Tag Archives: Health Insurance

Trump signs executive order giving Americans relief from Obamacare fees and taxes

Health insurance costs rose dramatically under Obama
Health insurance costs rose dramatically under Obama (click for larger image)

The Washington Free Beacon reports.

Excerpt:

On his first day in office, President Trump signed an executive order that would relieve the economic burden that Obamacare has caused, fulfilling a promise he made on the campaign trail.

[…]Trump promised Americans that on day one of taking office, he would ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“Since March of 2010, the American people have had to suffer under the incredible economic burden of the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare,” Trump said. “As it appears Obamacare is certain to collapse of its own weight, the damage done by the Democrats and President Obama, and abetted by the Supreme Court, will be difficult to repair unless the next president and a Republican congress lead the effort to bring much-needed free market reforms to the healthcare industry.”

“It is not enough to simply repeal this terrible legislation,” Trump said. “We will work with Congress to make sure we have a series of reforms ready for implementation that follow free market principles and that will restore economic freedom and certainty to everyone in this country.”

Since Trump’s economic policy draws on the experts at the conservative Heritage Foundation, we can expect that the alternative to Obamacare will be one based on a system that is proven to be successful. Switzerland has a health care system that has universal coverage, yet is fully privatized. It costs little, and delivers a lot of health care. Their system works, unlike socialist health care systems in the UK and Canada – which Obama was trying to emulate.

House Republicans say:

“Our goal is a truly patient-centered system, which means more options to choose from, lower costs, and greater control over your coverage,” said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wis.). “And as we work to get there, we will make sure there is a stable transition period so that people don’t have the rug pulled out from under them.”

The nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.) echoed that sentiment, saying at his confirmation hearing that it is imperative that individuals have health coverage and have greater choices and opportunities to get the coverage they need.

“I think there’s been a lot of talk about individuals losing health care coverage—that is not our goal, nor is it our desire, nor is it our plan,” Price said.

The Daily Signal has more details on the relief provided to poor Americans in his executive order. It directs Trump’s subordinates to:

[…]exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.

The Daily Signal also comments:

As to the substance, the new president’s clear directive is for his appointees to focus on minimizing the damaging effects of the law. That constitutes a sharp change in direction from the one taken by the Obama administration.

The implementation approach taken by the Obama administration was essentially to try to increase subsidized enrollment heedless of any resulting costs or disruptions to either the public or private sectors. This executive order signals that the Trump administration’s first order of business for Obamacare will instead be to minimize those costs and disruptions.

Some numbers from CNBC:

For many Obamacare customers this year, they’ll be paying more for less.

A new report on Obamacare plans details how plan premiums, deductibles and other out-of-pocket insurance costs have grown sharply even as the size of networks of health providers covered by those plans are shrinking in 2017.

The report from the Avalere consultancy also details how the number of insurers selling Obamacare plans have also shrunk, decreasing competition in the individual health plan market.

Last year, just 4 percent of all regions of the United States had only one participating insurer on Obamacare exchange, according to Avalere’s analysis. This year, 36 percent of all regions in the U.S. will have only one participating health insurer on an Obamacare exchanges.

Avalere’s report also found that in 2017, just 31 percent of all exchange-sold plans are “preferred provider organizations” or “point of service” plans, down from 52 percent of all plans in 2014, the first year of Obamacare coverage

PPOs generally have a wider networks of doctors and hospitals covered by the plan, and cover more out-of-network services than do other types of plans, including health maintenance organizations.

I have a friend who is a Democrat. For every month of the last 6 years, I have been presenting him with the numbers on Obamacare showing the negative impact on small businesses and poor Americans. He makes 6 figures as a software engineer, and knows literally nothing about economics. I have even told him stories about some of my friends who are poorer who struggled with the financial burdens caused by the law. His response was stunning: “what does this matter to you, you have health care through your employer”. That’s how Democrats think. As long as they are OK, who cares about the poor. The important thing for them is that government run everything and make all the decisions, because ordinary people cannot be trusted with freedom.

You can read more about the disaster of Obamacare here in a report by the Heritage Foundation.

How well is Obamacare working, and will Ted Cruz or Donald Trump fix health care?

Obamacare Bronze plans: and don't forget the $6850 deductibles
Obamacare Bronze plans

Two stories, then we’ll see whether Trump or Cruz is more likely to repeal Obamacare.

The Daily Signal lists 4 problems with Obamacare:

  1. Rising Costs
  2. Higher Taxes
  3. Unstable Enrollment
  4. Hostility to Personal Liberty

Let’s look at the first two:

Rising Costs

Contrary to repeated administration promises, Obamacare has not only failed to lower costs, but has also imposed additional expenses on millions of already over-stretched individuals and families.

