Rock Meet Hard Place

You have to feel for the Republicans (unless your a Liberal then the only feeling you have is a seething hatred and nothing else) because they are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

UPDATE: Congressional Republicans have passed legislation to repeal Obamacare for the first time.

They know it’s an empty gesture because King Obama would never sign it.

But they have to do it to make the Rebel elements in the party happy.

But a lot of them also figure it’s a stunt to curry favor made by the disingenuous RINOs.

Both are likely true.

The Republicans spent so many years, especially under Jar Jar Boehner, being the Capitulation Weasals that they were no one quite believes them.

I know I don’t, YET. But it’s a good start.

The legislation would also significantly reduce taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, redirecting those dollars to other women’s health clinics and organizations that aren’t languishing under an ethical cloud amid credible allegations of criminality.  (When poll question wording includes the important point that no women’s health funding is actually being cut, a majority of Americans support the move).  A recent undercover journalistic investigation exposed the abortion giant’s grisly practice of harvesting and selling body parts from late-term fetuses.  The videos show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the profits associated with this endeavor, as well as altering abortion procedures in order to obtain more intact organs — both of which are illegal.  A whistleblower also alleged that aborted children were picked apart and sold without their mother’s consent, another violation of the law.  Separately, Planned Parenthood has come under fire for its active promotion among young people of the notion that an individual’s ‘right’ to sexual pleasure supersedes his or her obligation to inform a partner of an HIV-positive status.  Republicans argue that taxpayers should not subsidize an organization that engages in these horrific abortion-related activities, and that pushes breathtakingly dangerous sexual ethics.

On Obamacare, the GOP says it is keeping its word to voters and fighting on behalf of the majority of Americans who continue to oppose the failing law.  A recent Gallup survey showed that uninsured Americans — who still number in the tens of millions — are most likely to disapprove of the so-called “Affordable” Care Act, largely because they can’t afford it.  The law has broken most of the biggest promises upon which it was sold, is actively harming real people, and is hurting the US economy, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office — which has also just concluded that repealing the law would substantially reduce deficits:

    “CBO: ObamaCare repeal bill would reduce deficits by half a trillion dollars over 10 years”
    — Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) January 5, 2016

The New York Times reported this week that many Americans have run the math and determined that paying Obamacare’s individual mandate tax is more affordable than paying through the nose for costly coverage that doesn’t even kick in until after consumers fork over thousands in out-of-pocket costs. Meanwhile, a recent survey finds that more than one-quarter of American households have struggled to pay medical bills over the past 12 months, several years into the full implementation of the “Affordable” Care Act.  Among this group, a majority was insured:

    Kaiser/NYT: 62% of people who can’t afford to pay their medical bills are insured. pic.twitter.com/xVjqwlFjRS
    — Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) January 5, 2016

For the umpteenth time, coverage does not equal care — and being insured to does not mean your healthcare-related financial hardships disappear.  Indeed, under Obamacare, expensive compulsory coverage may very well exacerbate affordability woes.  Parting thought: Of the many worthy provisions in the soon-to-be-vetoed repeal legislation (exhibit A in the case for electing a Republican president), only one element will actually be the law of the land in 2016.  One of the bright spots of December’s ugly omnibus spending bill was an extension of the 2015 rollback of funding Obamacare bailout-style programs, which were designed to hide the true costs of the law for several years by defraying insurer losses with huge sums of taxpayer money.  This successful push to protect taxpayers and force policy transparency, spearheaded by Marco Rubio, constitutes a rare Obamacare win for conservatives.

But we have to start somewhere. King Obama will not relent on his Agenda one bit. He’s incapable of that.

So we have to force him to defend his Royal Majesty until we get someone that isn’t King Bernie or Queen Hillary.

Then maybe the American People have a chance. Maybe.

Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler

The Best and Worst of 2015

Derek Hunter: As far as years go, 2015 certainly was one of them. The news was not wanting for content, and we columnists were not wanting for material. It was a year of tragedies and triumphs bookended by terrorist attacks in Paris. A reality TV star became the leading candidate of a major political party, “Star Wars” returned, and I got married. Yep, 2015 was quite a year.

I had a health scare that resulted in a pacemaker and a different view on mortality just months after my Dad died.

Not the best of times by far.

Politics:

The Best

Donald Trump. For all his problems, and they are legion, and the bluster, and it is constant, he’s done more than anyone in recent years to get people to pay attention to politics and just how corrupt the media and the Democrats have become. He’s been battering the media since the start, slamming his opponents since and changing how politics is done.

While, I’m still not a full on Trump guy I do like that he makes the Left and the RINOs crazy and just doesn’t give a damn. That really shakes them up.

Trump has been holding a clinic on how to run against Democrats and the media since his announcement. Aside from momentary flashes, none of the rest of the field appears to have learned a thing.

Because they are all stuck in their ways. They can’t see doing it any other way. Especially, Democrats, they have one playbook and they go to it every nanosecond of every day.

Expect all out nuclear war again on the Republicans. No atom will be lest un-nuked, no ethic or moral will not be cr0ssed in the quest for the Coronation of King Barack’s successor Queen Hillary.

The Republican RINOs are just plain lost.

If Trump is the nominee, Democrats may well win, but they will have been so battered and bruised they’d be hard-pressed to govern with any effectiveness. If he isn’t the nominee, whoever is will have learned how to be locked in a box with a rabid spider monkey and survive. The eventual nominee, whoever it ends up being, will be a much more devastating candidate thanks to Trump’s entry into the race.

The Media is still setting up the Coronation of Queen Hillary I like they have for 4 years now. I doubt they are going to change.

But maybe, just maybe, the sleeping stupid will recognize it for what it is.

That,and just maybe, the Republicans will actually run a campaign to WIN this time. Maybe.

 

The Worst

As awful as she is, Hillary Clinton is not the worst person on the national political stage. Until he leaves office, Barack Obama’s head wears the crown.

In a post-9/11, post-Paris, post-San Bernardino world, the president of the United States managed to go 12 months in which he used the words “radical Islamic terrorism” only to chastise others for saying them.

Well, you’re talking about his friends and mentors, the Muslims. They can’t be evil. That’s like Lule finding out Darth Vader is his Father…. 🙂

The economy continues to falter, our enemies are on the march, and the president has improved his short-game. The Obama presidency is a hilarious joke, but sadly it’s not the funny kind of joke.

But the Democrats continue to self-delude themselves that everything is awesome and we just need to get rid of those naybobs negativity.

One more year…

11 Months+ a few days. Don’t make it any longer than it has to be. Though if Queen Hillary wins we’re all doomed and you might as well close up shop and move to Fiji because it’s over.

Lie Of The Year

The “winner” of this category is obvious, which is why it hasn’t won any of these “awards” from the mainstream media: Hillary Clinton’s ever-evolving claims about classified material on her secret, unsecured email server.

Though I think her saying that the Benghazi families who have been ripping her for years about her You Tube cause of the incident are now lying because she never said it was pretty close.

“What Difference Does it Make?”

Her original statement at her press conference at the UN, was, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.” High-stakes divorce settlements are less carefully worded.

Note how she specifically said she didn’t send any classified material, and how there “is” nothing classified on her server. She’d wiped it by then, though not thoroughly, so, in using present tense, she was telling her version of the truth.

After that original statement, Hillary’s story “evolved” at least two more times to she never “sent or received anything marked classified at the time.”

After that lie the media lost interest. Why wouldn’t they? Their candidate is ensnared in an FBI investigation that, were it anyone else, already would have led to an indictment and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees by now.

But we aren’t named Clinton; we haven’t been selling, or at least renting, our positions for sums of money that rival the worth of third-world economies, and a president of her party still controls the prosecutors.

