The Abysmal Rollout of Obamacare going According to Plan to bring us to National Health Care?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 16th, 2014

Week in Review

The roll out of the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) has given us a plethora of unintended consequences.  From freezing new hiring.  To pushing full-time workers into part-time.  To people losing the health insurance and doctor they liked and wanted to keep.  To higher insurance premiums. To higher deductibles.  To higher co-pays.  Taking a health care system that the vast majority of people were satisfied with and making it worse.  To accommodate a small percentage of the population who were uninsured.  If that wasn’t bad enough it doesn’t even look like some of the people who signed up for Obamacare are paying their insurance premiums (see Next problem for Obamacare: deadbeat enrollees by Rick Newman posted 2/14/2014 on Yahoo! Finance).

The  New York Times has discovered  that only about 80% of people purchasing health insurance through the federal online marketplace or a similar state-run exchange paid their first month’s premium. There’s no single source of such data, but the Times canvassed insurers participating in the program, such as Aetna (AET), Wellpoint (WLP), Humana (HUM) and Blue Shield of California. All said that the first-month payment rate ranged from 75% to 80% or so, far lower than for typical plans. If enrollees don’t pay the first month’s premium, their insurance never goes into effect.

That doesn’t mean, however, that one-fifth of the people signing up for Obamacare are blatantly refusing to pay. Technical problems with some of the exchange websites may have left people enrolled in an insurance plan without knowing it. Some may never have received a bill or confirmation of their enrollment. Others may have unwittingly signed up for two different policies, while paying for only one.

To make the Affordable Care Act work required a huge health care cost transfer from the old and sick to the young and healthy.  The young and healthy, incidentally, made up a sizeable portion of the uninsured.  Because they were young and healthy and felt invincible.  And invincible people don’t need to buy insurance.  So Obamacare needed the individual mandate to force these people to buy insurance against their will so they could pay for the old and sick.

Of course when they raised the price of health insurance to cover pre-existing conditions it wasn’t the young and healthy that ran to the Obamacare exchanges.  It was the old and sick.  Adding too many old and sick to the insurance pool.  And not enough of the young and healthy.  Those who would pay without consuming any benefits.  Because they are young and healthy.  Causing the insurers to pay more out in benefits than they receive in premiums.  Forcing them to raise their premiums.  Which will, of course, kick off the death spiral as people drop out because they can’t afford those higher rates.  Which will, in turn, force the insurers to raise their rates again.  Hence the death spiral.   And as bad as all of that was now it looks like about 20-25% of those who ‘signed up’ either didn’t or are simply choosing not to pay.  Making the financial predicament of the insurers far worse.

Of course if your plan was to force single-payer (i.e., national health care) onto the people against their will then everything is going according to plan to destroy the private insurance market.  Leaving only the government to step in and provide single-payer (i.e., national health care).  Which should fill everyone with confidence after seeing how well they rolled out the Affordable Care Act.  And no doubt will impress us even more with the rollout of single-payer (i.e., national health care).

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FT197: “Global warming insurance would probably sell as well as Obamacare.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 22nd, 2013

Fundamental Truth

The Scam of the Ponzi Scheme is that there is no Investment

A Ponzi scheme is a pyramid scheme.  An investment scam.  Here’s how it works.  Say three scammers build an investment fund that they promise will return an 18% return on investment.  A pretty good return these days.  If they have 100 investors who invest $25,000 each that brings in $2.5 million into the investment fund.  Now here’s where the scam comes in.

They pay each investor an 18% return each year.  So their $25,000 returns $4,500.  A return they can’t get anywhere else.  An investment just too good to be true.  Some take that $4,500 check and spend it on something special for themselves.  Others leave it in the fund.  While others beg to get into the fund.  Of course they wouldn’t do these things if they understood what happened to the $2.125 million that the fund didn’t pay out to investors.  That went into the pockets of the three scammers.

That’s the scam of the Ponzi scheme.  There is no investment.  The scammers collect the money people invest.  Put aside some money to pay out as a generous return on investment.  While keeping the rest.  These scammers sit on top of the pyramid.  And the more people that join the investment fund the wider the base of the pyramid gets.  Pouring more money into the scam.  Providing more money to pay out even higher returns on investments.  Getter ever more people begging to get into the fund.  While burying the scammers under an avalanche of cash.

Our Aging Population is sending the Health Insurance Industry into a Death Spiral

All Ponzi schemes share these characteristics.  And one other one.  They all fail.  And the scammers go to jail.  Why?  Simple.  The scam works as long as the base of the pyramid continues to grow greater than the top of the pyramid.  As the base grows larger the scammers spend more money, though.  Because there is more money to spend.  And spend they do.  Putting down deposits and paying on large mortgages and loans.  Buying very costly things that have a voracious appetite for cash.  So over time more money flows out at the top of the pyramid.  Which isn’t a problem until money stops flowing into the bottom of the pyramid.  Or begins to flow out.  Because people want to use their money for something else.  Like for a down payment on a house.  And once the money flowing out of the bottom of the pyramid exceeds the ‘return’ on investment the fund pays those high returns on investments shrink and disappear.  Exposing the scam.

This is what has happened to Social Security and Medicare.  Thanks to an aging population.  Women are having fewer babies than they did during the baby boom generation.  So today we have fewer taxpayers entering the workforce who pay the taxes that pay for Social Security and Medicare.  While the baby boomers are retiring and leaving the workforce.  And living longer into retirement.  Consuming far more money than they ever paid into these entitlement programs.  So there is far more money flowing out of the top of the pyramid than is flowing into the bottom.  Inverting the pyramid.  And putting these programs onto the path to bankruptcy.

