"Mercury News" wrote:Obamacare's winners and losers in Bay Area
By Tracy Seipel
Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.
Yet, like many other Bay Area residents who pay for their own medical insurance, they were floored last week when they opened their bills: Their policies were being replaced with pricier plans that conform to all the requirements of the new health care law.
Vinson, of San Jose, will pay $1,800 more a year for an individual policy, while Waschura, of Portola Valley, will cough up almost $10,000 more for insurance for his family of four.
"Welcome to the club," said Robert Laszewksi, a prominent health care consultant and president of
Health Policy and Strategy Associates in Virginia.
For years, the nation has been embroiled in the political rhetoric of "Obamacare," but this past week the reality of the new law sank in as millions of Americans had their first good look at how the 3 1/2-year-old legislation will affect their pocketbooks.
This much quickly became clear:
As state- and federal-run health insurance exchanges debuted across the country offering a range of prices for different tiers of insurance coverage, the new online marketplaces -- which represent the centerpiece of Obamacare -- could greatly benefit more than 40 million Americans who now lack coverage. But an additional 16 million -- who buy individual health insurance policies on the open market -- are finding out that their plans may not comply with the new law, which requires 10 essential benefits such as maternity care, mental health care and prescription drug coverage.
In California, 1.9 million people buy plans on the open market, according to officials with Covered California, the state's new health insurance exchange. And many of them are steaming mad.
"There's going to be a number of people surprised" by their bills, said Jonathan Wu, a co-founder of ValuePenguin, a consumer finance website. "The upper-middle class are the people who are essentially being asked to foot the bill, and that's true across the country."
Covered California spokesman Dana Howard maintained that in public presentations the exchange has always made clear that there will be winners and losers under Obamacare.
"Some people will see an increase who are already on the individual market purchasing insurance," he said, "but most people will not."
Covered California officials note that at least 570,000 of the 1.9 million people who buy their own insurance should be eligible for subsidies that will reduce their premiums.
Even those who don't qualify for the tax subsidies could see their rates drop because Obamacare doesn't allow insurers to charge people more if they have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and cancer, he said.
People like Marilynn Gray-Raine.
The 64-year-old Danville artist, who survived breast cancer, has purchased health insurance for herself for decades. She watched her Anthem Blue Cross monthly premiums rise from $317 in 2005 to $1,298 in 2013. But she found out last week from the Covered California site that her payments will drop to about $795 a month.
But people with no pre-existing conditions like Vinson, a 60-year-old retired teacher, and Waschura, a 52-year-old self-employed engineer, are making up the difference.
"I was laughing at Boehner -- until the mail came today,"
Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare.
"I really don't like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family's pocket each year, that's otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy."
Both Vinson and Waschura have adjusted gross incomes greater than four times the federal poverty level -- the cutoff for a tax credit. And while both said they anticipated their rates would go up, they didn't realize they would rise so much.
"Of course, I want people to have health care," Vinson said. "I just didn't realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally."
A frustrated Vinson went on the Covered California site to see what she would pay for the same policy if she lived in Los Angeles or Sacramento. She discovered she would save at least $100 monthly.
According to data compiled by ValuePenguin, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, San Francisco as well as Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties have some of the highest health insurance rates in the state. Covered California officials say that in addition to the higher cost of living here, more hospitals in the Bay Area are owned by hospital groups that can demand higher rates because of the lack of competition.
Not all of the sticker shock can be blamed on Obamacare.
Health care inflation costs routinely increase at least 4 percent annually, said Ken Wood, a senior adviser for Covered California. Those increases, he noted, are due to an aging population and the rising costs of new medical technology and drugs, among other factors.
But Wood, Wu and others also said premiums will rise as a result of people getting better insurance under the new law, which requires most Americans, with few exceptions, to buy health insurance no later than March 31, or pay a minimum $95 annual penalty.
The law's intent is to cover people who are now uninsured by making insurance accessible to everybody. But that means rates will rise for many because sick and healthy people will now be charged the same premium.
