Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Why do so many people oppose Obamacare and why isn’t Obama willing to fix it?

This article from National Review provides a simple overview of a few of the main problems with Obamacare.

I’ll just highlight a few of the points in the article.

Higher health care costs, higher health insurance costs, higher taxes:

Under ACA, health-care spending is expected to rise significantly, even beyond the usual inflation in medical prices. President Obama’s economic advisers originally had calculated that the bill would reduce health-care spending by $200 billion a year, from whence the president derived his intellectually indefensible conclusion that the bill would save the average family of four some $2,500 a year. Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services calculated that ACA will not reduce health-care spending at all and will instead add about $70 billion per year in the immediate future. Estimates of the program’s expense keep growing. It will spend more than originally estimated, it will tax more than originally estimated, and its vaunted deficit-reduction benefits have been evaporating at a pace suggesting that, as many predicted, they will never come to pass. In 2010, CBO projected that ACA would reduce the deficit by $140 billion through 2019; today that projection is a mere $4 billion. The estimated tax increases in the bill have doubled.

It discriminates against men by forcing them to subsidize women’s health care:

The difference between the increase in men’s rates and those in women’s rates is one of the more naked bits of ideology apparent in the bill. Women spend considerably more on health care than men do, and hence have paid higher health-insurance premiums. The architects of the ACA decided that this was not permissible, and so by fiat eliminated the difference, meaning a disproportionate increase in men’s rates. Likewise, because there can be only so much difference permitted in prices paid by the young and the old, the young will pay much higher rates.

Employers are forced to make full-time employees work part-time:

[The employer mandate creates a] powerful economic preferences for part-time workers. By mandating coverage for those working 30 hours or more, the employer mandate makes part-time workers that much more attractive to businesses, a fact not lost on President Obama’s erstwhile supporters in organized  labor. “The ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class,” reads a joint letter from the major labor unions.

It creates incentives to not marry and to not work:

And in an especially clumsy move, the program’s architects have designed the income limits on its subsidies as hard cutoffs rather than gradual phaseouts. For example, as Ed Driscoll points out, a married couple earning $62,040 would face a $10,000 penalty for earning $1 extra — unless they get divorced. That’s a very high effective marginal tax rate. Likewise, a married couple with two children with $93,000 in joint income would pay far more for insurance than they would if they divorced and custody were granted to the lower-earning spouse. So while the employer mandate creates a disincentive to hire, the high penalties for extra income create a disincentive to work — hardly the thing that’s called for in a period of high joblessness and record welfare dependency.

That’s enough – read the article for many, many more. And the article doesn’t even cover all the problems, although some of my previous posts (like this one) have talked about these other problems that weren’t mentioned in the National Review article. And there are even ethical problems, like the abortion drugs coverage mandate and the fact that pro-life taxpayers will be subsidizing abortions from day one. I could go on, but I’ll try to keep this post short.

So what is Obama doing about the problems in his policy? The Republicans have asked him to delay the individual mandate for a year, and to make Congress give up their exemption from Obamacare – a law they passed themselves!

The Wall Street Journal explains Obama’s response to the problems in his health care policy.

Excerpt:

President Obama is sitting out one of the most important policy struggles since he entered the White House. With the government shutdown, it has reached the crisis stage. His statement about the shutdown on Tuesday from the White House Rose Garden was more a case of kibitzing than leading. He still refuses to take charge. He won’t negotiate with Republicans, though the fate of ObamaCare, funding of the government and the future of the economic recovery are at stake. He insists on staying on the sidelines—well, almost.

Mr. Obama has rejected conciliation and compromise with Republicans. Instead, he attacks them in sharp, partisan language in speech after speech. His approach—dealing with a deadlock by not dealing with it—is unprecedented. He has gone where no president has gone before.

[...][A]s he was predicting widespread suffering, Mr. Obama steadfastly refused to negotiate with Republicans. He told House Speaker John Boehner in a phone call that he wouldn’t be talking to him anymore. With the shutdown hours away, he called Mr. Boehner again. He still didn’t negotiate and said he wouldn’t on the debt limit either.

