Category: New Health Care Law

Obamacare Will Devour Your Pay Raise

Mercer’s latest National Survey of Employer Sponsored Health Plans reports that the cost of employer-based benefits will jump significantly in 2015

Employers in the U.S. are predicting that health benefit cost per employee will rise by 3.9 percent on average in 2015, preliminary results from a new survey by Mercer reveal. Cost growth slowed to 2.1 percent in 2013, a 15-year low, but appears to be edging back up. Moreover, a higher percentage of employees signing up for coverage through the worksite could be a wildcard driving costs higher.

The projected increase for 2015 reflects actions employers plan to take to manage cost. If they make no changes to their plans for 2015, they predict that costs will rise by 5.9 percent on average. However, only 32 percent of respondents are simply renewing their existing plans without making changes.

Commonwealth Fund: Most Who Visited Obamacare Exchanges Rated Them Fair or Poor

The media have cheered the latest Commonwealth Fund survey of Americans who have tried to enroll in Obamacare plans on health-insurance exchanges. For those who actually read the report, the results are significantly worse for Obamacare than championed by the press release.

To put it bluntly: Visiting an Obamacare health insurance exchange to choose coverage is an experience you would not wish on your worst enemy. Things have gotten a little better during the year: Last October, 61 percent of respondents reported that it was “very difficult or impossible” to “find plans they needed and could afford by end of open enrollment,” and this had dropped in the April-June quarter to 54 percent (Exhibit 2). That is a significant improvement — but it is also a tricky question.

Obamacare Has Eliminated 350,000 Jobs, Cut Small-Biz Payrolls $22.6 Billion

New research published by the American Action Forum further corroborates our conclusion that Obamacare is harming U.S. employment. In a new scholarly paper, Ben Gitis and colleagues estimate that:

…Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations are reducing small business (20 to 99 workers) pay by at least $22.6 billion annually. In addition, ACA regulations and rising premiums have reduced employment by more than 350,000 jobs nationwide, with five states losing more than 20,000 jobs.

We found that, on average, employees who work a full year for a business with 50-99 employees lose $935 annually due to ACA regulations, while employees of businesses with 20-49 employees, on average lose $827.50 annually.

Laszewski, Back From Summer Vacation, Still Predicts Obamacare Train Wreck

health-insuranceIf I have one complaint about the summer of 2014, it was the absence of health insurance expert Bob Laszewski from his blog since July 31. Well, he came back last Sunday, and the summer break did not temper his criticism of Obamacare.

Obamacare supporters have applauded announcements of relatively moderate rate increases for 2015. Laszewski points out that the name of the game for insurers is market share. The risk-mitigation mechanisms that Obamacare erected (about which I recently testified at a Congressional committee hearing) largely immunize insurers from losses for three years, so premiums do not really indicate how much Obamacare is costing. Here’s Laszewski:

Obamacare Tax Merry-Go-Round

Get a load of how Obamacare health insurance premium taxes work. According to Medicaid Health Plans of America: “This situation results in the federal government taxing itself and taxing state governments to fund the higher Medicaid managed care payments required to fund the ACA health insurer fee”.

It look me a few times to get my head around that. What it means is that Obamacare levies a premium tax on private health plans — including those to contract to provide Medicaid coverage. So, the federal and state governments, which are Medicaid’s payers, pay those taxes. USA Today has summarized what the taxes will cost in some large states:

Obamacare Exchanges are as Broken as Ever

Let’s go into the Labor Day weekend with a reminder of something that the Administration would like us to forget: Obamacare’s exchanges are as broken as they ever were.

From October through March, the media enjoyed reporting on the countless glitches people were suffering as they tried to apply for Obamacare coverage at either healthcare.gov or a state exchange. Since the Administration announced that it had slightly exceeded its target enrollment, with 8.1 million people signed up, it decided to stop reporting subsequent enrollment in the exchanges.

Since April, these stories have receded from the headlines; but you don’t have to look very far to see that nothing has really been fixed in the exchanges. Here are a few stories from the last day or two:

Where’s the Obamacare Health Spending Boom?

A version of this post appeared at Forbes.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has released the second estimate of second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP). There is good news — especially for those of us concerned with health policy.

First, the BEA seems to have figured out how to measure health spending under Obamacare, no longer giving huge updates to initial estimates, like it did in the first quarter. The second estimate is little revised from the advanced estimate: Real GDP increased by 4.2 percent (annualized) versus an advanced estimate of 4.0 percent; and health spending accounted for just 0.05 percent of the increase, versus an advanced estimate of 0.08 percent.

Can Taxpayers Recover Hundreds Of Millions of Dollars from Obamacare Exchanges?

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has just released a report on the contracts issued to private vendors to set up the federal pieces of Obamacare’s disastrous health insurance exchanges. This is only the first of a series of reports, and limits itself to describing the extent of the problem, not recommending solutions.

The OIG identified 60 contracts that started between January 2009 and January 2014. (That start date is a little mysterious, because Obamacare was not signed into law until March 2010.) The total estimated value of the contracts, when they were signed, was $1.7 billion.

Obamacare vs. America’s National Pastime

In case you still doubt that Obamacare’s costly mandates are causing employers to cut workers’ hours, you need to learn what it is doing to the game of baseball.

Last Tuesday’s game between the San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs was marred by a farcical unrolling of the tarp when rain started pouring down. According to the Chicago Sun-Times:

The staffing issues that hamstrung the grounds crew Tuesday during a mad dash with the tarp under a sudden rainstorm were created in part by a wide-ranging reorganization last winter of game-day personnel, job descriptions and work limits designed to keep the seasonal workers — including much of the grounds crew — under 130 hours per month, according to numerous sources with direct knowledge.

Obamacare Enrollment is Shrinking

After Obamacare’s first open enrollment ended, the Administration stopped releasing enrollment figures. Jed Graham (no relation) of Investors Business Daily has been following the health insurers, and has come to a startling conclusion — Obamacare enrollment is dropping:

The nation’s third-largest health insurer had 720,000 people sign up for exchange coverage as of May 20, a spokesman confirmed to IBD. At the end of June, it had fewer than 600,000 paying customers. Aetna expects to fall to “just over 500,000″ by the end of the year.

Cigna (NYSE:CI) said that it expects its individual market customers, including more than 100,000 in the exchanges, to “move from 300,000 down to 280,000 in that range,” Cigna CEO David Cordani said in a conference call.