We talked last week about Dianne Barrette, a 56-year-old resident of Winter Haven, Fla., who’s made a flurry of television appearances after Blue Cross/Blue Shield informed her that her old plan is being replaced with a new one, and her new coverage will be more expensive. Her situation quickly made her a media darling, appearing on multiple national programs on multiple national networks.
Barrette joked at one point, “You guys are going to be sick of my face.”
Upon further inspection, the story of this “Obamacare victim” was far different from what those initial interviews suggested. Barrette had an awful insurance plan that left her one serious ailment away from bankruptcy. The Affordable Care Act offered an upgrade at a discount – she’s eligible for a subsidy under the law.
Jonathan Cohn did some additional research, discovered that Barrette could sign up for a vastly better plan than she has now, and it’d cost her between $50 to $150 more per month, depending on how much coverage she was prepared to buy. Cohn asked Barrette directly if this would appeal to her, given her personal circumstances.
Here was her response: “I would jump at it,” she said. “With my age, things can happen. I don’t want to have bills that could make me bankrupt. I don’t want to lose my house.”
Barrette can’t be sure until she sees the numbers for herself. And so far she hasn’t been able to do so, thanks to the technological problems at healthcare.gov. But as she’s become more aware of her options, she said, she’s no longer aghast at losing her plan – and curious to see what alternatives are available. “Maybe,” she told me, “it’s a blessing in disguise.”
So let me get this straight. Several major news outlets told the public last week that Dianne Barrette is an example of an American consumer poised to lose big as a result of the Affordable Care Act. This Florida woman, we were told, is the quintessential example of someone disappointed by “Obamacare” and its effects on her personally.
And now that she’s received some additional information – details that weren’t included in last week’s coverage of her situation – this alleged victim of the law is starting to realize that maybe the Affordable Care Act is going to work in her favor after all.
So here’s my next question: will those same shows that presented Barrette as a victim last week tell the rest of the story, or will they move on to other folks who reinforce a pre-determined narrative?