher dose I’ve got to take, my out-of-pocket is going to go up $300 or $400 this month, I’ll just put more money in.’ Well, when you’re on a fixed income what happens is you can’t afford it, it’s unaffordable at this point in time,” he continued. “[A yearly cap] doesn’t help you in January, February, March and April. It’s unaffordable. She didn’t say ‘I am going to spend more money during fiscal year 2014 in the end.’ She said it’s so high it’s unaffordable, and it absolutely is because monthly out-of-pocket [spending] spikes and she’s already seen that. And that’s a crucial distinction.”
A yearly cap doesn’t help you in January, February, March and April. But $550 each month, including in January, February, March and April, in monthly premium reductions–the absolutely predictable amount she saves each month over her monthly premiums last year on her old plan–does help you in January, February, March and April.
Mr. Phillips and Ms. Boonstra, the monthly premium is dramatically different, too. Y’know, a crucial distinction.
The most she can pay this year in premiums and out-of-pocket expenses is exactly $2 more than she paid last year in monthly premiums. And although her per-month out-of-pocket expenses cap was low under the old plan, it wasn’t zero. She maxed it out every month, she said, so the amount was predictable–a predictable amount that was more than zero and surely more than $.60.*
“I’ve got an MRI, I’ve got a new medication at a higher dose I’ve got to take, my out-of-pocket is going to go up $300 or $400 this month, and I’m too stupid to realize that I’m now saving $550 every single month, guaranteed, so this extra expense looks to me like it’s unaffordable even though most junior high school kids who passed their last math class could figure that out.”
Yes, and if your out-of-pocket expenses this month are $400, you’re still ahead by $150.
Here’s a suggestion, Ms. Boonstra: Ask your daughter, the one who’s with you in one of the scenes in your latest ad, to help you out with this. She probably even has a calculator she can show you how to use.
Ms. Boonstra’s fixed monthly income is now $550 more than it was until January, thanks to Obamacare. Congrats on the pay raise!
Relax, Ms. Boonstra. Take your daughter out for a pizza tonight to celebrate. You can afford it.
Assuming that she pays her monthly premiums in the first few days of the month, she’s now saved about $1,650 in premiums. That should cover her out-of-pocket expenses for the first quarter of 2014.
Joseph goes on to note that Boonstra is quoted in a very recent article in her hometown paper as saying that she has not yet had any medical treatment this year and so doesn’t know what her monthly out-of-pocket expenses are likely to be. So apparently either she’s just had treatments and may now know what they’ll cost out-of-pocket (apparently, the issue is the cost of medications and maybe lab fees) or Phillips is imagining things.
Joseph also notes that she says in that newspaper interview, “People don’t have that certainty — they don’t have the stability of knowing every month what they’re going to be paying now and it’s the ability to actually have that sum of money to pay.” You have that sum of money, Ma’am. Unless you spent that extra $1,650 on something unrelated to your healthcare costs.
The Hill article was updated this morning to add Peters’s campaign’s retort to the new ad:
“The claims in AFP’s original ad have been discredited by local and national media, and any charge that our campaign tried to silence her are absolutely inaccurate. Per standard practice, we asked AFP to provide documentation for claims that AFP paid to air after independent fact checkers said they needed further substantiation. We remain disappointed that the Koch Brothers are using their billions to prop up Terry Lynn Land and the anti-middle class agenda they both share like opposing the auto rescue that saved millions of jobs,” Peters spokeswoman Haley Morris said.
*Paragraph added after initial posting.
O.k., if you know your max out of pocket is $5000; and you know you have a serious chronic illness that causes you to max out your out of pocket every year. Then you put put away $416.55 every month and Shazzam your out of pocket is now predictable. Better yet, if your premiums are $550 per month lower than they were then you actually have that $416.55 (plus a little extra) pretty conveniently at hand.
The more these stories come out the more evident it is that the only real complaint is “We don’t like what that black president did” if there were two chickens in every pot, a car in every garage, and unicorns and rainbows everywhere the Right would see aCormac McCarthy “The Road” scenario with desolation, destruction, and dystopia because they don’t like the black guy in the White House.
ACA ain’t perfect but for the vast majority it’s an improvement. When all these scenarios start showing healthy, wealthy 27 year olds complaining because their premiums went up then maybe we’ll have some truth in advertising – except that won’t generate much sympathy or outrage.
I see, as per YOUR article and also in Hill Blog, I read it and watched the video, INDEPENDENT FACT-CHECKERS need further substantiation.
So now I’m thinking both sides are just blowing smoke.
Its going to be a long, long campaign season, again.
Mark: RACISM IS THE POLITICS OF AMERICA AND BIGOTRY HER SOUL.
But Obama being black isn’t the inherent problem with ACA. One hell of a lot of white people lied to get it passed. Nancy Pelosi is the first one that comes to mind.
