A headline read, "Brendan Mahoney Saves Obamacare."
"I clicked on it. It linked to a Wall Street Journal article…," Mahoney said. The Journal article was an opinion piece based on information reported by the Hartford Courant about the first day of the health exchange in Connecticut.
It wasn't the first time the lawyer had come across the name of his alter ego, Brendan L. Mahoney, who also lives in the Hartford area and is the same age. He read a restaurant review by his doppleganger a few months ago.
Two Brendan Mahoneys. Both 30 years old. Both grew up in Connecticut. One is an attorney, the other a third-year law student at the University of Connecticut School of Law.
Despite those similarities, the two men have very different views on the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare.
Brendan L. Mahoney, the law student, supports the health care reform act passed by Congress in 2010. He believes health care is a right that should be extended to all people.
Brendan T. Mahoney, the lawyer, said he thinks it is unfair that people with pre-existing conditions weren't able to get coverage before the Affordable Care Act, but isn't sure if it feasible to require they have coverage.
"If you understand insurance, you realize that they can't underwrite a policy for someone they know is going to get in a car accident in a week," the lawyer said. "So, from an actuarial standpoint, it's not good business and it will bankrupt who's ever doing that."
Health care in the U.S. is a disaster, the lawyer said, and it goes back to hospitals being required to provide care as a charity to people regardless of whether they can pay for it. That unfunded care drove up costs for people with insurance, he added, and it's the reason so many people are in high-deductible plans now.
In addition to unfunded care, Medicaid and Medicare payments to hospitals are fixed and relatively low, which causes hospitals to seek higher rates from commercial health insurers, resulting in higher premiums, the lawyer said.
The law student will get free care next year through Medicaid. He qualified for Medicaid while accessing the state health exchange, Access Health CT. That means he'll stop paying the $39 per month for his current high-deductible, commercial health plan through a UnitedHealthcare subsidiary. During his first two years at UConn, he was paying $2,400 per year for coverage through the university.
Medicaid affords him coverage at no cost, and that became lightning rod for national media. The Wall Street Journal's opinion article concluded by saying, "So the great success story of ObamaCare's first day is the transformation of a future lawyer who was already paying for insurance into a welfare case."
Right-wing radio personality Rush Limbaugh talked about it on his show. Limbaugh said, "He was already paying for insurance, and he's been converted into a welfare case. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the objective. When you strip it all away, this shows how all of this is really designed to work."
The law student said his father e-mailed him the Wall Street Journal article on Thursday and then, later, mentioned that Rush Limbaugh was talking about him. He said he expected criticism after talking about his coverage with a Courant reporter because the Affordable Care Act is a polarizing topic. He sees it as a relief for six or seven months — coverage he might never use, but which allows peace of mind until he starts work.
"I lose a lot of sleep at night about things that are burbling up and could cause big problems, you know, debt and health insurance," the law student said.
Brendan T. Mahoney, a lawyer with Updike, Kelly & Spellacy in Hartford, gets health insurance through his employer, he said.
The two Mahoneys have never met. Brenda T. Mahoney suggested that perhaps the two men could meet for the first time to debate the health care reform law.In addition to unfunded care, Medicaid and Medicare payments to hospitals are fixed and relatively low, which causes hospitals to seek higher rates from commercial health insurers, resulting in higher premiums, the lawyer said.