Tag: Health care reform in the United States

College Health

How many times have I said it? When you outlaw cheap insurance, you create more uninsured:

Some colleges are dropping student health-insurance plans for the coming academic year and others are telling students to expect sharp premium increases because of a provision in the federal health law requiring plans to beef up coverage.

The demise of low-cost, low-benefit health plans for students is a consequence of the 2010 health-care overhaul. The law is intended to expand coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, but it is also eliminating some insurance options.

Now the cheap insurance plans colleges offer aren’t great. They are available for about $100 a month or so and only cover the first $10,000 of medical bills. They won’t deal with a dramatic illness. But they do help some students deal with routine checkups, the occasional diagnostic test, the odd broken finger or whatever. But because Obamacare is phasing out lifetime caps on insurance, even these modest plans are either disappearing or seeing price hikes of 1000% or more. You can read more here from Avik Roy, who points out that these plans, while not perfect, fill a useful niche in the market.

What’s the Obama administration’s response to this carnage? Effectively it’s this: that people should pay more for insurance, because it’s for their own good. The costlier, more comprehensive plans offer more protection, and people should be forced to buy that extra protection, even if they think it exceeds their own needs.

In fact, that’s the entire Left Wing’s response to this. They point out that these plans cover only 7% of students, which is meaningless: it still means 600,000 people are being needlessly priced out of the market. They point out that Obamacare allows parents’ insurance to cover students under 26. But this almost meaningless since that was already the case through age 22; I was on my dad’s insurance until grad school. But in the end, it comes down to, “Well, they should get better insurance” as if the money for it is going to magically appear (more student loans, anyone?). And “better” insurance — defined as more expensive — isn’t always a great thing. Roy again:

It’s precisely the proliferation of overly generous insurance plans that causes runaway health costs in the first place. When you have a plan that covers everything, you tend not to be concerned with the cost-effectiveness of the care you receive. And that, in turn, leads to excess health spending, which in turn makes insurance costlier.

I personally would prefer students go in the opposite direction: get major medical, which would cover disasters with a very high deductible, therefore creating consumer pressure to publicize and compete on price. But that’s not in either party’s vision. In fact, the Arizona GOP just killed a law that that would require healthcare providers to publish price lists, creating precisely the kind of competition we need in the healthcare system.


That big healthcare reform, a.k.a government takeover of healthcare so they can control another 1/6th of the economy thing, Nancy Pelosi told us we absolutely had to get passed, to figure out what would be in it, and would singlehandedly save our economy, by saving us tons of money, all based on what is absolutely the worst scoring requirements put together to make the ugliest pig look like the tastiest slab of bacon, isn’t going to save that measly $125 million or so they promised, even in that rigged scorning, but going to cost us twice as much, now!

President Obama’s national health care law will cost $1.76 trillion over a decade, according to a new projection released today by the Congressional Budget Office, rather than the $940 billion forecast when it was signed into law.

Democrats employed many accounting tricks when they were pushing through the national health care legislation, the most egregious of which was to delay full implementation of the law until 2014, so it would appear cheaper under the CBO’s standard ten-year budget window and, at least on paper, meet Obama’s pledge that the legislation would cost “around $900 billion over 10 years.” When the final CBO score came out before passage, critics noted that the true 10 year cost would be far higher than advertised once projections accounted for full implementation.

Today, the CBO released new projections from 2013 extending through 2022, and the results are as critics expected: the ten-year cost of the law’s core provisions to expand health insurance coverage has now ballooned to $1.76 trillion. That’s because we now have estimates for Obamacare’s first nine years of full implementation, rather than the mere six when it was signed into law. Only next year will we get a true ten-year cost estimate, if the law isn’t overturned by the Supreme Court or repealed by then. Given that in 2022, the last year available, the gross cost of the coverage expansions are $265 billion, we’re likely looking at about $2 trillion over the first decade, or more than double what Obama advertised.

No fucking way! What the hell changed, huh? The assholes at the CBO finally decided that they HAD to come clean on the fact that they produced obviously bullshit numbers the first time around and now are trying to cover their ass? Look on the bright side: at least we didn’t have to wait until this thing was up & running for the cost to double! Maybe they too had to wait until Pelosi got her wish to find out what was in that boondoggle so they could do some real and honest calculations. Maybe the democrats need to let them know they plan to really control costs by controlling access and making people wait for ever, like all other such government owned systems do? Heh!

So, the CBO decided to come clean and point out they had under estimated the cost of this unconstitutional pile of shit by 100%. Want to bet that the new projected cost for the first decade, that $1.76 trillion dollars, ends up being a fraction of the real cost as well? Don’t worry, they will blame the insurance companies, the private sector, and GWB for the fact that they want to thwart reality, but it refuses to budge. Let’s be honest and point out that Obama’s healthcare takeover plan is that last nail in the coffin and meant to break our economy in a decade, and get rid of it please!