Premiums in the government created exchanges were an initially jolting experience for Americans who did not qualify for taxpayer subsidies, and it appears that in 2016 premium increases in the government’s health insurance exchanges will again hit enrollees in the double digit range.

When it comes to average job-based premiums, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that they, too, are climbing, and will rise almost 60 percent between now and 2025. Deductibles in the Affordable Care Act exchanges have also jumped higher than officials anticipated, discouraging the purchase of the Obamacare coverage among the poor and the young.

[…]Today, based on CBO data, the net cost of Obamacare’s coverage provisions—subtracting the taxes and penalties—will amount to over $1.4 trillion over the next ten years.

Higher Taxes

Obama promised he would not raise taxes on the middle-class. But Congressional Budget Office data indicates that Obamacare’s numerous taxes, fees, and penalties will cost about $832 billion over the years 2016 – 2025. And middle-class Americans are going to be hit—directly and indirectly.

Even lower-income workers will get hit by Obamacare taxes, including the so-called Cadillac tax on expensive health plans offered by large firms, as well as the individual mandate tax penalty.

For 2016, that mandate tax penalty for a single adult is $695 and up to $2,085 for a family.

We also need to remember how many companies took their employees off of the full-time work week to keep them below the 30 hours, so that they wouldn’t have to buy them this expensive health care with all the new minimum coverages (drug addiction therapy coverage is mandatory now?) that raised the price of health care insurance premiums.

But there’s more than just more government spending, higher premiums, higher deductibles and higher tax penalties for those who opt out of the individual mandate. There’s also the regulation side of things. Doctors are now being regulated by the government to the point where they are dropping out of the field. And there are fewer people who want to become doctors, because of the regulations.

Primary care doctor shortage
Primary care doctor shortage

So, how do we fix it? Well, one person who will not fix it is Donald Trump. Trump isn’t aware of any of the problems with Obamacare – he wants to expand government control of health care. Make it cover more people, for more mandated coverages (toupees, wigs, Viagra, hair replacement surgery?)

When government pays for all the health care provisioning, we call that a single-payer system. And Trump is for it – that clip is from September 27, 2015. In the Fox News debate in August, he said that single payer health care “works in Canada“.

Do you think more government-control of health care will make things better? Look at how things are going in the single-payer system for our armed forces veterans in the VA single-payer system – they are dying while bureaucrats collect fat bonuses for concealing the waiting lists. Just as in Canada and the UK, the patients are dying on waiting lists while waiting for care. They pay into the Trump health care system their whole lives, then when they are old and of no use to the government, they are denied care and left to die.

Single-payer health care wait times in Canada
Single-payer health care wait times in Canada

How much do Canadians pay in taxes, in order to wait on waiting lists for the government to decide to give them health care?

This Toronto Sun article explains:

Canadians retain just 21% of their income after paying the taxman and covering the cost of necessities, according to a Fraser Institute study.

Taxes gobble up a whopping 42% of the average Canadian family’s income. About 37% of income goes to cover housing, food and clothing.

“We’ve found … that over the last five decades or so, the tax bill for the average Canadian family has grown dramatically,” said study coauthor Charles Lammam.

Well, what about Ted Cruz? Has he got any sort of plan for Obamacare and consumer-centered health care reform?

Ted Cruz

Yes, he’s going to repeal Obamacare on day one, and then work to replace it with this:

Main points:

Ted Cruz's health care plan: choice and competition
Ted Cruz’s health care plan: choice and competition

Cruz explains it himself here:

At the eighth Republican presidential primary debate on February 6, 2016, Ted Cruz discussed repealing Obamacare: “Socialized medicine is a disaster. It does not work. If you look at the countries that have imposed socialized medicine, that have put the government in charge of providing medicine, what inevitably happens is rationing. … If I’m elected president, we will repeal every word of Obamacare. And once we do that, we will adopt common sense reforms, number one, we’ll allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines that will drive down prices and expand the availability of low cost catastrophic insurance. We’ll expand health savings accounts; and we will de-link health insurance from employment so that you don’t lose your health insurance when you lose your job, and that way health insurance can be personal, portable and affordable and we keep government from getting in between us and our doctors.”

Those of you who like to read consumer-centered health care policy scholars like me (Sally C. Pipes, Regina Herzlinger, Michael D. Tanner, Michael F. Cannon, John C. Goodman, Ilya Shapiro, Avik Roy, etc.) will recognize a lot of what he is proposing – he stole it all from the conservative and libertarian policy experts.

