Sunday, August 14, 2016

August, 2016, Part 1, The Unfolding Disaster That Is Obama Care: Higher Costs, Less Choice, More Hassles

Every month for years now we have had to discuss how bad Obama Care is turning out to be under the continuing theme, “the unfolding disaster that is Obama Care.” This month is no different. As the legislation continues to march through America, driving up health care and health insurance prices as it serves as dead weight on economic growth, it cements its rightful place as the worst piece of legislation Washington has ever produced.

It never had a chance to be successful since it really never addressed the underlying root causes of our ever increasing health costs in the country:

  • Americans eat too much of the wrong kind of food, resulting in obscenely high obesity rates for the country.
  • Our food chain is infested with overdoses of high fructose corn syrup, salt, and other unhealthy additives.
  • Americans smoke too much.
  • Americans do not exercise enough.
  • The country is in serious need of health care tort reform.
  • Barriers to insurance company competition across state lines need to come down.
  • Obama Care never “followed the money” to find out who is actually profiting from the ever escalating healthcare costs in this country and how to get those factors under control.
  • Obama Care never got the immense amount of fraud and abuse in current government healthcare programs, Medicare and Medicaid, under control in order to save money to efficiently fund other government health care initiatives.
  • Obama Care never put serious research money towards curing the major diseases that drive high healthcare costs such as high frequency cancers and dementia type diseases.
  • You cannot resolve any problem unless you understand and address the underlying root causes. No difference here: Obama Care legislation never addressed these listed root causes and thus, has no chance of ever being successful.
But it is not just missing the root causes of our healthcare costs that makes Obama Care so horrible. It resulted in millions of Americans losing access to their favored doctors, hospitals, and insurance policies. It has caused insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays to escalate substantially. It will likely add trillions of dollars to the national debt. It has exposed millions of Americans to higher than necessary identity theft chances. It has created government bureaucracies that are wastefully spending taxpayer wealth and being exploited by criminal elements. It has stifled economic growth and job creation.

These are just a sample of the types of idiocy that we have been reviewing for the past several years in this blog relative to Obama Care., To read those past posts, just enter the phrase, “the unfolding disaster,” in the search box above.

This week we will be reviewing the latest unfolding disasters from the worst piece of legislation ever written by Washington:

1) Remember all of the promises that were made about Obama Care in the beginning: many more people would be able to get much cheaper but higher quality health insurance policies in a very easy way via Obama Care exchanges. We have shown many, many times over the years that the exact opposite came true: the health insurance policies were more expensive and getting more expensive over time, the quality of the coverage was decreasing, and it was difficult if not impossible to navigate the exchanges’ computer systems to actually sign up for a policy.

Well, a new report from Employee Benefit Research Institute backs up our view of reality years after Obama Care took effect by finding that more and more small businesses are finding that they cannot afford to provide health insurance benefits to their employees. In 2015, only 22.7% of businesses with less than ten employees offered health insurance to their employees compared to 35.6% that offered health insurance in 2008, just before Obama Care was passed. 

Businesses with between 10 and 24 employees saw the percentage of small businesses offering health insurance drop from 66.1% to less than 50% in that same time span and small businesses with between 25 and 99 employees so the percentage offering health insurance drop from 81.3% to just 73.5%. Thus, it appears that Obama Care, relative to America’s small businesses, had the exact opposite of what was promised and intended: health insurance became tougher and more expensive to obtain for employees of America’s small businesses.

In essence, the study concluded: “For many smaller employers, the business, labor/employment, and healthcare environments may have all changed the cost-benefit calculation against sponsoring health coverage—greater costs and risks, with reduced differentiating, attraction and retention benefits.” In other words, Obama Care may have caused the business environment to look at the provision of health insurance for employees as more expensive with less return for the money.

2) As always, we bring up the sad reality that Obama promised dozens and dozens of times that the Obama Care legislation would reduce the cost of health insurance for the average American family up to $2,500 a year. As always, we have constantly shown what a lie or deception that vow was.

And a recent article in the LA Times again shows how far off Obama was with that promise/lie. The paper reported that the premiums for Obama Care policies in California will rise 13% in 2017. This is more than three times the increase of the past two years and probably more than six times the rate of inflation. 