No, we’re civilians, bound by truth, and she’s Hillary, utterly unburdened by such trivialities.

As we wind up 2015, I think we’ve dwelled enough on politics. So a few notes on a couple of other things.

Sports

The year started with a great Super Bowl. What a game! But it will be remembered as the game that gave us Deflategate. Tom Brady won – everything. He continues to live a charmed life, and good for him. Unless you bet against him.

And the Seahawks created a blunder for the ages that will be talked about until Liberals outlaw football altogether sometime later in the Century.

 

The Super Bowl was the highlight of the year for New England sports fans, but the rest of the world had to suffer until the World Series. After decades of miserable losing, New England (particularly in Boston) started winning. And their fans, both in baseball and football, became even more miserable to be around during a game. And I say that as someone with many friends who fit this description.

But the highlight of the year was the World Series.

The Kansas City Royals are a lot of fun to watch. They scrap and scrape together runs in a way no other team does.

Arizona Cardinals anyone? Anyone?? 🙂

Movies

I love “Star Wars,” saw it three times the weekend it opened. But it doesn’t win for movie of the year with me. There were a lot of great “art house” movies, and I’m sure one with $48 in box office receipts will win the Oscar. But “The Martian” was the most enjoyable movie of 2015. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor. Even if you don’t care for Matt Damon (and I wouldn’t blame you), you’ll enjoy this movie.

I love “Star Wars” but I still think either Jurassic World or Avengers 2. I never saw “The Martian”.

Television

“The Walking Dead” remains TV’s best drama.

DOCTOR WHO! 🙂

The zombie aspect might turn your off, but it’s much more than that. Moreover, it’s a show that generates true suspense, in which no one knows what’s going to happen from week to week and no character, no matter who they are, is safe.

DOCTOR WHO! 🙂

If you’re a comic book nerd, or if you don’t mind super hero movies, might I also suggest checking out “Jessica Jones” on Netflix. It’s a surprisingly good series with humor, action and a great anti-hero. And, unlike “The Walking Dead,” you can binge-watch it over a weekend.

Haven’t got around to it yet. And that shows you how technology has changed so much.

I’m not sad to see 2015 go, though it does seem like it went fast. With 2016 being an election year, it will fly by as well. While I work and play in the first half of this column, life happens in the rest. Hope you had a great 2015, and I hope you have as much fun as possible in 2016. 

Here’s to 2016. The Hope of the future of our Country rests on your shoulders.

No pressure. 🙂

Michael Ramirez Cartoon
Star Wars Matters
Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

You Just Might Be A Liberal…

Are you not sure that you’re a liberal? Well, there’s an easy way to find out. You might be a liberal if…

1) ….Your newspaper calls people “bigoted” for being worried about bringing Syrian refugees to America, but you won’t run pictures of Muhammad because you’re afraid Muslims might kill you for it.

2) ….You think every man accused of sexual assault is guilty until proven innocent except Bill Clinton.

3)….You insist that anyone who questions global warming hates science even though you don’t understand any of the science behind it yourself and you say we have to do something about climate change primarily because you want to impress your liberal friends.

4) ….You are terrified that holding terrorists at Guantanamo Bay who are trying to murder Americans might make the other terrorists who are trying to murder Americans mad.

5) ….You believe there’s a “Republican War on Women;” yet you are okay with aborting baby girls for any reason, think any man who says he identifies as a woman should be able to use the women’s bathroom and you want to put Bill Clinton back in the White House.

6) ….You claim to constantly hear Republican “dog whistles” that 99% of the population misses; yet you’d deny you’re racist for insisting that black Americans aren’t competent enough to get an ID to vote.

 

7) …You think there’s a possibility that Obama might be able to have a productive conversation with radical Islamists who want to kill us, but dialogue with the NRA is impossible.

8)….You believe Hillary Clinton is telling the truth. About anything. Ever.

9) ….You simultaneously believe the police are violent trigger-happy racists who shoot people for no good reason and that we should disarm the populace so that only the government has guns.