To me, that sounds better than Trump’s plan of expanding government-run health care into universal government-run health care. If I wanted that, I’d go to Canada or the UK, and just die on a waiting list after paying 42% of my salary into the system for my whole working life.

Gallup poll: Americans think health care is less affordable after Obamacare

Obamacare premium increases by state
Obamacare premium increases by state

Investors Business Daily talks about the latest Gallup poll.

Excerpt:

The official name of ObamaCare is the “Affordable Care Act.” So, as it enters its third year, how is it living up to its moniker? Not every well, according to a new Gallup poll. Cost and access to care remain the top concern of 42% of Americans, which is actually up from 2013, the year before ObamaCare went into effect, when 39% cited these as top concerns. And it’s far above 1997, when just 22% listed cost and access as top health concerns.

Oops.

It’s not hard to understand why. Even those getting generous subsidies through ObamaCare exchanges often find that they can’t afford treatments because of the health plans’ high deductibles.

The New York Times found that more than half the plans offered through the federal Healthcare.gov exchange had deductibles of $3,000 or more. In some states, the median deductible was $5,000 or more.

Sky-high deductibles like that high used to come with extremely low premiums. But thanks to ObamaCare’s many rules and regulations and fees, such plans are a thing of the past.

The Times notes that an Albuquerque, N.M., woman pays $4,800 a year for a plan with a $6,000 deductible. Before ObamaCare, a plan with a $2,500 deductible was available in that state for just $1,625 a year, according to aGovernment Accountability Office review of pre-ObamaCare premiums.

IBD’s Jed Graham found that deductibles for the cheapest ObamaCare plans in 37 major markets climbed an average 7.4% to more than $5,600.

Then, of course, there are the premium spikes many will find when they go to sign up or renew their ObamaCare polices. Not to mention the increasingly narrow doctor networks and other hidden costs imposed by insurers to keep premiums from going up even more.

Yes, health care premiums are way, way up. Obama told us during his election campaigns that health care premiums would go down an average of $2,500. How did he intend to achieve that? By reducing choice and competition, and require insurance companies to cover more stuff, like drug addiction therapy, onto every health care plan.

Here he is promising things to young voters:

The young people believed his honeyed words, and did not ask for evidence to prove the claims that made them feel good. After all, if the words made them feel good, then the words must be true, right?

Should we pick a candidate based on our emotional response to his confidence?
Should we pick a candidate based on our emotional response to his confidence?

So what happened? Health care premiums went up, because the more stuff that your health care plan has to cover (e.g. – drug addiction treatment) the more you have to pay for that health care plan. And so, as I blogged about before, health care premiums have actually gone up $4,865 on average, per year. Yes, this is another case of keep your doctor / keep your health plan claims. Either Obama knows that what he says is false, and says it anyway (evil Obama) or he does not know what he is talking about, but says things that will make people like him anyway (imbecile Obama).

It’s been a fun game for conservatives over the last 7 years to try to decide whether we elected an evil man or a stupid man. My view has always been that Obama is a stupid man, and that’s because unlike every other politician, he’s never released his transcripts. I can pretty much guarantee you that it is all Fs straight down the line. We elected a moron, who just says whatever makes him look good. He has no more idea what he is talking about than a parrot trying to explain the stock market. But he made Democrat voters feel good – and that’s what mattered to them.

Obamacare success: health insurance premiums to rise 20-40 percent in 2016

Obama doesn't have time for national security
Obama on the golf course having fun

This is from the radically leftist New York Times, of all places.

They write:

Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under the Affordable Care Act turned out to be sicker than expected. Federal officials say they are determined to see that the requests are scaled back.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans — market leaders in many states — are seeking rate increases that average 23 percent in Illinois, 25 percent in North Carolina, 31 percent in Oklahoma, 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota, according to documents posted online by the federal government and state insurance commissioners and interviews with insurance executives.

The Oregon insurance commissioner, Laura N. Cali, has just approved 2016 rate increases for companies that cover more than 220,000 people. Moda Health Plan, which has the largest enrollment in the state, received a 25 percent increase, and the second-largest plan, LifeWise, received a 33 percent increase.
Jesse Ellis O’Brien, a health advocate at the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, said: “Rate increases will be bigger in 2016 than they have been for years and years and will have a profound effect on consumers here. Some may start wondering if insurance is affordable or if it’s worth the money.”

