Tag Archives: Nationalized Health Care

Bailout for health insurers? Less than 25% of Obamacare sign-ups under age 34

The Wall Street Journal reports.

Excerpt:

One-third of health plan enrollees in new insurance marketplaces are 55 or older, the Obama administration said Monday, a figure that insurers said makes the pool older than they would need to sustain their coverage at current premiums.

Administration officials said they are pushing to enroll more young people before a March 31 deadline for most people to get coverage for this year, and some cushions built into the law mean it won’t necessarily face trouble right away even if the 2014 pool of enrollees skews older.

Still, the release of the data, showing for the first time the age breakdown of people who had signed up for coverage through December, highlighted the challenge in persuading younger people who may not have a pressing need for health coverage to sign up for policies that can cost about $200 a month before subsidies.

“This is concerning to us that we’re seeing this portion come in so old,” said Marty Anderson, marketing director for the Wisconsin-based Security Health Plan, which serves rural counties in the state.

Just under a quarter of the roughly 2.2 million people who signed up for private plans nationwide by Dec. 28 were between the ages of 18 and 34, while one-third were in the 55-to-64 range, just short of the age at which most qualify for Medicare, the federal government program for the elderly.

[…]Under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, consumers no longer pay premiums based on their health risks. To prevent a sharp rise in premiums in 2015 and beyond, carriers say they need strong enrollment from younger people who are likely to be healthier. That would balance out the bills racked up by sicker and older people.

[…]”There’s no way to spin it: Youth enrollment has been a bust so far,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio). “When they see that Obamacare offers high costs for limited access to doctors—if the enrollment goes through at all—it’s no surprise that young people aren’t rushing to sign up.”

So who is going to be on the hook when the insurance companies take far higher losses than the Democrats estimated?

YOU ARE. The Weekly Standard explains why in this article.

Excerpt:

Robert Laszewski—a prominent consultant to health insurance companies—recently wrote in a remarkably candid blog post that, while Obamacare is almost certain to cause insurance costs to skyrocket even higher than it already has, “insurers won’t be losing a lot of sleep over it.”  How can this be?  Because insurance companies won’t bear the cost of their own losses—at least not more than about a quarter of them.  The other three-quarters will be borne by American taxpayers.

[…]As Laszewski explains, Obamacare contains a “Reinsurance Program that caps big claim costs for insurers (individual plans only).”  He writes that “in 2014, 80% of individual costs between $45,000 and $250,000 are paid by the government [read: by taxpayers], for example.” 

In other words, insurance purchased through Obamacare’s government-run exchanges isn’t even full-fledged private insurance; rather, it’s a sort of private-public hybrid.  Private insurance companies pay for costs below $45,000, then taxpayers generously pick up the tab—a tab that their president hasn’t ever bothered to tell them he has opened up on their behalf—for four-fifths of the next $200,000-plus worth of costs.  In this way, and so many others, Obamacare takes a major step toward the government monopoly over American medicine (“single payer”) that liberals drool about in their sleep.

Laszewski adds, “The reinsurance program has done and will continue to do what it was intended to do; help attract and keep more carriers in Obamacare than might have otherwise come.”  Thus, Obamacare is being aided by having taxpayers subsidize big insurance companies’ business expenses.  (Who could ever have guessed that big government and big business might be natural allies?)

But, amazingly, it doesn’t stop there.  Laszewski writes that Obamacare also contains a “Risk Corridor Program that limits overall losses for insurers.”  So insurers not only don’t have to pay out all of their costs; they also don’t have to swallow all of their losses. 

Laszewski explains that if an insurance company expects its costs in a given year to be X, and those costs end up being more than X plus 2 percent, taxpayers will come to that insurance company’s rescue—thanks to Obamacare.  In fact, once an insurance company covers that initial 2 percent in unexpected costs, taxpayers will cover at least 80 percent of any additional costs the insurer accrues.

Does this sound familiar? Yes – this is exactly what caused the mortgage lending crisis and bailout in 2008. Democrats were very anxious to guarantee the bad loans of mortgage lenders with taxpayer money supplied through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And they are doing it again with health insurers. (And they’ll do it again with student loans, just wait)

The best way to stop this madness is by electing Republicans in the 2014 mid-term elections. And then electing a conservative as President in 2016. Evict the children from the White House and Congress.

