Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August, 2016, Part 2, The Unfolding Disaster That Is Obama Care: More Cost Increases, More Missed Enrollment Targets,and More Heartbreaking Stories

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) A July 7, 2016 article by Micheal F. Cannon of the Cato organization summarized some of the failures of Obama Care, based on a study by Jeff Goldsmith and Bruce Henderson of Navigant Healthcare:

  • Obama Care’s exchanges was supposed to double or triple the size of the individual health insurance market which it failed to do.
  • The Obama Care so-called 40% "Cadillac tax” was supposed to encourage large companies to change their current group healthcare insurance plans which it has failed to do so far even if it was not scheduled to take effect until 2018.
  • At the end of 2015, only 8.8 million people had signed up for Obama Care policies and as few as half of these policyholders may have been previously uninsured, i.e. half of the current policy holders just churned from another policy they already had, contrary to the aims of Obama Care which was go get currently uninsured people covered with insurance.
  • While 12.7 million people signed up for Obama Care policies in the latest 2016 sign up period, that number is dropping fast as many of them have not paid their premiums after signing up. And any way, the Obama administration objective was to have 21 million people signed up for Obama Care policies this year, a number that will be missed badly even if all of the 12.7 eventually pay for their policies, a highly unlikely situation.
  • The Obama Care co-ops and large insurance companies alike have lost untold billions of dollars since the costs of serving Obama Care customers has been far higher than expected or forecasted.
  • Obama Care’s Accountable Care Organization/Medicare Shared Savings Program, something I know nothing about, apparently was another disaster and failure with lower than expected enrollment and lower than expected financial benefits.
  • The Cadillac tax which supposed to encourage large companies to change their current insurance plans for the better and help finance the overall Obama Care effort has been postponed from 2018 until 2020 and will likely never take effect given the political opposition from just about everyone, robbing Obama Care of one of its pillars of financial credibility.
Just another analytical view of the unfolding disasters that continually crop up from the Obama Care morass.

2) According to a July 15 2016 report on the Americans For Prosperity website, the Obama administration has been illegally paying off some of the losses that Obama Care insurers incurred as a result of the Obama Care legislation.This bailout process was being done despite the fact that Congress never approved the bailouts which have totaled in the billions of dollars. That was the basis of the ruling by a Federal judge who ruled that “the Obama administration unlawfully used this taxpayer money, saying the only way it can be spent is if Congress authorizes it.”

Given that major healthcare insurers are already pulling out of Obama Care policies or severely cutting back because of financial losses, imagine how bad those losses would have been and how many more companies would have pulled out if they had not been getting illegal bailout money? Thus, from an insurer perspective, the true results are worse than they appear to be.

3) Staying with the Americans For Prosperity website, they recently ran an article that highlighted three other studies that show, using real world numbers and results, that Obama Care has been an absolute disaster:

- A Brookings Institute study from 2014 using real data found that “enrollment-weighted premiums in the individual health insurance market increased by 24.4 percent beyond what they would have had they simply followed…trends.” In other words, Obama Care caused an incremental 24.4% INCREASE in premiums despite Obama's constant promise that premiums could go DOWN by as much as $2,500 a year.

- An S&P Global Institute study found that individual medical costs increased significantly between 2013 and 2015, up by an estimated 69%. Thus, it does not appear, according to this analysis, that Obama’s promise to “bend the cost curve” was successful, not when medical costs are up a whopping 69%.

- And finally, the article found that “2014 insurer data shows that premiums for individual market Qualified Health Plans (QHPs), ACA-compliant plans certified to be sold on exchanges, were much higher than premiums for individual market non-QHPs, mostly plans in existence before 2014 that did not comply with the ACA. Relative to non-QHPs, insurers collected more than $1,000 per enrollee in higher premiums and more than $2,300 in higher premium revenue per enrollee in 2014 after accounting for large premium subsidy programs for their QHPs.” 

In other words, people who had plans they were happy with, prior to Obama Care taking effect, because those plans fit their needs and their budgets were forced to pay a lot more for Obama Care policies once the legislation made their current policies illegal to own and forced the insurance companies to remove them from the market. Put another way, the insurance companies got a lot more money from American taxpayers because the government via Obama Care forced American to purchase more expensive insurance policies.

Three more studies that show, using real world data, that Obama Care continues to be an unfolding disaster.

4) As we often do with this series, let’s finish today’s and this month’s review of the unfolding disasters of Obama Care but looking at real life Americans struggling with real life health issues as a result of Obama Care. The source of theses struggles is the website, www.ourhealthcarestories.com:

DAVID, NEVADA: I was really looking forward to my $2,500 savings I was promised. My total yearly cost instead went up by $2,620 with a higher deductible. President Obama could not have been this far off in his prediction which means he knew he was lying and said it anyway

DOREEN, MICHIGAN: We've always been self-sufficient and paid our own way for health care, entering into payment plans when necessary. Most of our providers were happy to slightly discount their usual rates for services, since we are self-insured, thus negating their dealing with insurance companies. In November 2013, our primary care provider sent a notice effective 1/1/14 that his office visit rate for Self-Pay Patients would increase to $90-$150 from its previous $55. Though not explicitly stated, we surmised that this was a result of Obamacare, as we've been seeing this doctor for many years with no significant increase in price/visit and the notice makes very clear that we should notify them if our health care insurance situation changes.

We remain self-sufficient and refuse to have others forced to subsidize our needs.

JANET, COLORADO: From Denver 7 News: We talked to Janet Chapple who is infuriated by the president's political catch phrase, "Keep it, if you like it."

Chapple, who works for a small property management company, said the president's statement was a blatant lie.

"The small business plan that my employer offers is being canceled by Kaiser (Permanente)," she said. "It's not an issue of cost. It's just that they are no longer going to be offering small business coverage."

"This is not what i consider a bare bones plan, by any means," she said. "That's exactly where my frustration comes in -- we have a very good plan here."

She said she spent time researching it and says her canceled plan exceeds the minimum coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

My Family’s Experience:  To these stories let me add one of our own from a family member of mine. My wife recently had a small knee surgery performed on a torn meniscus of hers. As we walked out of the surgery center, the nurse handed us a pair of crutches and told them they were ours, we had purchased them as part of the surgery’s cost. My wife used the crutches for two days at most, at which part we decided to sell them on Craigslist since we foresaw no use for them. I did a little research and found that this model usually sold for about $109 when they are new. I listed them for $45, knowing from experience that if you want something to sell on Craigslist it has to be priced very economically.

I got no takers for the crutches which gives you an idea that at $45 they were probably overpriced. However, the bad news recently arrived in the mail that the crutches we were given were being billed at a whopping $800, crutches that we used for two days and which have a retail value of just over $100. Now, the insurance company paid for some of the cost, there was an insurance company discount for some of the cost, but the surgery center was trying to bill us for $338, more than three times the retail value of the crutches. 

Which gets us back to the root causes of our high healthcare costs that are listed above. Specifically, Obama Care failed to “follow the money” as it relates to healthcare costs. And our own experience is just one example. Where do those hundreds of dollars go to that are a result of severe overbilling for a simple pair of crutches? I am sure this type of gross profit taking by the industry goes on everyday in every aspect of the healthcare industry. This explains a huge chunk of every rising healthcare costs, when $100 crutches get sold for hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Somebody is getting rich with this type of scam and Obama Care failed to root out these kind of excesses.

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