Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Woman gets $36,000 medical bill because hospital not covered by Obamacare gold plan

From KOMO News.

Excerpt:

Alex Szablya just wants the best health care she can get for her children. So she got a gold plan, the highest level possible with the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.  She picked a plan with Lifewise, an affiliate of Premera Blue Cross.

In early March, her 16-year old daughter had a medical emergency. Alex drove her to the nearest hospital, which was Seattle Children’s. Alex says doctors there felt her daughter’s situation was so dire she needed to be admitted to the hospital immediately. She was there for nine days.

Then came news that her stay, which involved specialized mental health care for adolescents, was going to cost $36,000 and her insurance would only pay for half because Seattle Children’s was considered on out-of-network facility.

She thought by going for the highest premium PPO gold level coverage offered the state exchange, a majority of the bill would have been covered.

“I’m paying a premium for that and I’m willing to pay that premium, but I expect to get services that are not so limited by the insurance companies,” she said.

She’s not alone. Seattle Children’s says its treated more than 125 patients who are not covered by policies offered by the exchange. In October, the hospital filed suit against the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, claiming the state office failed to ensure adequate network coverage in plans from its biggest providers like Premera Blue Cross.

“Because Seattle Children’s was not included in the major plans, children coming for care here were going to be denied care and in fact that’s what we are seeing,” said Dr. Sandy Melzer, senior vice president and chief strategy officer for Seattle Children’s.

Alex says Lifewise offered similar alternative care at other hospitals but it required traveling a three hour drive to Yakima or a two hour trip and ferry ride to Bremerton.  Children’s is a five minute car ride from her north Seattle home.

“This limited network is preventing me to get the specialty services that my children and I need in this community,” Aex said.  She’s now facing an $18,000 hospital bill she wasn’t prepared for.

Here’s a sketch from Chris Rock (whom I can’t stand) explaining the Obamacare Gold Plan:

Well, I don’t see why this is a problem, because the Obamacare Gold Plan covers all the birth control pills that she could possibly need, and at any hospital. It’s Sandra Fluke approved! Why isn’t this greedy reactionary Seattle woman thanking Obama for saving her from all those worthless private health care plans that existed before Obamacare? After all, the only reason that Obama lied to us about lowering premiums, keeping our doctors and our health plans is because those old private insurance plans were garbage compared to the Robitussin Gold Plan. 

Please can we elect someone who understands health care policy in 2016?

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Man signs up for Obamacare and goes into debt $50,000 paying for treatment

Story from Washington Free Beacon.

Excerpt:

Cancer patient Tony Angran has quite the fighting spirit: he is battling Stage 3 cancer and trying desperately to find funds to pay for his new Obamacare plan.

Angran… was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer of the esophagus had insurance, but due to a previous heart condition, the insurance did not cover the treatments he needed for his cancer. He was notified of his insurance plan’s limitations just moments before receiving life-saving chemotherapy.

“One of the workers came and said, ‘I need to talk to you,’ and so I went and talked to her and she says, ‘We found out that your insurance does not include chemo,’” Angran told WHO-IA.

Over the past two months, the Angrans have depleted their savings account and accrued $50,000 in debt to pay for his treatments.

They signed up for Obamacare in hopes of finding better, less expensive coverage, but have been dismayed with the price of the health insurance offered by the exchange. It will cost them more than $800 a month.

The insurance plan they enrolled in will not begin for another two weeks, leaving them essentially hanging by a thread.

Tony Angran has since lost the ability to swallow, now eating through a feeding tube, and he is no longer able to take his necessary heart medicine.

A Pastor, Angran has dedicated his life to the services others and has shown compassion through his ministry. He says that Obamacare, which promises to alleviate the financial burden associated with health insurance and aims to provide quality care for Americans, lacks compassion.

“I’m sitting here with Stage 3 Esophageal Cancer, and they’re taking me to the finance person and saying, ‘How are you going to pay for this?’” he said.

The Angrans have until the start of April to pay $7000- their copay under their new Obamacare health insurance plan.

Meanwhile, Democrat Senate majority leader Harry Reid says that all of these horror stories are untrue.

