United HealthGroup – the Minnetonka based health insurance megalith – after spending most of Barack Obama’s first term shamelessly shilling for Obamacare…
Surely there must be some mistake…
United HealthGroup – the Minnetonka based health insurance megalith – after spending most of Barack Obama’s first term shamelessly shilling for Obamacare…
Surely there must be some mistake…
By every rational measure, Obamacare is a complete failure – a fraternity-rush-week of terrible assumptions and economic ignorance that have turned a sixth of this nation’s economy into a hapless dumpster fire.
Kevin Williamson takes stock of the failures – and, in this notable passage, breaks down the “why” of how we got here:
The architects of Obamacare are deeply distrustful of the role of for-profit companies in the health-care business because, in their nearly pristine ignorance, they falsely believe profits to be net deductions from the sum of the public good rather than measures of the creation of real social value. So they created incentives to set up co-ops, nonprofit enterprises that would administer Obamacare plans in particular states and jurisdictions. It was obvious from the beginning that if Obamacare’s perverse incentives created insurance pools that were older and sicker rather than younger and healthier, these co-ops wouldn’t be economically viable: You need lots of young, healthy insurance subscribers to offset the costs associated with your older, sicker subscribers. Many of us — myself included — assumed that the federal government under President Obama would simply write these co-ops huge checks to keep them afloat. We were half right: The government is writing them huge checks, but they are failing anyway, so fundamental is their economic unsustainability. Half of the co-ops have gone belly-up already, including large, prominent, splendidly subsidized ones in Kentucky, New York, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Hundreds of thousands of customers have lost their coverage as a result. Hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money has been poured into these enterprises, to no avail. Almost all of Obamacare’s basic promises have failed, it is an economic shambles, and it is a political mess .
Obamacare’s partisans were confronted with the economic facts long before the law was even passed, and their answer was: “Never mind the economics, we’re the good guys, and you want poor people to die.” Democrats argued that Republicans literally wanted to kill poor people, that their plan was for the poor to “die quickly.” This is a habitual mode of discourse among progressives: Reality doesn’t matter; only the purity of Democrats’ motives matters. Obamacare is what it is: Another damned five-year plan based on wishful thinking and very little else.
Read the whole thing.
And if you haven’t read Williamson’s The End Is Near, And It’s Going To Be Awesome, get out to Amazon and do it. Now.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Obama-care is the federal program, but Minnesota Democrats rushed to set up our own parallel Minnesota Care system so every Minnesota family could easily find affordable health insurance. But insurance companies are dropping out of Minnesota Care to avoid administrative hassles and taxes to reduce overhead, and that makes their plans even more affordable than the Minnesota Care plans.
The Democrats’ proposed solution? No, not decrease administrative hassle or lower taxes to make Minnesota Care competitive. Certainly not. No, the proposed solution is to impose administrative hassles and taxes on insurance companies who are NOT participating in Minnesota Care, so that everybody is equally hassled and taxed. The name of the guy proposing that – Jim Schowalter – may sound familiar. That’s because he was Mark Dayton’s Commissioner of Budget who oversaw setting up the Minnesota Care system at a cost of half-a-billion dollars, now he’s the chief lobbyist for the insurance companies in the system.
I say there’s something fishy about this story. It’s all about people losing their plan and paying more for it. But if you like your plan, you can keep your plan and every family saves $2,500 – we know this because The Light-bringer told us so. There’s something not right about this new story.
It’s the Minnesota way.
…menu in the mainstream media for an actual substantive policy argument among Republicans.
Walker’s proposal would repeal all of ObamaCare, dismantling its federal healthcare exchanges and eliminating the tax credits now provided for people to buy health insurance policies. It would replace them with a system that doles out federal dollars based on an individual’s age, instead of income.
For example, a person between the ages of 18 and 34 would receive $1,200, while a person between the ages of 50 to 64 would receive $3,000. The tax credits would only go to people without employer-sponsored coverage.
Unlike ObamaCare, his plan would also allow groups, such as small businesses or farmers, to band together to negotiate lower rates and allow all individuals to purchase coverage across state lines.
James Capretta at NRO runs down the details of the Walker, Jindal and Rubio plans.
