Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

Obamacare Still Lingers

May 16, 2018

Obamacare attempted the unimaginable: defying the laws of economics. It failed:

One undeniable aspect of the clearly misnamed Affordable Care Act is that it has driven up premiums, which have roughly doubled since the law’s inception. A study by McKinsey and Company for the Department of Health and Human Services found that as much as 76 percent of premium increases since 2010 can be traced to Obamacare’s regulations. While subsidies offset some of those increases, that merely shifts the increased costs to taxpayers. Now premiums are set to rise even more sharply. Already we are seeing insurers submit requests for premium increases running as high as 91 percent in Maryland and 64 percent in Virginia, the first states where 2019 rate requests have been made public.

More here.


Trumpster-RyanCare Flatlines

March 24, 2017

Peter Suderman explains the Republicans’ failure to pass the American Health Care Act:

“[Trump] is more interested in a win, or avoiding a loss, than any of the arcane policy specifics of the complicated measure, according to a dozen aides and allies interviewed over the past week who described his mood as impatient and jittery,” The New York Times reported today.

Trump spent the last two weeks selling the House plan. He met with specific individuals and with various congressional factions opposed to the bill. He personally called the offices of more than 100 legislators. He has cajoled and threatened, telling those who refused to back the legislation that they would lose their seats. He threw the entire weight of his personality and the office of the president behind the vote, saying that he backed the bill “one-thousand percent.”

But he never took the time to explain to either the public or congressional Republicans what the bill actually did. He did not make a case for the bill’s policy merits, preferring instead to describe it using generic superlatives.

By bumbling the repeal of the “Affordable” Health Care Act, Republicans have somehow managed to do something President Obama could never accomplish during his presidency: make Obamacare popular!

Our Screwed Up Health Care System In Two Charts

March 15, 2017

Two charts show the problem with our health care system.

First, from

And then from the Wall Street Journal:

This is the perverse outcome created by the third-party payer public programs and the tax and regulatory provisions tilted in favor of third-party payer insurance: consumers’ pocketbooks are hit more and more for health care costs despite the fact that consumers pick up less and less of the tab for total health care costs.

Obamacare reinforced this trend with its various regulations. The Republican alternative, which trades subsidies for “tax credits” and punishes consumers for not maintaining third-party coverage, further reinforces the trend. Until true free market reforms (deregulation, ending tax code distortions) are introduced, these trends will only continue.

The Republican Prescription To Health Care “Reform”: An Individual Mandate

March 11, 2017

Another aspect to the Republicans’ health care bill that’s starting to get attention: a revision of Obamacare’s reviled individual mandate. From CNBC:

The Republican plan would require anyone who has a lapse in their coverage of longer than 63 days in the prior year to pay their insurer a penalty equal to 30 percent of the premium of the individual or small group health plan they are purchasing.

The Commonwealth Fund, which produced the analysis, said there were 30 million working-age adults who reported having a gap in insurance coverage that was longer than three months.

These penalties, per CNBC, could end up being more punitive on lower income people than Obamacare’s “the higher of $695, or 2 percent of household income” penalty.

Are Republican voters having buyer’s remorse yet?

Obamacare 2.0 (Or Republican Health Care “Reform”)

March 8, 2017

For years, I’ve blogged how the third-party payment structure for routine health care is the source of problems with America’s health care system. Addressing this problem would be true reform. There are real-world examples of this in action, and the results are promising. True reform would address the regulations and tax-code distortions that favor third-party payments.

Obamacare reinforced the third-party payment structure. It continues to fail.

So what are Republicans proposing? It ain’t good:

It would repeal far less of ObamaCare than the bill Republicans sent to President Obama one year ago. The ObamaCare regulations it retains are already causing insurance markets to collapse. It would allow that collapse to continue, and even accelerate the collapse.

Michael Cannon has the gory details.

Not surprisingly, this bad legislation garners President Trump’s endorsement.

The Obamacare Marketplace’s Continued Collapse

August 31, 2016

Insurance companies are leaving the Obamacare exchanges. Apparently stringent regulation does NOT bring costs down. Michael Cannon explains what is going on in Pinal County, Arizona:

Obamacare requires insurers to do certain things, but only if they want to stay in the market. If the cost of those things proves too great — and Obamacare’s architects were very good at making lots of generous promises — insurers can leave. Obamacare asked insurers to cover so many pre-existing conditions in Pinal County’s exchange that it ultimately forced them to cover none. President Obama wanted to reduce discrimination in health insurance; in Pinal County, he increased it.

Let me be clear. Obamacare positively requires the very sort of discrimination it purports to prohibit. Arizona regulators report that two unnamed insurers will sell Obamacare plans to individual Pinal County residents, just not through the exchange. Only higher-income residents, who are likely to be in better health, can afford Obamacare’s unsubsidized premiums. Without Obamacare, those insurers could cover lots of Pinal County residents with moderate incomes. But Obamacare forces them to cover so many preexisting conditions that only the wealthy get coverage.

Will these residents still be subject to the individual mandate?

And Obamacare will still penalize those residents if they don’t buy coverage — even if the amount they must pay increases tenfold or more. Though they can no longer access the subsidies that made Obamacare coverage affordable, the fact that they are still technically eligible for subsidies means that, by law, coverage is still affordable for them and they must buy it or pay the penalty.

The Republican Counter-Proposal To Obamacare

June 30, 2016

What do Republicans propose to replace community-rating regulations, guaranteed-issue regulations, millennial mandates, and an explicit mandate to have coverage that the federal government approves? With community-rating regulations, guaranteed-issue regulations, millennial mandates, with only an IMPLICIT mandate to have coverage that the federal government approves.

Cato’s Michael Cannon provides the details.

Feel The Bern: More On The Sanders Health Care Plan

February 8, 2016

Even a prominent single-payer advocate say your pocketbook will feel the “bern” if Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare For All” proposal ever came to fruition:

But [Kenneth Thorpe] nonetheless concludes that single-payer at a national level would be significantly more expensive than the Sanders campaign believes, and would require workers to pay an additional 20 percent of their compensation in taxes. He also argues it would leave 71 percent of households with private insurance worse off once you take both tax increases and reduced health care expenditures into account.

More here.

Feel The Single-Payer Bern: The Sanders Plan To Hike Your Taxes

January 19, 2016

As expensive as Obamacare is, it may be a bargain compared to what Bernie Sanders’ single-payer plan would cost:

The tax hikes required to pay for this much new spending would be enormous, and while the Sanders plan does its best to place most of the burden on high earners through a slew of income tax hikes that increase the top marginal rate up for 52 percent for income over $10 million, he also adds new taxes on employers and an additional 2.2 percent flat tax on virtually all income beyond the standard deduction (currently $28,800 for a family of four). This is in addition to increased taxes on investment, a big hike in the estate tax, and a cap on tax deductions for high earners.

More here.

Obamacare And Wage Stagnation

January 13, 2016

The National Bureau of Economic Research has a paper on the effects of Obamacare’s dependent care mandate.:

We then explore whether workers bear the cost of the increased cost of health insurance
coverage for these young adults in the form of reduced wages. We exploit variation in state
mandates to cover young adults that existed prior to the passage of the ACA to produce a
difference-in-difference estimate of the amount that wages decreased for workers in states and
firms most affected by the mandate. Our estimates suggest that the effect is approximately
$1,200 per year.