Category: Health Alerts

Ohamacare’s Robin Hood Scheme and the Socioeconomics of Health

Robin Hood was a mythical figure from 12th Century England whose legend became famous for stealing from the rich to help the poor. His legend wasn’t lost on Obamacare proponents, who incorporated the idea into health plan regulations.  As I’ve explained in the past, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) had two primary goals. The first was to expand health coverage to the uninsured. The second goal was to force everyone into health plans where premiums could not rise or fall based on health status.  Purportedly, prior to Obamacare a small segment of the public could qualify for affordable coverage due to health concerns that made them unprofitable customers or their health plan rather costly. The number was relatively small, about 4 million individuals out of a society of 320 million by some estimates. Most could have gotten coverage, but not on terms they were willing to pay. Obama care was intended to “fix” that problem by banning discounts to favorable risks or people with healthy lifestyles.

Huge Health Jobs Hike, Especially in Hospitals

BLSThis morning‘s tepid jobs report (Employment Situation Summary) was dominated by health services, which added 37,000 jobs in January. That is just one percentage point shy of one quarter of all nonfarm civilian jobs added (Table I).

Within health care, hospitals dominated, accounting for 24,000 of the 37,000 increase – almost two thirds. (This is interesting because there has been a slowdown in health construction starts. So, there must be a lot of slack in already built facilities.) Hospitals are generally inefficient locations of care, so the pickup in employment in January is actually of concern because it likely indicates more expensive care.

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Affordable Health Plans Have Gone Extinct; Obamacare Killed them Off

Obamacare declared open season on affordable health plans. Qualifying health plans must now provide a costly essential benefit package. There are also limits placed on how much premiums can differ between older applicants and younger ones; between men and women; and sick and healthy. Moreover, at a minimum all but a few plans must cover 60 percent of all medical costs with no lifetime or annual caps on benefits. These rules may sound benign, but the results are skyrocketing premiums.

Obamacare’s Premium Hikes Are Much Bigger Than You’ve Been Told

Healthcaredotgov(A version of this Health Alert was published by Forbes.)

Yesterday was the last date for open enrollment in Obamacare’s third season. Since October, at least six independent and credible sources have confirmed rate increases will be in the double digits. However, these are gross premium hikes. Net premium hikes paid by enrollees are distorted by tax credits paid to insurers. These badly designed tax credits have a number of perverse consequences. It is widely understood that they impose disincentives to work.

What is less well understood is that the tax credits are so badly designed that they impose a ratchet effect causing net premium hikes greater than the gross premium hikes. According to new research published by the National Center for Policy Analysis, this effect is concentrated among Obamacare enrollees in the lowest income brackets.

Colonel “Bernie” Sanders Half-Baked Recipe for Health Care

Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders rolled out his proposal for a single-payer Medicare-for-All health system, similar to what’s found in Canada and Britain. Sanders’ proposal is a fairytale of wishful thinking and Robin Hood schemes. Whereas Colonel Sanders is famous for a secret recipe with 14 herbs and spices, Senator Sanders indigestible concoction has only one secret ingredient – tax dollars to fund socialized Medicine.

Obamacare Joins Pile of Unfunded Liabilities

index1(A version of this Health Alert was published by the Orange County Register.)

The congressional vote last month to fund the government through next September, while extending some special-interest tax breaks and introducing some new ones, was the first time a majority of Republicans voted in favor of Obamacare. It looks like Congress’ alternative to Obamacare is deficit-financed Obamacare.

While failing to cut one penny of Obamacare spending, the so-called “taxibus” (tax extenders plus omnibus spending) cut almost $40 billion in Obamacare tax revenue by “temporarily” delaying three taxes for a year or two: the medical device excise tax, the health insurance fee and the excise tax on high-cost employer benefit plans.

Make no mistake: all three taxes are harmful and should be eliminated. However, just kicking them down the road without making any effort to cut Obamacare spending does nothing to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Trouble Paying Medical Bills: Uninsured Do Better Than Obamacare Insured

iStock_000007047153XSmall(A version of this Health Alert was published by Forbes.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics conducts thorough research on health insurance coverage. Recently published early results of the latest National Health Interview Survey have been misrepresented in the media to show that Obamacare is reducing the number of uninsured Americans, and that the number of people having trouble paying for health care has dropped as a result.

Actually, this is not the case. The data show some factor other than Obamacare has caused the survey’s respondents to state that they are having less trouble paying medical bills than in previous years. We know this because those who remained uninsured improved their ability to pay medical bills more than those who got coverage through Obamacare.

Only 45 million Americans under 65 years old reported they were in families with problems paying medical bills in 2015. In 2011, the number was 57 million. That drop of 12 million corresponds with a significant increase in health insurance coverage. The number without insurance dropped by 18 million, from 46 million to 28 million, while the population increased by about three million.

So, it looks like two thirds of the 18 million people insured after Obamacare took hold have no more worries about medical bills. Hooray for Obamacare, right? Not at all. In fact, it is those who remained uninsured who account for the biggest share of the decrease in the number of Americans with troubles paying medical bills.

Unaffordable Care Act: Obamacare Deadbeats Make a Bad Program Worse

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was intended to solve a problem — affordable coverage for people with preexisting conditions — using an age-old strategy referred to as OPM (other peoples’ money). For instance, ACA regulations require insurers to accept all applicants — including unprofitable ones — at rates not adjusted for their health risk. Premiums can vary somewhat based on age, but not health status. By design, Obamacare is a bad deal for most people, who are charged much more than their expected costs. In theory his allows people with health problems to pay less than they otherwise would. The problem is these schemes never work. Moreover, there are perverse incentives for individuals to cheat — and wait to enroll until they are in need expensive services.

California Over Charged Federal Medicaid by $20.3 Million in 2010

This post was authored by NCPA research associate Belinda Silva.

A Federal investigation discovered California withdrew more funds from its Medicaid account than justified. The state also obtained funds for expenditures it failed to report. Even after a direct demand from the Feds, California has yet to take appropriate corrective actions for the $20.3 million overcharge. Instead, state agency staff moved federal funds from other accounts, erroneously claiming those actions satisfied the shortfall.

Administrative Fixes Won’t Rescue Obamacare’s Broken Exchanges

Slavitt(A version of this Health Alert was published by Forbes.)

The healthcare sector is digesting an important speech by the man tasked with rescuing Obamacare’s exchanges. Andy Slavitt, formerly of UnitedHealth Group, joined the Administration in June 2014. Last February, he took over the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Yesterday, Mr. Slavitt spoke at the J.P. Morgan health conference in San Francisco, using the opportunity to announce some important new initiatives, including responding to the failure of Obamacare’s exchanges. Although sugar-coating his diagnosis, Mr. Slavitt clearly knows exchanges are in trouble. Too many old and sick people are signing up; and healthier and higher-earning and people (who do not benefit from tax credits which discount premiums) are staying away or dropping out, despite penalties for doing so.