Category: New Health Care Law

ObamaCare in the Granite State

The only exchange option afforded to consumers comes from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, a unit of WellPoint. The insurer built a narrow network that lowered premiums by 25% or 30% while still complying with ObamaCare’s other mandates…

…Of the 26 in-state acute care hospitals, 10 were booted from Anthem’s network (not counting emergency services). Even the state capital of Concord was shut out, and the coverage gaps are wider because so many primary care and specialist practices are now owned by health systems.

The Granite State didn’t lack for insurers before. Anthem dominated with 40.7% of all private policies, but strong rivals included Harvard Pilgrim (20.4%), Cigna (18.7%) and Aetna (7.8%). Anthem did have a 76% share of the individual market, but aren’t the exchanges supposed to increase competition? (WSJ)

Why ObamaCare is Never Likely to be Popular

Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg View:

Caduceus with First-aid KitFor most of us, ObamaCare isn’t that visible, and the benefits often are the least visible part. The biggest winners are probably those on expanded Medicaid, and I’m confident many of them don’t know they were helped by ObamaCare. Don’t expect it to get better; it’s going to be less and less likely that people will identify the benefits they are receiving with “ObamaCare.” In five years, plenty of those in the exchanges won’t realize that under the old system they would have had a pre-existing condition that would have barred them from being insured. Even if they realize that such a restriction once existed, they almost certainly won’t realize that their minor medical condition would have qualified.

Given all that, once Republican opposition guaranteed that the ACA would be controversial it was likely that it would poll badly, even if it worked well — and even if it worked so well it couldn’t be repealed.

Large Employer Cost of ObamaCare

Umoney-crossroadsntil now, the mainstream media focus on ObamaCare’s blows has been on individuals and small businesses. But large employers will not avoid the costs of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to a new study published by the American Health Policy Institute:

  • The cost of the ACA to large U.S. employers (10,000 or more employees) is estimated at $480 to $590 per employee per year, over the next ten years.
  • These large employers will see overall ACA-related cost hikes of between $163 million and $200 million per employer, or an increase of 4.3 percent in 2016 and 8.4 percent in 2023 over and above what they would otherwise be spending.
  • The total cost of the ACA to all large U.S. employers over the next ten years is estimated at between $151 billion to $186 billion.

As Many As 11 Million Workers — Maybe More — Have an Incentive to Work Less Because of the ACA

Business DiscussionUnder the Affordable Care Act, between six and eleven million workers would increase their disposable income by cutting their weekly work hours. About half of them would primarily do so by making themselves eligible for the ACA’s federal assistance with health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket health costs, despite the fact that subsidized workers are not able to pay health premiums with pre-tax dollars. The remainder would do so primarily by relieving their employers from penalties, or the threat of penalties, pursuant to the ACA’s employer mandate. Women, especially those who are not married, are more likely than men to have their short-term financial reward to full-time work eliminated by the ACA. Additional workers, beyond the six to eleven million, could increase their disposable income by using reduced hours to climb one of the “cliffs” that are part of the ACA’s mapping from household income to federal assistance.

Casey Mulligan at NBER.

Is ObamaCare More Federalist Than We Thought?

According to the New York Times‘ Sharon Gay Stoltenberg and Robert Pear:

j0189571For consumers at least, the state of health care under the national law depends almost entirely on where a person lives.

The online insurance marketplace in Oregon is such a technological mess that residents have been signing up for health coverage by hand. In Texas, political opposition to President Obama’s health law is so strong that some residents believe, erroneously, that the program is banned in their state.

But in Connecticut, a smoothly functioning website, run by competent managers, has successfully enrolled so many patients that officials are offering to sell their expertise to states like Maryland, which is struggling to sign people up for coverage.

In some states that have expanded Medicaid, like Kentucky…the biggest chunk of the newly insured are Medicaid patients. More than 300,000 Kentuckians are enrolled in new health coverage, the state says, 80 percent of them through Medicaid.

Obama Says ACA Was a Mistake; Asks the Public to Forgive Him

April fools.