[…]The rate requests are the first to reflect a full year of experience with the new insurance exchanges and federal standards that require insurers to accept all applicants, without charging higher prices because of a person’s illness or disability.

Bye-bye private health insurance, hello government-run VA style health care:

In financial statements filed with the government in the last two months, some insurers said that their claims payments totaled not just 80 percent, but more than 100 percent of premiums. And that, they said, is unsustainable.

Here’s Minnesota and Tennessee:

At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, for example, the ratio of claims paid to premium revenues was more than 115 percent, and the company said it lost more than $135 million on its individual insurance business in 2014. “Based on first-quarter results,” it said, “the year-end deficit for 2015 individual business is expected to be significantly higher.”

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the largest insurer in the state’s individual market, said its proposed increase of 36 percent could affect more than 209,000 consumers.

Missouri, North Carolina, Kansas:

Coventry Health Care, now owned by Aetna, is seeking rate increases that average 22 percent for 70,000 consumers in Missouri. “The claims experience for these plans has been worse than anticipated,” Coventry reported.

In its proposal to increase rates by an average of 25 percent for more than 397,000 consumers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina cited “inpatient costs, particularly in treatment of cancer and heart conditions, emergency room utilization, and cost for specialty drug medications” to treat hepatitis C, breast cancer and cystic fibrosis.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas sought increases averaging 37 percent for 2016 and said the increase could affect 28,600 consumers.

“Kansans who purchased these individual plans since 2014 were older, in general, than expected and required more medical services than anticipated,” the company told federal health officials.

Wow, so when Obama promised all kinds of new free things, that actually costs money? I can’t believe it. Why didn’t Obama tell us that it would cost more to do all these things he promised, and that we would be stuck with the bill – not him? I thought he was such a generous guy and was going to pay for all this himself. But it turns out that he was just telling you what he was going to buy with your money.

Insurance companies are raising their premiums in response to Obamacare

This story is from Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

We pointed out that several states had already tried these “guaranteed issue” and “community rating” reforms, and they’d been a disaster. Higher premiums encouraged the young and healthy to forgo insurance, knowing that they could sign up after they got sick, which drove premiums still higher.

ObamaCare was supposed to avoid this fate by heavily subsidizing insurance premiums and imposing a tax penalty for going uninsured, to get the young and healthy to sign up and keep premiums down.

But when IBD’s Jed Graham looked at the limited number of filings two weeks ago, he noted that insurers were asking for hikes that averaged 18.6%. And as more rate filings became public, that picture hasn’t changed.

In Virginia, for example, just one plan came in with a proposed rate increase below 10%. Three are above 25%. In Texas, Scott & White wants a 32% boost and Humana 30%. Alliance Health Plans in Georgia says that it needs a 37.85% increase.

The reasons given for these huge increases? The insurance pool is older and sicker than expected.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, which enrolled more than 329,000 people in the state, wants a 29% hike, saying, “Actual claims experience of the members … is significantly higher than expected.”

CareFirst in Maryland said that its per-enrollee claims shot up 49% in the first year of ObamaCare. WPS Health Plan also cited “the impact of numerous additional taxes and fees imposed upon our plan” as part of the reason why it wants a 19% boost.

It sounds so nice to feelings-oriented voters to cover all kinds of things that some people like, like birth control and sex changes. It sounds so nice to feelings-oriented voters to not turn people away with pre-existing conditions. It sounds to nice to feelings-oriented voters for every plan to cover maternity care – even for people who don’t use it, e.g. – men. But the simple fact of the matter is that when you force insurers to include more coverages and extend coverage to more people, then there will be more claims, and the next rounds of premiums must rise to cover the increased number of claims. That’s how insurance works. Although I doubt the average feelings-oriented Democrat understands that.

More:

What’s more, these big increases are coming before ObamaCare’s temporary industry bailout programs go away. They were specifically designed to protect insurers from big losses, allowing them to keep premiums lower than they might have otherwise.

The cost of claims is going higher. The subsidies to cover the higher claims disappear. The private insurance companies cannot pay the higher claims. The private insurance companies close. The government takes over the health care industry. Taxes go up, to pay for a bloated and wasteful government-run health care system. Patients are forced to wait longer for care, even after paying into the single payer system their whole lives. Conscience protections disappear. More and more unethical behaviors that require health care get covered by the single payer system, encouraging patients to be less responsible since health care is “free”. Tax rates go higher to cover skyrocketing costs of “free” health care. Government decides to cut costs by implementing coerced abortion and euthanasia.

All we have to do is look to Europe and Canada to see how it works. This is how the socialist game plan plays out.