Health insurance is little different.  It just covers so much these days that insurance premiums have soared to pay for this ever expanding coverage.  And the aging population just makes a horrible situation worse.  The elderly are living longer and consuming the lion’s share of health care services.  Further raising the cost of health insurance.  Making it unaffordable to many.  So people simply choose not to buy it in their youth when they are young and healthy.  And wait to buy it later in life when they need it.  Such as when they start raising a family.  At which time they’ll try to find employment somewhere that has good health insurance.  When they start consuming health care services.  Creating adverse selection.  Where only those who consume health care services buy health insurance.  While those who don’t consume health care services (i.e., the young and healthy) don’t.  Creating a death spiral.  As there are no non-consumers of health care services subsidizing the high cost of the large consumers of health care services.  So premiums rise.  To allow fewer people pay for more.  More people drop their insurance because they can no longer afford it.  Shrinking the insurance pool.  So premiums rise.  To allow fewer people pay for more.  More people drop their insurance because they can no longer afford it.  And so on until the cost of health insurance equals the cost of the health care services.  And the insurance market goes the way of every Ponzi scheme before it.

When Reality hits People in the Pocketbook they tend to Lose their Idealism

Enter the Affordable Care Act and the mandates.  Forcing the young and healthy to buy insurance they won’t use.  So they can use their premiums to pay for the old and sick.  The greatest generational theft in history.  Something the young and healthy see.  And don’t like.  For they are not running out and buying health insurance on the health exchanges.  In fact the majority of the people to enroll thus far are the high consumers of health care services.  Which is basically the opposite of the goal of Obamacare.  The young and healthy may have supported President Obama and the Affordable Care Act but that was only in generalities.  Yes, we should help those who don’t have insurance.  And, yes, we should do something to save the environment.  We should stop discriminating against the LGBT community and let them get married.  In the abstract these are all noble goals.  But when the reality hits their pocketbook then it’s no longer an abstract thing to feel good about.  Especially when they can’t get a job with their college education because they had the misfortune to enter the workforce during the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression.  The Obama recovery.

This is when youthful idealism turns into skepticism.  As reality settles in hard.  This isn’t raising taxes on the rich.  Something they won’t have to deal with until much later in their career.  This is in the here and now.  When they stop hearing inspiring words from the president about what we can do if only we implement his policies.  But only hear B.S. and lies.  For if they had that youthful idealism they would be rushing to the health exchanges to buy health insurance to make the world a better place.  But they’re not.  And this has the left worried.  Not just about trying to fix the broken Obamacare website.  But will this skepticism spread to other items on their liberal agenda?  Such as the fight against manmade global warming?  They still want their carbon tax.  And they’ve worked hard to get kids graduating from high school convinced that we’re destroying the planet and need to make polluters pay.  If the young lose their faith on Obamacare they may just stop fearing global warming to the point that they may start driving big SUVs again.

In the abstract the youth will support many things.  Until it starts hitting them in the pocketbook.  And if we make the fight against global warming hit them in the pocketbook they would quickly become indifferent about manmade global warming.  Even becoming manmade global warming skeptics.  Perhaps even noting that the glaciers once stretched down from the poles to near the equator.  And moved back towards the poles.  Before there was any manmade global warming.  Something that probably bothers them today but they’re not yet ready to question the left about manmade global warming.  But if we made them buy insurance to protect themselves from the ravishes of global warming they probably would.  The prognosticators can run off a list of calamities that will befall us from unchecked global warming.  So actuaries should be able to put a cost on that.  And set insurance premiums to cover the cost when the calamities of manmade global warming hit us.  Putting these premiums into a Save the Planet from Manmade Global Warming Trust Fund.  Just like the Social Security Trust Fund that has nothing in it but government IOUs.  Let the youth start paying a monthly premium to save us from manmade global warming and see how soon they become global warming deniers.  If we did this global warming insurance would probably sell as well as Obamacare.  Because when reality hits people in the pocketbook they tend to lose their idealism.  And this is the biggest fear the left has.  Because they count on that youthful idealism to win elections.  For once people lose their idealism they tend to vote Republican.

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The Soft Tyranny of National Health Care

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 14th, 2013

Politics 101

Nazis and Communists acquired Power by Promising their People a Generous Welfare State

Adolf Hitler did not tell the German people that he wanted to wage world war.  Install an oppressive police state.  Or commit genocide.  Joseph Stalin did not tell the Russian people that he wanted to install an oppressive police state.  Starve millions of his people to death.  Or export communist revolution around the world.  Fidel Castro did not tell the Cuban people that he would make life so unbearable for them that they would rather risk dying in the ocean to reach America than staying in Cuba.

These dictators did not say these things.  And if anyone ever asked them of their true intentions they lied.  Especially to their people.  They lied about wanting to brutally oppress their people so they could expand their power.  Instead they told them they were going to take care of the people.  Unlike the evil capitalists.  Hitler’s National Socialism was going to give the people everything they could possibly want.  A job.  Mandatory vacations.  And national health care.  A person would be a fool not to want to give Hitler more power as he was going to make their lives so much better.  Freer.  And more pleasant.  Like a welfare state is supposed to be.

The communist promised that there would be no bourgeoisies exploiting the working man.  Instead everyone would be equal.  A utopia where everyone was each other’s brother.  Or comrade.  There would be no private property.  The people would own everything.  And there would be national health care.  This is the communist utopia Stalin promised his people.  And what Castro promised his people.  Neither meant it.  As no communist dictator meant it.  But by promising the people these things they were able to acquire power.  And the more power they acquired the more the people suffered.  This is why dictators and dictator wannabes lie.  To get the people to give them things the people would never give them if they told the truth.