Salaries in Colorado’s ObamaCare Insurance Exchange: Half of Employees Earn Over $80,000, Top Fifth Over $100,000

According to the Denver Post: “The exchange also provides a lucrative retirement plan, contributing as much as 10 percent of an employee’s salary for retirement.”

Patty Fontneau, the Executive Director of the exchange, earns “$35,000 to $40,000 more than many of the members of the governor’s Cabinet.”

Currently, most of the money comes from the federal government. But not for long: “Connect for Health Colorado charges a 1.4 percent fee on each policy sold through the exchange. The fee and other revenue sources will begin covering the exchange’s expenses, including salaries, starting next year.”

The article quotes our fellow blogger, Linda Gorman: “This is a bunch of people really responsible for nothing other than getting government grants. These are nice, easy positions from an administration that wanted (the health exchanges) to work.”

Imperial Presidency

index1The Obama administration has decided that the sequester’s mandatory spending cuts no longer apply to part of ObamaCare.

The health care law provides subsidies to help low-income people cover some of their out-of-pocket costs. Last year, the administration said those subsidies were taking a 7 percent cut because of the sequester, which imposed across-the-board reductions in federal spending.

But now, the White House has changed its mind. It removed the cost-sharing subsidies from its list of programs that are subject to the sequester, eliminating the 7 percent cut for 2015.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which noticed the change, said the reversal would likely restore about $560 million to the subsidies — and require $560 million in cuts to other programs to make up for it. (National Journal)

The cost-sharing subsidies are expected to total $8 billion this year and $156 billion over the next decade.

Disillusioned ObamaCare Supporter Would Prefer His Dog’s Health Insurance over His ObamaCare Policy

In the New York Times, veteran reporter Eric L. Wee describes the experience of Nelson, his golden Labrador retriever:

Nelson’s doctors found the bulge in his abdomen on a Monday. An ultrasound and CT scan showed that a mass was crowding out his stomach and kidneys.

Nelson’s health insurance covered 90 percent of the costs after a reasonable $500 deductible. I’m happy he has such good health coverage. He’s my dog. And I’m jealous of him.

My 11-year-old brown Labrador was getting the kind of treatment that I could only dream of. I wanted to go to PetCare. I wanted pet insurance.

Here’s why:

First, we were notified that we would be kicked out of our existing $263-a-month Anthem Blue Cross plan because it didn’t meet the minimum standards of the new law…(Under ObamaCare) the least expensive premium for a couple like us in our 40s would be about $620 a month.

The gulf between my health care world and my dog’s was driven home the other week…I knew from past experience that I probably needed a prescription for antibiotics, so I tried frantically to find a medical facility that would take our new Covered California Anthem Blue Cross bronze plan. When I did, they said it would be three weeks before I could see a doctor.

Around the same time, Nelson developed a skin infection. I got an appointment at the vet’s the next day. They prescribed an antibiotic and did some blood tests.

Zeke Goes Off the Rails

Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm’s brother and one of the key ObamaCare advisors, has been on quite a roll lately. Consider some of the headlines just from the past few weeks or so –

  • “Insurance Companies as We Know Them Are About to Die” (New Republic)
  • “In Health Care, Choice is Overrated” (The New York Times)
  • “You Don’t Need a Doctor for Every Part of Your Health Care” (CNSNews write up of a Bill O’Reilly interview)
  • “Inside the Making of ObamaCare” (Wall Street Journal)
  • “Progress with Caveats: At least 12 million have received coverage directly through a provision of the law” (Wall Street Journal)

In every instance his message is that he knows better than you do what is good for you. He knows a better way to do insurance than you do, he knows that you don’t really need a choice of doctor or hospital, he knows that you don’t really need a doctor at all for most services, and he knows that “things are actually going well” for ObamaCare despite the fact that you and most Americans don’t like it.

One has to wonder what is going on with this guy. Why is he so confident in offending so many Americans? Either he is triumphant in the idea that what we think doesn’t matter anymore because Obama is firmly in control of our future, or he knows that ObamaCare is such a disaster that he can finally say any damned thing he wants because none of it will ever happen anyway.