Health Care Potpourri….
"I Don't Mind A Parasite. I Object To A Cut-Rate One."
….or the ObamaCare week in review on a rainy afternoon. The week began with plenty of hubris capped by President Obama’s “mission accomplished” end-zone celebration in the Rose Garden. But as they say – the devil is in the details (just like the law itself). What the Dems and the mainstream media want people to overlook includes the following:
*HEALTH INSURANCE ISN’T A YEAR ROUND THING ANY MORE. According to a story posted Friday at news.yahoo.com:
“Here's more fallout from the health care law: Until now, customers could walk into an insurance office or go online to buy standard health care coverage any time of year. Not anymore.
Many people who didn't sign up during the government's open enrollment period that ended Monday will soon find it difficult or impossible to get insured this year, even if they go directly to a private company and money is no object. For some it's already too late.
With limited exceptions, insurers are refusing to sell to individuals after the enrollment period for HealthCare.gov and the state marketplaces. They will lock out the young and healthy as well as the sick or injured. Those who want to switch plans also are affected. The next wide-open chance to enroll comes in November for coverage in 2015.
It's a little-noted consequence of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, which requires nearly all Americans to be insured or pay a fine and requires insurers to accept people with health problems.
"I have people that can buy insurance, but the companies shut them down. They won't take the applications," insurance broker Steve Bobiak of Frackville, Pa., said. "We're a free country. You should be able to buy anything anytime you want."
*THE END OF EMPLOYER-SPONSORED HEALTH CARE? In another bit of overshadowed news, the American Health Policy Institute conducted a confidential survey of 100 large employers—those with 10,000 or more employees—asking what costs they expect to incur from ObamaCare over the next decade. According to the survey’s Executive Summary:
• “The cost of the ACA to large U.S. employers (10,000 or more employees) is estimated to be between $4,800 to $5,900 per employee.”
• ‘These large employers will see overall ACA- related cost hikes of between $163 million and $200 million per employer, or an increase of 4.3 percent in 2016 and 8.4 percent in 2023 over and above what they would otherwise be spending.”
• “The total cost of the ACA to all large U.S. employers over the next ten years is estimated to be from $151 billion to $186 billion.”
“These data demonstrate that the added mandates, fees and regulatory burdens associated with the ACA are increasing the cost of employer-sponsored health care plans, with implications for both employers and employees. There will be differences of opinion as to the significance of these costs. Some will say that they are welcome and will lead to more economical use of health care dollars. Others will say that this portends the end of the employer-sponsored health care system. What we do know is that the large employers themselves—companies that provide more than 52 million jobs3—see these costs coming. Inevitably, this means that these companies will
Wanna bet who will eat these costs? You can be sure that the large employers won’t be taking them out of their own hide. It will be the EMPLOYEES who suffer the consequences, either through higher costs and fewer services, or it could – as quoted from above – result in “the end of the employer-sponsored health care system.”
*HEALTH CARE SPENDING BY CONSUMERS RISES AT THE FASTEST PACE IN 10 YEARS. As reported at USATODAY.com:
“Health care spending rose at the fastest pace in 10 years last quarter, a development that could foreshadow higher costs for consumers this year.
Expenses for health care rose at a 5.6% annual rate in the fourth quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said last week. The jump triggered a sharp upward revision in the government's estimate of consumer spending overall and accounted for nearly a quarter of the economy's 2.6% annualized growth in the last three months of 2013.
Driving the increase was an $8 billion rise in hospital revenue — more than the previous four quarters combined, according to the Census Bureau and Royal Bank of Scotland. RBS economist Omair Sharif says the increase in hospitals' income was puzzling because the number of inpatient days dipped 1% during the fourth quarter.
The increase is a marked change from slow-growing rates of health care prices and spending in recent years. Many unemployed Americans went without health insurance or limited their spending during the recession and sluggish recovery, says Dan Mendelson, CEO of consulting firm Avalere Health.
