There is a 95% chance you are washing your hands incorrectly. (For males, its worse.)
Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting.
The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive. (Politico)
It is a whole lot easier to get people to kill or vilify other people when they think the opposition is less-than-human.
During World War I the Wilson administration called Germans “the Huns” to dehumanize them and undermine any allegiance German immigrants might have for their country of origin. Calling the foes “Japs” in World War II made it easier for the Roosevelt Administration to bomb civilian targets and place American citizens of Japanese origin in internment camps. It is notable that in both cases, these were extremely “progressive” administrations.
So, it may not be that surprising that during the current progressive administration the opposition has been dismissed as “racists” and “tea baggers.” Who cares about protecting the rights of racist tea baggers? They are illegitimate. They are not worth paying attention to. They are not your friends and neighbors; they are people to be shunned. Go ahead and audit them. Don’t allow them to organize or get tax exempt status ― their views are beyond the pale ― voicing racist tea bagger ideas is probably a hate crime anyway. So it goes in these days of total political war.
Still, it is jarring when the same approach bleeds into what should be a fairly innocuous discussion of insurance costs.
[U]nlike the Recovery Act’s program, [the Affordable Care Act] welcomes people out of work even if they left work by quitting, retiring or being fired for cause. It also welcomes people who have the possibility of joining a spouse’s plan and people who had no health insurance on their prior job.
Thus, we are about to begin a federal program that subsidizes layoffs to a degree that we have not seen before. Nevertheless, economic and budget forecasts by the Congressional Budget Office and others have yet to consider the effects of the layoff subsidy on the size of the program and the number of layoffs that will occur.
More from Casey Mulligan at The New York Times economics blog.
This is from Avik Roy:
The law requires that every employer with 50 or more “full-time employees” offer “minimum essential coverage” in an “affordable” manner…
The penalty is triggered if at least one employee seeks federal exchange subsidies instead of gaining insurance form his employer. In that case, the employer will have to pay a non-tax-deductible fine of the lesser of $2,000 times the number of full-time employees ― 30.
If the employer does offer a health plan, but it isn’t “affordable” to all workers or fails to meet the “minimum essential coverage” requirements, then the employer pays the lesser of the fine described above, or $3,000 times the number of full-time employees receiving exchange subsidies.
What does this mean in reality? It means that employers have an incentive to offer coverage that is either “unaffordable” according to ObamaCare or that fails to meet the law’s “minimum essential requirements.” That way, the employer pays a penalty only for those workers who gain subsidized coverage on the exchanges. So the best way for employers to “dump” coverage onto the exchanges is not by offering no coverage at all, but by offering coverage that doesn’t meet ObamaCare’s requirements.
Paul Krugman on why he is rude:
I know that a lot of people wish we lived in a country where debates about things like health care policy were serious, honest discussions of debatable points. I like to hope that by the time I retire I’ll actually live in a country like that. But right now, and surely for years to come, it’s basically facts versus fraud.
HHS finally released the RAND study it commissioned under the Affordable Care Act. As previously reported at this blog, the study shows that wellness programs don’t work.
Ironically, on the very same day HHS announced its final rule on wellness programs. Employers will be able to penalize employees who fail to meet targets on weight, cholesterol, etc., by 30% beginning next year ― up from the current 20% level. Smokers can be penalized as much as 50%. (See our previous post.) The government gives this example:
The annual premium for coverage in an employer’s group health plan is $6,000, of which the employer pays $4,500 and the employee $1,500. The employer offers a $600 discount to employees who participate in a wellness program focused on exercise, blood sugar, weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.
In addition, the employer imposes a $2,000 surcharge on premiums for employees who used tobacco in the last 12 months. The combination of rewards and penalties, $2,600, is less than half of the total premium and is acceptable, if employees can avoid the surcharge by participating in a tobacco cessation program.
UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Humana Inc. will begin offering smaller employers — including firms with as few as 10 members in UnitedHealth’s case — the option of so-called self-insurance in some markets later this year. Self-insured businesses pay their workers’ medical costs directly, instead of joining a traditional managed-care plan. Usually, they hire benefits firms or insurance companies just to administer their plans.
Most big companies choose the approach, because it gives them more control over benefits and can lower costs.
For small businesses, being self-insured would let them avoid new requirements under the law that call for traditional small group plans to include richer benefits, such as mental-health and maternity care. Self-insured companies can also avoid changes to pricing rules that could increase costs for groups of healthy workers. (WSJ)