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Obamacare enrollment of young adults about 50 percent below target

If you remember, Obamacare works by forcing young people (especially young men) to pay for care they don’t need and won’t use. This lowers the costs of health care for younger women and especially for older, sicker people. The target is 2.7 million enrollments of people from age 18-34.  But are young people signing up for this plan in numbers like that?

Investors Business Daily has the answer.

Excerpt:

Data through five months of the open-enrollment period show that slightly fewer than 10% of eligible 18- to 34-year-olds have signed up for coverage. Among young men, roughly 1 in 12 has signed up.

The Kaiser Family Foundation puts the ObamaCare-eligible population at 28.6 million, with 40%, or about 11.4 million, in the 18-to-34 age group.

Compared to the size of the potential market, the first-year target of 7 million enrollees, including about 2.8 million young adults, was relatively modest.

Yet it’s now clear that the initial target is well out of reach. The Avalere Health consultancy projected that sign-ups — paid and unpaid — will end March at around 5.4 million.

Through February, not quite 1.1 million young adults had selected an exchange plan. Among this group, the male-female breakdown was about 45% vs. 55%. That matters because women at child-rearing age are more likely to run up big medical bills.

In February, 268,000 18- to 34-year-olds signed up, so a decent upsurge in March could lift the total close to 1.4 million. But that’s before winnowing out the people who don’t pay.

Anecdotal reports from a handful of states and large insurers now point to a paid rate of about 85%, possibly lower.

While that could improve before the March 31 deadline, there’s reason to suspect that the paid percentage might lag among young adults, since they are showing more reticence about signing up in the first place.

Once the unpaid group is subtracted, it appears likely that young-adult enrollees will fall at least 50% below the first-year target The White House had initially set that target at 2.7 million.

[...]The age mix is important because the exchanges charge younger people higher premiums relative to pre-ObamaCare individual market insurance, so that older people can be charged less without negating insurer profits.

If young adults make up just 25% of the ObamaCare exchange population, it would wipe out much, but not all, of the 3% to 4% profit margin insurers typically allow for in setting premiums, Kaiser Family Foundation experts figure.

Yet that calculation assumes the health status of those who do sign up is about average. In general, an insured pool comprising a smaller share of the eligible group raises concern that the covered group will be costlier than average.

So they are expecting 2.7 million, but even with a late surge of enrollments, they are only going to get 1.4 million young people. That’s bad for Democrats, but I am happy that young men are not signing up for this law. They have nothing to gain from it. Maybe this whole mess will be worth it if young men understand that big government rides on the backs of young men. They are expected to pay the taxes, but without getting any of the benefits. Sex changes? IVF? Maternity? Well woman exam? Birth control pills? We don’t use that. We don’t mind paying for that for our wives, but we don’t want to pay for it for complete strangers.

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Obama silent as Venezuelan government violently represses democratic opposition

Socialism in Venezuela

Socialism in Venezuela

From the Heritage Foundation.

Excerpt:

Thousands of supporters and opponents of Venezuela’s socialist government have taken to the streets this past week. Initiated by student groups, the protestors are voicing their grievances against soaring crime rates, high inflation, a shortage of basic goods, and a lack of political and economic freedom.

All the while, the Obama Administration has been relatively silent. The occasional press release from the State Department uses the same recycled lines of “deep concern” that we’ve come to expect from an indifferent Administration. Not even the expulsion of three U.S. diplomats Sunday evening could elicit a stronger statement.

So far, three people have been killed and hundreds have been arrested and tortured. Some even disappeared thanks to government security forces. Videos, pictures, and eyewitness testimony blame the governing regime for the deaths of two of the victims. Armed with automatic weapons, tear gas, grenades and even tanks, the military and police are using all means to silence the democratic opposition.

Much like the Arab Spring, demonstrators have taken to social media—mainly Twitter—to relay information to the international community.

Yet a few days into the demonstrations, the Venezuelan government shut down Twitter and one of the last private cable broadcasters, Colombia’s NTN24. The government has even called for the arrest of leading opposition figurehead Leopoldo Lopez.