For those who’d rather talk policy than combovers.
…when you realize we would have seen better to this nation’s healthcare by giving every single American $50,000 to spend on it.
She also “the War on Poverty”.
… And every poor schnook being dragooned into signing up for Obamacare have in common?
Yesterday, the House moved past the crabbling over the Speaker post, and moved on to substantive policy.
The House passed a bill repealing one of Obamacare’s most toxic provisions – the definition of 30 hours a week as “full time”, which has put (literally) countless people out of work:
Republicans set the showdown as an initial test of how many Democrats would be willing to defect against a lame-duck president and after the GOP relentlessly attacked Obamacare in November’s election campaigns, riding those attacks to big gains.
The legislation would repeal the provision that defines the 30-hour-per-week work threshold that determines when businesses have to face the health insurance coverage mandate. Critics say it scraps the traditional 40-hour workweek and takes pay out of Americans’ pockets because some employers are cutting hours to below 30 a week to get around the law.
Obama will override the veto – and if everyone votes as they did today, the veto will stand. And every single Democrat that votes to override will be on record opposing the will of the 2014 majority of voters.
And the first big wedge point of the 2016 will be put in place.
Then, it’ll become a battle to increase the attention span of the American voter – on the left and the right…
…is so bad, even Larry Jacobs can’t shill for it anymore.
…that the Berlin Wall fell.
But make no mistake; the Soviets won.
The link is to an article about government’s role in the demise of medicine in America. The whole piece is a pull quote, and that is not “fair use” by any stretch. So read it.
And then look at every other area of your life where these same sorts of niggling government interventions happen “for your own good”.
…in big parts of the rural USA, more and more, you can’t keep your hospital.
Obamacare is leading directly to the closure of rural hospitals.
Just another way of weeding out the bitter gun-clinging Jeebus freaks, I suppose.
…is that the media thinks this isn’t intentional.
The reason Preferred One – provider with all of the least-expensive plans in the MNSure exchange – left the exchange last month, giving most of its subscribers a 60+% increase in rates to keep a MNSure plan, was that they were basically strong-armed into providing the unsustainable low rates to begin with:
Sometime after the insurer PreferredOne submitted its proposed rates for the first year of the MNsure exchange, state regulators asked the company to consider lowering the numbers.
Ultimately, the insurer responded with “a total rate decrease of 37 percent”, according to a July 2013 letter from an outside actuary to the company. Those final rates were the lowest in the Twin Cities – and across the country, in many cases – and helped PreferredOne to grab nearly 60 percent of the MNsure business.
Now, those subscribers face an average premium increase of 63 percent if they stay with PreferredOne — a yo-yo scenario that health policy experts say points to the challenge in setting prices under the federal health law. The big swing also suggests that the low prices were out of step with the reality of the business.
“This was the first year of a new market, so no one knew what they were bidding on,” , said Gary Claxton, a vice president with the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation. “That means it was hard to create the rates, and it was hard to review them.”
Here’s the deal: as Representative Zerwas pointed out on a morning radio show today, Preferred One is keenly aware that the MNSure board – a political board, composed (per statute) of absolutely no people from the healthcare or health insurance industries – can decide who does and doesn’t get to participate in the exchange.
Which gives them a lot of power when, for example, they tell a company like Preferred One to kick the tires on an unsustainable rate structure.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
The Star Tribune runs an astonishingly even-handed report on politicians’ finger-pointing over Ebola funding.
The conclusion: they’re equally to blame. Which isn’t true, but is a far cry from Star Tribune’s reflex to blame Republicans.
The article points out CDC funding in 2010 was $6.8 billion, 2011 was $6.9 billion and then President Obama proposed to reduce it to $6.6. Yes, the President slashed $300,000 out of CDC funding. And Congress went along. So they’re all to blame.
What the article does not address is HOW the CDC pisses away that $6.6 billion. And that’s totally under the control of Democrats.
SCENE: The Admiralty, London, May, 1940. Winston CHURCHILL is poring over a map in the Admiralty’s operation’s center, looking over the deteriorating situation in France. He is joined by Admiral Nigel FRIEDEN, head of the Royal Navy’s public health wing.