Ezra Klein on the costs of Obamacare: then and now

Consider this article from Forbes about Obamacare and how it was presented by Ezra Klein, a well-known journalist from the left-leaning Washington Post. (H/T Bernie M.)

Excerpt:

The key thing to remember is that back when Obamacare was being debated in Congress, Democrats claimed that it was right-wing nonsense that premiums would go up under Obamacare. “What we know for sure,” Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber told Ezra Klein in 2009, “is that [the bill] will lower the cost of buying non-group health insurance.” For sure.

In 2009, was Ezra saying that it’s ok that premiums will double for the average person, because a minority of people will pre-existing conditions will benefit? No.

Earlier that year, AHIP, the private insurer trade group, commissioned a report from Price Waterhouse Coopers to analyze the impact of Obamacare on health insurance premiums in the individual market. That report, which I reviewed here and elsewhere, found that the version of Obamacare then being considered by the Senate Finance Committee would increase premiums by 14 to 32 percent, depending on the year you looked at. In retrospect, the PwC report was a bit optimistic.

But Ezra described the PwC analysis as “the insurance industry’s deceptive report,” comparing it to sham research put out by the tobacco industry and Big Oil. Ezra did concede at the time that “buying better insurance will cost somewhat more,” because insurers would no longer be able “to sell a deceptive and insufficient product.”

But high-deductible, catastrophic insurance isn’t cheaper because it’s dishonest. It’s cheaper because it’s more efficiently designed. And it’s precisely that sort of efficiently-designed insurance that Obamacare abolishes.

I blogged about that study from Price Waterhouse Coopers before, too. In fact, I fully explained why specific provisions of Obamacare would necessarily raise health insurance premiums.

Before the 2012 election, I linked to an article from Investors Business Daily, which confirmed that premiums had indeed risen since the passage of Obamacare.

Excerpt:

During his first run for president, Barack Obama made one very specific promise to voters: He would cut health insurance premiums for families by $2,500, and do so in his first term.

But it turns out that family premiums have increased by more than $3,000 since Obama’s vow, according to the latest annual Kaiser Family Foundation employee health benefits survey.

Premiums for employer-provided family coverage rose $3,065 — 24% — from 2008 to 2012, the Kaiser survey found. Even if you start counting in 2009, premiums have climbed $2,370.

What’s more, premiums climbed faster in Obama’s four years than they did in the previous four under President Bush, the survey data show.

Despite these facts, the American people went along with the mainstream media and re-elected Obama for a second term in 2012, blocking any repeal of Obamacare.

I think that the American people need to realize that most journalists cannot be counted on to handle research and evidence accurately. Most of them probably never even completed a high school math or science course. They studied journalism. Journalism is not computer science. Journalism is not petroleum engineering. Journalism is not nursing. Journalism is an area where students are graded based on their ability to parrot what their leftist professors tell them to believe.  At best, left-wing journalists are not competent. At worst, they are outright liars. Study after study on media bias has confirmed that left-wing journalists cannot be trusted to report the news fairly. That is not my opinion, that’s a fact.

Unfortunately for us, our failure to fix our little Obama mistake in the 2012 election is going to cost us all dearly – especially young people.

Related posts

CBO: Obamacare will push 7 million Americans out of job based health insurance

The Washington Times reports.

Excerpt:

President Obama’s health care law will push 7 million people out of their job-based insurance coverage — nearly twice the previous estimate, according to the latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office released Tuesday.

CBO said that this year’s tax cuts have changed the incentives for businesses and made it less attractive to pay for insurance, meaning fewer will decide to do so. Instead, they’ll choose to pay a penalty to the government, totaling $13 billion in higher fees over the next decade.

But the non-partisan agency also expects fewer people to have to pay individual penalties to the IRS than it earlier projects, because of a better method for calculating incomes that found more people will be exempt.

Overall, the new health provisions are expected to cost the government $1.165 trillion over the next decade — the same as last year’s projection.

With other spending cuts and tax increases called for in the health law, though, CBO still says Mr. Obama’s signature achievement will reduce budget deficits in the short term.

During the health care debate Mr. Obama had said individuals would be able to keep their plans.

Obama said one thing, and something else happened. So why did an obvious liar win re-election in 2012?