At the helm of this sinking ship is Venezuela’s leader, Nicolas Maduro. The former union leader and bus driver-turned-ordained president, he was handpicked by his successor Hugo Chavez.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, CNS News reported on the latest developments.

Excerpt:

Violent clashes flared up across Venezuela on Wednesday as the nation waited to learn what charges jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez will face for organizing mass protests that have breathed new life into the movement challenging socialist rule in the oil-rich nation.

[...]There was no immediate word on whether there were any new casualties, after a week of demonstrations and clashes that have resulted in at least six deaths and more than 100 injuries.

[...]The president also said he would take harsh measures in Tachira, an opposition stronghold on the western border with Colombia where there have been fierce clashes between National Guard troops and opposition protesters. Maduro said he is prepared to declare a “state of exception,” a form of martial law.

“If I have to decree a state of exception for Tachira and send in the tanks, I am ready to do it,” he said.

[...][I]n Valencia, the third largest city… National Guard troops fired rubber bullets and unknown gunman on motorcycles fired live rounds at protesters. Genesis Carmona, a 22-year-old university student who had been Miss Tourism 2013 for the state of Carabobo, was struck in the head and killed by a bullet, a death that reverberated in a country that prizes beauty queens.

You can always count on big government socialists to resort to violence when their communist policies fail.

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How well are Democrat economic policies working in Venezuela and Argentina?

Are Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez very different?

Are Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez very different?

I have been reflecting sorrowfully on some of the outright lies spoken by the President in his recent State of the Union address. I am thinking specifically of lies that are almost universally rejected by economists across the ideological spectrum – lies so obvious that you would have to be an illiterate peasant living in a village in Venezuela or Argentina in order to believe it.

Three of his lies stand out – the minimum wage lie, the global warming lie and women pay gap lie. Each of these lies is as false as saying that the Sun goes around the Earth, or that the Earth is flat. What bothers me is not that the President spoke them, because I expect someone with no scientific background and no private sector experience to say things that are not true. But what bothers me is that the American electorate is now incapable of identifying such obvious lies.

Let’s take a look at this article from the leftist Washington Post.

Excerpt:

On aisle seven, among the diapers and fabric softener, the socialist dreams of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez looked as ragged as the toilet paper display.

Employees at the Excelsior Gama supermarket had set out a load of extra-soft six-roll packs so large that it nearly blocked the aisle. To stock the shelves with it would have been pointless. Soon word spread that the long-awaited rolls had arrived, and despite a government-imposed limit of one package per person, the checkout lines stretched all the way to the decimated dairy case in the back of the store.

[...]Pathetic, in a country with the world’s largest petroleum reserves and oil prices at nearly $95 a barrel, yet unable to supply basic goods because of its crumbling local currency and a shortage of U.S. dollars.

[...]Nearly a year after Chávez’s death of complications from cancer at age 58, his hand­picked successor, Nicolás Maduro, is struggling to contain food shortages, spiraling inflation and rampant crime.

The arrival of basic staples such as cooking oil, chicken, flour or milk brings Venezuelans running to supermarkets and touches off surreal mob scenes, even as the government imposes price caps and rationing to prevent hoarding.

Maduro squeaked past opposition candidate Henrique Capriles in April’s presidential election, and Maduro’s United Socialist Party won enough races in Dec. 8 local elections to push back against perceptions that Chávez loyalists were deserting him. Just before the vote, with television cameras rolling, he sent soldiers into an appliance store accused of price gouging and ordered huge markdowns on televisions and microwaves. Apparently it gave his party a final boost at the polls.

There’s not a dime worth of difference in terms of vision between the Democrats in the USA and the socialists in Venezuela. The same people who think that sending armed troops to nationalize industry in Venezuela are nationalizing health care in this country right now. We will eventually see the same lines for health care that form in Canada and the UK. When you tax, regulate, and even attack those who provide services and products, you get shortages. Period. And yet big government redistribution of wealth seems to be winning over low-information voters in Venezuela and in the United States.

Are Barack Obama and Cristina Kirchner very different?

Are Barack Obama and Cristina Kirchner very different?

