A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Tag: affordable care act

Obamacare Opponents Now Basing Arguments Off Pop-up Ads They Found On The Internet

by evanmcmurry

News about Obamacare the Affordable Care Act had been getting good and better until this Forbes article that claimed the ACA would raise rates in California from 64-146%. This was in stark contrast to all the data emerging from the state’s new insurance exchange, which looked to be lowering rates. What gives?


What policies, I wondered, had Avik used as his point of comparison in reaching his startling conclusion?

I soon had my answer as Roy revealed where he had acquired his data, writing, “But in 2013, on eHealthInsurance.com (NASDAQ:EHTH), the median cost of the five cheapest plans was only $92.”

I must admit that it took a moment to sink in as my first reaction was to laugh. eHealthInsurance.com? Seriously?

Was Avik really using teaser rates published on the Internet by eHealthInsurance.com as his point of comparison? I mean, you don’t have to be a healthcare policy expert to know that websites like eHealthInsurance.com always flash low rates in front of you—prices that maybe one person in a thousand might actually hope to achieve—to tickle the interest of a potential customer.

This is like comparing the bus ticket you just bought to MegaBus’ “$1 FARES!” ad.

Obamacare Is A Train Wreck, If By Train Wreck You Mean Working Better Than Expected, Pt. 3

by evanmcmurry

Obamacare The Affordable Care Act has already begun making health care more affordable in states that have chosen to set up their own exchanges. Now it’s reducing costs via a tax on so-called Cadillac plans:

Proponents of the law say the Cadillac tax is helping bring down costs by making employers pay attention to what their health care costs are likely to be in the long run. “It’s really one of the most significant provisions” in the Affordable Care Act, said Jonathan Gruber, the M.I.T. economist who played an influential role in shaping the law. “It’s focusing employers on cost control, not slashing,” he said.

[snip] The percentage of employers revising their plans as a result of the tax has increased to 17 percent this year from 11 percent in 2011, according to a survey of United States companies released this month by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

Although the tax does not start until 2018, employers say they have to start now to meet the deadline and they are doing whatever they can to bring down the cost of their plans.

One of the explicit goals of the ACA was to rein in health care costs. While taxing Cadillac plans will result in higher deductibles for fewer benefits, the overall cost of health care will be reduced at the same time: if fancier plans don’t cover every test and procedure under the sun, all arms of the health care industry will focus care. You’ll pay more out of pocket, but health care in general will become less of a catastrophic proposition, both on the individual and societal level.

This is also causing companies to look at ways to keep employees healthier:

Larger companies are also trying a variety of initiatives to improve the health of their workers — experimenting with an array of disease management and wellness programs, for instance, or even setting up their own work-site clinics as a way to sidestep the tax.

So: lower costs and healthier people, in exchange for paying more out of pocket.

More in the series:

Obamacare Is A Train Wreck, If By Train Wreck You Mean Working Better Than Expected, Pt. 2

Obamacare Is A Train Wreck, If By Train Wreck You Mean Working Better Than Expected, Pt. 1

Obamacare Is a Trainwreck, If By Trainwreck You Mean Working Better Than Expected

by evanmcmurry

Via Jonathan Cohn:

On Thursday, officials in that state offered the first detailed glimpse of what consumers buying health benefits on their own can expect to pay next year. And from the looks of things, these consumers will be getting a pretty good deal.

Based on the premiums that insurers have submitted for final regulatory approval, the majority of Californians buying coverage on the state’s new insurance exchange will be paying less—in many cases, far less—than they would pay for equivalent coverage today. And while a minority will still end up writing bigger premium checks than they do now, even they won’t be paying outrageous amounts. Meanwhile, all of these consumers will have access to the kind of comprehensive benefits that are frequently unavaiable today, at any price, because of the way insurers try to avoid the old and the sick. 

[snip] On Thursday, officials and consumer advocates were talking about a very different kind of sticker shock: Premium bids that were lower than expected. “For plan after plan, we’re getting the best-case scenarios,” said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California.

The reasons? Cohn points to a combo: insurers competitively pricing premiums to get new market shares; agencies in California having wide authority to keep offers competitive; and insurers actually playing ball for the purposes of making policy functional. I know, that last one’s crazy—we’re so used to wingnuts intentionally sabotaging policy for political gain we forgot that occasionally organizations make choices based on more than ideological self-immolation. Who knew?

Aaaaaaaaaand the kicker:

Unfortunately, millions of uninsured and under-insured Americans live in places like Florida and Texas, where there is far less sympathy—and a great deal more hostility—to the idea of Obamacare. It’s entirely possible that the insurance bids in those states will be a lot higher, precisely because state officials there are doing nothing to help and quite a bit to hurt implementation. But if that happens, blame won’t belong with the heath care law or the federal officials in charge of its management. It will belong with the state officials who can’t, or won’t, deliver to their constituents the benefits that California’s officials appear to be providing theirs.

On the bright side, if you apply for unemployment in Texas or Florida, you’ll get drug tested, so you got that going for you.

Republicans Are Less Likely To Support Obamacare After SCOTUS Ruling, Which Makes Sense Until You Think About It

by evanmcmurry

Dave Brockington at LGM with a good find from yesterday’s NPR poll:

Perhaps the most interesting finding from this survey, at least most likely to induce a chuckle, is the response to this question (page 9):

Does the fact that the Supreme Court said the health care law is constitutional make you more likely to support the law, less likely to support the law, or does the Supreme Court decision have no effect on your support for the law?

Overall, 21% are more likely to support the ACA, 16% less likely, and it makes no difference to 58% (again, supporting the hypothesis that it’s all about pre-existing partisanship).  [Battleground] voters are a near exact replication of the overall sample (21/17/58). However, when limited to Republican respondents, the numbers are 8/30/56.

30% of Republican respondents are less likely to support the ACA because the Republican led Supreme Court ruled it constitutional.  One might excuse the 6% of Democrats believing this, but Republicans?

This is clearly a wording issue. The question was “are you more or less likely to support the ACA since SCOTUS upheld it?” and what 30% of Republican respondents heard was “are you more or less pissed off that SCOTUS upheld the ACA?” But still, an open-ended follow-up would have been fascinating in this case: “What specifically about John Roberts’s decision made you less likely to support health care reform? Use additional sheets if necessary.”

We Need To Stop Making Things Up About Health Care, Medicaid Edition

by evanmcmurry

Aaron Carroll on just one of the stubborn memes against health care reform:

I get a bit annoyed when people claim that we can’t “afford” more government intervention or, god-forbid, single-payer. That kind of statement willfully ignores the fact that every country that has MORE government intervention spends LESS.

He has more. Full post is worth a read. (via The Incidental Economist)

Bill Keller Has A Happy

by evanmcmurry

Bill Keller takes a break from his normal schedule of pointless, anodyne stupidity to craft a decent defense of health care. There’s still plenty of marshmallow in his article—still that sense that Keller is explaining the world slowly to a befuddled man he found wandering around in the Dean & Deluca downstairs—but it also contains lines like this, on the idea that Obamacare is a federal takeover of the health care system: “Let’s be blunt. The word for that is ‘lie.'” It’s like Keller remembered he used to run a major American newspaper or something. The befuddled will be thrilled.