CHURCHILL: It is clear that we are going to have to evacuate the British Army from France. In addition to a maximum effort by the Royal Navy, we’ll need thousands of civilian boats to help get the troops off the beaches and evacuate them from the Nazis.
FRIEDEN: I’m afraid that’s a bad idea, sir.
CHURCHILL: Why do you say that?
FRIEDEN: If we evacuate the Army, it will just make the occupation worse in England. Also, we’ll have to use the fleet to evacuate Germans from England, too, then.
CHURCHILL: That makes no sense.
FRIEDEN: I’m an expert.
NEXT SCENE: The US Air Force base at Wiesbaden, West Germany, June, 1948. General Lucius CLAY, commander of US Military Government in occupied West Germany, is looking at a map of the Eastern Zone. Ominously, red Soviet stars sit astride the three road/rail routes supplying West Berlin; the Soviets have just instituted a blockade, trying to starve West Berlin into the Soviet sphere. Clay looks pensive. He is joined at the map table by Brigadier (one-star) General Maximilian FRIEDEN, head of his public health corps.
CLAY: Blockade, schmockade. We will need to start the greatest airlift in history to keep Berlin supplied. It will show Stalin that we’re serious about
FRIEDEN: We can’t, General.
CLAY: What the hell?
FRIEDEN: If we bring food, medicine and coal to Berlin, it’ll just make the hunger, disease and cold worse. Also, for every load of supplies we bring in, we’ll have to bring a plane-load of Soviet spies and commandos back.
CLAY: Whose army do you serve?
SCENE: April 1975. As the North Vietnamese Army overruns Saigon’s last line of defenses, US Marine Brigadier General Richard CAREY is discussing the upcoming evacuation of Americans and certain Vietnamese from Saigon. Artillery is heard in the distance, as CAREY makes the final plans to remove the last Americans, and as many Vietnamese as possible, from the Embassy compound . He is addressing a group of officers, including State Department public health attache T. Morton FRIEDEN.
CAREY: And so we’ll bring in the helicopters from the aircraft carriers. We’ll get the last of the Marines out by 1800 hours.
FRIEDEN: General, that’s a bad idea. Evacuating Marines will only make them more subject to Communist rule. And for every helicopter full of Marines you remove, you’ll need to bring one full of Vietnamese back from the ships.
CAREY: (Stands, slack-jawed).
CDC director Thomas Frieden is telling us that wejust can’tstop all flights coming in from West Africa, because…:
It’ll Make the Epidemic Worse: Because ancient tribal burial rituals, lack of information about handling infections, and superstitions about healthcare workers aren’t bad enough; dispersing the epidemic all around the world must be ten times better!
If we stop air travel, we won’t be able to bring supplies: That’s only true if all flights from West Africa are on disposable aircraft, or are kamikaze flights. Planes can fly in the other direction. Hopefully to drop off supplies and trained well-equipped healthcare workers. And return empty, until the crisis eases.
I imagine Mr. Frieden knows this. But judging by the last round of elections, it’s a lot for a plurality of Amerians to understand…
UPDATE: You think I’m selling Dr. Friedman short?
It only looks like one of my parodies.
A friend of mine on Facebook (who admits he based it on a statement by Senator Michelle Benson, on the Dave Thompson show) notes the wierdness of the state’s math in arriving at the “4.5% increase in MNSure Premiums” number that the media is trumpeting.
He put it this way: If a fast food restaurant serves 500 customers and has $5,000 in the till at the end of the day, that’s an average of $10 per person.
If a coffee shop next door has 5 customers and makes a grand total of $25, they averaged $5 per sale.
So what was the average amount spent by customers to those two stores?
If you’re a Democrat, you picked “1” – which is the average price of two items, but is not the average amount spent by the customers If you undestand economics, you picked “2”.
What the state has done – and the media has reported more or less uncritically – is tell us the average price of the plans (that are still on the market). Not the average amount customers will have to spend to stay in the exchange – which includes nearly 2/3 of all MNSure customers who lost their lower-priced Preferred One plans, and who will be paying at least 20% more.