10) ….You went to a talk given on your campus by a conservative just so you could scream at him for “invading your safe space.”

11) ….You think Chris Kyle was a monster for killing so many enemies of America while Bowe Bergdahl deserves to be treated with respect and compassion after deserting his unit.

12) ….You believe you’re a caring and compassionate person because you advocate giving other people’s money away to people you hope will vote for candidates you like.

13) ….You believe that anyone who dislikes Barack Obama must hate him because he’s a minority, but your hatred of Ted Cruz and Clarence Thomas is perfectly justifiable.

14) ….You think you are a sophisticated person with a deep understanding of complex political issues, but sum up every one with some variation of, “Republicans are evil, racist, and they hate you while liberals like me are nice!”

15) ….You think it’s vitally important to increase the number of Muslim immigrants coming to America so they can inform on all the other Muslims who are planning terrorist attacks.

16) ….You blame the Republicans for the failure of Obamacare even though none of them voted for it.

17) ….Your first response to a terrorist attack committed by radical Islamists who’ve sworn allegiance to ISIS is to try to disarm every law-abiding gun owner in the country.

18) ….You think an unemployed, white factory worker who’s struggling to feed his family has some sort of racial privilege compared to Barack Obama, Melissa Harris Perry or Al Sharpton.

19) ….You say fences don’t work and gun-free zones do, but if Republicans wanted the fence around the White House taken down and demanded that the Secret Service be disarmed, you’d accuse them of trying to get Obama killed.

20) ….You believe Bruce Jenner is a woman, Rachel Dolezal is black and Elizabeth Warren is an Indian.

21)  Food in any way can be a “microagression” based on race, religion, sex, or ethnicity.

22) Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. Guns kill people so getting rid of Guns will kill less people.

23) The Power of Life and Death is “Pro-Choice”.

24) Any immigration is good no matter how it was done and anyone opposed to any immigration of any kind is “racist”.

25) A Religion is a Race, unless they are Christians, then they are just bigots.

26) Utter the word “islamophobia” and mean it.

27) Anything with a (D) after their name is ok and can do anything they want because it’s better than they alternative.

28) Democrats Lie, but it’s your fault not theirs.

29) A Tax is a Penalty, even after it’s ruled a Tax it’s still a Penalty.

30) “What Difference Does it Make?”

31) It was the fault of a You Tube Video.

32) That the Media is not biased and that people like Hillary and Barack are “moderates” and any Republican is “extreme”.

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel
Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell
Political Cartoons by Steve Kelley
Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

United We Fall

A “Healthcare Workers for Obamacare” sign hangs torn in a parking lot in New York on Oct. 31, 2012.  AP

President Obama repeatedly promised that his signature health law, the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, would reduce insurance premiums by $2,500 for the typical family.

ObamaCare: United Healthcare’s surprise warning that it may scrap participation in federal health care exchanges is more than bad news for consumer choice. It’s a broader sign of an unsustainable system.

The nation’s largest health insurance provider surprised the markets Thursday by saying losses from its 550,000 individual ObamaCare exchange enrollments were sharply cutting its bottom line. That’s notable because ObamaCare exchange participation only forms a small slice of the $105 billion company by market capitalization.

Yet it was enough to make the giant company and all the value it creates throughout its many operations suffer enough to trigger, as IBD market reporter Jed Graham wrote, “a surge of red ink.”

The company forecast $425 million less revenue in the fourth quarter and cut its full-year 2015 earnings-per-share forecast to $6 from $6.25-$6.35.

Not surprisingly, its stock fell 5.6% by the close of trading Thursday, and other health care and hospital companies such as Aetna, Anthem, Tenet, Cigna, Humana and HCA took similar hits.

“We see no data pointing to improvement,” UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Helmsley said on a conference call. Patients, he explained, were using their plans more than the company had anticipated and, worse still, were dropping coverage when they got well.