The purpose of Democrat policies is not to make our lives better. The purpose of their policies is to make them feel good about themselves. Their good intentions matter more than actual results. But it’s not enough to say that everyone will have great health care. Politicians have to put in place policies that will solve the real problem and make things better. Nothing that Obama did solves the problem. In fact, what he did made the problem worse. That’s what happens when you appoint an imbecile to a difficult task. You get failure.

When government runs health care: NHS offers sex tips to children as young as 13

Dina sent me this disturbing article from the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

Teenagers as young as 13 are being given explicit sexual advice and tips on how to lose their virginity from a taxpayer-funded website and iPhone app.

The respectyourself.info website contains graphic detail about various sexual acts – including those that involve a man physically abusing his partner during sex.

On the website, which is targeted at those as young as 13, teens can take an ‘Are you ready quiz’ and answer a series of multiple-choice questions to assess whether they are prepared to lose their virginity.

[…]A variety of degrading sexual acts are listed within it, with many too graphic to reproduce.

[…]The website and app, designed to cut teenage pregnancies, have been branded ‘grossly irresponsible’ by family charities.

The project, part-funded by the EU and Warwickshire County Council and designed by the NHS, is the first of its kind in the UK.

[…]The respectyourself.info website features sex tips for children as young as 13 and naked pictures of a man and a woman with their erogenous zones highlighted. There is also a ‘sextionary’ to describe slang terms for genitalia.

One section of the website – which is free to download and has been targeted at children as young as 13 – gives tips on anal and oral sex as well as losing your virginity.

This story reminds me of a line from Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House”. He wrote: “The one great principle of the English law is, to make business for itself. ” Sometimes I wonder whether all of this effort by the government to encourage things like sex education, no-fault divorce, recreational premarital sex, discouraging chivalry and traditional male roles, etc. is all just an effort to break up the relatively self-sufficient nuclear family unit. People who have a ton of sexual experience before marrying don’t have stable marriages nor do they have high quality marriages (see studies below). Breaking up future families is what creates the need for bigger government: more social programs, more welfare, more divorce courts, more public schools, more day care, more police, more regulation, etc. Less freedom. Less love. Less intimacy.

This sort of story is particularly disturbing for me, because I have paid a lot of money in taxes during career. I have kept myself chaste all this time so that I would be able to bond tightly to whichever woman I marry. Now I see that if I were in the UK, my tax money would be going to indoctrinate the women I could be married into a lifestyle that would make them unable to perform the roles of wife and mother – shrinking the pool of candidates that I can choose from. My earnings would be used by people who don’t agree with my goals and my values to wreck my plan for lifelong married love and a house filled with children. We shouldn’t be voting for the government to control things like health care or schools or helping the poor or anything. They just wreck it all with their own immoral agenda.

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Canada’s “free” single-payer health care system costs each family $11,000 per year

From the Vancouver Sun.

Excerpt:

The true cost of Canada’s health care system is more than $11,000 in taxes each year for an average family, according to Vancouver-based think tank The Fraser Institute.

The institute’s report calculates the amount of taxes the average family pays to all levels of government in a year and the percentage of the total tax bill that goes towards public health care insurance.

A family of two parents with an average income of $113,226 and two children will pay $11,401 for public health care insurance, the report says.

[…]Institute senior fellow Nadeem Esmail said in a news release sent out this morning: “There’s a widespread belief that health care is free in Canada. It’s not; our tax dollars cover the cost of it. But the way we pay for health care disguises exactly how much public health care insurance costs Canadian families and how that cost is increasing over time.”

The release noted that since 2002, the cost of health care insurance for the average Canadian family increased by 59.8 per cent before inflation.

“By way of comparison, the cost of public health care increased more than twice as fast as the cost of shelter, roughly four times as fast as the cost of food, and more than five times as fast as the cost of clothing,” the release said.

This is the system that Obamacare is trying to force onto us by eliminating private sector health care. But proponents of single payer health care tell us that it’s better for patients than the American free enterprise system. Is it? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

A defense of American health care

Story from the Hoover Institute at Stanford University.

The article compares American health care to health care in other places like Canada, the UK and Europe.

The full article. I almost never cite the full article, but this is a must read.

MEDICINE AND HEALTH:
Here’s a Second Opinion

By Scott W. Atlas

Ten reasons why America’s health care system is in better condition than you might suppose. ByScott W. Atlas.