Adding a required list of 10 essential benefits to all plans is also significant. A study published last year in the journal Health Affairs said more than half of Americans who had individual insurance in 2010 were enrolled in plans that would not qualify because they didn't meet all the new requirements.
Wood likened these mandates to the higher cost of buying cars today that must have safety features like air bags and anti-lock brakes.
The law also will often make some policies more expensive because it limits out-of-pocket expenses to $6,350 annually for an individual and $12,700 for a family. In addition, the law restricts the minimum and maximum premiums that people can be charged based on their age.
Now, a 64-year-old can be charged almost five times more than a 21-year-old. Beginning Jan. 1, it will be a 3-1 ratio.
Those explanations, however, don't completely satisfy Waschura and Vinson.
"I'm not against Obamacare," Waschura said. "It's just the initial shock. I'm holding out hope that there will be a correction over a handful of years."
But to Gray-Raine, the breast cancer survivor from the East Bay, that correction has already come.
"Obamacare is a huge step in the right direction for those of us without employer coverage," she said, adding that she hopes everyone will "join in and make this new legislation a success for all."
Contact Tracy Seipel at 408-275-0140. Follow her at Twitter.com/taseipel.
http://www.mercurynews.com/nation-world ... s-bay-area
August 27, 2012
September 1, 2013
The sad thing is that with the government spending so much effort on pushing Obamacare down our throat, no one is working on the real problem with health care.
Of all the people who have been on tv talking about Obamacare in the last year, how ironic is it that the only person that has stated the actual problem, was John Stewart, a person I disagree with 99% of the time. He, must have accidently, stumbled on the real problem. He said that health care does not lend itself to being in a market. Finally!
Thats right John, health care does not lend itself to being in a market. And why not? The health care system in the US was never meant to work in a market. It started out as a mom and pop operation and over many decades evolved into the corporate run version of its former self. But that corporate version maintains all the special rules that the original mom and pop system enjoyed. And those rules shield that industry from the market.
Our health care system has never been subject to free market forces. Doctors, hospitals and clinics never have to advertise their prices. You get the service you want and then later the service provider gets to decide how much they want to charge you, and no matter how rediculous the price, you have to pay. Then add the effects that insurance has, separating the receiver of the service from the provider. Then add employers providing insurance. Then add government interference in the market. Then add political groups declaring that health insurance is a right. The whole system is FUBAR.
Instead of Obamacare, which simply tries to force more people to pay for health care insurance, which will drive up demand for service and therefore prices as well, we should be doing something to lower prices, so that everyone can afford health care. And the way to do that begins with making health care providers publish their prices. How can consumers make wise decisions about health care if they aren't allowed to know which providers are cheaper?? I know that many people think that there is no way to know prices for care up front but they are wrong. I guarantee you that health care providers know down to the penny how much the services cost them. They have whole departments to manage those costs. If doctors had to tell you that fixing a broken ankle cost of say $4,000 and you could check other doctors you might find a cheaper doctor. And that would have a cascade effect on the whole medical indistry. Once they have to compete they will have to lower prices.
Instead, we are stuck with a system where costs just keep spiraling higher and higher, with no end in sight. Really stupid!
August 27, 2012
The effects of this Act are already being felt by the middle-class here in my area. Families that own small businesses are facing the reality that they will have to close down, terminating all of their full-time and part-time employees, because the plan totals all hours worked. It doesn't matter which employees work full-time and which are part-time. In order to be within "the law", they must insure all employees. If they elect to pay the fines instead, well there goes their profit and budget for the year anyway. So many are going to be closing down, turning our city into a ghost town and leaving many more Americans without a job. Supposedly these are "unintended consequences", but I have to wonder.
The modern definition of ‘racist’ is someone who’s winning an argument with a liberal.
"The Blaze" wrote:FAIL: Only 51,000 people have filled out Obamacare applications
On radio this morning, Glenn cited a MailOnline’s exclusive report that confirmed Obamacare’s dismal signup rate. According to MailOnline, Obamacare’s main signup engine, Healthcare.gov, attracted just 6,200 signups on its error-laden launch day and 51,000 new applications after the first week.
