American Elephants

Fifty States of ObamaCare Failure by The Elephant's Child

Harry Reid’s pathetic attempt to claim that everyone is lying about the failure of ObamaCare brands him irrevocably as a fool, a liar, and a failure as a Majority Leader.

These few people represent multitudes. It is poor quality health insurance. You can’t travel. It’s too expensive now and the cost is going up dramatically next year.

ObamaCare is on life-support; the patient is comatose and brain dead. The family just won’t admit it.


Wreaking Havoc on Healthcare, the Economy, Freedom and the Obama Legacy. by The Elephant's Child

The fabled and troubled website for enrolling in ObamaCare is, um, not going to meet the December 1, deadline., but we knew that in the  beginning. This is not a plan for improving health outcomes for the American people. It is entirely about social planning and redistribution of income. Forcing everyone to be “equal.”

Obama goes to great lengths to call the private insurance policies that we liked — “substandard”— because they don’t include the generous benefits of the four ObamaCare plans: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. What “substandard” means is that people were free to choose insurance that did not meet Obama’s social equity and income redistribution goals. Some people must pay extra for poor policies so others can pay less and receive extra benefits.

ObamaCare planners believe that they can mandate a rich level of “essential” health benefits that all individual plans must cover — regardless of cost. This year eHealth reported that its data show that individual premiums must be 47% higher than the old average to fund the new categories in the individual market.

The rules imposed by ObamaCare are resulting in a decidedly inferior product. Then new mandates raise costs, so insurers compromise by offering narrower and less costly networks of doctors, hospitals and other providers in their ObamaCare policies. For example pediatric vision care is mandated for all, even those who are childless or have grown children, and in exchange parents cannot take their really sick kids to splendid institutions like Seattle’s Children’s Hospital.

Obama has seemed remarkably uninterested in the details of his health care policies. He simply does not want to be bothered with details. If his project for transforming America is proceeding apace, that is what is important. Providing everyone who cannot afford the higher prices of the most basic plan with Medicaid is not improving health care for anyone. Because few doctors will accept Medicaid patients, wait times will be long, and outcomes are worse than for those going uninsured.

Canada’s population is around 36,137,500, and they are trying desperately to find ways to turn their health care back into a closer doctor/patient relationship. Wait times are far too long, and you can get a CT scan for your dog far sooner than you can get one for yourself. The population of the U.K is roughly 63,705,000, and not only failing, and killing the elderly, but going broke. But the Democrats in Congress are sure they can devise a plan for some 317,000,000 by forcing the entire population into four plans because one-size fits all. No need for diversity, well, except for favored constituencies like Unions, members of Congress, and whatever is the need for the next election. Pete du Pont commented:

ObamaCare embodies the usual hypocrisy of large liberal programs, as the administration bestows benefits and exemptions on favored constituencies and the politically connected. We see waivers for big labor, relief from inconvenient mandates for congressional staff, and decisions timed to minimize harm to Democrats in the next election. Conversely, those who don’t have politically correct views are ignored or mocked. We see lip service given to conscientious objections to abortion and birth control, but ObamaCare policies that run roughshod over these objections.

Perhaps most disappointing, we can observe in the administration’s handling of ObamaCare a now all too familiar subversion of the rule of law, a fundamental precept of our nation’s founding and of democracies everywhere. George Will notes that the administration has apparently decided it can adopt legislation by press conference as Mr. Obama simply announces changes to the law or that he will not enforce certain provisions. His administration then proceeds to strong-arm businesses and demonize critics.

There is the usual governmental failure to anticipate how people respond to economic incentives. Why would the administration expect the required large numbers of healthy, young people to enroll in ObamaCare in response to higher premiums? Why would the administration expect businesses to refrain from adjusting their staffing decisions based on the additional cost of ObamaCare?

It’s “coverage” not care, and if you think your new policy is expensive — wait till you see how much it costs next year — after the election, of course.

