American Elephants

The Legal Challenges to ObamaCare Begin. by The Elephant's Child
April 6, 2010, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Law | Tags: , ,

The legal challenge to ObamaCare has been filed.  A half-dozen insurance companies have filed a lawsuit against the state of Massachusetts, seeking to reverse the decision by the insurance commissioner to block double-digit rises in premiums.

Massachusetts residents already pay the highest premiums in the country for their health care.  Insurers wanted to raise base rates an average of 8 to 32 percent, and added to that are additional costs calculated according to factors such as the size and age of the workforce.

Governor Patrick insists that all is well, but he invoked his emergency powers to turn down the rate increases.  According to the Wall Street Journal Massachusetts insurers “pay $1.12 in benefits for every $1 in premiums.  Surely even the most committed anti-corporate liberal can understand that firms cannot survive while losing 12 cents on every dollar.

The reason for the rise in base rates is not that ‘fat cat’ insurance executives aren’t getting rich fast enough, but simply that reality is pointing out the fact that liberals’ bright ideas are driving costs through the roof.

Keep an eye on Massachusetts, for it is a barometer signaling a warning. Pay attention to the UK.  They tell us to pay no attention to the “scare stories,” but the so-called scare stories expose how the system fails the most vulnerable.  Healthy people usually like “free” health care — it’s how the frail and unhealthy are treated that matters.

And Now It’s Price Controls! Doesn’t Anyone Ever Pay Attention to the Evidence? by The Elephant's Child

Massachusetts Health Care was put in place in 2006, and it was to be the prototype for ObamaCare.  It has been instructive, and we all should pay attention.  “Universal coverage” has run up all sorts of bills, and they are now coming due.  The developing cost crisis began almost at once.

Average Massachusetts insurance premiums are now the highest in the nation.  They have climbed at an annual rate of 30% in the individual market.  The costs for small business have increased by 5.8%.  Health spending per capita is now 27% higher than the national average, and the growth rate is faster.

Last month Democrat Governor Deval Patrick proposed hard price controls across almost all of the state’s health care.  Regulators already have the power to cap insurance premiums, which the governor is activating.  He also filed a bill that would give regulators the power to control the rates for hospitals, physician groups and some specialty practices.

For fiscal 2010 taxpayer costs are already $47 million over budget.  As in Washington, politicians attempt to blame insurers.  The real culprit is the state’s insurance regulation.  On average insurers pay $1.12 in benefits for every $1 in premiums.  Making sure that everyone was insured was expected to lower medical costs by cutting back on emergency room visits.  But emergency room visits have increased instead.  State regulations  have mandated that insurance coverage be more generous than the rest of the country.  The average deductible is 28% lower than the  U.S. average, and benefits are more generous with less cost-sharing — thus patients are even more unaware of the actual cost of care.

Massachusetts health care with so many medical schools and high-quality specialists is one of the world’s most envied.

The  Wall Street Journal notes of Gov. Patrick’s price controls:

The goal is to engineer a cheaper system through brute force so government can pay for health care for all. What inevitably suffers is the quality of care for individual patients. Thirty states imposed hospital rate setting in the 1970s and 1980s. Except for Maryland, every one of them eventually eliminated it—including Massachusetts, in 1991—partly because it didn’t control costs.  And partly because it killed people. A 1988 study in the Journal of New England Medicine found that the states with the most stringent rate-setting had mortality rates 6% to 10% higher than those that didn’t.

All of this is merely a preview of what the entire country will face if Democrats succeed with their plan to pound ObamaCare into law in anything like its current form. Massachusetts is teaching the country a valuable lesson in how not to reform health care, if only anyone would pay attention.

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