“How many people have filed, in the first week, an application? Remember, it takes 7 million people in this system to keep it afloat,” Glenn said. “51,000. 51,000. This according to the Daily Mail.”
“Yeah, because no American publication would never carry this,” Pat added. “Nobody was apparently interested in the story in the United States.”
The numbers are bleak, no matter how you spin them. But they are actually even worse when you consider what the 51,000 number actually represents.
“You can’t go online and find out how much you can save,” Glenn said. “Instead, you have to go on and fill out everything. You have to give them health history. You have to give them all the information: Social Security Number, everything else. And then once you fill out that application, then it will say, this is what you can get and here’s what it’s going to cost.”
Glenn likened the situation to going to a car dealership for a test drive and being told you can’t know any information about the cost of the car until you provide all of your credit information and fill out an application.
“That’s insane. Nobody would ever do business that way. That’s insane,” Glenn said. “And it is also one of the reasons why they actually have higher numbers than have signed up. Because what they’re saying is: The number of people that have filled out applications. And when you say you ‘filled out applications,’ you just assume that that means… they want it, you know… No, they don’t [to sign up]. They just want to see what price it is, but they have to fill out an application to find out what price it is.”
Think of this: Of the 40 million uninsured Americans, just 51,000 people completed the Obamacare application in the first week of rollout. Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office says Obamacare needs at least 7 million customers to stay afloat financially.
“And that’s not the number of enrolled. The number of enrolled federally, that enrolled through the federal program: 5,000 enrolled. The number through the state programs was 25,000,” Pat explained. “So 30,000 people so far up to this point have enrolled… [This is a] total and complete disaster because you know the first week or the first two weeks of a rollout are your most important.”
Stu quickly pointed out, however, that the reason people are forced to fill out an application to access the cost of the new healthcare plans is because, without the government subsidies, the price of healthcare skyrockets under Obamacare. The only way to calculate the applicable subsidies is to know the personal information that is required on the application. So this ridiculous system is just another way for the Administration to shield the real cost of Obamacare from the American people.
“And the reason, they talk about in Forbes, is if you went to the website without giving them information, you would see an unsubsidized price for that policy. So you would see a policy that would show the true cost to the American people of what each policy is,” Stu said “If you go there after you’ve given the information, the price looks much more sensible because they’re including all the free money they’re giving you from the government. So the way they designed the program was specifically designed to hide the true cost of each one of these policies so people like us couldn’t just go to the website and make fun of all the high prices. You have to go through the entire process and that way there’s a layer there to hide the true cost from the American people.”
Source: http://www.glennbeck.com/2013/10/15/fai ... 838_266845
"Daily Mail" wrote: EXCLUSIVE: Just 51,000 people completed Obamacare applications during the website's first week, out of tens of millions of Americans in 36 states
Just 51,000 people completed Obamacare applications during the first week the Healthcare.gov website was online, according to two sources inside the Department of Health and Human Services who gave MailOnline an exclusive look at the earliest enrollment numbers.
The career civil servants, who process data inside the agency, confirmed independently that just 6,200 Americans applied for health insurance through the problem-plagued website on October 1, the day it first opened to the public.
Neither HHS nor the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would comment on the record about the numbers. Enroll America, on Obama administration-related organization that aims to help Americans sign up, only replied to a request for information a day after this article was first published.
'I don’t have any hard numbers beyond what HHS and the state-based exchanges have released,' said spokesman Justin Nisly, who insisted that Americans have been 'enthusiastic' and 'grateful' for Obamacare.
The White House did not respond to emails seeking comment.
But several administration officials have claimed this month that they didn't have access to the kinds of raw figures MailOnline obtained from the people who work for them. And the anemic totals suggest a far lower level of interest in coverage through the Affordable Care Act than the Obama administration has hoped to see.
Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, a Republican who chairs the House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee, said that 'if the numbers are accurate,' they show 'that relatively few people have navigated the challenges of the first step of the process – roughly the population of a small town in my district.'