Mr. Obama has made Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid his surrogate in the conflict with Republicans. Mr. Reid has also declined to negotiate. In fact, Politico reported that when the president considered meeting with Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell, along with the two Democratic congressional leaders, Mr. Reid said he wouldn’t attend and urged Mr. Obama to abandon the idea. The president did just that.

[...]The president’s tactic of attacking Republicans during a crisis while spurning negotiations bodes for a season of discord and animosity in the final three-and-one-quarter years of the Obama presidency. That he has alienated Republicans doesn’t seem to trouble Mr. Obama.

The important lesson we must all learn from this is that Barack Obama had no experience in health care policy. He didn’t surround himself with people who understood health care policy, either. The next time that we have the opportunity to elect a President, we need to realize that we are not picking a favorite celebrity or an American Idol. The President’s job is not to dance and sing and act to amuse us. The President’s job is to solve problems. Part of being a problem solver is also being a good negotiator. We need to pick someone who has experience successfully solving the problems that are facing us as a nation. Speeches are no substitute for past performance.

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Obamacare will increase average individual-market premiums by 99% for men

% Increase in health insurance premium before and after Obamacare

Percent increase in average health insurance premium after Obamacare

What will you be paying for the privilege of electing a socialist who made you feel good about yourself?

Avik Roy counts the cost in Forbes magazine.

Excerpt:

For months now, we’ve been waiting to hear how much Obamacare will drive up the cost of health insurance for people who purchase coverage on their own. Last night, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finally began to provide some data on how Americans will fare on Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchanges. HHS’ press release is full of happy talk about how premiums will be “lower than originally expected.” But the reality is starkly different.

Based on a Manhattan Institute analysis of the HHS numbers, Obamacare will increase underlying insurance rates for younger men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. Worst off is North Carolina, which will see individual-market rates triple for women, and quadruple for men.

[...][M]any 27-year-olds will face steep increases in the underlying cost of individually-purchased insurance under Obamacare. For the states where we have data—the 36 reported by HHS, plus nine others that we had compiled for our map that HHS didn’t report—rates will go up for men by an average of 97 percent; for women, 55 percent. (In the few cases where HHS reported on states that our map includes, we went with HHS’ numbers.)

Worst off was Nebraska, where the difference between the cheapest plan under the old system and under Obamacare was 279 percent for men, and 227 percent for women: more than triple the old rate. Faring best was Colorado, where rates will decline for both 27-year-old men and women by 36 percent. The only other state to see a rate decline in this analysis was New Hampshire: 8 percent for both men and women.

(Still missing are data from Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, and Nevada. The data from New York and New Jersey should be taken with a grain of salt, as their individual insurance markets are not like those of other states.)

[...]40-year-olds, surprisingly, will face a similar picture. The cheapest exchange plan for the average enrollee, compared to what a 40-year-old would pay today, will cost an average of 99 percent more for men, and 62 percent for women.

You might be asking why men have to pay more than women for Obamacare premiums, and the answer is simple. Even though women use a lot more health care, companies are now forbidden from making women pay more because they use more. Women will be paying less because men will be picking up the cost. That’s called “equality”. The same thing happened with the stimulus, which also favored women, because they are more likely than men to support big government Democrats at election time.

What about the subsidies that are being offered by the government to ease the transition to government-controlled health care?

However, the overall results make clear that most people will not receive enough in subsidies to counteract the degree to which Obamacare drives premiums upward. Remember that nearly two-thirds of the uninsured are under the age of 40. And that young and healthy people are essential to Obamacare; unless these individuals are willing to pay more for health insurance to subsidize everyone else, the exchanges will not serve the goal of providing coverage to the uninsured.

Democrats like to make much of the subsidies that they are offering to offset these skyrocketing premiums, but that money is being borrowed from the children of today. They are the ones who will have to pay the money back. In effect, we are borrowing money from the next generation of workers to pay off the health care of the retirees of today. Obamacare is a massive transfer of wealth from young people to older people. Young people are still very much under the influence of the brainwashing they got from their teachers in government-run public schools. They have been taught that in order to be good people, they need to vote for socialism. And they do. It’s only much later that the bill comes due – for now they are blissfully unaware of what they are doing to themselves.

Health insurance premiums have been going up since 2008

Remember, premium shave already gone up $3,000 on average since Obamacare was passed, despite Obama promising they would drop by $2,500. That’s a $5,500 difference.

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

During his first run for president, Barack Obama made one very specific promise to voters: He would cut health insurance premiums for families by $2,500, and do so in his first term.

But it turns out that family premiums have increased by more than $3,000 since Obama’s vow, according to the latest annual Kaiser Family Foundation employee health benefits survey.

Premiums for employer-provided family coverage rose $3,065 — 24% — from 2008 to 2012, the Kaiser survey found. Even if you start counting in 2009, premiums have climbed $2,370.

What’s more, premiums climbed faster in Obama’s four years than they did in the previous four under President Bush, the survey data show.

There’s no question about what Obama was promising the country, since he repeated it constantly during his 2008 campaign.

In a debate with Sen. John McCain, for example, Obama said “the only thing we’re going to try to do is lower costs so that those cost savings are passed onto you. And we estimate we can cut the average family’s premium by about $2,500 per year.”

At a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio, in February 2008, Obama promised that “We are going to work with you to lower your premiums by $2,500. We will not wait 20 years from now to do it, or 10 years from now to do it. We will do it by the end of my first term as president.”

A $5,500 difference doesn’t mean a lot to Obama. But maybe it means a lot to you. We’re going to find out exactly what we voted for very soon now.

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Surprise! New Stanford University study finds costs of Obamacare higher than estimated

I’m just kidding. I’m not surprised. Here’s the story from Reason magazine.

Excerpt:

Obamacare could cost a lot more than the official estimates, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford University.

That’s because the law will create big incentives for employers to drop worker health coverage so that employees can get health insurance through the law’s insurance exchanges. Anyone who buys insurance through an exchange and has a household income between 133 and 400 percent of the poverty line is eligible for publicly funded subsidies. So if a lot more people than expected end up in the exchanges, that means a lot more subsidies — and a much higher total cost for the law.

The study, published this week in the journal Health Affairs, estimates that some 37 million people would benefit from shifting out of employer coverage and into exchanges. What “benefit” means, in this case, is that those people would be better off getting cash from their employer instead of coverage, and then buying subsidized coverage on the exchanges.

If all 37 million people in this category were to switch into exchange-based coverage, it would result in a dramatic increase in the law’s cost: about $132 billion annually in additional federal outlays, according to the study.

[...]The paper concludes with a warning: policy makers “should plan for the possibility that the exchange subsidies may end up costing the federal government much more than currently projected.”

It’s a warning they should take seriously. It’s also one they ought to have heard before. Former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin and James Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center have been sounding this alarm for years. Back in 2010, they estimated that, because of the law’s incentives to drop coverage, 35 million more Americans than expected could end up in subsidized coverage through the exchanges.

On election day in 2012, I wrote this post that quoted Investors Business Daily’s warning about Obamacare:

Despite repeated promises that the more we knew about ObamaCare, the more we’d like it, the law has never been less popular. Just 38% now approve of it, down from 46% when it passed in March 2010, according to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

But unless voters defeat Obama on Tuesday, they’ll never get rid of his disastrous “reform.” Even before ObamaCare takes full effect, its damage is evident.

Insurance premiums, which Obama promised to slash $2,500 by the end of his first term, have climbed 14% since the law went into effect. Nearly six in 10 doctors say ObamaCare has made them less positive about the future of health care in America, and almost two-thirds say they’d retire today if they could, according to a Physicians Foundation survey.