Bad as that is for company profits, it’s a predictable outcome given the structure of the law and what it permits.

What Helmsley described was a company caught up in the classic “death spiral” that IBD and reputable economists have been warning about: Insurance policy sales going in the main to the sickest patients who use the most health care services, while the high prices of the larded-up government-mandated packages continue to drive off younger, healthier consumers.

DOH!  It’s not like it was predictable or anything… 🙂

In short, the ObamaCare master plan of having young and healthy consumers subsidize the oldest, sickest patients isn’t working as the White House’s central planners and self-proclaimed experts claimed.

<<chuckle>>

Not that the ideologically rigid Obama and The Democrats will care. They will continue to hammer on it until you give in to government control of who lives and who dies and the Insurance companies go bankrupt leaving only the government left.

That’s Democrat “compassion” for ya… 🙂

What’s striking here is that UnitedHealth is no tiny startup ship with a narrow margin of error riding the big ObamaCare regulatory waves. It’s the biggest of the big, a conglomerate that’s the product of the consolidation of the industry — Anthem and Cigna, UnitedHealth and HCA, HCA and private investors — that was supposed to enable the sector to absorb the blow of higher costs of insuring more customers and still continue to do well.

That’s not happening.

What’s more, UnitedHealth was in the ObamaCare exchanges for only a year, during a window of time when the government was supposed to cushion insurers against losses in the ObamaCare transition. The cushion ends next year, leaving companies on their own.

(Insert “Jaws” theme music here) 🙂

Will smaller health care companies really be able to make a profit in an atmosphere that even UnitedHealth found impossible to sustain a profit in? There’s plenty of reason to wonder, as the markets did Thursday. (IBD)

“We cannot sustain these losses,” CEO Stephen Hemsley said in an investor call Thursday morning. “We can’t really subsidize a marketplace that doesn’t appear at the moment to be sustaining itself.”

Several nonprofit insurance cooperatives that were supposed to compete for customers on the exchanges have folded. Meanwhile, some big publicly traded insurance companies, including Anthem, Aetna, Cigna and Humana, say they are enrolling fewer people than expected or even losing money.

A recent report by McKinsey & Co. found that the industry lost a total of $2.5 billion, or $163 per customer, in the individual market.

Insurance companies have had trouble attracting healthy customers to the exchanges to purchase their insurance products, many of which have deductibles of thousands of dollars.

The industry’s troubles are reflected in the insurance products being offered on the exchanges during the current enrollment period, reports The Wall Street Journal:

“For these plans, which will take effect in 2016, many insurers have raised premiums in order to cover the medical costs of enrollees, which have run higher than many companies originally projected, fueling this year’s losses. Insurers have also shifted to offering more limited choices of health-care providers”

Still, no other big insurer has signaled its intention to leave the exchanges. (NPR)

YET. But it will come. But don’t worry Obama and The Democrats are from the Government and they are here to help you! 🙂

The average premium for medium-benefit plans offered to 40-year-old non-smokers will rise 10.1% in 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

 Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

 

 

Never Saw that Coming…

Yeah, right… 🙂

Thirty-four percent fewer healthcare providers are available to Obamacare patients — backing up “anecdotal reports that exchange networks contain fewer providers than traditional commercial plans,” a new report says.

According to an analysis by Avalere Health, the Washington-based advisory firm, the Obamacare networks offer an average of 42 percent fewer heart and cancer doctors — along with 24 percent fewer hospitals and 32 percent fewer primary care physicians for patients to choose from.

Less Choice, Higher Premiums. 🙂

Preliminary 2016 premiums for benchmark silver plans in exchanges grew by 4.4 percent in major metropolitan areas in 11 states, including the District of Columbia, according to analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. While this is much lower than the numbers being tossed around the Senate floor, it’s a sharper increase than last year, which saw premiums climb by 2 percent nationwide.

