Friday, September 26, 2014

September, 2014, Part 7, The Unfolding Disaster That Is Obama Care - This Months Wrap Up Fiascos

This is our seventh and hopefully last update to our continuing series that looks at the unfolding disaster that is Obama Care. For years, and especially over the past thirteen months, we have had to dedicate many posts each month to cover the fiascoes and heartache that this insipid piece of legislation has generated. This law has increased health care costs, increased taxes, increased unemployment, depressed economic growth, created serious identify theft opportunities for criminals, and created other disasters that are too numerous to mention here.

All of these disasters have been incurred for very little upside to what ails the health care system in this country. The legislation never understood and thus, never attacked, the underlying root causes of our health care problems. Obama Care just made a bad situation even worse.

Let’s see if can wrap up this month’s disaster today and make the pain stop….at least until next month.

1) A new analysis and report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York proved that Obama Care is having a significant negative impact on employers' health care coverage, employment, and even on consumer prices. The report, entitled “August 2014 Empire State Manufacturing Survey and its Business Leaders Survey” states how "how the ACA [Obama Care] is affecting businesses and how businesses are responding to the new legislation.”

Other findings include:
  • The manufacturing companies surveyed foresee a median increase of 10% in their health care coverage costs from 2013 to 2014, and the service firms reported a 9% increase. Both surveys predicted a 10% increase in 2015.
  • Almost 40% of the manufacturing firms said Obama Care has increased their per-worker health benefit costs "a little" this year, and 34.9% said "a lot." 
  • For service firms, 38.4% said "a little" and 20% said "a lot."
  • Over 84% of manufacturing companies making modifications report that they are raising deductibles and almost 79% are increasing co-pays.
  • Service firms that are making modifications found that 76.5% are raising deductibles, and 79.4% are increasing co-pays.
  • Almost 22% of manufacturing firms said they are reducing the number of workers they employ, 19.3% are raising their proportion of part-time workers, 19.3% are increasing outsourcing, and 36.4% are raising the prices they charge customers.
  • For service firms, 25% are raising prices, and 20.2% are increasing their proportion of part-time workers.
  • A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia showed similar results, with many firms increasing their part-time workers and outsourcing, raising employee contributions to health care coverage, deductibles, and co-pays, and raising the prices they charge customers.
No surprises here, based on previous reporting we have done: fewer full time workers, higher prices, higher insurance premiums and deductibles, and the stifling of economic growth. Tough to argue what a lousy piece of legislation this is from an employment and economic perspective, at least in the eyes of the Federal Reserve Board.

2) Computer hackers infected a computer server this summer, again raising the specter of easy identity theft within the Obama Care computer systems. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is demanding a key Obama Care official testify before his committee after the Obama administration revealed hackers had successfully breached

The entire open enrollment process starts up again in a month or so so having hackers getting into the same systems that will support the open enrollment so close to the new enrollment season has to make any American leery about giving up their personal information to a less than secure computer process.

3) One of the many false promises Obama put forth in support of the Obama Care disaster was that there would be little, if any, incremental increase in the Federal national debt burden as a result of Obama Care. However, a Washington Examiner article by Phillip Klein on September 3, 2014 puts lends some serious credence to the fact that his comment on the debt was another lie or false promise since by 2023, all levels of U.S. governments will be spending $2.5 trillion a year on the nation‘s health care. That will be a 78% increase from the $1.4 trillion that is spent today. 

It is very difficult/impossible to believe that adding over a trillion dollars a year to government budgets, just to cover health care costs, will not dramatically increase the national debt. Thus, another Obama and Obama Care promise exploded, the minimizing the impact on the national debt is pure fallacy.

4) The website,, recently ran an extensive summary of the many negative impacts and attributes of Obama Care. While it covers many of the disasters we have discussed in this series, I strongly recommend you go to the following link for another in-depth perspective on how bad this legislation really is:

Their analysis pulls information from a wide and diverse set of sources. A sample of their sources include the following insights and warnings:

- From The Manhattan Institute, a think tank that studies health care issues among others, found that older men (around age 64) are the only general group benefiting from lower rates than before because of the ACA. Young men (around age 27) are suffering the most from higher premiums as a result of Obamacare — an average 67 percent monthly increase.

