Thursday, October 31, 2013

Health Insurance Losses to Get Worse: 51 Percent to Lose Employer Based Insuranc

by Katie Pavlich | Oct 31, 2013
As millions of Americans in the individual health insurance market place continue to lose their coverage, analysts are looking ahead at the fallout we can expect to see when the employer mandate goes into effect in 2015. We've already seen employers and companies dropping health coverage altogether and cutting full-time workers to part time in order to avoid massive health insurance costs but now, Forbes reveals that was just the beginning.
 Mid-range estimate: 51% of employer-sponsored plans will get canceled
 It turns out that in an obscure report buried in a June 2010 edition of the Federal Register, administration officials predicted massive disruption of the private insurance market.
 the administration’s commentary in the Federal Register did not only refer to the individual market, but also the market for employer-sponsored health insurance.

Section 1251 of the Affordable Care Act contains what’s called a “grandfather” provision that, in theory, allows people to keep their existing plans if they like them. But subsequent regulations from the Obama administration interpreted that provision so narrowly as to prevent most plans from gaining this protection.

“The Departments’ mid-range estimate is that 66 percent of small employer plans and 45 percent of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfather status by the end of 2013,” wrote the administration on page 34,552 of the Register. All in all, more than half of employer-sponsored plans will lose their “grandfather status” and get canceled. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 156 million Americans—more than half the population—was covered by employer-sponsored insurance in 2013.

Another 25 million people, according to the CBO, have “nongroup and other” forms of insurance; that is to say, they participate in the market for individually-purchased insurance. In this market, the administration projected that “40 to 67 percent” of individually-purchased plans would lose their Obamacare-sanctioned “grandfather status” and get canceled, solely due to the fact that there is a high turnover of participants and insurance arrangements in this market.

The worst part? The Obama administration new this was going to happen and Barack Obama repeatedly promised the opposite anyway. Congressional Democrats passed the bill and now we're finding out what's in it. In terms of the number of future uninsured Americans, we're look at more than half of those in the individual market losing their plans and at least half of those with employer based insurance losing their insurance, which leaves at the very least half of the currently insured population uninsured.
As a reminder, before Obamacare was passed in 2010, the vast majority of Americans were satisfied with the plans they had. In addition, the majority of the uninsured were satisfied with their medical care and costs. From Gallup in 2009:
 Americans are broadly satisfied with the quality of their own medical care and healthcare costs, but of the two, satisfaction with costs lags. Overall, 80% are satisfied with the quality of medical care available to them, including 39% who are very satisfied. Sixty-one percent are satisfied with the cost of their medical care, including 20% who are very satisfied.

There is a clear gulf in these perceptions between the health insurance haves and have-nots. According to a Sept. 11-13 USA Today/Gallup poll, the 85% of Americans with health insurance coverage are broadly satisfied with the quality of medical care they receive and with their healthcare costs. At 79%, satisfaction with costs among Medicare/Medicaid recipients is particularly high.

The 15% who are uninsured are far less satisfied with the quality of their medical care (50% are satisfied), and only 27% are satisfied with their healthcare costs. (Sixty-nine percent are dissatisfied with their costs.)

What we're going to see is a collapse in the insurance marketplace, which is exactly what President Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Harry Reid and Kathleen Sebelius want in order to push a single-payer system. The only hope we have to avoid this scenario is for Republicans to come up with an alternative system that is ready to go before this happens. As millions and millions of people start to lose their health insurance, they'll start to panic over not having coverage, which opens up the door for the government to step in and solve its own crisis through a single-payer system. Think people won't want single-payer? They might not in principle, but when people panic and the government is the only option they have to cover an emergency, they'll take advantage of it. If this happens, there's no going back and we'll have single-payer forever.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rodent Removal Month

Left & Right

I have often wondered why it is that Conservatives are called the "right" and Liberals are called the "left."

By chance I stumbled upon this verse in the Bible:

The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.
Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

 Thus sayeth the Lord. Amen

Cannot get simpler than that.

Spelling Lesson

The last four letters in American .......... I Can
The last four letters in Republican ........ I Can
The last four letters in Democrats ........ Rats

End of Lesson. Test to follow in November 2014.

Remember, November is to be set aside as rodent removal month.

