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Rolling in the D'oh!

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This Week's Poll from the Lester & Charlie Institute of Forward Thinking!

OK, we're big enough to admit it: Like a lot of Americans -- including many of our elected representatives -- we never pretended to understand everything there was to know about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Heck, no one in Washington can even seem to agree on how many pages the dern thing is! And did you know that a whopping 67 of the law's 90 key provisions are already in effect?

Well, maybe you already knew that. You probably did if you're under 26 and would otherwise not be able to legally remain on your parents' insurance plan. And you know who else probably knows? All those people currently receiving $$$ back from their insurance providers.

Wait a minute... We've heard of insurance companies giving their customers the runaround, or excuses, or, for that matter, giving them the middle finger. But giving them... money?

It's true! It's all because of the "80/20" rule, the rule in Obamacare that says that all health insurance providers must spend at least 80 percent of their customer's premiums on -- radical as this sounds -- things that may promote the health of their customers. That means they can't use that money for, say, advertising, or paying administrative costs, or using $1,000 bills to wipe their butts.

"Humana Insurance Company did not meet the Medical Loss Ratio standard," read one letter to a woman in Texas -- a letter that accompanied a check for $124.08. "In 2012, Humana spent only 76.7 percent of a total of $149,433,285 in premium dollars on health care and activities to improve health care quality. Since it missed the target in your state by 3.3 percent of premiums it received, Humana must rebate 3.3 percent of your health insurance premium." Ka-ching!

Rebate sizes will vary greatly from state to state, and even customer to customer, but, overall, it's being said that refunds in 2013 will total more than $1 billion. WOW.

President Obama touted these rebates as early proof of the success of the ACA. And he clearly hopes that the checks will be a finger in the eye of all of the Republicans who have tried -- nearly 40 times -- to repeal his administration's signature health care reform.

Well, while it may be too soon to tell if this is truly a sign of total success, we're impressed that Obama was able, as CNN reported, to announce all this while "surrounded by middle-class Americans." Middle-class Americans! Remember them? We're happy Obama could find any.

Which brings us to our question. Many desperate Americans haven't seen a windfall like this since George W. Bush's big tax rebate in 2008, the one that was meant to save the economy from total ruin. We all remember how well that one worked out. So of course we're asking: How will Americans spend this extra money? What do YOU think?

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