Obamacare Fail

The headline of this Wall Street Journal piece pretty much says it all: Average Cost of Employer Health Coverage Tops $18,000 for Family in 2016.

The sub-head, with careful reading, adds clarity: Pace of cost increase slowed by accelerating shift into high-deductible plans, new survey shows.

That cost of employer coverage, buy the way, refers to the premiums employees must pay: $18,142 for a 2016 typical employer-offered family plan, and employees have to pay 30% of that, typically, up from 29%.  Like a sergeant I once worked with liked to say, sort of, “Holy cats.”

The Progressive Socialist Goal Made Manifest

In the context of Aetna’s decision to sharply curtail its participation in ObamaMart—because such participation was costing Aetna millions of dollars—Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT) has said openly

The provision of health care cannot continue to be dependent upon the whims and market projections of large private insurance companies whose only goal is to make as much profit as possible.

Because making money—the engine of economic growth and the economic welfare of all Americans—is inappropriate when it’s done outside Government control.  American businesses and Americans can’t be allowed to earn more than Government deems fit.  President Barack Obama (D) has held this before Sanders became a public fixture:

If You Like Your Plan

Aetna Inc will withdraw from 11 of the 15 states where it currently offers plans through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, becoming the latest of the major national health insurers to pull back sharply from the law’s signature marketplaces after steep financial losses.

FDA and Funding

Moves in Congress to link billions of dollars in new medical research funding to revised standards for drug and medical-device approvals are troubling some public-health experts, who say the combination makes it too easy for lawmakers to support lower patient-safety standards.

This is a cynical distortion of the situation.  With the FDA’s suppression of Sarepta, a drug that has helped—a lot—boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and that, so far, has shown no deleterious side effects standing as a shining example, of course it’s necessary for Congress to exercise its power and authority of the purse string to bring an out of control, scleroticlly bureaucratic agency to heel.

Trump’s Plan for Replacing Obamacare

Republican Party Presidential candidate Donald Trump finally has made public his plan for eliminating and replacing Obamacare. His plan consists of the following seven points:

  1. Completely repeal Obamacare. Our elected representatives must eliminate the individual mandate. No person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.
  2. Modify existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines. As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state. By allowing full competition in this market, insurance costs will go down and consumer satisfaction will go up.

Health Insurance and Regulation

Faith-based organizations that share the costs of health care among their members are a tiny part of the health care coverage industry. They’re also not regulated by government.

[Faith-based] ministry officials say they aren’t offering insurance, don’t guarantee claims will be paid, and don’t need to be regulated.

Naturally, regulators object.

But now, some insurance commissioners are concerned that the ministries could put consumers at risk if bills aren’t paid.

This is the consumer’s choice to risk, though, not government’s authority to command not to. At least in a free society.

And more tellingly:

Some Duplicity in Obamacare

Recall that a while ago, in 2014, the GAO ran some tests of Obamacare: they set up 12 fake persons with invalid Social Security numbers, fake citizenship, and/or false income claims. Eleven of these got coverage, several of them got subsidies, many of them got renewed for this year, and some of the renewals got increased subsidies.

…officials running Obamacare told the GAO they possess “limited ability to respond to attempts at fraud….”

Worse, these guys added in wide-eyed innocence

that measures to ensure program integrity would undermine “consumers’ ability to ‘effectively and efficiently’ select Marketplace [Obamacare] coverage.”

Medicare Funding

The fund Medicare uses to pay hospitals will run out in the next 15 years, and experts say there are no easy answers to solve it.

Certainly not politically easy answers, and that does matter. However, the practical answer is quite simple, if expensive in the transition.

Keep everyone 55 and older in the current Medicare system, with the individual option to leave that system in favor of the one I’ve proposed many times and summarize here. It’s important to note also that the “experts” are referring only to Medicare Part A, the hospitalization part. My reform is broader and applies to Medicare Parts B, payments to physicians, and D, drug coverage.

Obamacare….

…again. The claimed purpose of Obamacare is to get every American covered by a health plan.

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, with its mandate that all Americans purchase insurance and requirement for businesses to offer employees insurance plans, many small companies provided coverage by directly reimbursing medical costs or for the cost of private insurance plans. Businesses do it because that’s a less complicated process than dealing with an official health insurance plan….

An IRS Rule (remember these guys and their rules?) that took effect on 1 Jul punishes those businesses for helping their employees.

The Supreme Court Erred Again

Heads up: long post. I have some thoughts on the Roberts Court’s ruling concerning the IRS’ tax credits.

Chief Justice John Roberts again rewrote the Patient Protection Affordable and Care Act to suit what he thought it should say rather than staying within the bounds of what it actually says. In these comments I’ll leave aside Roberts’ guiding principles that health plans that are independent of the risk being transferred are, somehow, insurance plans; that possession of a health plan is a universal so good it must be mandated; and that the folks who need a health plan the least—the healthy—must also be required to possess such a plan. Those matters have been well addressed elsewhere. I’ll confine my remarks to his position on the IRS’ tax credits.