The Affordable Care Act is a Pathway to the Soft Tyranny of National Health Care

The American left has always wanted the Holy Grail of the socialist state.  National health care.  For it gives them massive power.  As a person’s health is the most important thing in their life.  And once dependent on the state for their health care there is no new tax they won’t approve.  If it’s for their health.  This is why the left wants national health care.  This is why all dictators give their people national health care.  It makes people dependent on government.  And it makes people fear their government.  For if the government doesn’t get what it wants they could withhold health care.  Which could result in their death.

Now the Hitlers, Stalins and the Castros of the world don’t need to withhold health care to kill their people.  Their people feared them because they know their leaders could kill them outright.  The kind of thing that just doesn’t happen in Western democracies.  Which is what makes national health care so attractive.  For it offers a soft tyranny.  For you heard the left’s dire predictions of what would happen if the Republicans shut down the government.  But national health care?  Imagine the fear they could put into the people the next time the Republicans talked about tax cuts. 

The Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) is a pathway to this soft tyranny.  National health care.  While Canada and the United Kingdom struggle under the weight of their state health care systems the American left thought long and carefully of how to bring that same failed system to the American people.  With the health care industry totaling one-sixth of the U.S. economy that was just too great a tax hike to impose on the American people.  Even Democrats would be reluctant to impose such high taxes on people they needed to vote for them.  So they couldn’t go that route.  At least, not yet.

President Obama breaks the Law Again as he Tells Insurers they can still Sell Policies the People Liked

There is one thing standing in their way.  The private health insurance industry.  For with this there is an alternative to massive new taxes.  Which makes massive new taxes politically unattractive.  So they have to destroy the private health insurance industry first.  By lying to them.  Teasing them with government mandates that will give the health insurers a lucrative windfall of business.  While actually sealing their demise.

If you like your health insurance plan you can keep it.  Period.  That was the big lie.  Because you can’t.  Secretary Sebelius quickly wrote out the grandfather clause in the Affordable Care Act.  Especially for the individual market.  Where a lot of young and healthy people had only catastrophic policies.  Because they are young and healthy.  If the government was going to mandate the insurers pay for everything under the sun from free birth control to senior care they needed these young and healthy to lose their current policies and replace them with more costly policies with higher deductibles.  Basically forcing them to pay for costly health insurance but never using it because of those high deductibles.  Which transferred the cost of senior care to the young and healthy.  Something the young and healthy would never have been onboard with if the Democrats had told the truth.  Which is why the Democrats lied to them.

With the implementation of Obamacare the lies have become real.  They’re touching people’s lives.  And not in a good way.  Millions of individual policy holders are losing their insurance.  And those with employer-provided insurance will start losing theirs next year.  They’d be feeling the pain today but President Obama broke the law and ordered his administration not to enforce the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act.  Giving the employers a year reprieve until they, too, have to drop their non-compliant health insurance policies.  But being caught in the lie the year before the 2014 midterm elections has caused the president and the Democrats a lot of heartburn.  So much that the president is once again breaking the law.  And telling health insurers that they can still offer the health insurance policies the people liked.  When it is virtually impossible for them to do.  For they spent 3 years preparing for Obamacare and calculating insurance premiums based on the mandates bringing in enough money in premiums to pay for everything under the sun they now must cover. 

If they reinstate the old ‘substandard’ policies the young and healthy will buy these instead of buying the more costly Obamacare policies.  While the old and sick will buy the far more generous Obamacare policies.  Which will be a bargain for them as they will consume far more health care dollars than they pay in premiums.  But without the young and healthy subsidizing these policies the insurers will go bankrupt quickly as their benefits paid will far exceed their premiums collected.  Forcing them to increase their premiums to pay for the higher than expected benefits paid.  Until health insurance is so costly no one is buying it.  Putting them out of business.  So they can’t do this and hope to remain in business.  And, therefore, they will not reinstate the old ‘substandard’ policies.  Which is what the president wants.  For he gets to blame the insurers.  While accelerating the demise of the private health insurance industry.  By bankrupting them as planned.  AND getting the people to hate them even more.  A win-win for the Obama administration.  As they lie that they care about the people they are harming to expand their power.  Just like every other tyrant and tin-pot dictator has done throughout history.

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Cash Piñatas and Obamacare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 28th, 2013

Economics 101

Health Insurance provides Financial Protection from Risk unlike Obamacare

A lot of people are talking about Obamacare.  The poor website launch.  People losing the insurance policies and doctors they liked and wanted to keep.  Higher insurance premiums.  And higher deductibles.  All of which conflicts with what President Obama had promised.

So there are problems.  And people are becoming less enamored with Obamacare now that it is personally touching their lives.  But there is a bigger problem.  Obamacare isn’t insurance.  And that’s what a lot of people don’t even understand.  Even some insurance agents.  Who may only see those higher premium prices and think Obamacare is a one-way ticket to easy street.  But if you understand insurance, economics and history you’ll see it’s not.  So what is insurance?  Here’s a definition from Investopedia:  

A contract (policy) in which an individual or entity receives financial protection or reimbursement against losses from an insurance company. The company pools clients’ risks to make payments more affordable for the insured.

The key word in this definition is ‘risk’.  Insurance provides financial protection from risk.  Obamacare doesn’t do that.  It forces people to pay for things they have no risk exposure to.  For example, an older couple with adult children still needs pediatric coverage on their policy.  Which just increases the cost of their insurance.  While providing no financial protection from this particular risk.  Sick children.

