American Elephants


The Affordable Care Act May Not Be Affordable. Who Knew? by The Elephant's Child

The Health and Human Services inspector general has been busy. Two new audits reveal failures in ObamaCare on an astounding scale. There are unresolved discrepancies, rules violations and technology problems that expose taxpayers to unknown costs.  They bit off more than they could chew.

The HHS inspector general found 2.9 million “inconsistencies” in applications that were submitted to the federal Health Care.gov exchange during the first five months of open enrollment. “Inconsistencies” refers to things like Social Security numbers that don’t match government data, income data, family size, and citizenship that don’t check out. Around 1.3 million of the problems dealt with citizenship. An additional million involved declared income.

The inspector general was unable to resolve these “discrepancies” because the ObamaCare “eligibility was not fully operational.” In other words, who knows if the applicants were eligible to receive ObamaCare at all? Or if they are eligible are they getting the right subsidies? Are they even citizens?

Only 6 million had filled out applications by the end of February, and only 2.6 million had enrolled. Of the 300,000 problems that HHS was capable of resolving, it had only managed to clear up for just 10,000.

Eleven states ran exchanges, and had problems with 34% of the applications they had received — a total of 422,772 problems. They didn’t say if they had resolved any. The federal exchange and two state exchanges didn’t have adequate internal controls to make sure taxpayers were protected from fraud and abuse.

To top that all off, the government hasn’t been reconciling its enrollment numbers with insurance companies to account for dropouts and cancellations. Who knows how many are actually enrolled, or how many people believe they are enrolled and are not? And how many have tried to get coverage to which they are not entitled?

In the private sector, there would be criminal charges and a lot of self-important people would be heading to jail.

The president has changed the law, changed due dates, changed requirement and delayed one thing and another. How that plays out I don’t know. It’s probably one of those —”after the election” things he is so fond of.

If I understand correctly, he has promised the insurance companies that the government would (taxpayers would) bail them out if they came up short. What that means I don’t know.



ObamaCare: Fewer Enrollees, Higher Costs. by The Elephant's Child

The ObamaCare Exchanges are “disappointing” with fewer than 4 million newly insured. The Obama administration had hoped for 26 million. In April, President Obama told the nation that “marketplace” or “exchange” enrollments at 8 million customers as of March 31, had exceeded expectations and were lower than expected. The media blithely accepted the “selectively released statistics”, in spite of the administration’s habit of providing incomplete information.

The White House has not released any enrollment figures in the last 2½ months, nor do they plan to issue any updates soon. Hmmn. Government numbers included 20 percent of enrollees who did not pay their premiums. Estimates of how many were previously uninsured range from about one-third to more than half. Some who were forced out of their existing coverage find themselves having to re-enroll at much higher rates than before.

Some insurers have increased their rates by 35 percent to bring their rates into compliance with ObamaCare. So you have people with (perhaps) more benefits but for 35% more premium.

Coverage expansion in the ACA are estimated to increase federal spending by $1.383 trillion over the next two decades. Economist Greg Mankiw has estimated that the ACA or ObamaCare will reduce long run GDP in the U.S. by 5%. He insists that it is a rough estimate. University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan says the Affordable Care Act added “about six percentage points to the marginal tax rate faced, on average, by workers in the economy. A useful rule of thumb is that taxation of $1 means that 20¢ of economic activity just never takes place.

Rates will increase significantly for next year. ObamaCare, as expected, is going to cost way more than it was planned to cost.



Health Care Costs Rose 10% In The First Quarter! by The Elephant's Child

Back in May of 2009, President Barack Obama had a big health care announcement, flanked by the heads of several major health lobbying groups: The American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Medical Device manufacturers, and the health care worker unions.

The President announced:

T]hese groups are coming together to make an unprecedented commitment. Over the next 10 years — from 2010 to 2019 — they are pledging to cut the rate of growth of national health care spending by 1.5 percentage points each year — an amount that’s equal to over $2 trillion.

The providers group said:

We will do our part to achieve your Administration’s goal of decreasing by 1.5 percentage points the annual health care spending growth rate — saving $2 trillion or more. … To respond to this challenge, we are developing consensus proposals to reduce the rate of increase in future health and insurance costs through changes made in all sectors of the health care system.

They are developing proposals about the way they might come up with a plan to cut the rate of growth of health care spending, but they don’t yet have a plan, or any idea how they could cut costs. But the cost curve was already heading down and had been for 7 years, slowing only when Democrats devised the Affordable Care Act.

Didn’t work out so well, health care costs rose by nearly 10 percent in the first quarter according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In 2013, costs rose only 2.4 percent.

“The rise in costs and rate of growth calls into question claims from supporters of the federal health care law, including President Obama, who claimed Obamacare would “bend the cost curve” and slow down the rate of growth in health care spending. Obama and Obamacare supporters have been trumpeting, for instance, their exceeding a goal of signing up nearly 8 million enrollees on health insurance plans by way of the laws provisions.