The state’s spin is dishonest. The media uncritically running the spin is an abdication of their purported job of keeping government honest.
I went into a chain diner the other day. I had a bowl of soup. I promptly felt ill, and before long came the projectile vomiting, and then the projectile diarrhea.
I went to the manager after I cleaned up to complain.
“Yeah” said the manager, “we’ve had a lot of that today with the soup. OK – actually every person who’s eaten the soup today has gotten sick. But in our defense, people eating the soup at all our other stores have gotten even sicker. You should feel pretty good, all in all!”
MNSure – the state’s Obamacare exchange – has been a bulgarian goat rodeo from the very beginning. Between the cataclysmic botch of the rollout, to the Director’s corrupt canoodling with the state’s Medicad director, to the technical review that indicates this year’s open enrollment could be worse than last year, to Preferred One – the provider with the best value for most younger, healthier people – dropping out, it’s been
an ordeal to watch a pretty typical example of government control of any product or service.
But now – in the wake of yesterday’s price hikes – MNSure, the DFL and the media (ptr) are trying a new tactic; the bizarre non-sequitur; I’m adding emphasis:
Even with the premium increases for 2015, the cost of a mid-level benchmark policy on MNsure for a 40-year-old will be about $182 per month, state officials said. That’s less than the rate for comparable plans in 16 other metropolitan areas, according to figures published in September by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is based in California.
On Wednesday, the Commerce Department supplemented the foundation’s analysis with preliminary and current rates from more than two dozen other metropolitan areas, and concluded that rates in the Twin Cities are the lowest.
“When you compare Minneapolis and St. Paul to every metropolitan region throughout the country, Minnesota has the lowest rates in the nation,” Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said during a news conference near the State Capitol.
Ah. So Minnesotans’ rates are rising – rising by a lot for the people on the lower end of the market – but they’re higher elsewhere?
Minnesota had a system that covered 92% of Minnesotans – the highest rate in the country – with everything from cadillac government union plans to UCare to company health plans to inexpensive “catastrophic care” plans (now illegal!).
And it did all that for even less!
If your rates are rising 20% – and if you were a Preferred One customer, 2/3 of MNSure’s customer base, they are – on top of the higher rates you’re already paying (because MNSure replaced the catastrophic-care-only plan you may have had two years ago with a plan that includes mental health, preventive and, for the guys, OB-GYN services), why do you care what people are paying in Newark?
Are their plans rising 20%? If yes, then that proves the point. If no, then what is Minnsota doing wrong?
I read yesterday’s headlines about the new, Preferred-One-Free MNSure rates, and got ready to write.
Then, I got an email from a friend who works in the Healthcare industry, which explains it much better:
The headlines on MNSure saying premiums rose only 4.5%. This reminds me of an old story.
A friend of mine was flying a helicopter in the fog in downtown St. Paul and his radio and navigation equipment failed suddenly. He knew he was in the midst of the downtown and going any direction could mean an immediate crash. He stayed put hovering for a few minutes, inching lower. When the fog lifted he was right outside the MN Dept. of Commerce. Not recognizing the building he grabbed a piece of paper and a big sharpie. He wrote in big block letters “Where am I?” and put it put it on the outside of his windshield. A commerce employee saw the helicopter’s predictament and wrote a note back and placed it in the building window. “You’re in a helicopter.”
Technically correct and absolutely meaningless.
That’s my take of this headline. The real problem is that the low cost insurer, Preferred One, dropped out. Maybe the remaining plans only increased by 4.5% but to the 60% who were on Preferred One, the real story is that their premiums are rising about 20%. Minnesotans will understand that if they take time to read the full story.
Which the DFL is counting on people not doing, naturally, as they relentlessly pound away with that “4.5%” number on ads around the state.
Recent history shows it’s not hard to fool Minnesotans.
What’s the difference between Switzerland and Minnesota?
And it wasn’t even close: 62 percent, mostly German, voted to tube the proposal to socialize Switzerland’s healthcare system.
Hey, speaking of Minnesota – does any of this sound familiar?
“Our health system is among the top performers in the world. Competition between health insurers and freedom of choice for clients play a major role in this,” it added.
