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Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Dylan

Donna received the letter canceling her insurance plan on Sept. 16. Her insurance company, LifeWise of Washington, told her that they'd identified a new plan for her. If she did nothing, she'd be covered.

A 56-year-old Seattle resident with a 57-year-old husband and 15-year-old daughter, Donna had been looking forward to the savings that the Affordable Care Act had to offer.

But that's not what she found. Instead, she'd be paying an additional $300 a month for coverage. The letter made no mention of the health insurance marketplace that would soon open in Washington, where she could shop for competitive plans, and only an oblique reference to financial help that she might qualify for, if she made the effort to call and find out.

Otherwise, she'd be automatically rolled over to a new plan -- and, as the letter said, "If you're happy with this plan, do nothing."

If Donna had done nothing, she would have ended up spending about $1,000 more a month for insurance than she will now that she went to the marketplace, picked the best plan for her family and accessed tax credits at the heart of the health care reform law.

"The info that we were sent by LifeWise was totally bogus. Why the heck did they try to screw us?" Donna said. "People who are afraid of the ACA should be much more afraid of the insurance companies who will exploit their fear and end up overcharging them."

Donna is not alone.

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President Obama wasn't entirely right in 2009 when he said that if you like your health care plan, then you can keep it. Some people are going to have their health insurance plans canceled, and it does have something to do with Obamacare.

From a political standpoint, that's enough to ignite a firestorm. From a policy standpoint, there's a whole lot more going on here.

What really matters is what happens to the people who are receiving those cancelation letters that congressional Republicans have been parading in front of the cameras?

The bottom line: Almost all of them are going to receive the same or much better coverage, and many of them are going to receive financial help to purchase it.

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Thursday is the deadline for members of Congress to designate which of their staff is "official" -- and therefore required to purchase health insurance through the Obamacare insurance marketplace run by the District of Columbia.

A provision in the Affordable Care Act mandated that members and their staff to sign up for coverage on the marketplace, rather than continue to receive employer insurance through the federal government. A memo from the Office of Personnel Management said that members could decide who on their staff is "official" (and must therefore go onto the marketplace) and who is not (and can continue to receive regular employer insurance).

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