Businesses are holding back on hiring, or are shifting workers to part time because of ObamaCare’s looming coverage mandate. Darden Restaurants, for example, has stopped offering full-time schedules at several of its popular eateries “to help us address the cost implications of health care reform.”

This is only one of the horrors ObamaCare will unleash if fully implemented in 2014. Among others:

  • ObamaCare will force as many as 20 million workers into government-run insurance exchanges after their employers drop coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
  • More companies will follow Darden’s example, refusing to schedule workers more than 30 hours wherever they can to avoid the coverage mandate.
  • Insurance costs will explode. Even ObamaCare’s fans admit that its benefit mandates, marketplace rules and bans on coverage caps will force premiums to skyrocket. Jonathan Gruber, who helped design ObamaCare, says the law will add 30% to premiums in the individual market in the states he’s studied.
  • Doctor shortages will reach 90,000 in about a decade, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
  • Seniors will find it increasingly difficult to get treatments, as ObamaCare’s deep Medicare payment cuts cause one in six hospitals to become unprofitable and still more doctors to refuse to see Medicare patients.
  • Even when a patient does get to see a doctor, ObamaCare will intrude, using the law’s “Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute” to create top-down rules for what doctors can prescribe for any given ailment.
  • ObamaCare’s vast new taxes — including a crippling $20 billion surtax on the medical device industry and a $123 billion surtax on investors — will slow down medical innovation.
  • And when these and dozens of other new taxes fail to cover ObamaCare’s massive 10-year $1.76 trillion price tag, everyone will suffer a bigger tax bite.

Not to mention the fact that ObamaCare will, for the first time in our nation’s history, force people to buy a government-approved product, setting a frightening new precedent for federal intrusiveness.

That’s a warning that we should have heeded as voters in the 2012 election. But we didn’t. And 2014 is almost here.

Look, even when a person means well and wants to help others, if they don’t know what to do to help others, then we shouldn’t put them in charge. The best way to tell if someone knows how to do what they say they want to do is to look at their record and see if they have been able to do what they say they want to do in the past. That’s what a job interview is – it’s when the people doing the hiring look at the candidate’s record – not his rhetoric – and decide whether to hire him to do certain specific tasks. The requirements of the job should be key to the decision of whether to hire or not. Obama had no experience passing health care laws that lowered costs, improved access, and so on. He had never done anything remotely like that in all of his life. If we wanted to fix health care, then we should hire people like Bobby Jindal. People who know how to do the work because they’ve actually done the work before.

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Blue Cross, Aetna, United, Humana opt out of Obamacare exchanges

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

Major health insurance companies – Blue Cross, Aetna, United, Humana – have fled the Obamacare health care exchanges in various states, which are scheduled to start on Oct. 1.

[...]The ACA requires every American to have health insurance, or pay a penalty.  Individuals who are not covered by their employer can enroll in the state or federal government-run health care “marketplace,” which will provide subsidies to individuals between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty line.

Aetna, a fortune 100 company with $34.2 billion in revenue, has pulled out of public exchanges in three states, and will not be part of the individual health insurance exchange in its home base, Connecticut.

[...]Aetna will also not participate in California’s exchange, and a spokesperson told CNSNews.com that the company never intended to do so.

“We did not withdraw exchange plans in California, as we never planned participation nor filed [Qualified Health Plans] QHPs to participate in the California exchange,” a spokesperson said.

Anthem Blue Cross has withdrawnfrom its bid to participate in the state’s small business exchange, as well.

United Health Group, the largest health insurer in the United States, has also taken a pass on the Golden State’s individual insurance market under Obamacare.

As a result, roughly 8,000 policyholders will be left searching for new insurance.

[...]Only three companies remain in Connecticut’s “Access Health CT” exchange, following Aetna’s departure.

Similarly, only five plans are participating in the exchange in Georgia, after Aetna and Coventry Health Insurance dropped out last week.

