The New ObamaMart

…has been out for a couple of days.

However.

The Obama administration unveiled a new version of HealthCare.gov on Wednesday….

Officials also said that HealthCare.gov won’t display premiums for 2015 until the second week of November.

Of course not.

Interstate Commerce and Chicken Eggs

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging a California law that requires all eggs sold in the Golden State to come from hens housed in roomier cages.

State Attorneys General from Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Alabama had sued to block implementation of the law on the grounds that it unconstitutionally interfered with interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause.

They said farmers would have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars overhauling farms to ensure they would have access to the California market….

US District Judge Kimberly Mueller of the Eastern District of California disagreed.

Obamacare and Health Care

As Dr Scott Atlas, of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, in a recent The Wall Street Journal op-ed noted,

  • Private company medical innovation R&D spending in the US the last three years averaged 2.1%, down from an average of 6% over the previous fifteen
  • Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, India, and the EU had greater R&D spending growth in the same period
  • The PRC had a growth rate of 22%

Certainly, those other polities, the EU excepted, were starting from a much smaller base, and so their growth rates will tend to be exaggerated. Certainly, too, our own historically weak economy is exacerbating the situation.

In Which another Federal Judge Gets it Right

Recall Halbig v Sebelius, the case wherein plaintiffs objected to subsidies being paid to Obamacare plan purchasers when the those plans were bought through ObamaMart, the Federally run health plan exchange, instead of through State-run health plan exchanges. The text of the Obamacare law allows the latter and bars the former. The DC Circuit agreed with plaintiffs and struck down the subsidies. (The current status of that ruling is that it’s been stayed pending review of Halbig by the DC Circuit sitting en banc.)

An Instructive Graph

This one is from the Census Bureau’s Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013. The headline of the report is that American household median income stagnated for the second straight year and remains, in real terms, 8% lower than it was in the last year before the Panic of 2008. The graph below reflects that.2013MedianHouseholdIncome

What interests me about this graph, though, is not the end result snapshot, but the slopes of the graph’s separate lines, the changing levels of median incomes, as we come out of recessions and panics over the last 50 years.

Personal Health Information Security

We’ve had HIPAA—the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—for nearly 20 years. This act requires, among other things, all handlers of our personal medical information (primarily, but not exclusively, our doctors, hospitals, and health coverage plan providers) to have our permission to pass that information along, even to other doctors, hospitals, and health coverage plan providers and to take adequate steps to safeguard that information when it’s in their hands or being passed along.

It seems that this administration doesn’t consider itself bound by that same law. The latest example of this evident lawlessness is ObamaMart. The GAO has completed its own assessment of ObamaMart’s security and security practices, and it’s unimpressed.

Obamacare, Errors, and Attitudes

The AP has an article that goes into the pitfalls and pratfalls that Obamacare faces this fall, 2014 enrollment period. I’m interested in one error in particular and the attitude of one Democrat in particular who voted for Obamacare’s passage.

The error was the overpayment by the Federal government of many of the subsidies it handed out to…defray…the premium costs of having an Obamacare health plan. Overpayments could occur from a plan buyer underreporting income, from ObamaMart not correctly matching income data with subsidy accruals, and so on.

Doesn’t College Cost Enough Already?

In an effort to combat the high cost if college, the Obama administration thinks it’s appropriate to make borrowing easier.

Under a plan likely to take effect next year, the Education Department would check the past two years of a borrower’s credit, instead of the current standard of five, for blemishes such as delinquencies or debts in collection. Also, any delinquent debts below $2,085 would be overlooked; currently, delinquencies of any amount are grounds for rejected applications.

Scottish Independence

The view of a poor, dumb colonial.

Suppose the Scottish referendum next week goes in favor of independence. What would be next for Scotland?

Among the complexities of separation is the matter of pensions provided by employers. Most such pensions are not fully funded; although, most such pension providers have apparently viable plans for curing the shortfall, over some number of years. However, the EU (and we’ll assume Scotland succeeds in joining the EU for this bit) requires all pension funds with members in two or more countries to be fully paid up. Moreover, funds that are not have only two years to get fully paid up. There are quite a number of large-ish UK companies, employing thousands each, whose pension funds have members in both countries, and whose pension funds are on one of those “some number of years to fund” plans.

Obamacare and Health Coverage Cost Growth

President Barack Obama promised us, all those years ago, that if only Obamacare were enacted, a family’s health plan premium would drop by $2,500 per year, and no one would lose their employer-provided health plan. Period.

These two graphs from The Wall Street Journal draw a different…picture.ObamacareCost

These graphs cover the period since 1999. As the upper graph shows, the premiums for employer-provided health insurance and, since Obamacare’s passage in 2010, for employer-provided health plans, have risen at a steady pace—unchanged by Obamacare, and specifically, no drop in premium cost. It’s the same with the employee’s share of those premiums; that share’s pace of increase also has been unaffected—that is, no drop in cost—from Obamacare.