Told you so…

As many of us predicted then, and have been saying all along, Obamacare was without a doubt going to drive up the cost of healthcare for those of us with it already – employer provided or otherwise – and do so drastically, and the article by Allen Rappeport in FT titled “Health insurance costs deal blow to Obama” shows we where spot on:

The cost of health insurance has surged in the US this year, according to a survey of employers, dealing a blow to claims by the Obama administration that healthcare legislation introduced last year would curb costs.

Insurance premiums for family health benefits in 2011 jumped 9 per cent from a year ago to $15,073, according to a study released on Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That represented a sharp acceleration from 2010, when premiums rose by a modest 3 per cent, and easily outpaced a 2 per cent rise in wages.

“This year’s 9 per cent increase in premiums is especially painful for workers and employers struggling through a weak recovery,” said Drew Altman, Kaiser’s chief executive.

I am envious of the people that only saw a 9% increase mine was higher. And it comes on top of a similar hike from last year. I expect it to be the same next year again. When Obamacare goes live, I expect my employer to simply drop coverage and tell me to go get it on my own. The penalty they pay will be far, far less, than the cost to keep me covered, and I am one of those people that really don’t use healthcare that much – that means they collect more for me than they pay out – to begin with.

Let’s look at another revelation:

Health insurance premiums have more than doubled during the past decade and, although the survey reveals some of the early impact of the law, it does not provide reasons for the increase.

Kaiser said that it was beginning to see changes in preventative care benefits and many companies were enrolling young adults into corporate health plans plans because of the law. However, it said that most workers that were already enrolled in company plans are exempt from the law’s provisions.

Matthew Borsch, healthcare analyst at Goldman Sachs, said the increase could be due to the high rate of increase in family coverage, due to a new provision allowing people up to the age of 26 to join their parents’ plan, creating additional costs. He also noted that some measures in the law that were intended to contain costs were watered down.

Sorry, I don’t buy the “We don’t know why” argument. I think most insurance companies know exactly why, but it is politically disastrous to say anything. They might get a “friendly” call from the WH – like Ford did for that ad about how their cars are government bailout free – or yet again have to suffer the indignities they where put through when the left was demonizing them to the public, at the same time it was conspiring with them behind closed doors, so they could gin up public resentment and anger for insurance provided by those evil private sector companies. Those of us that know better saw through the smoke & mirrors and understood that we would not only pay more, but get the same service other government agencies do now: we would be serviced by a government bureaucracy that controlled healthcare decisions like a bull “services” a cow, and pay far, far more, for far, far, less.

Yes, the fact that they now allow people up to and including the age of 26 to stay on their parent’s policy costs a lot more. I worked on software that calculated rates for that a long time ago – in CT you have had the option of buying this new mandate already – a long time ago, and I remember that the premium hike for this option was considerable. Imagine doing it for everyone everywhere.

There is no doubt that our population is aging rapidly. The procedures and medical care processes with highest medical costs are associated with the problems and issues encountered at an older age. Couple that with a mandate to insure everyone, everywhere, including the illegals, despite the bull about that not being the case, and then with no increase in either the available pool of medical professionals or care facilities, and you see that there is simply a problem that’s not going to go away simply because some idiots that love European style government controlled and rationed healthcare want it to do so.

The collectivists, of course, doubled down.

The Obama administration offered a rebuttal of the study, arguing that premiums were set last year when insurers anticipated higher medical costs and that premium prices would decline as more provisions in the law were rolled out. Nancy-Ann DeParle, who is President Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff, said that other measures showed healthcare costs declining and called out insurers for raking in profits.

Shit, more of the “you have to pass it to see what’s in it” nonsense writ large. Here is another prediction. There will be no costs going down. What we have in the bill is government trying real hard to force medical professionals to live by a payment schedule devised by some bureaucrat in some big city that give the illusion of lower cost coupled with massive rationing practices that restrict access and require long waiting periods. Of course, they will bristle and get all bent out of shape when you point out that’s exactly what will happen – we can look right across the pond or up north for exactly these examples – when these new provisions they claim will cut cost come into play.

It also should be pointed out that by the time these provisions go into effect, there will be very little we can do to roll them back. It’s no wonder that many of us feel like we are getting raped, and our rapist is telling us that it will all get better as he is ripping the clothes off of us and smacking us around, hard.

“The Kaiser report is informative but it’s a look backwards,” Ms DeParle said. “When we look to the future, we know that the Affordable Care Act will help make insurance more affordable for families and businesses across the country.”