Going public would have been a major shift for a country whose health system is often hailed abroad as a paragon of efficiency, but is a growing source of frustration at home because of soaring costs…
And how are the costs soaring?
…”Over the past 20 years in Switzerland, health costs have grown 80 percent and insurance premiums 125 percent,” ophthalmologist Michel Matter told AFP.
That’s bad. Nothing like the US healthcare system, between the past ten years and Obamacare, but it’s certainly a problem.
Still – what do the Swiss know that we – and by “we” I mean “a plurality of our Democrat neighbors” – don’t?
The Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters is worried about MNSure – for the same reason Preferres One bailed:
[MAHU chair Alycia] Riedly says there is no computerized renewal system in place, and if it is not functional by the next MNsure open enrollment, Nov. 15, it could affect tens of thousands of people who are already enrolled through MNsure.
Riedl says it will severely limit their access to information if they want to change their policies in any way and could create lengthy delays for MNsure consumers.
“The renewals would literally have to be done by hand, and that will take a long time, creating a backlog that hurts consumers who want to make better choices, and it will hurt MNsure’s bottom line if it isn’t taken care of soon,” Riedl said.
The private sector systems that MNSure bullied into submission have been doing this successfully since, well, health insurance existed.
So by all means, Twin Cities media – let’s talk about hanky-panky in vacant houses and crazy people chopping up garages.
This is serious business. Therefore, the DFL wants to focus on silly.
And so we will get a lot of silly between now and November.
Governor Dayton says “the buck stops” with him in re MNSure:
— Gov. Mark Dayton [said] that he ultimately feels responsible for the success or failure of [MNSure].
Dayton apologized for problems Minnesotans are having on the state’s health care exchange. The governor is promising to fix multiple website problems, as soon as possible.
“I apologize to those Minnesotans who have been seriously inconvenienced or are distraught by the failures of MNsure. It’s unacceptable,” Dayton said Thursday.“Did I cause? I don’t think I caused the problems at MNsure and I did everything I could to prevent them,” he said. “Ultimately the buck stops here.”
Oh, yeah – you read that right; the story came out last December.
Before MNSure’s current woes – the cratering of the code, and Preferred One’s bailing out of the whole debacle.
So – when Governor Dayton says “the buck stops here”, does he mean it like he did…:
Because none of those, nor his behavior in re MNSure, involve actually stopping any bucks.
SCENE: At the Mississippi Market co-op in Saint Paul. Mitch BERG is shopping for steel-cut oatmeal. He notices Avery LIBRELLE turning into his aisle, looking for free-range humane tofu. He tries to turn and leave, but it’s already too late.
LIBRELLE: Hey, Merg! The Free Market is collapsing!
BERG: Er, OK – how do you figure?
LIBRELLE: Preferred One left the MNSure network!
BERG: Um, that’s not a failure of the free market.
LIBRELLE: Sure it is! They came into the plan with a low-ball proposal. It didn’t work, so it’s a failure of the free market!
BERG: Well, no. It’s not. The plans they’re pulling from MNSure are basically the same thing they’ve been selling to employers for decades, although more expensive, to cover all the extra Obamacare requirements, and a little extra to cover the fact that they’d only get paid after the money filtered through the MNSure system, which just isn’t working. It’s the kind of plan they can sell by themselves just fine, and keep themselves in business.
LIBRELLE: Well, businesses shouldn’t profit from healthcare!
BERG: Preferred One is a non-profit under Minnesota law. And even so, they couldn’t financially justify the overhead that the MNSure system brought into the equation.
LIBRELLE: They should have come to the market with a plan that asked for more money! Government subsidies would cover it anyway!
BERG: And you have just explained why government subsidies promote inflation.
LIBRELLE: No I didn’t.
BERG: Yes you did. Businesses should raise their prices to smooth out dealing with the government’s incompetent bureaucracy, because another part of government is going to subsidize the transaction – which prices the business’s service out of reach of the unsubsidized. It’s done for health insurance exactly what it’s done for higher education.
LIBRELLE: That just means we need single payer healthcare.
