Friday, January 23, 2015

A weeks worth of Obamacare Schadenfreude

Some accumulated dregs of Obamacare Schadenfreude, as we all prepare for Tax Day.

Obamacare penalty may come as shock at tax time
Those Americans who didn’t get health insurance last year could be in for a rude awakening when the IRS asks them to fork over their Obamacare penalty — and it could be a lot more than the $95 many of them may be expecting.

The Affordable Care Act requires those who didn’t have insurance last year and didn’t qualify for one of the exemptions to pay a tax penalty, which was widely cited as $95 the first year. But the $95 is actually a minimum, and middle- and upper-income families will actually end up paying 1 percent of their household income as their penalty.

“People would hear the $95, quit listening, and make an assumption that that was what their penalty was going to be,” said Chuck Lovelace, vice president of affordable care for Liberty Tax Service. “I think that a lot of people will be surprised when they get in there and find out that their penalty is [based] on their household income.”
Insurance so good they have to coerce you to buy it.
An unexpected $300 burden may not seem like much, but for many it is the lion’s share of their refund. Some tax preparers are convinced that millions of Americans remain unaware of the penalty (or tax, depending on your interpretation) associated with not purchasing health insurance.
New privacy concerns over government's health care website
A little-known side to the government's health insurance website is prompting renewed concerns about privacy, just as the White House is calling for stronger cybersecurity protections for consumers.

It works like this: When you apply for coverage on, dozens of data companies may be able to tell that you are on the site. Some can even glean details such as your age, income, ZIP code, whether you smoke or if you are pregnant.

The data firms have embedded connections on the government site. Ever-evolving technology allows for individual Internet users to be tracked, building profiles that are a vital tool for advertisers.

Connections to multiple third-party tech firms were documented by technology experts who analyzed, and confirmed by The Associated Press. There is no evidence that personal information from has been misused, but the number of outside connections is raising questions.
. . .
The privacy concerns come against the backdrop of President Barack Obama's new initiative to protect personal data online, a highlight of his State of the Union message scheduled for Tuesday night. The administration is getting the health care website ready for the final enrollment drive of 2015, aiming to have more than 9 million people signed up by Feb. 15 for subsidized private coverage.
Government is just a thing that the liberals agree to do to you. Maybe they can fund the government by selling our private information.

Colorado Chaos Shows ACA Troubles
Under the ACA, the Colorado insurance market is in chaotic flux. TheNYT reports that the premium for one standard midlevel silver ACA plan rose this year by 36 percent in one part of Colorado, while in another part a premium for the same plan dropped by almost 40 percent. Apparently many insurers set their prices low to attract customers, but it’s no longer clear if the low rates will be sustainable in the long-run:
Because buyers are so sensitive to price, the markets may experience cycles in which insurers alternately offer low premiums to attract customers and sharply raise them in later years to cover costs, experts said.

The volatility has created more uncertainty among people who must renew their plans, switch to new ones or buy insurance for the first time under the law.

Judy Greenfield, 55, from Denver, was notified in November by the Colorado marketplace that she would have to pay about $125 more a month next year for the same plan. She worked with a broker to figure out her options, and switched insurers to find a less expensive plan. “To have to go through this every year, selecting a new plan, is just a pain,” she said.

Obamacare's Slow Death?
The results are now clear. The Affordable Care Act has done nothing to unravel the past mistakes that in large measure were (and still are) attributable to excessive regulation and transfer payments. To give but one example, the voluntary coverage supplied by employer plans has dipped sharply from about 60 percent in 1980 to 50 percent in 2010, which on an employment base of 150 million workers translates into a 15 million increase in the number of uninsured persons in the United States.

It would be very difficult indeed to attribute this decline in health care coverage to some hidden form of market failure. What reason is there to think that employers have become more stingy, or employees more indifferent to their health care needs over the last 35 years?
To liberals, bad regulation is always a good excuse for more regulation. To wit:
Liars’ Remorse - Democrats have second thoughts about Obamacare
The main point of Schumer’s recent speech was “Democrats must embrace government” as “what we believe in,” “what unites our party,” and as “the only thing that’s going to get the middle class going again.” He thought that Obamacare was regrettable to the extent it had complicated rather than furthered that fundamental purpose.

The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky strongly endorsed Schumer’s argument: Since “Democrats are the party of government,” the “one principle they all subscribe to is a belief that the federal government can and must intervene in the economic and social spheres to even things out.” The party will never create political openings for new government interventions, however, until it solves the public relations problem that afflicts existing ones. Democrats, he wrote, have done a “pathetic job” of getting people to appreciate “the dozens of ways in which the federal government already helps them and their communities.” The resulting “hatred of government we see in this country is sickeningly childish and hypocritical.”

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