Tyranny


The government that thinks it rules its citizens and not vice versa is by definition a tyranny. That increasingly seems to be the case with our federal government.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Obamacare Basic Insurance for Family of Four - $53,520!

ObamaCare’s rollout has been a disaster.  For most trying to enroll, the website crashed.  For many who did enroll, their information was mangled.  Insurance companies are reporting receiving the wrong data on enrollees.

So over the weekend, Healthcare.gov got an overhaul.  Not to how you enroll to fix the bugs.  Not to keep your data secure or to ensure enrollees’ data gets to the insurance company.  But to the homepage.

That’s right ObamaCare got a facelift.  So I went to healthcare.gov to see one of the new features.  What I found was disturbing. 
One of the changes was to allow anyone to see plans available in your area without having to give your personal information to the government.  See one of the biggest problems of the last few weeks was that after your personal information was received by the government the website crashed.  So the government got your information, but you didn’t get health insurance.
Here’s what I found when I tried this new feature.  I entered in my city, state and number of people in my family to see what health plans are available to me and my family.
First, I decided to look at the low-tier, catastrophic coverage, under ObamaCare.  This should typically be the cheapest plan per month.  Yet one option would have cost my family over $50,000 a year in premiums.

My first thought was maybe this was just a mistake, another technical “glitch” in the website.  So I kept looking.
Here are a few more of the plans I found, costing as much a $4,910 a MONTH in premiums.  That’s nearly $58,920 a year for a family of five.
That’s what a train wreck looks like.  The American people clearly can’t afford ObamaCare.  And ObamaCare clearly isn’t ready for America.


Obamacare Sites require Applicants to Surrender Right to Privacy ... despite HIPPA

by JOHN NOLTE

During Thursday's congressional hearing with the contractors responsible for building the troubled ObamaCare federal exchanges, we learned that whether you end up enrolling in ObamaCare or not, no one who puts any information into the ObamaCare website can expect to have their privacy protected. Moreover, the fact that you are giving up your right to privacy is hidden in source codethat reads,
"You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication of any data transmitted or stored on this information system."
During his questioning on this specific issue, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) only received chilling answers and deflections from the primary contractor responsible for the site. When he asked Cheryl Campbell of CGI about it, her icy response was that another contractor was responsible. After some pressuring, she finally admitted that she was aware of the hidden source code.
Just a few minutes earlier, however, Ms. Campbell testified under oath that the ObamaCare website is HIPAA compliant -- meaning everyone's medical and personal information is protected by law. The privacy section on the ObamaCare website says your privacy will be protected. The hidden source code seems to say, "just kidding."
The next questioner was Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) who immediately attacked Barton as running a "monkey court" and then dismissed the fact that people are unknowingly giving up their right to privacy. Pallone correctly pointed out that you are not required to give out any medical information on the ObamaCare site, but Pallone conveniently ignored the fact that HIPAA doesn't just protect medical information. It is also supposed to protectpersonal information.
Just to get yourself an insurance quote on the ObamaCare site, you have been required to give out information on your income, place of employment, family, and answer a number of questions that verify your identity. For instance, I had to verify a recent car loan. And while you are not required to give out your social security number, you are repeatedly pressured to do so.
You are also asked detailed questions about your family situation; whether you are married and how many children you have. Just to get a quote, I had to also answer intrusive questions about my wife, even though she is already insured and won't be buying insurance through ObamaCare.
Had I known, that without my knowledge, I was giving away my right to privacy, there is no way on earth I would've given the ObamaCare site as much information as I did.
The American people have been repeatedly assured that the  website is HIPAA compliant; covered under the strictest of privacy regulations regarding medical and personal information.
But like absolutely everything else involving ObamaCare, our expectation of privacy was a lie -- just like when Obama told us ObamaCare would decrease our premiums and that no one would lose their current insurance plans or their doctor.

The fact that the government is hiding the fact that you are giving up your right to privacy should be a major media scandal. But it won't be. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

100 School District Cut Work Hours, Blame Obamacare

By Jed Graham, INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY

The note from Oconomowoc Area Schools to parents in June celebrated the success of the year's "huge undertaking": the adoption of inclusive practices for special-needs students.

Then came the bad news: The district had no choice but to cut the work hours of the paraprofessional staff so critical to that success. Otherwise it could face a $1.5 million hit due to the Affordable Care Act's employer insurance requirements.