Over the longer term, what does track with the declining growth rate is the growth of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), the growth in Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) and the general trend toward higher deductibles. When health insurance was first offered during World War II, because wage controls prevented raises, companies offered health insurance as a way to attract workers. When health care is paid for entirely by insurance the incentive is to use more of it — and so it was. HSAs have a high deductible, but lower premiums, and the incentive is to use less of it. You don’t go see the doctor for a cold. And your savings can be rolled over tax-free from  year to year, and are there for future health care expenses.

HSAs were created by legislation in 2003. Participation in HSAs has been growing by double digits every year since than. They grew by 22% in 2012. There has been parallel growth in HRA plans, a similar plan offered by some large employers.

Republicans were inclined to wonder how Obama was going to make it all cost less while adding a huge government bureaucracy on top to administer it.

Charles Blahouse of the Mercatus Center says:

It is quite possible that the ACA is shaping up as the greatest act of fiscal irresponsibility ever committed by federal legislators. Nothing immediately comes to mind as comparable to it. …The ACA is a commitment to permanently subsidize comprehensive health insurance for millions who could not otherwise afford it, which the federal government has no viable plan to finance.

Sowell



“If You Like Your Job…” ObamaCare Will Increase Unemployment by The Elephant's Child

The Congressional Budget Office says that ObamaCare will increase unemployment. There are 7.8 million Americans working part-time who want full-time work. Mr. Obama changed the subject to raising the minimum wage.

On Tuesday no less than the Congressional Budget Office reported that the health law is causing Americans to work less or not at all, in a remarkable intellectual turnabout for the budget shop that Democrats cited repeatedly when selling ObamaCare. Now CBO—full of liberal-leaning economists—says the economy will lose the equivalent of two million full-time workers by 2017 and 2.5 million over the next decade, a threefold increase over its prior estimate.

ObamaCare’s complex design includes new subsidies, new taxes and new mandates. For low wage, lower-skilled or discouraged workers ObamaCare offers incentives that can force them to trade jobs for entitlement benefits. The CBO concludes that ObamaCare will encourage people to supply less labor by working fewer hours to qualify for more benefits. The incentives suggest watching carefully the overtime, a promotion or training in hopes of higher future earnings — it might boost you into another category with less or no subsidy. The question becomes how many people can the nation support on entitlements? I thought the numbers were already too high.

The CBO’s job-loss prediction doe not include the impact of ObamaCare’s employer mandate, which requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer insurance or pay a $2,000 penalty for each worker beyond 30 employees. The mandate has been delayed by executive order for a year. so it won’t take effect till 2015, which probably means the CBO is vastly underestimating job losses.

The White House, of course, denies everything. “Claims that the Affordable Care Act hurts jobs are simply belied by the facts in the CBO report,” the White House, in the person of Jay Carney, declared. The White House seems to mean that the report is positive because”individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods” and “have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.” Didn’t Nancy Pelosi suggest that they would have more time to do art or crafts or maybe music?

Incentives matter. People respond to incentives. And there’s nothing in the act that encourages businesses to hire more workers and be more competitive. Like “if you like your doctor,” it may include “If you like your  job…” The law is a job destroyer that is taking away rungs from the ladder of upward economic mobility.



Finally, Someone in The Media Fesses Up! It’s Not Affordable. by The Elephant's Child

RAMclr-122913-wave-IBD-COLOR-FINAL-MAIN-PAGE-CARTOON.gif.cms
USA Today passed out a nugget of truth as a Boxing Day Gift:

More than half of the counties in 34 states using the federal health insurance exchange lack even a bronze plan that’s affordable — by the government’s own definition — for 40-year-old couples who make just a little too much for financial assistance, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

Many of these counties are in rural, less populous areas that already had limited choice and pricey plans, but many others are heavily populated, such as Bergen County, N.J., and Philadelphia and Milwaukee counties.

More than a third don’t offer an affordable plan in the four tiers of coverage known as bronze, silver, gold or platinum for people buying individual plans who are 50 or older and ineligible for subsidies. …

The prices of exchange plans have shocked many shoppers, especially those who had plans canceled because they did not meet the ACA coverage requirements. But experts are not surprised.

“The ACA was not designed to reduce costs or, the law’s name notwithstanding, to make health insurance coverage affordable for the vast majority of Americans,” says health care consultant Kip Piper, a former government and insurance industry official. “The law uses taxpayer dollars to lower costs for the low-income uninsured but it also increases costs overall and shifts costs within the marketplace.”

The law’s name notwithstanding! That’s why we call it “ObamaCare” not the Affordable Care Act.



Dear Congressmen: Are You Sure You Want To Be Exempted From ObamaCare? by The Elephant's Child

german-peasants-war-recreation

Americans don’t like ObamaCare, and the more they learn about it, the less they like it. Obama promised that their costs would decline by $2,500 for a family of four, and they are learning that is not true. Obama promised that they would have the same excellent health care plan that members of Congress had. So when the Affordable Care Act (the formal name makes me snicker) was passed, a caveat was included that members of Congress and their staffs had to participate, just like everybody else.

