Category Archives: Obamacare

Death Spiral: 6.5 Million People Choose To Pay Tax Rather Than Buy Obamacare

For those who still aren’t convinced that Obamacare is trapped in an inescapable death spiral that will inevitably end in nothing short of an epic collapse of the federal and state health insurance exchanges, perhaps you should consider the following facts from the National Review and Mark Farrah and Associates.

–  Four heavily promoted open enrollments have taken place run by the Obama administration and the state exchanges.

–  Federal law has required people to purchase insurance or pay a fine — and the individual mandate was administered through 2016 by the Obama administration. In fact, in 2015, 7.5 million people paid the fine, while 6.5 million paid the fine in 2016, according to the IRS.

–  Every one of the people in the insurance market earning less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level were eligible for premium assistance — and those below 250 percent of the poverty level were also eligible to have their deductibles and co-pays subsidized.

–  After all of this, only about 40 percent of those eligible for subsidies have signed up for coverage. In what other business or government program would such a dismal acceptance by those it was targeted to serve be considered a success?

–  The number of insurance companies participating is on track to shrink by 38 percent in 2018.

And then there is the chart below…if people really saw “value” in Obamacare wouldn’t you expect that more than 2% of the people who don’t qualify for subisidies would sign up?

Finally, I will suggest the real test of whether a health-insurance program is stable is whether the consumers for whom it is intended believe that it provides them with value. Here is a chart of the take-up rate on the federal exchanges under the Affordable Care Act; excluding the “Over 400%” category, all of these individuals are eligible for subsidies. This chart represents data from last year, but with only a 4 percent reduction in those purchasing on the exchanges between 2016 and 2017, it should remain a fair indication of consumer approval of the program.

The health-insurance industry has long considered a 75 percent take-up rate to be the gold standard in evaluating whether an insurance pool is stable — i.e., whether there are enough healthy people signed up to pay the claims of the sick. While the exchanges appear to have achieved this for the lowest-income consumers — those who get the biggest premium subsidies and also have their out-of-pocket costs subsidized — only 17 percent of those making 301 to 400 percent of the poverty level have signed up.

https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2017/08/09/2017.08.09%20-%20OCare1.JPG

Still not convinced, how about this?  The “off-exchange market” (i.e. people who make too much money to quality for subsidies and whose premiums are required to subsidize everyone else who does qualify) contracted by 2.1mm in 2016, or a 29% drop.  With those kind of declines, it’s only a matter of time until there are no more rich fools in the pool willing to continue subsidizing a broken system.

Also, MFA published the same report in 2016, facilitating a year-over-year comparison. The on-exchange market fell from 12,681,874 to 12,216,003 individuals, a reduction of 465,871 or 4 percent. However, the off-exchange market fell from 7,520,939 to 5,361,451, a reduction of 2,159,488 or 29 percent. In other words, enrollment is steady among those who receive subsidies but declining dramatically among those who do not.

Much has been made of the question of whether the individual markets are in a “death spiral.” Given that the on-exchange market enrollment is relatively stable, there is clearly not a death spiral in the subsidized market. However, with a reduction in the unsubsidized market of 29 percent in just one year, that pattern certainly looks like one we would expect in a market spiraling down.

Meanwhile, of course, that 29% drop exactly why insurance companies are expected to hike their rates by 20-40% in certain markets again in 2018…

https://i1.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2017/08/02/2017.08.02%20-%20ACA_0.JPG

…and why rates have soared an average of 113% over the past 4 years, or nearly 30% per year.

Source: ZeroHedge

Covered California Plans To Jack 2018 Premiums Up 12.5%

Covered California announced this week that its 2018 rates will increase about eight times faster than the rate of inflation, as the Obamacare law and the state’s liberal legislature continue to destroy private insurance in California.

Despite the latest United States Department of Labor Consumer Price Index for the month of June estimating that inflation rose by only 1.6 percent over the last twelve months, Covered California, Obamacare for the state, just announced that the average health insurance premiums on the California insurance exchanges would rise by 12.5 percent, or about 7.81 times faster than the rate of inflation.

Covered California’s spiking prices are actually a relative bargain compared to the even worse Obamacare price increases insurers are about to extract across the rest of the nation. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “big insurers in Idaho, West Virginia, South Carolina, Iowa, and Wyoming are seeking to raise premiums by 30 percent or more.”

The insurance industry lobbied the Democrat-controlled Congress in 2010 to design Obamacare to be more expensive than traditional private insurance by dramatically expanding services covered in the health benefit packages.

https://i0.wp.com/media.breitbart.com/media/2015/06/Covered-California-640x480.jpg

Section 1302 of the law granted also the Department of Health and Human Services the right to periodically revise an “essential health benefits package” of minimum health insurance coverage requirements. That allowed insurance companies to lobby federal bureaucrats to add more benefits and eliminate the standard lifetime caps on spending for wildly expensive treatments, such as inpatient drug rehabilitation.