"Instead of one full-time paraprofessional working a full day; one part-time paraprofessional would work the morning half of the day, while a second part-time paraprofessional would work the afternoon portion of the day," the district explained.

The district in Oconomowoc, Wis., is among 11 school districts added this week to IBD's list of employers cutting hours or permanent staff in response to ObamaCare's employer mandate.

This week's 20 overall additions bring the total to 351 employers who have opted to cut work hours or take related job actions in order to limit liability under ObamaCare. All of the actions are documented with links to news reports or public records in a downloadable database.

In all, 101 school districts on the list have cut the hours of support staff such as teacher aides, bus drivers and cafeteria workers — or outsourced their job functions. The cuts to work hours don't only hurt employee finances but are likely to take a toll on student performance.

Oconomowoc officials tried to reassure worried parents that they were making every effort "to align students with paraprofessionals they are familiar with and work well with" and to keep the "staff intact."

IBD's list would be a good deal longer if it included districts where new hour limits — or new outsourcing pacts — affect only potential hours for substitute teachers.

Limiting substitute hours also will impact the functioning of classrooms where teachers have an extended absence. But IBD has not yet decided to add these districts to the list, in part because outsourcing subs or capping their hours is quickly becoming the norm and it will be hard to keep up.

IBD's list is dominated by public-sector employers — there are now 275 on the list — primarily because schools boards, colleges and local governments are relatively transparent about workforce policies.
Six more Indiana employers join the list this week, bringing the state total to 66. Among the additions are Howard and Miami counties and four school districts (KewaneeNorth HarrisonShoals and Anderson).

Earlier this month, Indiana challenged ObamaCare's employer mandate on 10th Amendment grounds, arguing that it intrudes upon a state's ability to manage workers and represents an unconstitutional tax on the states.

Among other school districts newly added are Warwick and Juniata in Pennsylvania; Carter County and Washington County in TennesseeEddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont in Iowa; and New Jersey's Livingston Public Schools, which cut instructional aides from 30 hours to 28.75 hours per week.

Other education-sector employers being added are Nebraska's Mid-Plains Community College, the Western Buckeye Educational Service Center and Auburn University, where a cap on student workweeks was lowered from 30 hours to 20 hours.
Fulton County, Ga., a Democratic stronghold, is cutting some full-time workers without benefits to part-time.

Among private-sector employers newly added to the list are a College Hunks Hauling Junk franchisee in New Jersey and H2Only Renewable Cleaning in Florida, which has decided to cut full-time workers to part-time.

Directions In Research advertised telephone interviewer openings at its Grand Rapids, Mich., call center for positions capped at 29.5 hours per week. But following July's delay of ObamaCare employer penalties until 2015, the company was "temporarily allowing schedules of up to 40 hours per week."

While the confirmed list of private-sector firms reducing work hours is relatively small, these anecdotes — and many still-unconfirmed reports — do help explain why the workweek has sunk to a record low in private industries where pay averages about $14.50 per hour or less.



Sunday, October 20, 2013

$17.075 TRILLION National Debt ... that is some deal!