Also, the 2010 Affordable Care Act gave incentives to hospitals to become more efficient and limit patient readmissions. Insurance companies increasingly have shifted costs to patients through high-deductible plans and other measures, prompting Americans to limit visits to doctors and hospitals, he says.
So – despite Obama administration assurances that ObamaCare would bring health care costs DOWN, health care spending by consumers “rose at the fastest pace in 10 years last quarter.”
Why am I not surprised.
*THERE HAD TO BE A BETTER WAY THAN THIS. Meanwhile – PeggyNoonan points out in her opinion piece titled “A Catastrophe Like No Other” posted at wsj.com
– the “final” version of ObamaCare (assuming that the law is not repealed) will bear little resemblance to the legislation that the Democrats rammed through Congress and the President signed:
“(ObamaCare’s) biggest proponent in Congress, the Democratic speaker of the House, literally said—blithely, mindlessly, but in a way forthcomingly—that we have to pass the bill to find out what's in it. It is a cliché to note this. But really, Nancy Pelosi's statement was a historic admission that she was fighting hard for something she herself didn't understand, but she had every confidence regulators and bureaucratic interpreters would tell her in time what she'd done. This is how we make laws now.”
“What the bill declared it would do—insure tens of millions of uninsured Americans—it has not done. There are still tens of millions (of) uninsured Americans. On the other hand, it has terrorized millions who did have insurance and lost it, or who still have insurance and may lose it.”
“The program is unique in that the bill that was signed four years ago, on March 23, 2010, is not the law, or rather program, that now exists. Parts of it have been changed or delayed 30 times. It is telling that the president rebuffed Congress when it asked to work with him on alterations, but had no qualms about doing them by executive fiat. The program today, which affects a sixth of the U.S. economy, is not what was passed by the U.S. Congress. On Wednesday Robert Gibbs, who helped elect the president in 2008 and served as his first press secretary, predicted more changes to come. He told a business group in Colorado that the employer mandate would likely be scrapped entirely. He added that the program needed an "additional layer" or "cheaper" coverage and admitted he wasn't sure the individual mandate had been the right way to go.”
“There's a brute test of a policy: If you knew then what you know now, would you do it? I will never forget a conversation in 2006 or thereabouts with a passionate and eloquent supporter of the decision to go into Iraq. We had been having this conversation for years, he a stalwart who would highlight every optimistic sign, every good glimmering. He argued always for the rightness of the administration's decision. I would share my disquiet, my doubts, finally my skepticism. One night over dinner I asked him, in passing, "If we had it to do over again, should we have gone in? would you support it?"
And he said, "Of course not!"
Which told me everything.
There are very, very few Democrats who would do ObamaCare over again. Some would do something different, but they wouldn't do this. The cost of the blunder has been too high in terms of policy and politics.”
*WHEN THEY WORK TOGETHER, THINGS ACTUALLY CAN GET DONE. As reported a short while ago by MyWayNews:
“At the prodding of business organizations, House Republicans quietly secured a recent change in President Barack Obama's health law to expand coverage choices, a striking, one-of-a-kind departure from dozens of high-decibel attempts to repeal or dismember it.
Democrats describe the change involving small-business coverage options as a straightforward improvement of the type they are eager to make, and Obama signed it into law.”
“The provision itself was relatively minor. It eliminated a cap on deductibles for small group policies offered inside the law's health care exchanges as well as outside; the cap was set at $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families.
Republicans said they sought it so small businesses can offer high-deductible plans that could be purchased by individuals who also have health savings accounts. These tax-preferred accounts are a long-time favorite of many Republicans, who say they give consumers greater control over their own health care.
The health law contains no deductible caps for individual plans or those offered by large employers, and the Department of Health and Human Services already had waived them for small businesses through 2015. The legislation means they will never go into effect.”
So Democrats and Republicans actually CAN work together for the common good. And fair-minded Democrats can actually agree with the Republicans on SOMETHING! Who would’ve thunk it? It’s been a long time coming. Perhaps this is a preview of things to come. In any case, think how much better things would have been – for both political parties and WE THE PEOPLE – if they had been working together all along.
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