Since the 2013-4 launch of Obamacare, premiums have risen by about 15 percent per year, despite inflation averaging only about 2 percent a year.

Not only were insurance companies making huge increases in revenue during the Obamacare years, their gross profit margins jumped from 22 percent, when Obamacare was passed in 2010, to 26 percent in the last quarter of 2016. Healthcare stocks have been the second-hottest sector in the seven-year bull market for stocks. Since Obamacare was passed on March 23, 2010, the healthcare stock index has risen by 248 percent.

The Trump presidential win appeared to represent an existential threat to the healthcare industry’s Obamacare bonanza. But with the Republican Senate failing to pass any type of Obamacare repeal, the healthcare stocks hit another all-time-high on July 31.

Many major healthcare companies that supported the expansion of Obamacare benefits and costs over the last seven years are now dropping out of the program as customers begin to take full advantage of the expanded and unlimited benefits.

United Healthcare, America’s largest healthcare insurer, announced in March 2016 that it was exiting all Obamacare exchanges after stating that Obamacare claims would reduce 2016 earnings by about $850 million. Still, four months later, United Healthcare recorded all-time-record quarterly revenues of $46.5 billion, a $10 billion increase over the prior year.

Covered California had been able to keep healthcare premium growth to around 10 percent per year because 11 healthcare insurers were participating. But Aetna dropped out at the end of 2016, and Anthem Blue Cross just announced they are dumping 153,000 customers and shutting down California operations in all regions except the rural north state, Central Valley, and Santa Clara County, according to the Orange County Register.

The 12.5 percent Covered California statewide increase is just an average. Abandoned United Healthcare subscribers can still buy coverage from Blue Shield, but their annual premium cost is expected to leap by 24 percent.

Covered California premium rates could jump statewide by another 16.6 percent if the Trump administration does not contest the May 12, 2016 ruling by U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer in United States House of Representatives v. Price that the Obama administration improperly amended Obamacare in January 2014 to pay billions in cost-sharing subsidies to insurers without congressional approval.

By Chriss W. Street | Breitbart

 

More Rural Hospitals Across Tennessee At Risk Of Closing

PARSON, Tenn. – With barely 11,000 residents you could consider Decatur County to be on the front lines of a battle being fought across rural America right now, one that small town hospitals are repeated losing putting patients in life or death situations.

Built in 1964, Decatur County General Hospital lies just a few blocks from the center of the town of Parsons. The “L” shaped building is currently running with a bare minimum staff, 80 full time employees and just one doctor. Hospital officials have worked tirelessly over the last few months, trimming the staff of nurses and lab technicians down from 110 people in an effort to minimize costs. The county mayor here estimates Decatur General lost about $200,000 last year, this life line to so many is currently on life support and in danger of closing.

“If this goes away there are so many people who won’t get the care they need,” says Paulette Johnson who was at the emergency room on a recent Tuesday having x-rays done on her neck.

The 67-year-old lives in Scotts Hill, Tennessee, a town that lies about 20 minutes away from the emergency room at Decatur County General Hospital. If this hospital shuts its doors, it would take more than an hour for Paulette to get to the next closest emergency room.

That kind of drive could mean the difference between life or death in an emergency.

“They can save your life here, you’re gonna lose your life if you have to go further,” Paulette says.

Decatur County General is hardly alone in the struggle to stay open. Nationwide 81 rural hospitals have closed since 2010. Nine of those closures have happened in Tennessee, county run hospitals from the eastern mountains to the Mississippi River have disappeared. The only state with more rural hospital closures than Tennessee is Texas, where in 2013 an 18-month old died after being rushed to an emergency room that her parents didn’t realize had closed.

Here is a list of the eight facilities that have recently closed in Tennessee:

  • Riverview Regional Medical Center North (August 2012)
  • Gibson General Hospital (January 2014)
  • Humboldt General Hospital (January 2014)
  • Haywood Park Community Hospital (August 2014)
  • Methodist Healthcare-Fayette Hospital (March 2015)
  • Medical Center of Manchester (July 2015)
  • Tennova Healthcare McNairy Regional Hospital (May 2016)
  • Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott, formerly Scott County Hospital (July 2016 but slated to reopen August 2017)

Source: NewsChannel5

Sen. Rand Paul: Senate GOP Decide to Keep Obamacare

https://i1.wp.com/media.breitbart.com/media/2017/05/Rand-Paul-J.-Scott-ApplewhiteAP-640x480.jpg

I miss the old days, when Republicans stood for repealing Obamacare. Republicans across the country and every member of my caucus campaigned on repeal – often declaring they would tear out Obamacare “root and branch!”

What happened?

(Breitbart) Now too many Republicans are falling all over themselves to stuff hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars into a bill that doesn’t repeal Obamacare and feeds Big Insurance a huge bailout.

Obamacare regulations? Still here. Taxes? Many still in place, totaling hundreds of billions of dollars.

Insurance company bailouts? Those, too. Remember when Republicans complained about Obamacare’s risk corridors? Remember when we called the corridors nothing more than insurance company bailouts? I remember when one prominent GOP candidate during a presidential debate explicitly called out the Obamacare risk corridors as a bailout to insurance companies. Does anyone else?

Now, the Senate GOP plan being put forward is chock full of insurance bailout money – to the tune of nearly $200 billion. Republicans, present company excluded, now support the idea of lowering your insurance premium by giving a subsidy to the insurance company.

Remarkable. If the GOP now supports an insurance stabilization fund to lower insurance prices, maybe they now support a New Car stabilization fund to lower the price of cars. Or maybe the GOP would support an iPhone stabilization fund to lower the price of phones.

The possibilities are limitless once you accept that the federal government should subsidize prices. I remember when Republicans favored the free choice of the marketplace.

The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. I want to repeat that so everyone realizes why I’ll vote “no” as it stands now:

The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. Not even close.

In fact, the Senate GOP bill codifies and likely expands many aspects of Obamacare.

The Senate Obamacare-lite bill codifies a federal entitlement to insurance. With the Senate GOP bill, Republicans, for the first time, will signal that they favor a key aspect of Obamacare – federal taxpayer funding of private insurance purchases.

The bill will transfer billions of dollars to people who will then transfer billions of dollars to insurance companies. What a great business model – encourage the federal government to use taxpayer money to buy a private company’s product. Great business model, that is, if you are Big Insurance. Remarkable.

The Senate Obamacare-lite bill does what the Democrats forgot to do – appropriate billions for Obamacare’s cost-sharing reductions, aka subsidies. Really? Republicans are going to fund Obamacare subsidies that the Democrats forgot to fund?

Doesn’t sound much like repeal to me. One might even argue it’s worse than Obamacare-lite because it actually creates a giant superfund to bail out the insurance companies – something even the Democrats feared to do.

I was first elected in the heady days of the Tea Party Tidal Wave, when tens of thousands of citizens gathered on the central city lawn to protest Big Government, Big Debt, and a government takeover of health care.

This citizenry won in four elections. Each time, the GOP establishment told conservatives, “We can’t repeal Obamacare until we have all three branches of government.” Finally, in 2016, that came to pass. Republicans now control all three branches of government.

And . . . the best that is offered is Obamacare-lite: keeping the Obamacare subsidies, keeping some of the Obamacare taxes, creating a giant insurance bailout superfund, and keeping most of the Obamacare regulations.

Shame. Shame on many in the GOP for promising repeal and instead affirming, keeping, and, in some cases, expanding Obamacare. What a shame.

Aetna Pulls Out Of Obamacare

Health insurer Aetna Inc (AET.N) said on Wednesday it will exit the 2018 Obamacare individual insurance market in Delaware and Nebraska – the two remaining states where it offered the plans.

Aetna has now “completely exited the exchanges,” the company said in an emailed statement.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives last week voted to undo the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, the signature domestic achievement of former President Barack Obama.

But even if the Republicans’ bill – known as the American Health Care Act – is passed by the Senate it would not solve a critical outstanding issue for insurers looking at 2018: Will the government continue to fund the cost-sharing subsidies that help individuals pay for care?

By Deena Beasley | Reuters

To Remove ObamaCare We Must First Remove The UniParty “Big Club”…

By Sundance | The Conservative Treehouse

President Trump is the first political entity in our lifetime that not only comprehends the faces of the false arguments (the personalities of false choice), but more importantly sees the architects behind the Potemkin villages represented by those faces.  When it comes to domestic economic policies, the architects are the BIG CLUB.

So, what is “The Big Club“?

https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/the-big-club-2.jpg?w=640&h=455

..What “Deep State” is to intelligence, military intervention and foreign policy – The “BIG CLUB” is to matters of domestic economics…

Politicians do not write laws.  Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer do not sit in their offices writing out scripts of laws and legislation; no politician does.  Politicians are the faces who sell legislation that unseen hands create.  The Big Club are the hands that create the legislation.

As such, it makes no sense to argue about the salesmanship of Ted Cruz or Elizabeth Warren when neither Cruz nor Warren are creating the legislative constructs they are selling.

Indeed, it makes much more sense to focus the attention on the unseen hands that are never discussed – These are the roots of the issues, the politicians are merely the expendable and interchangeable sales force.

https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/lobbying-1-research.jpg?w=625

The Big Club are massive and complex networks of lobbying groups who actually write legislation.  What follows, depending on their own evaluation of importance therein, are payments to the politicians to go and sell their construct.

The amount of payment varies depending on how valuable the construct is to the interests of the Club.  Big legislative constructs that provide the Club large income increases are worth more than smaller ones.

This is the accurate background framework to consider ObamaCare.

Within The BIG CLUB there are, essentially, two larger factions with interest: Big Labor and Wall Street (big crony-business).  There are other factions like Big Green (Al Gore) etc. However, for the sake of ObamaCare the two that matter are “Big Labor” (AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME, UFCW etc), and Wall Street (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue).

The Big Club has paid for ObamaCare’s construct, and they are not going to allow their sales force to walk away from it.  From their position, this is a massive ‘multi-multi-hundreds-of-millions’ expenditure that has already taken place.

Tom Donohue (U.S. CoC) already lost hundreds of millions when his construct (his team actually did the writing) of TPP was lost due to Donald Trump.   Donohue’s TPP loss followed the loss of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (2014 Dave Brat), and his loss of Common Core Education standards, again with Donald Trump.

Donohue spent hundreds of millions on Gang of Eight, Common Core, TPP and ObamaCare.

https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/tom-donohue-3.jpg?w=625

Donohue paid off AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka to get him to stop being public about his opposition of TPP.   The quid-pro-quo was transparently most evident when Trumka endorsed candidate Hillary Clinton who was supporting Donohue’s TPP.

Having lost TPP, Go8 and Common Core, there is no way Tom Donohue is going to accept losing his biggest investment to date, ObamaCare.

♦ Big Labor support ObamaCare for a few reasons.  #1 it granted fiscal stability to their retirement programs which were failing with the increased costs of providing healthcare coverage.  #2 it creates additional profit margin space within union companies for more lucrative compensation contracts.  And #3 ideologically it was constructed to eventually end up with a single-payer system.  All three points are great for Big Labor.

♦ Wall Street supports ObamaCare because it:  #1 removes the cost of providing healthcare from the cost of producing products in the U.S. [However, you’ll note the consumer price of manufactured goods never actually decreases, instead the savings go to the profit margin.] #2 allows the manufacturing cost equity to streamline globalization efforts.

Both primary factions within the BIG CLUB stood to gain substantially if they could shift the cost of healthcare from their individual ledgers into the personal checkbooks of the U.S. consumer.  Hence, they looked at the lobbying cost of ObamaCare as a long-term legislative investment with a massive upside.

https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/mcconnell-ryan.jpg?w=625

After the GOPe wing of the UniParty was voted into the majority in both houses (2014), the Big Club sales people (politicians) needed to give the illusion of “repeal” or “removal”, but not actually do anything which would remove it.  So long as Obama was in office the optical games were easy; with Clinton later in office the games would be no longer needed.

Big Club spends to make sure Clinton wins the Presidency.

#NeverTrump making sense now?

Rut Roh.

Now, fast forward to 2017 and President Trump is in office on a promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Oh snap, NOW what is the Big Club going to do?

Stall for time…. Quick construct plan to deal with the unexpected.  Stall, block cabinet and down-stream confirmations… Activate astroturf to provide Sales Force cover…  Paul Ryan lies to Sean Hannity… etc.

More things reconciling now?

Meanwhile, President Trump understands exactly what they are doing.

https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/trump-and-trumka-2.jpg?w=306&h=353

President-Elect Trump met with Richard Trumka and outlined larger administration pro-jobs objective assurances.

Once in office, President Trump works around Donohue and goes to the manufacturing and business community directly.

Now Trump is highlighting how deregulation, tax policy and other pro-growth America-First objectives will more than compensate them for any ObamaCare recall.

The battle/negotiation you see in the media is the visible stuff going on amid the Big Club’s sales people, the politicians.  However, the REAL ObamaCare removal negotiation is going on behind the scenes where the Trump Administration is taking on The Big Club directly…

Once you see the strings, it’s almost impossible to watch the marionettes and not see them.

However, that doesn’t mean the puppet show has to be less enjoyable….

….Specifically because we have President Trump, it is entirely possible to simultaneously watch the show, and yet still look up toward the scaffolding and see the shadows of the hands controlling them.

https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/trump-mcconnell-1.jpg?w=563&h=751

https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/lobbying-1-research.jpg?w=625

https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/trump-executive-order-lobby-ban-etc.jpg?w=625

Lobbying Ban – Executive Order