Members of Congress squawked, as did their staffs, many of whom suggested they might have to resign rather than bear the cost. So of course Obama ordered an exemption for members of Congress and staffs. But he cannot do that. This the law of the land, as they keep reminding us. Not even the President of the United States can just say nevermind. It doesn’t work that way. Zero legal authority.

The Affordable Care Act requires the 11.000 people who work on Capitol Hill to purchase their health insurance on its exchanges, but many of them earn too much to qualify for subsidies. That’s a financial hit worth about $5,000 for individuals and $11,000 for families. Polls show that over 90 percent of Americans object strenuously to the special privilege the Obama  administration has delivered to members of Congress.

Republicans have voted to defund ObamaCare somewhere around 44 times, but nobody is fooled by the gesture. No member of Congress, especially Republicans, should dare face the voters next year if they have not enlisted in ObamaCare just as they are forcing the rest of the country to do. The Congress are the servants of the American people and serve at their pleasure, and can be removed at their pleasure. Yes, you won’t like it. Yes, it will cost you a whole bunch more. You put this wretched law together behind closed doors with no input from Republicans, forced it through with all sorts of sleazy deals, and passed it without a single Republican vote.

If this represents a struggle between your wallets and your principles, Republicans had better opt for principles. This one is a no-brainier. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) has been shopping around an amendment to overturn the opt-out. He is not being well received. Republicans should think again. Senator Vitter is right. And do allow all the Democrats to exempt themselves. The more of them defeated at the polls, the better.

 



The Cheapest Family ObamaCare Plan Will Cost $20,000 by The Elephant's Child

Barack Obama has unwittingly done a huge favor for Republicans. Employees at larger companies should have received their W-2 statements by now. Better take a close look. ObamaCare has required employers to add a line reporting the total cost of employer-sponsored  health-insurance coverage.For many, it will be a surprise or even a shock.

Many Americans have never given any thought to how much their employers pay for their health insurance, assuming that it is just something they get free. When they see the cost is $12.000 to $16,000 or more they may be shocked. Salaries have been lower than they might have been without health care as a “benefit.”

Republicans have long been aware that many people don’t respond to political arguments about taxes because they don’t really know how much they pay. Taxes are withheld from every paycheck and the important number for many is how big the refund is.

Many people were shocked to find that their paychecks were less on January 1, as the temporary cut in the payroll tax expired. The theory behind that was that putting a little extra in employees pockets (those who still had a job) would induce them to spend it immediately, whence those funds that were spent would through a “multiplier effect” (holy Keynesian writ to the Left) make the economy grow. Unfortunately taking that tax money out of Social Security has made the program even more fragile, and people looking sensibly at the faltering economy didn’t spend the extra money, but saved it, and there wouldn’t have been a multiplier effect anyway.

Welcome to the real world. Peter Orzag, then the director of the Congressional Budget Office, told lawmakers :

The economic evidence is overwhelming, that when your firm pays for your health insurance, you actually pay through reduced take-home pay. The firm is not giving that to you or free.

Now they are forced to disclose that number on a tax form although health benefits are not counted as taxable income — yet. The number was supposed to have been included in W-2s last year, but HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave employers a one-year reprieve.
obama.sebelius.pelosi

Surely you remember Nancy Pelosi’s ‘witty’ statement that “We have to pass the bill so we can find out what’s in it. Not so witty as it turns out. What’s in it is just plain ugly.

In a final regulation issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has assumed the cheapest health insurance plan under ObamaCare available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 a year.

Under ObamaCare, Americans are required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS.  The assumption that the cheapest plan for a family will cost $20,000 is found in the examples the IRS gives to help people understand how to calculate the penalty owed the government if they do not buy a mandated plan. And of course everybody is learning that the way they will have to cope with that is to pay the fine and wait to buy insurance until they get sick.

The White House has apparently noticed that they might lose the cases pending before the court on the religious exception, and attempted a little jiggery-pokery to try to get the complainants to withdraw, but they believe that this isn’t just a cute little thing for the hapless Tim Carney to get the assistance of the press arm compliant media to dispose of, so it wouldn’t embarrass the administration, but a matter of serious Constitutional principle. ObamaCare should collapse from the weight of its stupidities, but the White House will try to fix everything with executive orders and regulation. But ObamaCare is law, and a very bad law at that, and the fixing would have to be done by Congress.

Te favor for Republicans that I mentioned? People will learn that all those promises of” better health care that cost way less” were blatant lies.  ObamaCare is going to be way more expensive, there won’t be anywhere enough doctors, as more and more opt out of regular care for “concierge practices” or other ways to practice medicine. I know of a number who have changed what they do so they aren’t involved with the Affordable Care Act. Even the name is offensive, since the Act is making medicine unaffordable. We are moving to Britain’s NHS, the world’s worst health care in a major industrialized country, which is saving money by knocking off the old folks. Which reminds me, the administration is looking for people to serve on the “death panels.” Even in this dreadful economy, they’re not getting applicants.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,701 other followers

%d bloggers like this: