October 28, 2013
 Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health & human services (Jim Bourg/Reuters)
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health & Human Services (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

The name of Dianne Barrette is speeding around the newsphere today. This 56-year-old resident of Winter Haven, Fla., surfaced on a CBS News story today as a victim of Obamacare. Reporter Jan Crawford, in a “CBS This Morning” story, addressed the contradiction between President Obama’s pledge that those who liked their health-care plans could keep them and the ongoing disappointment of folks who are now getting kicked off of their existing plans because they do not meet federal requirements. Crawford found Dianne Barrette, who claimed that she’s looking at a tenfold hike in her plan. Here’s some transcript:

Last month, [Barrette] received a letter from Blue Cross/Blue Shield informing her as of January 2014, she would lose her current plan. Barrette pays $54 a month. The new plan she’s being offered would run $591 a month, ten times more than what she currently pays. “What I have right now is what I’m happy with, and I just want to know why I can’t keep what I have. Why do I have to be forced into something else?” [says Barrette]

Perfect sound bite for Fox News! In a chat with the Erik Wemple Blog, Barrette confirmed that three Fox News producers had called to sign her on. She’ll be appearing tomorrow on the imbecilic morning show “Fox & Friends,” “Your World” with the great Neil Cavuto and on Greta Van Susteren’s program, “On the Record.”
“You guys are going to be sick of my face,” jokes Barrette, who works as a realtor and pulls in about $30,000 per year.

More coverage may provide a deeper understanding of the ins and outs of Barrette’s situation: Her current health insurance plan, she says, doesn’t cover “extended hospital stays; it’s not designed for that,” says Barrette. Well, does it cover any hospitalization? “Outpatient only,” responds Barrette. Nor does it cover ambulance service and some prenatal care. On the other hand, says Barrette, it does cover “most of my generic drugs that I need” and there’s a $50 co-pay for doctors’ appointments. “It’s all I could afford right now,” says Barrette.

In sum, it’s a pray-that-you-don’t-really-get-sick “plan.” When asked if she ever required hospitalization, Barrette says she did. It happened when she was employed by Raytheon, which provided “excellent benefits.” Ever since she left the company and started working as an independent contractor, “I haven’t been hospitalized since then, thank God.” Hospitalization is among the core requirements for health-care plans under Obamacare.

CBS News did note that Barrette would likely qualify for subsidies that would reduce the cost of her coverage. That said, news organizations that skim the country for cases-in-point on this health-care transition have an obligation to compare similar fruits. Even though Barrette would prefer to keep her current plan, more detail on what that plan provides vis-a-vis the offerings of the new plan is a non-optional component of coverage. A middling hospital stay could well have bankrupted Barrette under her current insurance. But don’t rely on “Fox & Friends” to belabor that dimension of the story.

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Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.