An Avalere Health analysis released this month found similar results. Silver plans on exchanges (the plans of choice for more than two-thirds of enrollees) are expected to increase 5.8 percent in the eight states that Avalere examined.

In a House Ways and Means subcommittee meeting Wednesday, lawmakers pointed to instances where insurers were seeking drastic increases. For example, in Maryland, two of eight options in the individual market are seeking more than a 30 percent increase, and a third option is seeking a 26.7 percent premium hike.

“Many of the proposed increases are eye-poppingly huge,” said subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam.

“These rates are premised on the assumption that the court will side with the government. If the court signs with the challengers, all bets are off,” Levitt said. “There’s no doubt that we’d see some insurers pulling out of the market and the ones that stay would raise rates significantly next year.”

And they did. I wonder if that really why? 🙂

But most importantly, the Affordable Care Act’s restrictions on out-of-pocket costs by patients do not apply to healthcare services outside the plan’s network.

“Out-of-network care does not accrue toward out-of-pocket maximums, leaving consumers vulnerable to high costs if they seek care from a provider not included in their plan’s network,” said Elizabeth Carpenter, Avalere’s vice president. “Patients should evaluate a plan’s provider network when picking insurance on the exchange.

Overall, however, the limited choices are seen as a way of keeping patient costs down, said Dan Mendelson, the firm’s CEO.

“Plans continue to test new benefit designs in the exchange market,” he said. “Given the new requirements put in place by the ACA, network design is one way plans can drive value-based care and keep premiums low.”

Republicans and other health professionals have long charged that Obamacare has reduced healthcare coverage and choices for Americans.

“The American people are not happy on this birthday,” Sally Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, told Newsmax TV as the law marked its fifth anniversary in March.

The report was based on a study of large healthcare networks in Florida, California, Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina, Avalere said. (Newsmax and more)

Forbes: June 2015

Texas Blue Cross stands out. The health plan commented in its federal government rate filings that it covered 730,833 Obamacare individuals in 2014 with premium of $2.1 billion and claims totaling $2.5 billion––for a medical loss ratio of 119%. The plan further commented that, after the “3Rs” reinsurance adjustments, they lost 17% to 20% of premium in 2014–that would be about $400 million. And, they are only asking for a 20% rate increase.

While we won’t see all of the rates in all of the states for a few months, some state regulators have begun to make the 2016 rate actions public:

• CareFirst Blue Cross of Maryland is asking for a 34% rate increase on its PPO plan and a 26.7% rate increase for its HMO. CareFirst has an 80% market share in the Obamacare exchange and only 30% of the eligible Maryland market has signed up on the exchange.

• In Oregon, where less than 35% of the eligible have signed up on the exchange, the biggest insurer with 52% of the market, Moda, has asked for a 25.6% increase. Lifewise, with a 19% market share, has asked for a 38.5% increase.

• Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, with a 165,000 members making up 70% of the Obamacare exchange is asking for a 36.3% increase. The second biggest player, Humana HUM +1.18%, is asking for a 15.8% increase. Less than 40% of the eligible exchange market signed up in Tennessee.

• Georgia is the second biggest Obamacare market for Humana, having enrolled 254,000 people out of a total market of 479,000, and Georgia “maybe its biggest misstep”. Its CEO has said about Georgia, “We can’t have one business being subsidized by another business.” Humana is asking for 2016 individual plan rate increases from 14.8% to 19.44%.

• In Iowa, with the lowest enrollment rates in the country, and where its biggest Obamacare insurer went broke last December, Wellmark Blue Cross, which only sells off the exchange, is asking for a 43% increase on its Obamacare compliant policies. Coventry, which has 47,000 Obamacare customers, is asking for an 18% increase for its on-exchange business.

• The Kansas insurance department has not made its rate increases public yet but has said that plans will increase by as much as 38%. Less than 40% of the eligible have so far enrolled.