ObamaCare: A Naked Exercise of State Power— Facilitated by Lies. by The Elephant's Child

We are a month into the implementation of ObamaCare, and it is not going well.  This is not a surprise. Obama officials warned in 2010 that 93 million Americans would be unable to keep their current health plans under ObamaCare. But nobody paid attention. It’s hard to keep track of the news and sort it out. And President Obama was there assuring everyone that it wold all be wonderful, that if you liked your plan, you could keep your plan. If you liked your doctor, you could keep your doctor. And when the federal website opened for business, the Potemkin village fraud was exposed for all to see.

It wasn’t a matter only of the website not working. People could not log on. Officials urged those who wanted to apply to call an 800 number, but that had to work through the faulty website. Those who turned to the “navigators” soon found that they couldn’t do anything because they had to work through the faulty website. IT experts warned that problems were not just the “glitches” described by the administration, but the underlying root software code. Some experts suggest that  you can’t just patch this one, you need to start over. Jeffrey Zients, who the president has put i charge of fixing the website, has promised to have it all fixed by the end of November.

In the meantime, while everything is not working, everyone who has a private health insurance policy is receiving cancellation notices. The “you can keep your plan” promise had an asterisk. You can only keep your plan if nothing whatsoever has changed. ObamaCare required all health insurance policies to contain a shopping cart load of “benefits,” and the insurance companies were generally following the prudent rules of what you can actually offer in a policy and have the customer still able to pay for it. Existing ‘grandfathered’ policies didn’t meet Obama’s approval. Administration officials were quick to blame it all on the rotten policies— the one you liked and wanted to keep — that just didn’t meet the excellent standards of the new ObamaCare policies.

The real problem is that Liberals don’t understand insurance. Insurance is designed to protect you from risks that you can’t really afford. When you buy a car, you insure it against whatever could wreck the car — collision, uninsured drivers, injury to you or the other party, protection from lawsuits. You don’t expect an insurance policy to cover oil changes, new tires, windshield wipers, or the gas it takes to run the car. You insure for big risks. Your insurance policy is not prepaid maintenance, which would be far too expensive to afford.

ObamaCare policies are not insurance protecting you from the big risks, they are prepaid maintenance, including Sandra Fluke’s contraceptives, a cure for ringworm and for massage, acupuncture and stress reduction. Those policies that were cancelled will be demonized as “rotten,”sub-standard,” “not good enough” and whatever disparaging euphemisms they can come up with.

Apparently union health care policies (mostly “Cadillac plans) don’t have the asterisk that prevents them from being ‘grandfathered.’

That is only the beginning. Large insurers have not signed up to offer health plans on the state exchanges. It is a bad business deal. ObamaCare regulations force insurers to be either all in or all out of a particular state exchange. Just one or two insurance carriers are serving exchanges in more than half of the country’s 2,500 counties.

The incentives are all wrong. Customers are encouraged to use all of the benefits provided, and the incentive is to use health care liberally. This alone will raise the cost of ObamaCare far above preliminary estimates. Government programs always cost far, far more than original estimates. The government’s policy becomes dominated by the need to keep costs down, which means rising taxes and cutting benefits or services, and eventual collapse.

In spite of al the spin and exaggerated promises, the Affordable Care Act makes health insurance more expensive. Today the Manhattan Institute released the most comprehensive analysis yet conducted of premiums under Obamacare for people who shop for private insurance. In the average state, Obamacare will increase underlying premiums by 41 percent. The steepest hikes will be imposed on the healthy, the young, and the male. The subsidies will mostly benefit those nearing retirement — people who have had their whole lives to save for their health care needs.

ObamaCare is a naked exercise of state power, facilitated by state lies. It was always necessary that  you lose your insurance coverage or at the very least pay more for it, otherwise the whole thing collapses. In 2010 the Obama administration acknowledged, in the Federal Register, that pretty much everyone who has employer-sponsored insurance will lose their existing plans before long. The cancellation notices have only begun. But the cancellations for employer sponsored plans will undoubtedly be put off “till after the next election.” That’s a favorite Obama trick and you can be sure he will use it again. We just have to pray for an early collapse.

We Are Slowly Finding Out “What Is In It,” and It’s Not Good. by The Elephant's Child

Further reports on the coming train wreck: Health Insurance rated in Georgia are rising by up to 198 percent under ObamaCare the Georgia Insurance Commissioner said in a letter to HHS on Monday.