- The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that the top-selling insurance provider in Minnesota in the first year of Obama Care health exchanges is bailing completely out of the Obama Care market going forward: Golden Valley-based PreferredOne had set the lowest premium prices in the nation last year and signed up nearly 6 in 10 consumers who shopped on the MNsure exchange. But the insurer’s CEO, Marcus Merz, said this week in a letter to the exchange’s leaders that “continuing to provide this coverage through MNsure is not sustainable.

The move could portend higher health care premiums in the year ahead and is the latest setback for an exchange that suffered persistent technical problems in its debut year. “That’s a huge blow to MNsure,” said Allan Baumgarten, an independent Twin Cities health care analyst.

- From USA Today reports: Premiums for employer-paid insurance are up 3% this year, but deductibles are up nearly 50% since 2009, the report by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows. The average deductible this year is $1,217, up from $826 five years ago. Nearly 20% of workers overall have to pay at least $2,000 before their insurance kicks in, while workers at firms with 199 or fewer employees are feeling the pain of out-of-pocket costs even more: A third of these employees at small companies pay at least $2,000 deductibles.

From the Wall Street Journal: University of Chicago economist Casey B. Mulligan foresees an economic impact that will run into the hundreds of billions of dollars, and that’s just lost income and productivity incidentally wiped out by ObamaCare, on top of its explicit and hidden direct costs… The Affordable Care Act is weakening the economy. And for the large number of families and individuals who continue to pay for their own health care, health care is now less affordable.

More expert opinions, more bad news for America’s health, families, and health care.

5) Sarah Palin was ridiculed when she correctly predicted that Obama Care involved a death panel component that would tend to shut down or restrict medical treatment for older Americans. Was she crazy? 

We have already reported on the fact that the Federal government is going to pay doctors who counsel patients on the options of getting medical treatment at an advanced age. The Obama Care legislation included the creation of a panel to look at costly treatments, usually the type that apply to older, sicker Americans, to see if they were needed and cost effective.

And if those two developments were not creepy enough, consider what one of the main architects of the Obama care legislation recently said in an interview in The Atlantic: “I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop."

This quote came out of the mouth of Ezekiel Emanuel in The Atlantic, a primary developer and proponent of the legislation, a clear statement that age 75 is a good time to check out of life. He want on to say: “That’s how long I want to live: 75 years. This preference drives my daughters crazy. It drives my brothers crazy. My loving friends think I am crazy. They think that I can’t mean what I say; that I haven’t thought clearly about this, because there is so much in the world to see and do. To convince me of my errors, they enumerate the myriad people I know who are over 75 and doing quite well.” And, at older ages, “We literally lose our creativity.”

If the creator of the legislation thinks we should all check out at age 75, does anyone still think that Sarah Palin was crazy?

6) Let’s wrap up this post and this month’s unfolding disaster review of Obama Care with a simple story of how the legislation has failed to rein in health care costs, the primary objective of the whole effort in the first place. NBC 4 New York television station in New York City recently reported that last August, Baer Hanusz-Rajkowski, of Bayonne, New Jersey accidentally cut his finger with the claw-end of a hammer. 

He waited a few days for the wound to heal but the cut didn’t seem to be closing. Thus, he went to the Bayonne Medical Center emergency room to see whether or not he should get stitches. The nurse practitioner determined no stitches were necessary, he says, and no other treatments such as X-rays were done besides a tetanus shot and a band aid.

As a result of this simple interaction, he was charged an obscene and amazing amount of over $8,800 for the whole encounter at the hospital. This included $180 for the tetanus shot, $242 for sterile supplies (i.e. a band aid), several hundred dollars for the nurse practitioner’s services (which likely lasted only a few minutes), $8 for antibacterial ointment, and a whopping $8,200 to cover the emergency room visit. Unbelievable.

This is what happens when you do not understand the underlying root causes of a problem: any solution you come up with is likely to fail since whatever you do, the underlying problems continue to fester. Obama Care never understood the root causes of our high health care costs and thus never resolved the problem of $242 for a band aid and $8,800 for a simple hospital visit for a simple problem. Those ridiculous and obscene costs continue to haunt the country today in spite of Obama Care, and in many cases, because of Obama Care.

That will do it for this month’s Obama Care disasters. I would like to hope that we will never visit this topic again, that all of the possible disasters have already been covered. The odds of that happening are as good as any Obama Care promise actually coming true. See you next month, same time, same disastrous legislation.

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