That translates to don’t pay attention to those private sector entities that live in the real world and have to face the economic consequences of the decisions we make in DC, and only focus on the promises we are making that things will get better, reality be damned. And anyone that says otherwise is doing so because they are a racist! Inthe mean time, expect more of the same next year and the year after. Hoepfully we will roll this thing back at some point and avoid what’s coming at some point, but if we don’t get used to paying more, for a lot less, and then after a long ass wait. And pray you don’t die before you finally get care.

About That Efficient Medicare

Medicare is wonderfully efficient. It spends so much less on administration than those evil … what was that?

Much has been said about the growing gap between the program’s spending and revenues — a gap that will widen as baby boomers retire — but little attention has been focused on a problem staring us in the face: Medicare spends a fortune each year on procedures that have no proven benefit and should not be covered.

Read the whole thing. Medicare routinely pays for diagnostic tests at ages long past when those tests are useful and procedures that have been shown to have limited effectiveness. They are estimating that Medicare spends between $75 and $150 billion unnecessarily. I have no idea how this overlaps with the $50-100 billion they spend on fraud. Let’s just take a happy medium — say that fraud and waste cost the taxpayers $100 billion a year, 20% of Medicare’s budget. That’s what we get for those “low administrative costs” (which aren’t really so low).

Only part of this waste is from a lack of review. Another part is because Congress simply refuses to do anything about it. And the Democrats are already trying to disable the cost controls Obamacare put into the Medicare system. Less than a year later and they’re weaseling out of any restraint on how much healthcare seniors can use. As is usual these days, the media reports this problem as “unexpected” even though people like me (and the CBO) totally expected it.

Ezra Klein ran a graphic the other day showing that all the world’s socialized medical systems spend less than we do. But this is only true because those nations — which are much smaller and have more centralized authority — have the guts to actually ration care. Our Congress has demonstrated no such ability and its doubtful that they can. America is not Europe.

I’ve said for a while now that the most dangerous thing about government healthcare isn’t that it will ration care; the most dangerous thing is that it won’t and will drive us to bankruptcy. Well, looks like we’re headed down that path.

See the trend yet?

Guess what people? It looks like when they went back to look at the numbers, they discovered that the bean counters had yet again been too optimistic. What am I talking about? Well, it seems that the projections for how soon SS and Medicare would run out of money were way too optimistic, and both will implode far sooner.

May 13 (Bloomberg) — Medicare, the U.S. health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, and the Social Security trust for the disabled and retirees are running out of money sooner than the government had projected.

While Medicare won’t have sufficient funds to pay full benefits starting in 2024, five years earlier than last year’s estimate, Social Security’s cash to pay full benefits runs short in 2036, a year sooner than the 2010 projection, the U.S. government said today in an annual report.

What went wrong?

Both forecasts were affected by a slower-than-anticipated economic recovery, the government said. The estimates for funding add urgency to talks between Democrats and Republicans on ways to cut spending to reduce the U.S. budget deficit.

“Projected long-run program costs for both Medicare and Social Security are not sustainable under currently scheduled financing, and will require legislative corrections if disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers are to be avoided,” according to the report summary.

That’s code for the outlays are just going to grow way too fast for government under the current revenue plan, so government needs to find more revenue, or cut services. So then come the bullshit lefty talking points.

The 2010 health-care overhaul backed by Democrats extended the life of Medicare, though a greater effort is needed to shore up the program’s long-term funding, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement distributed with the report.

“If we do not do more to contain health-care costs, our commitments will become unsustainable,” said Geithner, managing trustee of Medicare and Social Security, in the statement.

Talk about bullshit. How the fook is a program that taxes us for 10 years, but only provides benefits at the tail end, 5 or 6 years depending on whose talking, of that decade, like a game of shells moves around cash under delusional promises of fiscal restraint by a government that admits billions are already inefficiently allocated or flat out embezzled, and that despite the efforts to lie its way out of it is going to use the rationing of care to try and contain costs, after adding close to 30 million uninsured, going to lower anything? Again, talk about your delusional, partisan, bullshit. And they don’t even discuss SS, because the left has been the one to resist all attempts to fix that Ponzi scheme.

Here is a news flash. Be prepared for both to go belly up far sooner than they are predicting even in this correction, unless we break them both away from government control. The left’s game that what’s needed is more spending, and to do so more taxes, isn’t even a bandaid. The lesson here is that there are no free lunches. Maybe once the economy implodes, unavoidable if we let the big government types continue to run the show, the people that are left and try to rebuild the country, realizing that there isn’t enough of other people’s wealth to give everybody everything for free, somehow set up a system of government that will never allow that to happen again. Of course, that’s wishful thinking because what’s far more likely to happen is that we end up wit a government like that of the old USSR and the same quality of life. Socialist utopia baby!