Commissioner Ralph Hudgens asked for more time to investigate and approve the new higher rates. Georgia consumers cannot afford these massive rate increases, he wrote to Secretary Sebelius.

For a 25 year-old male, premiums will rise 65 to 198 percent within the exchanges, and for a 45 year-old  male premiums will rise 40 to 100 percent. It seems to involve “age rating” which requires that insurance companies charge no more than three times what they charge younger people. This means that the restriction will lower prices for the elderly and raise them for younger people.

Indiana has announced that insurance rates are rising 72 percent for an individual plan and 8 percent or a group plan.

The Treasury Department Union is up in arms because they are being forced into the exchanges — and these are the people who are supposed to manage it.

Did The Election Save ObamaCare? Are We Helpless? by The Elephant's Child

A number of companies are announcing that they will have to make tough business decisions in response to ObamaCare. ObamaCare begins to come into effect on January 1, and American companies are having to make business decisions. Those who wrote the health care act in the backrooms of Congress were all excited about taking a big step on the way towards single-payer health care. That has been a dreamed-of-goal for years for Democrats, because it makes people dependent on the government, and once dependent the people will continually keep Democrats in power lest they lose their benefits.

The trouble with Democrat dreams, is that the left doesn’t understand basic economics, free market capitalism, how business works, what part incentives play, or even where money comes from. Where does money come from? Why you just raise taxes, especially on the rich who can afford it, and should be brought down anyway.

Here are some examples: take the “Occupy movement.” Hordes of folks in Adidas, Levis, LL Bean or Columbia parkas, carrying iPhones, iPods, Coleman tents, Jansport packs, Kelty and Coleman sleeping bags assembled in city parks to protest corporations.  At the Democrat convention this year, an enterprising video maker asked conventioneers if they would support a law outlawing profit. They absolutely would, and none seemed to understand why they were ridiculous.

With such bad unemployment statistics, the Obama administration changed the definition of full-time employment by knocking it down from 40 hours to 30 hours. Businesses must either pay for health insurance for their employees or pay a fine. It is a surprise to many that the profit margins for business are not very large. The reason that retailers call it “Black Friday” is because that is the day when most retailers begin to make a profit for the year. Think about that — the end of November.

ObamaCare will add $1.76 per hour to the cost of a full-time employee. The fine for not paying for their insurance is 78¢ an hour. Businesses do not have to pay for the health insurance for part-time employees. Many businesses are simply closing because they cannot afford the additional costs. Others are doing major layoffs. Major restaurants are switching their employees from full-time to part-time, or 28 hours a week. These are not easy business decisions, but the political left is responding with calls for boycotts.

The Obama administration hid a sharp rise in the numbers of Americans on food stamps until after the election. The administration has been encouraging food stamp use, and trying to get more people on them, but food stamps are a cost for government.  When conservatives oppose food stamps, they want people to be gainfully employed and not need government help for food. There are consequences. When ObamaCare forces companies to lay off employees, more people need unemployment compensation, and when they can’t find employment end up needing government help with food and welfare  to survive. When fewer people are working, fewer businesses make a profit. Fewer people pay taxes and the government has less income, with which to help those who are dependent.

ObamaCare is a stupid mess of a bill.  It is not paid for in any realistic way. The legislation lowers Medicare spending over the next ten years in order to fund health insurance for young people. That means lower payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers — reductions that will seriously impair access to care for senior citizens.

The Office of Medicare Actuaries has predicted that these cuts will force one in seven hospitals out of the Medicare system in the next eight years. Payments to doctors under Medicare will fall below Medicaid levels and will continuously fall behind Medicaid. From a simple financial point of view, seniors will be less desirable patients to doctors than welfare mothers.  Seniors will increasingly become dependent on emergency rooms. Today almost one in every three doctors is not taking any new Medicaid patients.

The law requires us to get a long list of preventive services without deductible or co-payment. Economists at Duke University calculated that if every patient got the recommended screenings and tests, the average primary-care physician would have to spend 7½ hours of every day giving preventive care to healthy patients.