• Pennsylvania is not encouraging with market leader Highmark asking for increases ranging from 13.5% to 39.65% and the Geisinger HMO asking for increases from 40.6% to 58.4%. Pennsylvania enrolled 50% of the potential exchange market in 2015.

So let the politicking of your health continues.

We are from the Government, we are here to Help you…  🙂

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

Death Spiral

Well, this was predictable. It’s just to what degree are the Liberal Media and Obama going to do to hide it…

Obamacare is exhibiting early signs of a “death spiral” as hundreds of insurance plans listed on the federally-run exchanges in 37 states and the District of Columbia request double-digit premium increases for 2016, says David Hogberg, a health care analyst and senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR).

A “death spiral” – which is the insurance pool equivalent of a bankruptcy – occurs when rising premiums force younger, healthier people to drop their insurance coverage due to the increased cost. But their exodus leaves the remaining “risk pool” older, sicker and more expensive to insure than before, necessitating further rate hikes.

Thirteen percent of the people who signed up for Obamacare in 2015 have already been dropped from coverage because many of them failed to pay their share of the subsidized premiums, The New York Times reported. 

And that’s before the premiums on many policies are due to skyrocket next year.

In an Oct. 4, 2008 speech in Newport News, Va., then-Sen. Barack Obama promised that if elected president, he would reform the nation’s health care system, adding that “we’ll start by reducing premiums by as much as $2,500 per family.”

But in 2016, six years after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law, Obamacare premiums for hundreds of thousands of Americans will be going up, not down.  

Under the Affordable Care Act, state insurance regulators have until August to decide whether to approve or deny steep premium hikes for next year, which are inducing “sticker shock” even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that those enrolled in the federal exchanges were eligible for government subsidies.

“Unfortunately, those polices are on borrowed time,” Hogberg noted. “Eventually, older and sicker customers will purchase those policies, the rates will go up, and the young and healthy will flee the exchanges. At that point the death spiral will be in full gear. The insurance rate hikes for 2016 are just the beginning.”

“In the end, the exchanges are not sustainable, and free-market based reform of our health care system will be necessary,” Hogberg predicted.

According to HealthCare.gov, “the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that insurers planning to significantly increase plan premiums submit their rates to either the state or federal government for review. The threshold for this requirement is 10%.”

NCPPR found that 231 plans listed on Obamacare exchanges in 37 states and the District of Columbia have requested double-digit premium hikes of at least 10 percent for 2016, nearly double the number of plans (121) that did so for 2015.  

Another 126 plans want to raise their rates by 20 percent or more in 2016, compared to the 21 plans that made a similar request in 2015.

For example, eight plans listed on the District of Columbia exchange have requested 2016 premium hikes ranging from 10.13% for Group Hospitalization and Medical Services, Inc.’s (GHMSI) BluePreferred Multi-State Plan- Individual to 20.44% for the company’s BluePreferred Multi-State Plan- Small Group policies.

GHMSI cites “projected increases in medical and pharmacy claims due to cost and utilization trend impacts as well as change in projected pool morbidity” as reasons for raising its premiums.

 
 

But some requested rate hikes are much higher.

On April 13, Aetna Life Insurance Co. submitted a request for a 59.71% premium hike for its Aetna Fee for Service-Small Group plan in Virginia, effective Jan. 1, 2016.  This plan is one of 38 that are seeking premium hikes of more than 40 percent for 2016 compared to the zero who made such requests in 2015, according to NCPPR.

“Medical costs are going up and we are changing our rates to reflect this increase,” the company said in its filing, adding that “several requirements related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also impact these rates.”

A 55.83% rate hike increase was also submitted by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota for its “non-grandfathered individual risk pool” affecting 171,000 policy holders.

“In 2014, the ratio of claims to revenue received (excluding potential federal risk corridor payments) exceeded 115% and resulted in an operating loss in excess of $135 million,” the company explained in its filing.

