Posted May 7, 2012 at 8:00 am, in From the USW International President
In a famous “Laugh In” sketch, Lily Tomlin, playing arrogant operator Ernestine, telephones a customer to demand payment of $23.64 for three calls to Topeka and threatens to send a burly serviceman to the customer’s house to rip his phone out of the wall if he doesn’t pay.
Ernestine was the face of smug and uncaring Bell Telephone. Today, she’d be the mug of cocky and cold-hearted health insurers.
In the 1960s skit, when the telephone customer complains about Ernestine having access to his confidential financial and tax records, she says of the telephone company:
“We are not subject to city, state or federal regulations. We are omnipotent.”
Back in the days of “Laugh In,” the customer who Ernestine wrongly accused of owing $23.64 had no recourse. Today, however, because of ObamaCare, the client could call Ernestine and demand a refund. Nearly 16 million health insurance consumers will get rebates totaling an estimated $1.3 billion beginning Aug. 1 because ObamaCare limits the profits that insurance companies can make off of illness, injury and pain.
Take that, Ernestine!
Under ObamaCare, more formally known as the Affordable Care Act, insurers must send refunds to customers if the companies skim off excessive portions of premium payments for administrative costs and profits. For big group plans, the law says insurers must spend 85 percent of premiums on patient care. For smaller group plans and individual coverage, it is 80 percent.
This rule took effect in 2011, so insurance companies that spent too little last year on patient care must send rebates to customers this year. One New Jersey company reported it already has returned $19 million to customers. (more…)