On Friday, the Washington Times reported that, in celebration of their bully pulpit, the Democrat government scaled new heights in debt accumulation: “U.S. debt jumped a record $328 billion on Thursday, the first day the federal government was able to borrow money under the deal President Obama and Congress sealed this week. The debt now equals $17.075 trillion, according to figures the Treasury Department posted online on Friday.” All in one day, folks. The Washington Times tells us: “The $328 billion increase shattered the previous high of $238 billion set two years ago.” Democrats; always striving for improvement.
Democrats in Congress demanded a “clean bill.” Reid didn’t want any strings attached to the temporary funding he’d extorted. Republicans gave their Democrat masters exactly what they wanted. But they were shrewd; Republicans weren’t permitted to limit spending so they limited the amount of time the federal government could loot the rapidly dwindling larder instead. In short, there is no limit to how much debt the government can run up between now and February 7, 2014. Except then it all comes crashing down…again. And from the Republican’s current, surrender-monkey antics, the outcome will be fairly predictable.
The government is only supposed to be able to borrow more money through continuing resolution due to “emergency” need. The $328 billion debt is, however, rife with blatant cronyism; pet payoffs that don’t meet anyone’s definition of an “emergency.” FOX News provides details: “The stopgap bill to fund the government was only supposed to end the partial shutdown for a few months, no strings attached — right? Nope. Despite the bill being tiny by Washington standards — just 35 pages — lawmakers still managed to tuck in billions of dollars in additional spending.” Projects such as $2.9 billion for an Ohio River dam project originally approved in 1998…a pretty sluggish emergency. John McCain, ever eager to eat his own young, made chin music to the effect that this inclusion was “disgraceful” but was quick to theorize that legislators weren’t “aware” of it until very late. One supposes it could happen to anyone. Especially to Vichy Republicans, in the Senate.
Also included in the “emergency” loan money is a comparatively teensy death gratuity of $174,000 to the widow of Frank Lautenberg, late Senator from New Jersey. He died almost five months ago. It is something of a mystery how Mrs. Lautenberg has scraped along since then. Or how such a payment could be considered emergent; Frank Lautenberg was one of the wealthiest Senators in Congress.
Democrats, past masters of debt escalation, are reveling, buzzing like flies around the midden they’ve created. They’d better enjoy it while they can. It is doubtful that steaming pile will withstand the backhoes of their creditors when they come to collect.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Obamacare's Website Is Crashing Because It Doesn't Want You To Know How Costly Its Plans Are

Avik Roy Avik Roy

A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.

HHS didn’t want users to see Obamacare’s true costs

“Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” report Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.” Why was it delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.” (Emphasis added.)
As you know if you’ve been following this space, Obamacare’s bevy of mandates, regulations, taxes, and fees drives up the cost of the insurance plans that are offered under the law’s public exchanges. A Manhattan Institute analysis I helped conduct found that, on average, the cheapest plan offered in a given state, under Obamacare, will be 99 percent more expensive for men, and 62 percent more expensive for women, than the cheapest plan offered under the old system. And those disparities are even wider for healthy people.
That raises an obvious question. If 50 million people are uninsured today, mainly because insurance is too expensive, why is it better to make coverage even costlier?

Political objectives trumped operational objectives
The answer is that Obamacare wasn’t designed to help healthy people with average incomes get health insurance. It was designed to force those people to pay more for coverage, in order to subsidize insurance for people with incomes near the poverty line, and those with chronic or costly medical conditions.


But the laws’ supporters and enforcers don’t want you to know that, because it would violate the President’s incessantly repeated promise that nothing would change for the people that Obamacare doesn’t directly help. If you shop for Obamacare-based coverage without knowing if you qualify for subsidies, you might be discouraged by the law’s steep costs.

So, by analyzing your income first, if you qualify for heavy subsidies, the website can advertise those subsidies to you instead of just hitting you with Obamacare’s steep premiums. For example, the site could advertise plans that cost “$0″ or “$30″ instead of explaining that the plan really costs $200, and that you’re getting a subsidy of $200 or $170. But you’ll have to be at or near the poverty line to gain subsidies of that size; most people will either not qualify for a subsidy, or qualify for a small one that, net-net, doesn’t make up for the law’s cost hikes.

This political objective—masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans—far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly. Think about it the other way around. If the “Affordable Care Act” truly did make health insurance more affordable, there would be no need to hide these prices from the public.

Subsidy verification created a traffic bottleneck

Comparable private-sector e-commerce sites, like eHealthInsurance.com, allow you to shop for plans and compare prices simply by entering your age and your ZIP code. After you’ve selected a plan you like, you fill out an on-line application. That substantially winnows down the number of people who rely on the site for network-intensive tasks.

The federal government’s decision to force people to apply before shopping, Weaver and Radnofsky write, “proved crucial because, before users can begin shopping for coverage, they must cross a busy digital junction in which data are swapped among separate computer systems built or run by contractors including CGI Group Inc., the healthcare.gov developer, Quality Software Services Inc., a UnitedHealth Group Inc. unit; and credit-checker Experian PLC. If any part of the web of systems fails to work properly, it could lead to a traffic jam blocking most users from the marketplace.”

Jay Angoff, a former federal official at the agency that oversees the exchange, told the Journal that he was surprised by the decision. “People should be able to get quotes” without entering all of that information upfront.

