A few day's worth of Obamacare Schadenfreude:
Health Care Takes Bigger Bite out of Americans’ Shrinking Budgets
Health care took a bigger bite out of Americans’ budgets in 2013 than in 2012, even though Americans spent less overall as their incomes decreased. A new report from the Department of Labor found that, in 2013, overall U.S. consumer spending declined .7 percent, after a 3.5 percent rise in 2012. Many constituent areas saw big drops (for example: clothes, 7.6 percent and entertainment, 4.7 percent), but spending in two areas rose despite the overall decline. The WSJ:Democrats have succeeded in holding down income growth, while increasing the costs of healthcare. Maybe we should stop calling it "Obamacare" and go to "Democratcare."
[...] spending continued to increase for health care and housing. Housing was the only major category to increase more quickly in 2013 than in 2012.
The data paint a grim picture of the health of the American consumer, with the average “consumer unit” (which includes families, single persons living alone, or couples who share expenses) reporting less income in 2013 than 2012. The data also add to evidence that many Americans are being squeezed by rising costs of health care and housing. [...]
Incomes are stagnating for many workers as the job market operates at diminished capacity, and even if overall inflation is low, the costs of life’s necessities continue to climb.
Surprise: Post-Obamacare Deductibles Going Through The Roof
Supporters of Obamacare took a victory lap when the first premium numbers were released for 2015 and the increases weren’t quite so “scary” as first thought. But there’s a reason for that. AsUSA Today reports, premiums aren’t going up so much because policyholders are seeing big hikes to out-of-pocket expenses:I agree with the notion of a low premium-high deductible health insurance plan; it put the responsibility of not using health care frivolously on the user. However, keeping the premium high, and raising deductibles serves no one.
A report out today puts numbers behind what hit many workers when they signed up for health insurance during open enrollment last year: deductible shock.In other words, Obamacare isn’t “bending the cost curve” as promised. It’s simply shifting health care costs from one sort of expense to another. Instead of Americans paying more in premiums, they’re going to be paying more out of pocket. Which would be such a bad thing if the underlying problem – the skyrocketing cost of obtaining health care itself – didn’t remain.
Premiums for employer-paid insurance are up 3% this year, but deductibles are up nearly 50% since 2009, the report by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows.
The average deductible this year is $1,217, up from $826 five years ago, Nearly 20% of workers overall have to pay at least $2,000 before their insurance kicks in, while workers at firms with 199 or fewer employees are feeling the pain of out-of-pocket costs even more: A third of these employees at small companies pay at least $2,000 deductibles.
“Skin-in-the-game insurance” is becoming the norm,says Kaiser Family Foundation CEO Drew Altman, referring to the higher percentage of health care costs employees have to share.
250,000 Virginians can’t keep their plans in 2015
The Washington Post’s Jason Millman also tells readers from around the country that their imaginations have not gotten the best of them — they really are paying more for health care, if your employer provides insurance coverage. . .Of course. Obamacare, first and foremost, is a redistributionist scheme for health care. The people who work for their health care pay for the health care of those who don't work, or work less.
And Megan McArdle takes on the Obamacare premium three card Monty: Obamacare Premiums Are Magical Mystery Tour
Last week, we finally learned the prices for the new benchmark plans for Obamacare. The good news: Prices are falling slightly. The bad news: Contrary to optimistic early reports, that doesn’t mean that everyone’s costs are falling; consumers will have to be attentive to make sure that their costs don’t go up. The worse news: We won’t actually know what effect the Affordable Care Act is having on insurance prices until 2017, when a bunch of temporary subsidies for insurers expire.But Obamacare has been a good deal for the bureaucrats who implemented it, however badly.
The important thing to keep in mind is that when the “benchmark rate” goes down, that doesn’t mean that the cost of the old benchmark plan has fallen. It just means that whatever plan is now the second-cheapest "silver" plan on the exchanges is cheaper than whatever was the second-cheapest plan last year.
The Great Obamacare Cashout: Medicare overhaul chief cashes out to CareFirst
Jonathan Blum, described as "the top health official responsible for reforming Medicare under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform," has passed through the revolving door, becoming an executive vice president at insurance giant CareFirst, the Baltimore Business Journal reports.Time for Instapundit's revolving door tax.
Obamacare has proven a goldmine for the congressmen, congressional staff and administration officials who crafted the bill. Dozens of these public servants have since gone to work for the companies subsidized, mandated and regulated by the Affordable Care Act.
A few weeks back, I wrote here about taxing the revolving door that takes people back and forth between the federal government and the various industries that federal government agencies regulate. My proposal was to put a surtax -- 50%, say, or maybe 75% -- on the post-government earnings of federal officials in excess of their government salaries for the first five years: Leave a federal job paying $100,000 a year for an industry job paying $600,000 a year, and you'd pay a $250,000 surtax. After all, with folks leaving the Obama administration, as they left previous administrations, for salaries several times what they earned in the public sector, and with excessive entanglement between government and business a growing problem, why not use the power of the IRS to modify behavior?Democrats looking for reelection in fall are desperately trying to avoid being tainted by their votes for the beast:
ObamaCare in Senate races
The politically divisive legacy of ObamaCare has vulnerable Democrats trying to downplay their past support of the legislation ahead of Election Day – by criticizing the president’s execution of the law or by sidestepping the issue altogether.Obama is a lame duck. No one gets to vote on him again. "Democratcare" is has a nice ring to it, as well as the ring of truth: Watch 'em Burn:
Lately, Democrats in tough Senate races have been slamming President Obama for breaking his pledge that everyone could keep their health plans and doctors "no matter what." Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, locked in a race with Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, says of Obama in a recent ad: "This is a promise you made. This is a promise you should keep."
Landrieu previously offered legislation requiring people be allowed to keep their plans and doctors and not be forced into ObamaCare, though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has yet to schedule a vote on it.
Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina sponsored similar legislation, which she noted during a recent debate, saying "as soon as this came to my attention last fall, I immediately sponsored legislation allowing those plans to become permanent." Hagan, though, nevertheless voted against a 2010 Republican effort, which the White House threatened to veto, to limit such cancellations.
Other Democrats are trying to sidestep the issue by talking health care without even mentioning the president or the Affordable Care Act.
Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who is running against Rep. Tom Cotton in a very tight race, talks in a new ad about when he was diagnosed with cancer and wanted an experimental surgery his health insurance didn't want to pay for.
"No one should be fighting an insurance company while you're fighting for your life,” he said. “That's why I helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you get sick, or deny coverage for preexisting conditions." Not once did he say “ObamaCare” or the “Affordable Care Act.”