'The White House and HHS have continually claimed they did not have these figures,' Brady told MailOnline. 'If they do, they have misled the Congress and the American people.'
The low numbers also reflect a level of technological frustration on the part of Americans whose attempts to investigate their new health insurance options have been met with crashes, error messages and interminable delays.
CNN host Wolf Blitzer agreed on Wednesday that the White House should consider granting Republicans' demands for a one-year delay of the rule requiring individual taxpayers to buy insurance, given the failings of the glitch-prone enrollment website that has produced more headaches than new customers.
‘If they weren’t fully ready, they should accept the advice that a lot of Republicans are giving them,' Blitzer said. 'Delay it another year, get it ready, and make sure it works'
The open enrollment period for Obamacare coverage is slated to last for six months. If the first week's total were an indication of how many Americans will sign up during that time through the Obama administration's website, its final tally would reach a paltry 1.32 million.
Healthcare.gov provides enrollment services for Americans in 36 states; the remaining 14 states and the District of Columbia, which operate enrollment programs in their own exchanges, represent 33.7 per cent of the U.S. population, according to census projections.
If the state-run exchanges were to have a similar response rate for six months, the national enrollment total would be approximately 2 million.
That number is less than 29 per cent of the 7 million the Obama administration would need, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, in order to balance the new health insurance system's books and keep it from financial collapse.
'The administration’s goal is seven million people in the first year,' Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, a long-time Obamacare opponent, told MailOnline. 'We are not on track for anything like seven million. New Coke was retired for being a smaller disappointment.'
'There was no good reason to hide these number,' he said. 'This is not keeping a secret from the Russians or the Syrians. ... Why lie about this, for crying out loud?'
'These numbers reflect what we all know: Obamacare is a disaster,' Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn told MailOnline. 'It is time for the president to admit Obamacare is not working and that the American people deserve better.'
Spokespersons for five different Democratic senators declined to provide comment, with most saying they are paying greater attention to the debt-ceiling and government-shutdown standoffs that have gripped Washington, D.C. since before Oct. 1.
House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee chair Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said the small enrollment numbers are a symptom of a larger problem.
'Far more people have been unable to complete their applications because of crashing websites or impossible wait times than have successfully enrolled,' said Issa. 'Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and the window for open enrollment gets smaller every day.'
Issa said Wednesday during a committee hearing on Capitol Hill that 'in just the past decade, the federal government cancelled at least fifteen major IT projects after wasting $10 billion on their development. But none of those costly mistakes were anywhere near as big or complex, as Obamacare.'
The White House aims to see the health care exchanges enroll at least 2.7 million young, healthy people between the ages of 18 and 35, whose monthly premiums are needed to offset the cost of health care for older, sicker Americans.
It's unclear how many of the early enrollees fall in that age group.
A projected enrollment total of 2 million would also represent just 4 per cent of the overall number who could participate.
'More than 50 million Americans qualify for the Obamacare exchanges,' Americans for Limited Government vice president Rick Manning pointed out, claiming that 'this paltry response is a clear rejection of the system.'
It remains possible, according to the sources who provided the enrollment data, that overall rates of enrollment will tick up after the much-maligned healthcare.gov website is retrofitted with technology fixes that allow more Americans to navigate it smoothly.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney drew criticism on Monday after he boasted that website response times were cut by one-third after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services implemented virtual 'waiting rooms' that allowed users to trickle in according to the load the government's servers could handle.
Another flood of customers could hypothetically come in after Jan. 1, the sources said, if a significant number of private employers cancel their employee benefit plans and dump their workers into the Affordable Care Act's health care exchanges.
The availability of raw Obamacare enrollment numbers will come as an embarrassment to the Obama administration, since its public faces have insisted that such figures are unknown or unknowable.
Carney reiterated on Monday that the administration would 'release enrollment data on regularly, monthly intervals.'
'I'm not sure when that begins,' he told reporters, 'but I'm sure we'll let you know in plenty of time so you can plan and put it on your calendar.'