The article by Melody Petersen and Noam Levey also recalled how the California Obama Care exchange had boasted that they had helped insure hundreds of thousands of people in that state while keeping costs down….until 2017. Premium costs had increased 4% in 2016 and 4.2% in 2015 as compared to the 17% likely increase in 2017.

The exchange blamed a number of factors for the large rate hike including the rising costs of medical care, including expensive specialty drugs and the end of a financial mechanism that held down rates for the first three years of Obama Care. In other words, in 2017 we will see the real, market based costs of health insurance in California and the cost is skyrocketing, the exact opposite of what Obama promised would happen.

Blue Shield of California asked for an average 19% increase in its Obama Care policies and Anthem asked for an average increase of 16%. These are the two largest companies offering Obama Care policies in the state. The article correctly points out that some policyholders may need to drop down to a lower cost insurance policy based on these cost increases. However, doing so would reduce the quality of care and may require them to find a whole new set of doctors as per their new policy, definitely a hassle.

Jamie Court, the president of the Consumer Watchdog organization in Santa Monica summed the mess nicely: “We’re paying more for less. Insurers are limiting access to doctors and hospitals while also demanding a higher price.”

But according to the article, California is not alone in this problem. They reporters cite a study of 14 metro areas that have already announced their 2017 Obama Care premium plans and found that the average increase will be 11%, more than five times what inflation has been. The changes in average premiums range from a decrease of 14% in Providence, R.I., to an increase of 26% in Portland, Ore., according to the analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

None of these high increases should be a surprise. As we have often pointed out, the legislation never attacked the root causes of high healthcare costs in this country, most of which are listed above. Despite being years from when the legislation passed, Americans are still obese, out of shape, smoking too much, not exercising enough, etc. so it is no surprised that costs are still skyrocketing, the base causes are still out of control. And Obama's promise of reducing annual premium costs by $2,500 a year looks more and more absurd everyday.

3) Some Blue Shield organizations and Unitedhealthcare have already announced that they are dropping all of their Obama Care policies going forward or most of them. They have found that the costs of serving Obama Care policy holders were much higher than expected, resulting in significantly negative financial impacts to their business. This has had the double whammy of forcing existing Obama Care customers to find other insurance options and reducing competition in the markets served by these companies, causing costs to rise more easily in the absence of competition.

And now a recent article on the Daily Caller website states that another major insurance company, Humana, would be existing the Obama Care market due to negative financial results. 

4) Let’s end today’s review of the unfolding disasters of Obama Care with some real life stories of real life Americans and how Obama Care has hurt them financially and healthwise. The source of these stories is the website, This is what is really going on underneath all of the high level numbers:

KATE, NEW MEXICO: We own our own business and pay for our own healthcare. As of January 1, 2014 the cost of a comparable healthcare policy tripled and our old policy was cancelled. We have been unable to afford the cost increase and as of May 2014 we have no insurance at all. This has been a very frustrating situation for us.

DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA: From Newsmax: Dean Griffin liked the health insurance he purchased for himself and his wife three years ago and thought he'd be able to keep the plan even after the federal Affordable Care Act took effect.

But the 64-year-old recently received a letter notifying him the plan was being canceled because it didn't cover certain benefits required under the law.

The Griffins, who live near Philadelphia on the Delaware border, pay $770 monthly for their soon-to-be-terminated health care plan with a $2,500 deductible. The cheapest plan they found on their state insurance exchange was a so-called bronze plan charging a $1,275 monthly premium with deductibles totaling $12,700. It covers only providers in Pennsylvania, so the couple wouldn't be able to see the doctors in Delaware whom they've used for more than a decade.

"We're buying insurance that we will never use and can't possibly ever benefit from. We're basically passing on a benefit to other people who are not otherwise able to buy basic insurance," said Griffin, who is retired from running an information technology company.

YVETTE, MAINE: "The least expensive of the new federal healthcare options will cost her $14,400 a year."

That will do it for today’s unfolding disaster that is Obama Care. Higher costs, less choice, more hassle, worst legislation ever. And more of the same tomorrow.

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