Premiums and Deductibles are Soaring to herd the Young and Healthy into the Government Exchanges

So why is Obamacare raising health insurance premiums?  To pay for people who don’t pay into the insurance pool.  The poor.  And the very sick who can’t afford health care let alone health insurance.  The higher premiums people are paying go to them.  This is a cost transfer.  From a higher income group to a lower income group.  Or in other words, a redistribution of wealth.  From those according to ability to those according to need.

So the president wasn’t exactly telling the truth about keeping your insurance and doctor if you wanted to.  This can’t happen under Obamacare.  Because to redistribute wealth you need to take it away from someone.  And guess who that someone must be to make Obamacare work?  The young and healthy who are buying health insurance.  Those people who pay into the insurance pool for financial protection from risk.  But who are generally healthy and receive no benefits from the insurance pool.  Who President Obama and the Democrats look at as cash piñatas.  Which they can’t whack open if they have private insurance policies.

This is why these people must lose the policies and doctors they like.  And why premiums and deductibles are soaring.  To herd these cash piñatas into the government exchanges.  Where the government can collect their insurance premiums.  And redistribute it.  While those high deductibles keep those premiums going out as benefits to the cash piñatas to a minimum.

The Young and Healthy choosing Medicaid over Obamacare

Of course, there is a flaw in this grand strategy.  Arrogance.  The government believing that young and healthy people will just stand there while the government whacks them open to get their cash.  Which they aren’t.  And it’s just not because the Obamacare website is a disaster.  It’s because a lot of these people are choosing Medicaid.  The health care program for the poor.

Medicaid enrollments are far outpacing Obamacare enrollments.  By a huge number.  Which is a big problem.  Because Medicaid enrollees don’t pay insurance premiums.  And they are not subject to deductibles.  Because they are poor and can’t afford to pay anything out of pocket.  So instead of adding to the insurance pool these cash piñatas will take from the pool.  And that won’t change when they fix the broken website.  Which is why it is a fatal flaw.

Compounding this problem is the President’s economic policies that have given us the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression.  Since President Obama assumed office his policies have forced approximately 10 million people from the labor force.  Unemployed, it is unlikely that they will be able to afford health insurance.  And probably will enroll in Medicaid, too.  If they haven’t already.  So Obamacare isn’t going to work as-is.  The question is, what will they do next?  Other than blame the greedy insurance companies?  Whose cooperation in this redistribution of wealth scheme will lead to their own demise.  For as more and more people can’t afford those expensive insurance policies they’ll either turn to Medicaid.  Or demand national health care.  Which people don’t need insurance companies to have.

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Obamacare freezes Hiring and robs the Healthy and Young to pay for the Old and Sick

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 20th, 2013

Week in Review

President Obama has scolded Republicans over and over during the recent government shutdown.  Saying their actions have hurt the American economy.  Just at a time when it was gaining traction.  Even business leaders appear to agree with the president (see Obamacare Delaying Hiring, Debt Ceiling Debate And Shutdown Hurt The Economy: Beige Book by Agustino Fontevecchia posted 10/16/2013 on Forbes).

The Fed released its beige book for late September to early October on Wednesday, where business leaders blamed the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate for “increased uncertainty…”

Business leaders hate uncertainty.  Because you can’t plan your cash flow or your capital budget when you are uncertain about the future.  So the president may be right there.  But you know what else business leaders hate?  Obamacare.

…while employers remained reluctant to expand payrolls because of Obamacare.

Talk about your uncertainty.  Of course, President Obama doesn’t care about what this uncertainty does to the economy.  Or what Obamacare does to a part of his liberal base.  The youth vote (see Premiums for young healthy people will jump in 45 states under Obamacare by JOEL GEHRKE posted 10/19/2013 on the Washington Examiner).

Young people in 45 states will see their health insurance premiums increase under Obamacare because the law relies on the money they pay into the system to offset the cost of caring for older enrollees, according to a new study.

Virginia leads the pack, as individuals aged 27 and under will see their health insurance premiums jump by 252.5 percent — $416.55 — according to the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis.

Virginians under the age of 50 will see their premiums jump by an even greater percentage, rising from $228 to $991.03.

During the hippy movement the mantra was to never trust anyone over thirty.  Now those hippies are in the government.  Who are the architects of Obamacare.  And they’re taking money from those under 30 to pay for the health care of those over thirty.  Including those old hippies who are now racking up huge medical bills.  And don’t want to pay for their own costly health care.

Guess the hippies were right.  You should never trust anyone over 30.  Especially if they’re liberal Democrats.

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Insurance Pools, Premiums and Obamacare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 7th, 2013

Economics 101

For Health Insurance to work More People need to Pay Into the Pool than Collect from the Pool

It’s here.  Obamacare.  Which promises to give more people health insurance.  With health insurance policies paying for more than policies do now.  More tests.  More procedures.  Even birth control.  Obamacare will also provide coverage for people with preexisting conditions.  Remove caps on benefits and forbid insurance companies from cancelling insurance coverage.  Forcing insurance companies to give policy holders a lot more benefits.  All while reducing insurance premiums.  Which seems to defy common sense.  Getting more while paying less.  To better understand this let’s look at a sample insurance pool.

Obamacare Impact on Insurance Premiums - Before

Insurance pools are larger than 10 policy holders but this will suffice for this example.  In this example there are 5 individual policy holders with a monthly insurance premium averaging $118.  There are 4 family policies with a monthly insurance premium averaging $400.  And one policy holder with a chronic health condition who pays a premium that people with preexisting conditions pay.  In this example paying $1,200 a month.  It’s that high because this person requires medical care in excess of $30,000 each year.  The average of all premiums is $339.