Until SINGLE PAYER comes to pass in America, OUR health care problems are just going to keep growing and growing like an untreated tumor. ACA is NOT the answer and NEVER will be no matter the skin color of anybody, white or black.
Have we ever been told how much her O-O-P max was under her old policy? I’ve yet to see any of the reports give her age, either — harder to fact check — but a little searching comes up with age 49. It appears she would be able to get a gold HMO plan with a $1500 annual deductible and a $2500 out-of-pocket max, without any tax credit reductions, for $484, for a savings of over $600.
As I understand it, solely because of ACA, her previous policy could no longer have any lifetime cap, and an annual cap, if any, in the last year before 2014 cpuld not have been less than $2 million.
You are getting the message.
Urban Legend THANX!!! WE now have an insurer(Blue Care) and her age with policy possibilities.
I think this woman initially didn’t know about the ACA’s annual out-of-pocket cap of approximately $6,500 when she cut her original ad. I also think she was really angry, obviously with good cause, that for three months she was unable to get any info from healthcare.com or the phone line for it, on what her options were–which is why she didn’t know of the annual out-of-pocket cap. Her insurer should have told her, and her Tea Bagger congressman should have told her when she asked him for assistance; instead, he invited her to the State of the Union address.
But she knows now what her payment situation is–that it costs no more than her cancelled plan, and may well cost her substantially less–yet she keeps making claims that are transparently silly.
It was reported that she owns her home jointly with someone named Michael Boonstra, who is the former Republican chairman of her county and is now a state appellate judge, appointed two years ago by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. So she’s deeply connected in local Republican circles. Presumably, Michael Boonstra is her ex-husband; she would not be buying healthcare insurance on the individual market if she were married to him. At the time of his appointment, he lived in the same tiny suburb adjoining Ann Arbor where the house she lives in is, but they must not be married anymore. But still … her motive at this point is purely political. She’s now being plainly dishonest, as opposed to just misinformed. She’s becoming sort of a joke.
Actually, Mike Meyer, we’ve had that all along. And written and written and written about it. Us here at AB, Kessler at Washington Post, the people at PolitiFact, etc., etc. Apparently you thought we all were just making things up. We weren’t.
As far as blowing smoke, we call it something else: Math. Basic math. I’m not good at it, but as compared with Boonstra I’m like Albert Einstein.
Urban Legend, no, as far as I know, she’s never disclosed the monthly out-of-pocket cap in her old policy, and no one has reported what it was. She described it just as “low,” and said she maxed it out each month.
She needed to keep her specialist and hospital; that was a primary consideration for her. And although her first ad suggested that her current plan doesn’t allow it, it does. Also, she was unable to find out what her full options were, because Michigan does not have its own exchange and she was unable to get onto healthcare.com, and she wasn’t able to reach anyone for Michigan even through the healthcare.com phone line. Finally, in late Dec., she panicked and bought a plan with her old insurer, by contacting them directly, at the suggestion of the Michigan Farm Bureau. In her early interviews last month after the first ad started airing, she said she still didn’t know what her full options were.
So she definitely has a very legitimate gripe, not with the ACA itself but with the bungled website. I really sympathize with her about what happened. But she knows the facts now and is ethically obligated not to make knowing misrepresentations. She’s not the only one with a life-threatening illness.
you are much kinder than i am. she is deeply involved in Republican politics and she always wanted to be on TV.
Beverly Mann: Cut and paste those plans, I would but I can’t find them. ALL that I have seen written here is how foolish this poor woman is for having gone to TSOTU.
I NOW dearly wish I could “do the math” but without ANY hard numbers, sadly I can’t.
TSOTU+FOOL+ WOMAN+TEABAG=ACA+(GREAT )(TV)-GOOD is just a little more algebra than my poor, poor unbeliever brain is able to handle.
Let’s see those hard numbers, policies, pay schedules. I’m SURE Mr. Kessler and those other journalist who have them well in hand would not mind them being posted here for us inertube newbes that can’t seem to find them.
” But Obama being black isn’t the inherent problem with ACA. One hell of a lot of white people lied to get it passed.
Nancy Pelosi is the first one that comes to mind.”–MM–
Which lie is this? I’m hoping it is the one I think it is.
The other thing about the timing of the out of pocket payments that is ignored in this inane comment from the AFP is the difference between payments to providers and other debts.
There is a weeks long(if not months long) lag between services and payments. The providers have to bill the insurance company who then processes the claim and issues an EOB. Then the bill is issued(though some providers jump the process, it means nothing).
Mike, if you didn’t see the comparisons between Boonstra’s old and new plans in Kessler’s article, you must have skipped an awful lot of that article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/02/20/a-hard-hitting-anti-obamacare-ad-makes-a-claim-that-doesnt-add-up/
I mean, y’know, seriously ….