The Savannah Morning News noted that this will “leave residents of some parts of the state with limited choice.”

[...]Two of the three largest health insurers in Wisconsin will also not participate in the state’s online marketplace under Obamacare, it was announced on Wednesday.

But I thought that Obama said that people who liked their current health care plan could keep it?

“No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period,” Obama said on June 15, 2009.

“If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period,” he said.  “No one will take it away. No matter what.”

That promise, however, has been revised by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which now says, “you may be able to keep your current doctor” in the health insurance marketplace.

Oh I see, once the election is over, then the truth comes out. But it doesn’t matter, because Obama already won the election on the strength of the lie.

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Aetna pulls out of Obamacare exchanges in Maryland – can’t operate at a loss

Left-leaning Reuters reports on the implementation of Obamacare in Maryland.

Excerpt:

Aetna Inc pulled out of Maryland’s health insurance exchange being created under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law after the state pressed it to lower its proposed rates by up to 29 percent.

Under the law, often called Obamacare, each U.S. state will have an online exchange where Americans will be able to buy insurance plans, starting on October 1. The government is counting on about 7 million people to enroll next year for this insurance, many of whom will qualify for subsidies.

The success of the exchanges, as well as the expansion of the government’s Medicaid program for the poor, are key elements in the political battle between Republicans and Democrats. State officials say the price of the new insurance plans will help determine whether enough people sign up.

In an August 1 letter sent to the Maryland Department of Insurance, Aetna said the state’s requirement for rate reductions off its proposed prices would lead it to operate at a loss. The rate reductions include products from Aetna and Coventry Health Care, which it bought this spring.

“Unfortunately, we believe the modifications to the rates filed by Aetna and Coventry would not allow us to collect enough premiums to cover the cost of the plans, including the medical network and service expectations of our customers,” Aetna said in the letter to insurance commissioner Therese Goldsmith.

According to online documents, Aetna had requested an average monthly premium of $394 a month for one of its plans and the agency had approved an average rate of $281 per month.

Aetna Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini said earlier this week during a conference call to announce financial results that it was closely looking at its plans for the exchanges since buying Coventry.

Like most other large U.S. insurers, Aetna has taken a cautious approach to the new products which must include a broader set of benefits and be sold to all people regardless of their health.

Doug Ross blogged about the cost of health insurance in Ohio a while back. He linked to this article from Forbes magazine.

Excerpt:

[O]n Thursday, the Ohio Department of Insurance announced that, based on the rates submitted by insurers to date, the average individual-market health insurance premium in 2014 will come in around $420, “representing an increase of 88 percent” relative to 2013…

[...]It’s called “rate shock,” but it’s not shocking to people who understand the economics of health insurance. In August 2011, Milliman, one of the nation’s leading actuarial firms, predicted that Obamacare would increase individual-market premiums in Ohio by 55 to 85 percent. This past March, the Society of Actuaries projected that the law would increase premiums in that market by 81 percent…

[...]What are the drivers of the increase? According to Milliman, the two biggest drivers are (1) risk pool composition changes, such as forcing the young to subsidize the old, and the healthy to subsidize the sick; and (2) Obamacare’s required expansion of insurance benefits, particularly its mandated reductions in deductibles and co-pays…

Doug makes the point that we already knew what happens to the cost of health care when government imposes price controls – we get a shortage of health care, and prices go up. We knew that. Obamacare is nothing but a further intervention into free market to impose more price controls. Guess what? It’s going to do the exact same thing. The only way out of this mess is going to be for government to ration care by reducing the number of doctors and delaying treatment with waiting lists – exactly what happens today in Canada.

During the election campaign, Obama promised everyone that his health care policy would result in lower premiums. What reasons did we have to believe him when he said that? Did he have a record of competence on health care policy, like Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal does? Did he have a career in private sector health care to draw on, like Mark Bertolini does? No. Obama had nothing but talk. And we were too busy watching television to care.

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