There will be a huge increase in demand for care, but no change in supply. We are already thousands of doctors fewer than those required, and the medical-training pipeline cannot produce the increased numbers needed. Those in plans that pay less, will have an increasingly hard time finding care.

Lawmakers seem not to understand incentives. Insurers must charge the same premium for all, regardless of expected health care costs. This means that they will profit from healthy enrollees and incur losses on the less healthy. The incentives will be to offer more services to the healthy and less to the sick. People will have an incentive to stay uninsured while they are healthy and enroll after they get sick to get their bills paid.  But wasn’t the whole idea to get the uninsured — insured? Estimates are that the 30,000-50,000 people without insurance will remain about the same numbers because of misguided incentives.

These are problems inherent in the ObamaCare legislation itself. Secretary Sebelius has already offered hundreds of waivers, though we don’t know much about who got waivers from just what. Can Congress tinker and tweak enough to make it a viable plan that will not destroy the country?  They would do well to simply vacate it and start over, but that won’t happen either. The election is over and we’re in a mess. Here are some ways to protect yourself.

The News on the ObamaCare Front is That it’s Not Working, and is Not Going to Work. by The Elephant's Child

LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch)—

Once provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act start to kick in during 2014, at least three of every 10 employers will probably stop offering health coverage, a survey released Monday shows.

While only 7% of employees will be forced to switch to subsidized-exchange programs, at least 30% of companies say they will “definitely or probably” stop offering employer-sponsored coverage, according to a study published in McKinsey Quarterly.

The survey of 1,300 employers says that those who are keenly aware of the health-reform legislation are more likely to consider an alternative to employer-sponsored plans, with 50% to 60% expected to make a change.  It also found that for some, it makes more sense to switch.

A third of employers would gain economically from dropping coverage, even if they compensated employees for the change through other benefit offerings or higher salaries, according to the study.  More than 85% of employees would remain at their jobs even if employer-sponsored coverage was no longer offered, although 60% would expect higher salaries.

The Democrats assured each other that ObamaCare would lead to single-payer government-run healthcare.  This has been their dream. It’s very clear that there is nothing there that will improve health care.  We have examples in profusion from Britain’s National Health Care (and their NICE rationing board), from Canada, from France, from Germany of absurdly long waits to see a doctor, to see a specialist, to schedule an operation. Why are Leftists so determined to push a system that makes everything worse?  It will be diminished care at vastly higher cost.  Why do they want this? The only answer I can come up with is power and control.

Late Monday, a White House spokesman took issue with the survey, citing other opinions about the promise of ObamaCare. But then the White House always has a ‘different’ story.

The health-care industry is currently spending billions to create electronic health records, but the tech-gamble that is supposed to save money and improve the efficiency of American medicine is looking more like another $30 billion boondoggle. In theory it was going to allow any patient to walk into any emergency room anywhere in the country, and have their entire medical history right at hand. Save money by avoiding duplicate tests. The thousands of new systems may never be able to communicate with each other.

According to my doctor’s office, it doesn’t seem to be working.  I was in yesterday, and they couldn’t find my records at all. The intrusive paperwork is about 5 times more than usual, and now, since it’s the feds, they want to know your ethnic background as well as everything else. If doctors and providers don’t meet the federal milestones, they may not get paid. The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine issued a 273 page report about “seamless interoperability. They’re dubious. Privacy and security are big problems.

Hospitals are increasingly skeptical of the new ObamaCare Medicare payment scheme. The pay for performance scheme and “value-based purchasing” will see payments redistributed based on performance scores calculated according to the methodology chosen by the Obama Administration.  Payments will be reduced across the board to a new lower “base” payment, after which hospitals could receive “bonuses” for performing well on the quality measures. Evidence-based medicine is a theory that the proper treatment for any condition can be determined by bureaucrats and physicians will be rewarded for treating patients “correctly.”

How about some “evidence-based” lawmaking, in which Congressmen have to prove that they are capable of considering evidence thoroughly and completely before they get to actually make any regulations?

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