Now, this is how insurance works.  There is a pool.  People in the pool each pay a small premium compared to the medical costs they MIGHT incur.  The word ‘MIGHT’ is key here.  For insurance to work more people need to pay into the pool than collect from the pool.  This allows the pool to pay the few who have a large unexpected medical expense.  If the insurance company’s actuaries get their premiums right the total of premiums paid into the pool approximately equals the total of expenses paid by the pool.  So premiums in basically equal payments out.  Premiums in can exceed payments out.  But payments out cannot exceed premiums in or else the insurance company will go bankrupt.

Obamacare will Increase the Price of Health Insurance for Men because Insurers can’t Charge more for Women

Obamacare’s individual mandate is an attempt to make sure premiums in exceed payments out.  By forcing more young and healthy people who will not use health insurance pay into the pool.  Young and healthy, see, is the key.  Because that’s money they can spend on other people.  So the young and healthy are the answer to the high cost of the old and sick.  So Obamacare, then, is basically a cost transfer from the old and sick to the young and healthy.  And it will work to lower the cost of health insurance.  If the young and healthy buy health insurance and never use it.

Obamacare Impact on Insurance Premiums - Adding Young and Healthy

If we add 12 young and healthy people to the pool who will not use the insurance the premiums become more affordable.  When there were only 10 people in the pool the total premiums added up to $3,390.  By adding these 12 young and healthy to the pool the total premiums paid in increases to $4,000.  An increase of 26.3%.  So if we discount all premiums by 26.9% we still get a total of $3,390 paid in.  Which is how Obamacare is supposed to lower the cost of health insurance.  By forcing people who won’t use it to buy it.  So they can pay for the people who do use it.  Thus lowering the average premium to $154.09.  And bringing down the premiums for single, family and preexisting conditions to $78.03, $294.78 and $884.35, respectively.  Lowering price across the board.  Making everyone happy.  Except, of course, those forced to buy something they won’t use.  So this part can lower insurance costs.  But it won’t.  Because Obamacare complicates things.

Obamacare Impact on Insurance Premiums - Adding Coverage Requirements

Obamacare will raise premiums because it requires insurers to cover more.  In addition to the things already noted there are some other costly requirements.  Such as the ban on price discrimination based on sex.  Meaning insurers can no longer charge women more for health insurance.  Even though women are more costly to insure.  Primarily due to their reproductive systems.  And other biological differences.  If they can’t charge more for women then they must charge women what they charge men.  And to cover the higher costs of insuring women they must charge men a higher premium.  So when they charge women that premium it will cover birth control, breast exams, pap smears, etc.   In our example we assume singles and families will pay twice as much.  While those paying preexisting conditions premiums will pay 50% more.  Bringing the average premium to $288.08.  While bringing the premiums for single, family and preexisting conditions to $156.06, $589.57 and $1,326.52, respectively.

The Key to Obamacare is to get more Young and Healthy People to buy Insurance that they will Not Use

But premiums will cost even more.  Because insurers cannot deny coverage for people with preexisting conditions.  And they can’t cancel coverage for people if they come down with a very costly chronic health problem.  Basically meaning there is no cap to what an insurer may pay on an individual.  Which makes the insurance equation more difficult to balance.  Making sure that payments out do not exceed premiums in.  Which is more difficult to do when there is no limit to what those payments out can be.  So insurers will have little choice but to charge people for the worst case scenario.  That a large percentage in the pool will have long-term chronic illnesses.  And that some people will be buying insurance for the first time after being diagnosed with a long-term chronic illness.

Obamacare Impact on Insurance Premiums - Pre-Existing Conditions

Insurers will have to make assumptions.  With no limit to their high-end exposure they will have to charge everyone more across the board.  So they will have to take their greatest risk—the exposure to preexisting conditions and long-term chronic illnesses—and factor that into all premiums.  In our example we charged singles 25% of the greatest risk.  And we charged families 50% of the greatest risk (the more people on the policy the greater the risk of long-term chronic illnesses on that policy).  Raising the average premium to $437.  And raising the premiums for single, family and preexisting conditions to $331.63, $663.26 and $1,326.52, respectively.  Or an increase of 181%, 66% and 11%, respectively from before the implementation of Obamacare.

Obamacare seems like a windfall to the insurance companies.  Which is why some of them supported Obamacare.  But the key to Obamacare was to get more young and healthy people to pay into the insurance pool while not using that insurance.  The young and the healthy.  Individuals.  Who don’t have families.  Those who will see a substantial rise in their insurance premiums.  As much as 181%?  Perhaps.  But if the increase is too great for these young and healthy individuals to afford they will not buy health insurance.  And they can’t get a subsidy.  Because it’s the young and healthy—those who are supposed to pay into the insurance pool without using their insurance—who are to provide the money for the subsidies.  So they won’t increase the amount of premiums going into the pool.  While the additional requirements of Obamacare will increase the payments going out of the pool.  Causing the insurance equation to go out of balance.  Putting the private health insurance business out of business.  The ultimate goal of Obamacare.  So the left can get what they wanted all along.  National health care.

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Federal Obamacare Exemption proves Congress and their Staff are more Equal than us Poor Schmucks

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 4th, 2013

Week in Review

No one appears to like Obamacare.  But those with friends in high places can do something about it.  Unlike the rest of us (see Congress to get Obamacare fix: reports by Michael Kitchen posted 8/2/2013 on Market Watch).

The White House has approved a deal that will create a regulatory fix for members of Congress and their staff related to some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, according to media reports. Under the law, popularly referred to as Obamacare, lawmakers and their aides were required to source health insurance “created” by the law or offered through one of its exchanges; and without the subsidies they currently have, the members of Congress would have faced thousands of dollars in additional premium payments each year, the reports said.