“High claims trends for the first quarter of 2015 reflect an acceleration in costs, suggesting an extremely low probability of lower claims for the balance of 2015. Our responsibility to set plan year 2016 rates at levels that cover all anticipated costs will result in significant price adjustments for all 2016 individual reformed products.”

Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, noted in The Wall Street Journal that instead of decreasing health care spending, as Obama promised ACA would do, it is “picking up speed.”

He added that “greater use of health services as well as more people covered by the ACA appear to be responsible for most of the increase.” The double-digit premium requests for 2016 reflect insurers’ belief that this trend will continue next year.

In January 2014, CNSNews.com asked economist John Goodman, former president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, how Americans would know if Obamacare enters a “death spiral.”

“There won’t be any neon signs that say ‘Death Spiral Underway,’ but what you’ll see is premiums keep rising,” he replied. “And if premiums keep rising, then fewer healthy people will buy in and we may get to a point where you need government subsidies to prop the whole thing up.”

May?? 🙂

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy
Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez
Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy
Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

The Rise of The Left

 

Medical Costs: President Obama used to talk about “bending the cost curve” as a justification for his health overhaul. But it looks increasingly like ObamaCare is sparking a major health care inflation spiral.

This week three big insurance companies in Massachusetts announced they lost money in the first quarter, thanks to ObamaCare’s new taxes and fees.

Just wait until Burger King and other have to play $15/hr as a minimum wage, the job loss and the companies loss will mount.

But at least the Left will be happy in their “superiority” and their “vision” of a “better” America…

And it will be someone elses fault when it all comes crashing down because they had “good intentions” so it can’t possibly be their fault.

After all, these companies make millions of dollars, they can afford to make a little less to help out “the people” The Leftists would say.

The fact that they don’t fundamentally care about how business works is the scariest part.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts reported a $59.3 million loss after it had to pay $73 million toward financing ObamaCare. Pilgrim Health paid $22.9 million in ObamaCare taxes, leading to a loss of $17.3 million. And the Tufts Health Plan would have broken even if not for ObamaCare.

The main cost imposed on these insurers is ObamaCare’s “health insurance tax,” which is based on a company’s market share. This year, the tax will cost the industry a total of $8 billion, and the burden will go up from there.

“We think of it as a sales tax on health care,” Lora Pellegrini, president of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, told the Boston Globe. “This is going to be passed on in higher premiums.”

And guess what, that will raise your Auto Insurance and your Home Insurance costs too. After all, Liability BODILY INJURY and uninsured BODILY INJURY…

Got that? Higher premiums. And that’s in Massachusetts, which had already imposed ObamaCare-like changes years before and has among the highest premiums in the nation.

And is dumping that exchange because it went bust!

But suggest anything else to a Liberal and they’ll howl about how you want to push grandma over a cliff and kill children.

The fact that THEY are pushing them over doesn’t even occur to them, because they are “doing the right thing” because “they care”.

Meanwhile, a new industry survey suggests that overall employer health costs will climb by 9% this year, and other surveys find small-business premium hikes in the double if not triple digits.

Keep in mind that premium growth was decelerating before ObamaCare — they climbed less than 6% in all but one of the past eight years, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In addition, ObamaCare’s massive insurance subsidies are fueling demand, pushing first-quarter health spending up at a rate not seen since 1980.

The administration is aware of this problem. This week it decided to let insurance companies cap the amount they’ll pay toward expensive procedures (while requiring them to pay 100% of low-cost “preventive” treatments). It’s meant to keep premiums down, but turns the concept of insurance completely upside down.

Good luck with that Cancer treatment! But hey, you’ll get free birth control pills! 🙂

In the wake of this, Kaiser CEO Drew Altman predicted that “the conversation will soon shift back to health care costs because they are rising more sharply again.”

No kidding. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of economics knows you can’t turbocharge demand, pile on mandates and taxes, and expect prices to go down.

EXCEPT THE LEFT.

After all, it’s the “right” thing to do. 🙂

Anything else would be “greedy”, “racist” and “discriminatory”!! 🙂