Venezuela has 56% currency inflation right now thanks to “stimulus” spending, but that is not the only place where Democrat policies are in force. Consider this article from the leftist Guardian about Argentina, where Democrat “stimulus” spending policies have led to rising prices of consumer goods.

Excerpt:

Every morning around 8am, the stern-faced cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich stands behind a podium at the Casa Rosada presidential palace for a televised verbal blast at the perceived enemies of the “victorious decade” presided over by the current president and her husband, the late Nestor Kirchner. Without naming them, Capitanich lashes out against the “visible and invisible” politicians, labour representatives, businessmen and journalists he blames for the sudden collapse of the peso and the explosive price increases that followed the forced devaluation.

Argentina’s economic earthquake has placed a huge question mark over the political future of the stateswoman so powerful she is referred to as Queen Cristina by both the opposition press and her supporters. In the past week, Capitanich has attempted to pin the price lurch on faceless foreign speculators, whom he accuses of a “strategy of domination” to gain control of Argentina’s oil and freshwater reserves, pandering to the widespread belief here, often underlined by the president in her speeches, that “vultures” of the leading industrial countries harbour secret plans to siphon off natural reserves from this resource-rich South American nation.

Capitanich has also blamed “anti-patriotic” farmers and large retailers, allegedly in league with independent, corruption-probing journalists, of fuelling price rises by “generating psychological action of permanent destabilisation” against Fernández de Kirchner.

But critics of the government point to inept administration and populist spending by a government that considers itself to be leading a revolution against Argentina’s erstwhile oligarchy.

Just like Obama, the socialists in Argentina are always looking to blame others for the problems they cause with their own policies. The problem is never bad policies that attack job creating businesses, it’s always a lack of loyalty and patriotism. We are disloyal to our economically-illiterate elites who only want to help us, they say. Leftist economic policies can work if we just believe in the leader, they say. And many ignorant peasants believe that, even when the failure is right in front of them.

Not just in Venezuela and Argentina

Of course in America, we have a different kind of policy failure. We have Obamacare. Conservatives warned the public about it for years, but our peasants went ahead and voted for it anyway when we re-elected a know-nothing in 2012. He said that we could keep our health care plans and that we could keep our doctors. He said he would reduce the cost of health care. And we believed him. We believed him because the uneducated stand-up comedians we watched on the Comedy Channel made us believe him.

Take a look at the peasants realizing that not every piece of happy talk read from a teleprompter by a celebrity is automatically true:

Human Events explains the story behind that video.

Excerpt:

All of Barack Obama’s phony rhetoric about how wonderfully the Affordable Care Act is chugging along means less than nothing compared to the cold reality that awaited the employees of a Pennsylvania company, as a local news station captured their stunned reactions to ObamaCare price hikes in real time.

[...][They] learned they’d be facing premium hikes of over 30 percent, with higher deductibles.  Even their co-payments for doctor visits have doubled.  And the numbers hitting these good people aren’t as bad as the premiums and deductibles slamming into other ObamaCare victims around the country.  The great second wave of damage in the larger group insurance market is about to get under way.

“I don’t know how President Obama thinks he’s helping us,” one employee sighs, “because we can’t afford this, we can’t afford to pay these co-pays, to pay these deductibles on what we’re making.”

Another repeats the sarcastic but accurate observation made by ObamaCare critics since day one: “there’s nothing affordable” about the Affordable Care Act.  It is observed that average people can’t just cough up three hundred dollars a month, because that’s a big chunk of a rent check or mortgage payment.  One shell-shocked woman, looking at a $400 monthly premium increase plus a $4000 deductible, confesses she has no idea how she’s going to pay it.

[...]Needless to say, none of these people will be invited to come on stage with President Obama and talk about their ACA experiences.  They’re learning the hard way that political control of an industry means distant commissars picking winners and losers.  You can do everything right and still get socked by the biggest middle-class tax increase in history, because the imperial President and his court have decided other people need lower premiums, and you must be squeezed to pay for it.

We have a generation of people who have been educated to value rhetoric from celebrities over the Constitution and sound economics in general. We must not think that we can be as ignorant as South American peasants now and avoid the consequences of that ignorance. We need to turn off the TV and pick up the Thomas Sowell book.

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