Medical care in the United States is derided as miserable compared to health care systems in the rest of the developed world. Economists, government officials, insurers, and academics beat the drum for a far larger government role in health care. Much of the public assumes that their arguments are sound because the calls for change are so ubiquitous and the topic so complex. Before we turn to government as the solution, however, we should consider some unheralded facts about America’s health care system.

1. Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers.Breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom. Prostate cancer mortality is 604 percent higher in the United Kingdom and 457 percent higher in Norway. The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among British men and women is about 40 percent higher.

2. Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians.Breast cancer mortality in Canada is 9 percent higher than in the United States, prostate cancer is 184 percent higher, and colon cancer among men is about 10 percent higher.

3. Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries.Some 56 percent of Americans who could benefit from statin drugs, which reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease, are taking them. By comparison, of those patients who could benefit from these drugs, only 36 percent of the Dutch, 29 percent of the Swiss, 26 percent of Germans, 23 percent of Britons, and 17 percent of Italians receive them.

4. Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians.Take the proportion of the appropriate-age population groups who have received recommended tests for breast, cervical, prostate, and colon cancer:

  • Nine out of ten middle-aged American women (89 percent) have had a mammogram, compared to fewer than three-fourths of Canadians (72 percent).
  • Nearly all American women (96 percent) have had a Pap smear, compared to fewer than 90 percent of Canadians.
  • More than half of American men (54 percent) have had a prostatespecific antigen (PSA) test, compared to fewer than one in six Canadians (16 percent).
  • Nearly one-third of Americans (30 percent) have had a colonoscopy, compared with fewer than one in twenty Canadians (5 percent).

5. Lower-income Americans are in better health than comparable Canadians. Twice as many American seniors with below-median incomes self-report “excellent” health (11.7 percent) compared to Canadian seniors (5.8 percent). Conversely, white, young Canadian adults with below-median incomes are 20 percent more likely than lower-income Americans to describe their health as “fair or poor.”

6. Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the United Kingdom. Canadian and British patients wait about twice as long—sometimes more than a year—to see a specialist, have elective surgery such as hip replacements, or get radiation treatment for cancer. All told, 827,429 people are waiting for some type of procedure in Canada. In Britain, nearly 1.8 million people are waiting for a hospital admission or outpatient treatment.

7. People in countries with more government control of health care are highly dissatisfied and believe reform is needed. More than 70 percent of German, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and British adults say their health system needs either “fundamental change” or “complete rebuilding.”

8. Americans are more satisfied with the care they receive than Canadians. When asked about their own health care instead of the “health care system,” more than half of Americans (51.3 percent) are very satisfied with their health care services, compared with only 41.5 percent of Canadians; a lower proportion of Americans are dissatisfied (6.8 percent) than Canadians (8.5 percent).

9. Americans have better access to important new technologies such as medical imaging than do patients in Canada or Britain. An overwhelming majority of leading American physicians identify computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as the most important medical innovations for improving patient care during the previous decade—even as economists and policy makers unfamiliar with actual medical practice decry these techniques as wasteful. The United States has thirty-four CT scanners per million Americans, compared to twelve in Canada and eight in Britain. The United States has almost twenty-seven MRI machines per million people compared to about six per million in Canada and Britain.

10. Americans are responsible for the vast majority of all health care innovations. The top five U.S. hospitals conduct more clinical trials than all the hospitals in any other developed country. Since the mid- 1970s, the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology has gone to U.S. residents more often than recipients from all other countries combined. In only five of the past thirty-four years did a scientist living in the United States not win or share in the prize. Most important recent medical innovations were developed in the United States.

Despite serious challenges, such as escalating costs and care for the uninsured, the U.S. health care system compares favorably to those in other developed countries.


This essay appeared on the website of the National Center for Policy Analysis on March 24, 2009. An earlier version was published in theWashington Times.

Available from the Hoover Press is Power to the Patient: Selected Health Care Issues and Policy Solutions, edited by Scott W. Atlas. To order, call 800.935.2882 or visitwww.hooverpress.org.


Scott W. Atlas is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor of radiology and chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical School.

Note that the author is a professor of radiology and chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical School. Stanford and Harvard are generally regarded as the two best universities in the United States.