These members of Congress and their staff have health care plans that put other Cadillac health care plans to shame.  And because they are so good they are very, very expensive.  With premiums costing tens of thousands a year for a family.  Because these are so expensive it would be unfair to have these people pay for them out of their pocket.  So the government used tax dollars to provide a subsidy for them.  About 75% of the cost of these policies.

Now, while the rest of us poor schmucks can’t keep the plans we like and/or are seeing our insurance premiums go up by great amounts guess who gets to keep the plans they have without having to pay an additional dime?  Not us poor schmucks.  Nope.  But those who are apparently more equal than us poor schmucks.  Those in the federal government.  America’s aristocracy.

If you’re keeping count so far pretty much everyone on the left that helped pass Obamacare into legislation has received or is asking for an exemption from this atrocious piece of legislation.  And guess where the best doctors are going to want to work?  Not in the hospitals that take care of us poor schmucks with assembly line efficiency.  No.  They’ll be working in the luxury health care suites that cater to America’s aristocracy.

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like in the Old World with a noble class and a peasant class here’s your chance to experience it.  As you will soon be living it.  The more equal they make everyone else beneath them the more like a peasant class we’ll become.  And this is the ultimate purpose of Obamacare.  To make us their bitch.

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Obama Prolongs the Recession with High Food and Gas Prices and anti-Business Policies

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 27th, 2011

Consumer Spending and Wages are Flat thanks to Inflation

Consumer spending at last shows some growth.  No, wait a minute.  It’s not growth.  It’s only inflation (see April consumer spending shows weak gain by the Associated Press posted 5/27/2011 on the Los Angeles Times).

Consumer spending rose 0.4 percent, reflecting a surge in the category that covers food and gasoline, areas which showed big price gains last month, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Excluding price changes, spending rose a much smaller 0.1 percent.

Incomes rose 0.4 percent but after-tax incomes adjusted for inflation were flat for a second straight month.

Analysts are worried that weak income growth and big gains in gasoline and food prices are leaving consumers with little left to spend on other products. That could dampen economic growth. Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

Increased consumer spending is a good thing.  But not when consumers are only paying more for the same stuff.  That’s not new economic activity.  That’s just inflation making life more expensive.  Food and gasoline are the main culprits.  And it’s gasoline that plays a large role in making food more expensive.  Because gasoline is used everywhere in bringing food to our grocery stores.

Worse, Americans are paying more.  But not earning more.  Which leaves less disposable income to stimulate the economy. In other words, the U.S. is still in recession.  And won’t be coming out of it anytime soon.

Still no Recovery in the Housing Market

So we’re still mired in recession.  Of course that means houses should still be cheap.  With low interest rates.  Put the two together and someone should be buying houses at least (see Pending Home Sales Plunge, Reaching Seven-Month Low by Reuters posted 5/27/2011 on CNBC).

Pending sales of existing U.S. homes dropped far more than expected in April to touch a seven-month low, a trade group said on Friday, dealing a blow to hopes of a recovery in the housing market.

Damn.  Housing sales had been the backbone of the U.S. economy.  Because furnishing a house drives so much consumer spending.  The more people that bought houses the better.  So that was U.S. policy.  Putting people into houses.  Which led to the subprime mortgage market.  A housing bubble.  The subprime mortgage crisis.   And a glut of foreclosed homes on the market driving housing prices down further.

It’s a buyer’s market now.  Because so few are buying.  So the economy is not going to get any assistance from the housing market any time soon.

Universal Health Care Ruins Massachusetts First, then the United States

So things are bad.  But can they get any worse?  Are there any new big regulatory compliance or taxes in the pipeline?  Anything that could snuff out even the most anemic of economic recoveries?  As it turns out, yes (see Health Insurance Premiums Continue to Rise Under RomneyCare by Peter Suderman posted 5/27/2011 on reason).

Not only are Masachusetts’ health insurance premiums higher than elsewhere in the U.S. on average, they’ve grown at a faster rate since the adoption of RomneyCare, according to a report released yesterday by the state government. The report, which was published by the state’s Division of Health Care Finance & Policy, notes that for the last two years, private group insurance premiums rose by between five and 10 percent per year despite the fact that the regional consumer price index, which measures inflation on common goods and services, rose by just two percent..

The Obama administration has explicitly stated on numerous occasions that RomneyCare was the model for the federal overhaul. Given the Bay State’s spiraling costs, it seems more and more likely that, thanks to ObamaCare, we can all expect higher health insurance premiums in our future.

So Obamacare is Romneycare at the national level.  So the American people can expect spiraling health care costs and insurance premiums.  That can’t be good for the economy.

Obamacare hasn’t really kicked in yet.  Most of the activity has been by companies seeking waivers to be excluded from the requirements of Obamacare as it places too great a cost burden on their small businesses.  But these are only one-year waivers.  So small business costs will be going up eventually.  When they do in fact comply with Obamacare.  And that will be a great disincentive to hire new employees.  Being that small business is the biggest generator of jobs, Obamacare will further stretch out this recession.  Or make it an even more severe recession.

The Obama Administration would like Gas at $8/Gallon

If only we could get a break on gasoline prices.  That is such a large part of consumer prices that if they went down the economy might tick up.  So the government should focus all of its powers on lowering gas prices (see Obama’s Bad Policy, Harmful Regulations Add to Gas Prices by Darrell Issa posted 5/27/2011 on USNEWS).