Weaver and Radnofsky say that the core problem stems from “the slate of registration systems [that] intersect with Oracle Identity Manager, a software component embedded in a government identity-checking system.” The main Healthcare.gov web page collects information using the CGI Group technology. Then that data is transferred to a system built by Quailty Software Services. QSS then sends data to Experian, the credit-history firm. But the key “identity management system” employed by QSS was designed by Oracle, and according to the Journal’s sources, the Oracle software isn’t playing nicely with the other information systems.

Oracle hotly denies these claims. “Our software is the identical product deployed in most of the world’s most complex systems…our software is running properly,” said an Oracle spokeswoman in a statement.

‘It’s awful, just awful’

Robert Pear and colleagues at the New York Times have a piece up today detailing the serious problems with the federal exchange, problems that may get worse, not better. They confirm what we already knew: that the Obama administration refused to delay the implementation of the exchanges, despite the well-known problems, because they were afraid of the political blowback. “Former government officials say the White House, which was calling the shots, feared that any backtracking would further embolden Republican critics who were trying to repeal the health care law.”

As I documented last week, IT and insurance experts have been saying for at least eight months that implementation of the exchanges was going badly, that as early as February officials were warning of a “third world experience.” The Times’ sources are just as blunt. “These are not glitches,” said one insurance executive. “The extent of the problems is pretty enormous. At the end of our [conference calls with the administration], people say, ‘It’s awful, just awful.’”

“We foresee a train wreck,” said another executive in a February interview with the Times. “We don’t have the IT specifications. The level of angst in health plans is growing by leaps and bounds. The political people in the administration do not understand how far behind they are.” Richard Foster, the former chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said last week that “so much testing of the new system was so far behind schedule, I was not confident it would work well.”

Henry Chao, the deputy chief information officer at CMS who made the “third world experience” comment, was told by his superiors that failure to meet the October 1 launch deadline “was not an option,” according to the Times.

White House knowingly chose to court disaster

Think about it. It’s quite possible that much of this disaster could have been avoided if the Obama administration had been willing to be open with the public about the degree to which Obamacare escalates the cost of health insurance. If they had, then a number of the problems with the exchange’s software architecture would never have arisen. But that would require admitting that the “Affordable Care Act” was not accurately named.

The White House knew that its people on the front lines, people like Henry Chao, were worried that the exchanges would get botched. They saw the Congressional Research Service memorandum detailing that the administration has missed half of the statutory deadlines assigned by the law. But they were more afraid of the P.R. disaster of disclosing Obamacare’s high premiums than they were of the P.R. disaster of crashing websites. What you see is the result.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Can we change a law that was already passed but should be repealed?

Within Congress, Democrats are asking if playing hardball with these two powers is an attempt by a minority to whipsaw a majority and reverse legislation already enacted.

While drenched in partisanship, both assertions have merit and deserve consideration.

No, this CR fight and the coming debt battle are attempts to expand the powers of Congress but are not usurpation.

Obamacare was passed on Christmas Eve on a straight party line vote using a procedural gimmick — the Byrd Amendment — to circumvent the need for 60 votes, a tactic of which Senator Byrd himself disapproved.

But, more importantly, the Congressional Budget Office had been grossly negligent in estimating its cost as under a trillion. Congress bought a pig in a poke. It is now likely to cost almost $3 trillion over a decade. Opps. Slight mistake.

Normally, Congress could revisit the math and scale it back through the appropriations process, but as Obama cast the program as an entitlement, it does not go through appropriations. Therefore Congress is fully within its rights to use its power over the budget and the debt to revisit the glossy assumptions on which passage was based. It is the only way they can.

On a political level, Obamacare was passed on a party-line vote. Its passage reflects a unique moment in our history where one party government was possible, made more so by the shaky procedural ruling on the Byrd Amendment.

The program never had a majority or plurality in public opinion polls and was passed despite a high profile victory of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts largely attributable to public anger over the new law.
When America saw what their super majority Democratic Congress had passed, they reversed the field and threw them out of power in the House and reduced their Senate majority.

So are we not entitled to revisit the issue? Can we not now look back? With a threefold increase in cost, can’t we use fiscal checks and balances over the debt limit and budget to see if we really want to go down that road? Damn right we can.