Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sclerotic Obamacare Schadenfreude

still accumulating like fat in arteries. It can't all be butterflies and pretty shots from the beach.

ObamaCare’s Prices Will Keep Surging - After this year’s spike, the average family plan will go up another 11.2% in 2016.
According to the rate requests posted on, nearly every state has multiple plans that are facing a more than 10% premium increase. Many plans—including some offered by state-market leaders—could see hikes of more than 30%, 40% or even 50%. Though most of these requests have not been approved, nor have all of the rate hikes that are less than 10% been unveiled, it is undeniable that millions of Americans are facing double-digit premium increases for health insurance next year.

For the first time since the law went into effect three years ago, insurers are basing their rate-hike requests on more than a year of data. For 2014 plans, they had to make educated guesses on how to price their never-before-sold ACA-compliant plans. For 2015 estimates, insurers had about six months of information to work with, and the final average premium increase was 5.4%. Now that insurers have a more complete picture, it is clear that costs are increasing much faster than anticipated.

It’s only going to get worse after 2016, as I’ve written in these pages, when two de facto bailouts for insurance companies expire. Through “risk corridors,” taxpayers are on the hook for patients who spend more on health care than insurers predicted. Through “reinsurance,” taxpayers are heavily subsidizing the most-expensive patients—those who make more than $70,000 in claims in 2015. Thanks to these two programs, insurance companies are able to artificially lower their premiums for consumers—by between 10%-15% in 2014, according to CMS—while charging the taxpayer for their losses. Reinsurance alone cost taxpayers $7.9 billion in 2014.
North Dakota’s Medicaid expansion costs greater than projected
Here are the costs of expansion (via AP):
North Dakota’s costs for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act are higher than had been projected.
The Department of Human Services has revised its cost estimates from $2.9 million to $8.2 million for the 2017 fiscal year. The agency says actual health care costs are higher than forecast when the state opted to expand the health program for the poor in 2013.
As I previously wrote, the program has been called a “humanitarian catastrophe.” Those who are uninsured actually fare better than those who have enrolled in Medicaid. Moreover, the expansion doesn’t include more poor American families, which was the basis for the program’s original mandate. Instead, the expansion includes mostly childless, able-bodied adults–half of which don’t work–and more than a third have a criminal background. It’s an expansion that siphons care away from the truly needy and forces legislatures to make cuts from other areas of their respective budgets. The costs of Medicaid are growing faster than state revenues, and some states have to cut two to three dollars from other areas of their budgets to save a buck in savings from Medicaid. In the long term, Medicaid expansion is a budget buster.
More than doubling expected costs in a single year? Tell me you're shocked.

But it gets even worse, fewer doctors to choose from: Fewer doctors but higher premiums and deductibles
A new report by Avalere Health points out what an “improvement” ObamaCare has been:
[E]nrollees in ObamaCare plans have access to 34% fewer providers than those who buy a commercial plan outside the exchange. On average, it found, ObamaCare enrollees had 32% fewer primary care doctors and 24% fewer hospitals from which to choose.
Worse, ObamaCare plans covered 42% fewer oncologists and cardiologists than non-ObamaCare plans.
Yes indeed, what a deal. Couple that with sky-high deductibles (according to Health Pocket, average deductibles for the lowest cost Bronze Plan in ObamaCare are 42% higher than before the law was passed) and you’ve got a real winner on your hands. By the way, the average Bronze Plan costs around $3,500 a year and has a whopping $5,181 deductible to be paid.
Why, who could have predicted such outcomes?

Democrats Decry Undercover Probe of
Senior Democrats pushed back Thursday against an undercover government probe of President Barack Obama's health care law, saying it didn't uncover any real fraud.

Investigators for the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office signed up 11 bogus beneficiaries for 2014 coverage then got to continue benefits this year for all but one.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said these were "fictitious cases" and the GAO investigators themselves admit the findings can't be translated to the 10 million people getting subsidized coverage through the law's health insurance markets. Wyden spoke at a Finance Committee hearing on the investigation.

But GAO's audits chief Seto Bagdoyan said the investigation exposed real concerns. He said it was relatively easy for GAO's fictitious characters to get and keep coverage, even to get reinstated after terminated them. seems to put a higher priority on getting people covered than on verifying they are legally entitled to benefits, Bagdoyan said.

Democrats have no tolerance for fraud, but "the report up for discussion today is not about any real-world fraud," Wyden said. "Not one of them was a real person who filed taxes or got medical services. No fast-buck fraudster got a government check sent to their bank account."
Just because there are glaring holes that allow massive fraud doesn't mean some enterprising crook has found and exploited them yet. In other words, don't turn on the lights cause we don't want to see.

Obamacare To Be Opened Up To Illegal Immigrants In California
From Forbes:
State Senator Richard Lara has already moved a bill through the California State Senate that would allow illegal immigrants to buy unsubsidized health insurance in the state’s Obamacare exchange. The state would have to receive a federal waiver from the Obama administration before implementing it.
The bill would also extend coverage to illegal residents under the age of 19 to enroll in California’s fully paid-for Medicaid program.
The Pew Research Center has estimated that there are 2.5 million illegal immigrants in California.
And consider this. Passage of SB 4 could be a real boon to the business of health care delivery in California. California’s impressive medical system could be the leader in international medical tourism.
SB 4 would also make it clear that a foreign person could land at LAX, give Covered California a call and sign up for an almost full pay Platinum plan for a few hundred dollars a month, on the first of the following month when their coverage became effective show up at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and have thousands of dollars of treatment, get back on the plane and go home, and then drop the coverage.
SB 4 doesn’t have any requirements for how long a person has to be in the country to enjoy these benefits. All SB 4 says is, “No individual in California should be excluded from obtaining coverage through the California Health Benefit Exchange by reason of immigration status.”
This is pretty remarkable.

How many promises has President Obama made about his signature healthcare plan that have turned out not to be true?

If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor – Wrong
If you like your plan, you can keep your plan – Wrong
Premiums will go down for everybody by an average of $2500 – Wrong
States can expand Medicaid without any cost to the state – Wrong
The list can go on. This article from Heritage is nearly 2 years old but details 10 broken promises at the time.

And if you think it's not your business because it's California, remember that Obamacare subsidies are national, so they're coming from your income tax.

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