From the campaign trail, then Senator Obama spoke of increased electricity prices as a means for advancing his agenda, noting that costs would “necessarily skyrocket.” Energy Secretary Stephen Chu was equally blunt. “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe [currently $8 a gallon],” Mr. Chu announced. Last year, President Obama declared that America must be the nation that leads the “clean energy economy.”

So the plan was to make gasoline prices high all along.  To make gasoline so expensive that the more expensive green energy became cost competitive.  To encourage the American people to choose it.  And by ‘encourage’ I mean force.  Talk about devious. 

Even as compliance costs for traditional and affordable sources of energy rise, the administration’s willingness to promulgate even tighter regulatory controls and raise taxes on oil and gas producers rolls along. In his fiscal year 2012 budget, President Obama requested more than $60 billion in direct tax and fee increases on American energy production over the next 10 years.

Tighter regulatory controls and higher taxes won’t help the economy.  Especially when those controls and taxes are on the one thing that drives most prices.  Gasoline.  It’s almost as if the Obama administration is trying to prolong the greatest recession since the Great Depression.

The Government’s Help is killing Small Business

So how about the man in the street.  Or, rather, a man on an airplane.  Stephen Carter, Yale law professor, sat next to a small business owner on a recent flight.  An actual person.  Not the abstract business people who are trying to cheat the government out of their taxes or take grandma’s medications away.  A flesh and blood real person.  They had an interesting conversation.  About small business.  The greatest generator of American jobs.  And he asked this business owner why he was prolonging the recession by not hiring new employees (see Carter: Economic Stagnation Explained, at 30,000 Feet by Stephen L. Carter posted 5/26/2011 on Bloomberg).

“Because I don’t know how much it will cost,” he explains. “How can I hire new workers today, when I don’t know how much they will cost me tomorrow?”

He’s referring not to wages, but to regulation: He has no way of telling what new rules will go into effect when. His business, although it covers several states, operates on low margins. He can’t afford to take the chance of losing what little profit there is to the next round of regulatory changes. And so he’s hiring nobody until he has some certainty about cost.

One thing business people don’t like is uncertainty.  Because when they screw up they can’t just raise taxes or print money.  They have to deal with real the consequences of bad decisions.  So they are very careful about making costly decisions.  Like hiring people.

“I don’t understand why Washington does this to us,” he resumes. By “us,” he means people who run businesses of less- than-Fortune-500 size. He tells me that it doesn’t much matter which party is in office. Every change of power means a whole new set of rules to which he and those like him must respond. ‘‘I don’t understand,” he continues, “why Washington won’t just get out of our way and let us hire.”

Republican.  Democrat.  It doesn’t matter.  Every time there is a change there are new rules to follow.  And more of that thing they so hate.  Uncertainty.

“I think about retirement a lot,” he says. “But I can’t.” I wait to hear about how much he loves the business he founded, or about his responsibilities to his employees, or perhaps to the town, somewhere in the Dakotas, where his factory is located. Instead, he tells me that it’s impossible to make a sensible decision about winding down his firm when he doesn’t even know from one year to the next what the capital gains rate is going to be.

So it’s just not the Wall Street robber barons affected by the capital gains tax.  The greatest employer, small business, is affected, too.  He is just one of many.  Unable to make decisions like when he can retire.  Does he have enough money to retire?  And pay his capital gains tax?  If not it could be a problem.  Because you just can’t un-retire when you sell or close down a small business if you calculated wrong.  Instead, you’ll be an old guy trying to find a job.

I ask him what, precisely, he thinks is the proper role of government as it relates to business.

“Invisible,” he says. “I know there are things the government has to do. But they need to find a way to do them without people like me having to bump into a new regulation every time we turn a corner.” He reflects for a moment, then finds the analogy he seeks. “Government should act like my assistant, not my boss.”

An assistant doesn’t tell the boss how to run his business.  Because an assistant doesn’t know how to run his boss’ business.  Government bureaucrats aren’t even as knowledgeable as the assistant.  The assistant at least has a job in a business.  Few in Washington have ever run a business.  Let alone had a real job.  Yet here they are constantly trying to tell others how to run their businesses.

On the way to my connection, I ponder. As an academic with an interest in policy, I tend to see businesses as abstractions, fitting into a theory or a data set. Most policy makers do the same. We rarely encounter the simple human face of the less- than-giant businesses we constantly extol. And when they refuse to hire, we would often rather go on television and call them greedy than sit and talk to them about their challenges.

Recessions have complex causes, but, as the man on the aisle reminded me, we do nothing to make things better when the companies on which we rely see Washington as adversary rather than partner.

The best thing Washington can do to help small business?  Stop helping. 

In the Recession Business?

From small business regulation to inflation to the high cost of health care to the high cost of gasoline it would appear that the current administration is actually in the recession business.  Or utterly incompetent.  One almost has to lean towards incompetence.  Because there is an election in 2012.  And making the worst recession since the Great Depression more like the Great Depression can’t possibly help at the polls.  Even if you have compromising photographs of the Republican candidate having a good time with someone that is not his or her spouse.

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Obamacare and H.R. 2 – The Perfect Match

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 19th, 2011

When Healthcare Insurance becomes Welfare

Well, the Republican controlled House passed H.R. 2 (Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act).  But the Democrat controlled Senate is vowing to defy public opinion.  Harry Reid won’t even bring it up to a vote.  Probably because he’s afraid some of his Democrat colleagues worried about reelection in 2012 may vote to repeal it. 

So they’re rolling out the usual sob stories.  Repealing the bill will kill kids.  Plunge the country into a depression worse than FDR’s Great Depression.  You know, the usual stuff (see House votes on repeal of healthcare law by Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau, posted 1/19/2010 on the LA Times).