Beverly Mann: I read the link, THANX. I also read The Dexter Leader article thinking since they were closer to the subject more information would appear. I find that Mr. Kessler himself says that although he was able to find the lady could keep her original doctor he still did NOT have enough information on the two plans to make a comparison. Also I see in the same article that the “$2.00 difference” quote comes from Rachael Maddow.
EMichael: Public Option lie, YOUR dreams have been answered.
I reiterate—Its STILL to early to make these kind of claims, one way or the other, concerning ACA.
From the Kessler article:
“The claim that the costs are now “unaffordable” appeared odd because, under Obamacare, there is an out-of-pocket maximum of $6,350 for covered expenses under an individual plan, after which the insurance plan pays 100 percent of covered benefits. The Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in Michigan that appear to match Boonstra’s plan, as described in local news reports, all have that limit.
“Meanwhile, Boonstra told the Detroit News that her monthly premiums were cut in half, from $1,100 a month to $571. That’s a savings of $529 a month. Over the course of a year, the premium savings amounts to $6,348—just two dollars shy of the out-of-pocket maximum.”
So who is Rachel Maddow playing here? Boonstra? Or the Detroit News reporter who quoted Boonstra?
As for the missing information, the only figure that’s unavailable is what the monthly out-of-pocket cap was in her old plan. All she says about it is that it was low and that she maxed it out each month. If it was more than $.60, she comes out ahead in her new plan. She’s not denying any of this and is no longer claiming that the annual total amount she’ll pay is more than it was on her old plan.
Not sure why you keep not understanding Kessler’s article. It’s not the Theory of Relativity. It’s just a straightforward series of ordinary declaratory sentences. In English.
Also, Mike, while it’s too early to make some types of claims about the ACA, Boonstra’s claim is not one of those types. The issue is the maximum costs to her under her new plan as compared with the maximum costs under her old plan. The two plans are clear about that. The old plan’s terms won’t change retroactively and the new plan’s terms are locked in for the year.
And what Rachel Maddow has to do with the specifics of the two plans, I wouldn’t know.
Beverly Mann: WE do NOT know the specifics of her OLD plan. WE do not know what her NEW plan is, covers, what is in network or out of network. WE ONLY have the ASSUMPTION of a $6,500 yearly cap, which may or may not apply to her new policy.
One needs a copy of her old policy and a copy of her new policy to make such a comparison, otherwise it IS harder than The General Theory of Relativity.
AS for the poor woman not denying or verifying ANYTHING, SHE HAS CANCER AND is being railroaded by American Media AND OUR politicians AND rung through the internet. I doubt she can give her own street address or phone number by this point.
EITHER WAY till I see those policies and not out of thin air assumptions then I ‘m not able to agree with the premise of the article.
Trying to paint me as unable to achieve those HIGH concepts without THOSE FACTS does not help YOUR cause to convince me.
“EMichael: Public Option lie, YOUR dreams have been answered.”
That’s a new one on me.
Any chance you can get your fingers off the shift key?
Bad enough I have to read these constant requests for documentation not necessary to prove the point, but the caps are a Pita.
I don’t want to continue this silly conversation, and I wouldn’t be posting to it further except that I’m curious to know why, Mike, you think Boonstra is lying about the monthly premiums under her old plan. She has stated to Kessler and others the exact amount of those monthly premiums, which totals $2 less annually than her current annual out-of-pocket expenses combined with her current monthly premiums. The only thing we don’t know, because she hasn’t said, is what her low always-maxed-out-each-month out-of-pocket costs were under her old plan. If they were more than $.60 per month, then her annual maximum healthcare costs this year will be less than they were last year.
Seriously, why do you think Boonstra is lying about her monthly premiums under her old plan, and overstating them? Why would she overstate them?
This is my last comment in this thread. Everyone else understands what the facts are on this, and that, yes, since Boonstra herself provided the main details of her old plan, we do have the main details about her old plan. If you really don’t understand this, you might might want to ask someone else to explain it to you. Anyone, really. I done all I am willing to do.
Make that: I’ve done all I am willing to do.
Nuts, there are two simple explanations for this behavior. First that Boonstra and her ilk are getting money for doing these ads from AFP. Second they are getting money from someone else. Door number three, is there a door number three?
Has anyone asked?
No money being passed. This is just a case of someone ill and not knowing and no one explaining. THE AFP just took advantage of her. Read my replies here; http://www.livingstondaily.com/comments/article/20140309/OPINION03/303090027/Letters-editor-Bibles-Sistine-Chapel-book-Gary-Peters-more
Not the case of her getting money. The AFP was just using her. I was all over this in the local weekly reader to the point where the newspaper GM started talking to me. She was just a confused women and used.