That night, Comedy Central host Jon Stewart asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on 'The Daily Show' how many Americans had enrolled in Obamacare.
'I can't tell you,' the secretary answered, 'because I don't know.'
An unnamed senior White House official told CNN host Jake Tapper on Monday that the administration would start releasing numbers after November 1, and would combine data from healthcare.gov with those from more than a dozen states that run their own health insurance exchanges, in order 'to have a good picture of what's happening across the country.'
Sen. Ted Cruz, the feisty tea party standard-bearer who led a lengthy quasi-filibuster last month that raised the profile of what Republicans say are Obamacare's legal and philosophical shortcomings, said Thursday that 'every day our concerns are validated as we learn more about how the law can’t deliver on its promises.'
'The law has failed on every single measure,' Cruz told MailOnline. 'It does not make healthcare more affordable or accessible. It does the opposite.'
Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin said Thursday that the Obamacare enrollment numbers were unlikely to keep pace with the numbers of Americans who are losing their insurance as the program goes into effect.
'Over 800,000 people in New Jersey alone have lost their current health insurance in the last month,' Martin said, 'yet nationwide only 51,000 people have received health insurance from Obamacare. The numbers just do not add up.'
Overlaid on top of Obamacare's rocky launch has been a partial government shutdown whose broad personnel layoffs have compounded what was already a difficult rollout.
On Wednesday a press spokesperson who answered a Department of Health and Human Services press line told MailOnline to allow at least 24 hours for a comment – one which never came anyway.
'We're in furlough status right now, so we're short-staffed,' she said. 'All our requests are going through email. Drop us a line, and if anyone's available, they'll get back to you.'
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z2ho4QNWjx
September 1, 2013
Its like if I went into business to sell you widgets and I charge $20,000 per widget. Then I create a giant complex beaurocracy whose sole purpose is to prevent you from finding out that the widget only costs $100. I started out charging only $200 but over time I increased prices again and again. Then I start allowing people to buy widgets but pay for them later. Now I can decide the price after the purchase. Then when people realized the price kept going up, someone decided to create insurance for widgets. Then that allowed me to raise prices even faster. Then employers came along and started offering widget insurance as part of their compensation packages. That allowed me raise prices even more. Then the unions came along and did the same as other employers. Then the government came along and did it too. Each time I kept raising prices. Then people started suing me for defective widgets, so I passed on the costs of those suits to my employees and you, the customer. Then my employees went and got defective widget insurance and that provided an excuse to raise prices again. Then the schools that educate my employees started raising their prices, raising the cost of getting a job making widgets. Again, the costs are passed on to the customer. Now some enterprising corporations come along and buy me out and I retire. But they decide to get government to write laws that minimize the cost of creating widgets while simultaneously forcing you to pay for other peoples widgets. Before too long not only can you not afford to buy a widget, you can't even afford the widget insurance. After a while the poor complain that they can't buy widgets. So the government creates the Affordable Widget Program, which forces the poor to buy widget insurance, so the widget corporations can raise prices again. But the program is designed to get young people to sign up for the government's widget insurance even though they don't need widgets yet. They will be paying for older people who do need the widgets. But the widget insurance increases demand for widgets so the widget corporations raise prices again.
This is where we are.
September 1, 2013
January 11, 2013
"Alalu" wrote: It amazes me how, in a country supposedly filled with smart people, that no one can seem to figure out that the country is being scammed.
After Obama got elected for a second term, I've come to the conclusion that America is not filled with smart people. Was listening on the radio today, where someone did a man on the street poll and the majority of who they polled said this whole current debt mess was George Bushes fault. Man hasn't been in office for five years. They keep drinking the kool-aid.
I also still can't figure out why no appears to be concerned that the government will have access to our health records. These records should only be seen by me and my doctor.
By the way I like your widget post. :clap:
September 1, 2013
Sooner or later the government is going to have to start dealing with the real problem. Problems don't go away just because you ignore them or write some stupid law. They are going to have to deal with spiraling costs or health care will bankrupt the country. It is basic math.