The move by House Republicans has spurred a vigorous defense of the law by many Democrats and the Obama administration, even as they were reluctant to do so in the fall campaign. They cited emotional stories of constituents who are benefitting from the law — particularly children who can no longer be denied insurance coverage for preexisting conditions.

Repeal, Democrats said, could cause more than 5 million Americans with preexisting conditions to be denied coverage, and add $230 billion to the deficit in the next 10 years.

Think for a minute why insurance companies exclude preexisting conditions.  Better yet, let’s say you own an insurance company.  You make money by collecting insurance premiums.  You pay claims out of those paid premiums.  Now, the key for this to work is that more people have to pay premiums than collect claims.  If not, you will run out of money and go out of business.  See?  It’s business.  Your income (paid premiums) has to be greater than your costs (claims).  Ergo the exemption of preexisting conditions.  If you didn’t exclude them, people would only buy insurance when they’re sick and need benefits.  Costs (claims) would be greater than your income (premiums).  And your insurance company would go out of business.

Allowing preexisting conditions.  It sounds nice.  In a touchy feely caring kind of a way.  But it will kill the insurance industry.  Then the government will have to step in and make healthcare insurance welfare.  Supported by an ever growing tax burden.  Like in every other nation with nationalized health care.  So they’re being a bit disingenuous by pulling on the old heartstrings.  Then they just flat out lie.

“Democrats have made a firm commitment that we would judge every proposal that comes to the floor by whether it creates jobs, strengthens the middle class, and reduces the deficit. The repeal of patients’ rights fails on all three counts,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said before the vote.

The Economically Challenged:  Nancy Pelosi and her Constituents

What they call deficit reduction is a huge tax increase and a gutting of Medicare.  But raising taxes doesn’t create jobs.  If it did we would never cut them during bad economic times.  We cut them because lowering taxes creates jobs.  Even Obama admitted this in the big compromise to extend the Bush tax cuts.

When you kill jobs you crate unemployment.  With fewer people working there are fewer people paying taxes.  This is one of the reasons why we have record deficits now.  We have record unemployment rates that just go on and on and on with no end in sight.  (The other is the explosive government spending corresponding with this fall in tax revenue).  Making this problem worse will add to the deficit, not reduce it.

Higher taxes and unemployment and a reduction of Medicare benefits is not going to help anyone in the middle class.  It’s going to make their lives that much harder.  So Pelosi is wrong on all three counts.  Of course, it’s hard to blame her.  It must be the water in her district.  Makes people economically challenged.  For her constituents all think like she does.  At least the 80% or so that keeps voting for her.  No, passing H.R. 2 will be the best thing to happen to the middle class since the 2010 midterm elections.

Obamacare is so Good that it Insured the Uninsured – Even before it was Passed

And the lies keep coming.  This from Karen G. Mills, administrator of the Small Business Administration, on January 18, 2011.

Every day America’s entrepreneurs and small-business owners are finding more ways to access affordable health care insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. We have some very important data recently, which is that after years of dropping coverage, the number of small businesses offering health insurance to their workers is actually going up. This is according to the Kaiser Family Foundation: nine percent more small businesses with less than 200 employees provided coverage in 2010 compared with 2009, and for those with less than 10 employees, the expansion in coverage was even bigger. It was 13 percent.

Funny.  Because small business (and unions) have been asking for Mini-Med plan waivers.  Because the cost to comply with Obamacare would otherwise force some 1.5 million people off of their current health care plans.  So how does Ms. Mills reconcile this fact with the rosy statement above?  Why, you lie about polling results (see Small business and the health care repeal by Glenn Kessler posted 1/19/2011 on The Washington Post).

Mills, to her credit, cited her source, the Kaiser Family Foundation 2010 annual survey of Employer Health Benefits. And her statistics are correct. It’s just that they have nothing to do with the new health care law.

First, the survey was taken between January and May of last year, so much of the data was collected before the law even passed… Second, the Kaiser report specifically says the analysts were puzzled by the shift in small business figures, but were pretty sure it did not mean more firms were signing up to provide health insurance to their employees… “A possible explanation is that non-offering firms were more likely to fail during the past year, and the attrition of non-offering firms led to a higher offer rate among surviving firms.”… A third problem is that the data set for small firms is too small to be significant.

So the administrator of the Small Business Administration, Karen G. Mills, is making less than honest statements.  She’s saying that polling data shows Obamacare is already having a positive impact on small business.  With the poll numbers taken before the passage of Obamacare, this is just impossible.  It would appear that Ms. Mills, the Small Business Administration, is not a friend of small business.  Because she lied about the poll results.  Put the two together and one must conclude that Obamacare is not good for small business.  If not, why would she lie?

Yes, Nancy, Let’s Pass H.R. 2 to Find out what’s in It

Remember how they passed Obamacare.  Quickly.  With backroom deals (the Louisiana Purchase, the Corn Husker kickback, etc.).  And, of course, without reading it.  Nancy Pelosi said they’d have to pass it to learn what was in it.  Why?  Because they were afraid that if people knew what was in it the people would pressure their representatives and senators to not pass it.  What other reason could there be?

But in the new spirit of civility, let’s extend an olive branch to Nancy Pelosi.  Let’s follow her advice.  Let’s pass H.R. 2.  Then let’s see what will happen.  If the recession turns into depression, if the deficit continues to grow, then we’ll concede that she was right.  Then we can reinstate Obamacare.  Increase taxes.  Gut Medicare.  Ration health care.  And make this nation the liberal paradise they so long for.  But first let us pass H.R. 2 to see what’s in it.

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