Thursday, February 9, 2017

February, 2017, The Unfolding Disaster That Is Obama Care: A Lying Politician, Less Competition, and Jerking Americans Around

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) One of Obama’s constant selling points, and lies, about Obama Care is that it would increase competition for health insurance policies, resulting in a wider and cheaper choice of policies. As we have discussed many times, this situation never, ever materialized, as a new report from the Heritage Foundation again points out:
  • Four years after Obama Care came into existence, there are fewer and fewer insurance companies participating in the Obama Care policy market.
  • The number of competitors is at the lowest level ever with about 70% of U.S. counties having access to two or fewer insurers to do business with.
  • Prior to Obama Care there were 395 insurance companies selling health insurance policies in the individual health insurance market across all states. 
  • In 2017, there are only 218 insurers selling Obama Care insurance policies across all states, making the Obama Care market 45% less competitive than what the individual market was prior to Obama Care.
  • Relative to 2016, there are 24% fewer insurers in the Obama Care market in 2017 with 33 states having fewer insurers, 16 states having the same number and only Virginia having more Obama Care insurers.
  • Five states, Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming, have only one Obama Care insurer in 2017. 
  • Another 12 states (Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia have only two Obama Care insurers offering coverage in 2017.
  • County level Obama Care insurer competition can be even worse than when just looking at the state level coverage.
  • For example, in Texas at the state level, there are ten companies offering Obama Care policies statewide but 86% of Texas counties have only one or two insurers offering Obama Care policies and only six counties have as many as six competitors.
  • In 2016, 7% of U.S. counties had only one Obama Care competitor in the county while in 2017 33% of U.S. counties have only one Obama Care insurer.
  • In 2017, 80 insurance companies got out of the Obama Care business while 11 insurance companies entered it, a net loss of 69 companies.
  • Many of the exiting insurance companies were big companies with a lot of customers such as UnitedHealthcare which exited 31 of the 34 states where it offered exchange coverage in 2016, Aetna which exited 11 of 15 states, and Humana left four out of the 15 states, in which they sold coverage in 2016.
  • According to government analyses, the average increase in the monthly premium cost for the Obama Care benchmark plan went up 25% in 2017 in the 39 states using the Federal exchange database to purchase insurance, a problem that will cause more and more people to not buy insurance which will decrease insurance companies’ customer base which will lead to less profitability which will drive up rates….and we are now in a death spiral.
Such a sad state of affairs and such a long, long way from the fake Obama promise that Obama Care would increase competition.

2) It is always a pleasure when a liberal, left leaning media company, in this case the Washington Post, calls a liberal left leaning politician a liar of the top degree. Kyle Feldscher, writing for the Washington Examiner on January 14, 2017, pointed out that the Washington Post gave a top liar rating of “four Pinocchios” to Bernie Sanders when he claimed that 36,000 Americans would die every year if Obama Care was repealed. You cannot be considered a worst liar under the Post’s rating system than what Sanders was rated.

Apparently, the Senator’s reasoning was not only based on some bad numbers from a left leaning think tank but it also assumed that there would not be a replacement for Obama Care that maybe could actually be better. But reasoning, reality, and accurate numbers rarely fit into a politician’s position and at least the Post had enough integrity in this case to punch incredibly large holes in this false and misleading assertion.

3) Melissa Quinn, writing for the Heritage Foundation on February 1, 2017, reviewed the very frustrating case of a Nebraska women who lost her individual health insurance multiple times as a result of Obama Care. Yes, the legislation that was going to make getting health insurance so easy, that was going to provide a large selection of policies and companies to choose from, and was going to be cheap, did not quite work out for Pamela Weldin:
  • First, though, consider that Ms.Weldin was a prime member of Obama Care’s target market: she qualified for a tax subsidy and had a pre-existing condition.
  • In the lead up to the ObamaCare rollout she lost access to her existing policy with Humana as a result of Obama Care requirements.
  • She then purchased an Obama Care platinum policy through CoOportunity Health the local Obama Care co-op program.
  • But in a year, the co-op cancelled her platinum policy and she had to downgrade to a silver Obama Care policy.
  • But she then got a message from the co-op that it was going out of business because of financial reasons, like many other Obama Care failed co-ops, causing her to look for yet another policy.
  • She ended up getting an Obama Care policy from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, paying a little more each month so that she could get access to a network that included her favorite doctor.
  • But then again, in 2016 she was notified that her latest insurer was pulling out of the Obama Care program.
  • But by 2016, she had only two Obama Care insurers to choose from, Aetna and Medica.
  • She chose Aetna and paid a little bit more to keep access to her favorite doctor.
  • But after the first month she was notified that her favorite doctor was now considered out of network and that she would have to meet a whopping $20,000 out of network deductible before her insurance would be useful.
  • And while Nebraska had four Obama Care insurers in the state in 2015, it was down to only two in 2016, consistent with the trend across the country.
  • And with fewer competitors, the number of policies has also decreased significantly, down from 31 policies in 2016 to 13 in 2017.
  • Nebraska Congressman Adrian Smith summed up the plight of Ms. Weldin and others quite nicely: “That speaks volumes in terms of ultimate consumer benefits. Fewer choices most often means higher prices and less quality.”

Ms. Weldin was very clear in telling what she wanted: “Allow us the choice of what kind of policy and coverage suits our needs. Allow us the choice of deductible and to cross state lines for provider care so we can choose and keep our own doctors. Allow insurance companies to compete across state lines so we have more options and have more choice of providers….Something has to be done because this is not sustainable. I’m fine paying a little bit more if it’s what I need. But let me choose a policy that’s appropriate for my needs. Let me have a policy that’s appropriate to my medical needs. Let me choose a deductible that’s appropriate for my budget.”

Seems reasonable and logical, something that Obama Care never was.

That will do it for this today’s unfolding disaster that is Obama Care: jerking Americans around to different insurers with less choices along the way, another lying politician when it comes to Obama Care, and dwindling competition,the exact opposite of what Obama promised. More disasters next tomorrow.

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