BERG: Right. So the same government that can’t produce a health care exchange on time and on budget, and get payments to providers efficiently enough to make the service worth providing, will now be directly in charge of every facet of your healthcare.
LIBRELLE: Well, at least it’ll promote transparency.
BERG: How so?
LIBRELLE: See the social justice that the IRS brought to political campaigning by denying teabagger groups their tax-exempt status? Imagine the transparency we’ll get when The People can start denying them healthcare!
(LIBRELLE turns, starts walking away, but walks into shelf full of jars of organic peanut butter. LIBRELLE falls as shelves of jars fall to the floor)
Preferred One – the company chosen by about three of five people that were able to actually enroll in MNSure in the past year – is bailing out of Minnesota’s troubled health insurance exchange.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, [MNSure CEO Scott] Leitz said he is disappointed with the decision but Minnesotans will still have other options for health insurance through MNsure.
“We level the playing field for consumers. We provide options so Minnesotans can make wise choices,” he said. “We anticipated some bumps along the way, and we’re still seeing some of those bumps.”
He’s half right. MNSure – like Obamacare – removes actual choice.
But the bumps? Those are real.
This is a huge hit for MNSure (emphasis added):
As of Aug. 6, Preferred One had 59 percent of the individual market MNsure enrollees. Blue Cross Blue Shield was a distant second at 23 percent, with HealthPartners, Medica and UCare much further back.
Preferred One got such a large share, because they had the lowest rates of the five insurance companies in the program.
And I’m going to hazard a guess that the bulk of Preferred One’s customers were the ones who were getting the lowest subsidies – i.e. the ones that MNSure was counting on to pay the bills for the subsidized, high-risk customers.
It’s possible this could signal big rate increases to be unveiled in early October, and that could have a significant impact on the elections.
“One of the big land mines looking out over the campaign will be when MNsure announces its new rates for health insurance premiums,” University of Minnesota political expert Larry Jacobs said. “If those go up by 10 percent, some have even suggested 15 percent, then that could really shake up this election.”
So let’s get this straight: because of Democrat/DFL medding in healthcare, you can’t keep your doctor, but your rates will skyrocket.
Just wanna make sure we’re clear on this.
Of course, since there are DFLers involved, “clarity” will be hard to come by:
State Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Minn., also commented in a statement saying in part, “MNsure is a marketplace where consumers can compare and shop for quality health insurance. It is no different than Target or Cub Foods in that some products will come and go. Preferred One may be leaving, but MNsure still has great products.”
Of course, that’s lunacy. MNSure would be like “Target or Cub” if the state made it illegal to shop at Aldi, and taxed you extra for shopping at Kowalski’s.
Oh, yeah – and if the state paid low-income people to shop there, maybe:
Anyone who has PreferredOne through MNsure can still directly renew through the company, but they won’t get the government subsidy. To get the subsidy, they will have to choose a different insurance plan starting Nov. 15.
This is what the DFL hath wrought.
RELATED: Big Left squirts tears, blames capitalism, pimps single-payer.
Naturally, it won’t happen until Obama leaves office. But I’m just saying.
Heck, it’s something to look forward to.
Minnesotans: The Minnesota DFL is so proud of MNSure – their signature accomplishment of the past two years – that you’re going to have to sign up for it before you can see what it costs!
Representatives Tara Mack and Joe Hoppe got an op-ed in the Strib over the weekend.
This year Minnesotans won’t know the price of plans until MNsure’s next enrollment period begins on Nov. 15. They’ll have just four weeks to find a plan and complete enrollment.
State health and insurance officials agreed last year that a preview period was a positive step. Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said releasing rates early “increases transparency and allows individuals, families and small businesses more time to consider the options that will be available on MNsure.” MNsure Chairman Brian Beutner said: “The sooner that you can get concrete information … out is going to allow people to actually make some decisions — as opposed to generalized information.”
So why aren’t the Dayton administration and MNsure pushing for an early rate release again this year?
As in, after the election?
It’s possible that those who built MNsure are afraid voters will see how much their insurance costs are going up before the election.
Yes. Yes, I think it is just possible.
The media has been eating up the narrative that “MNSure is getting people insured!”. But it’s costing an astounding amount of money and labor to do it, and most of them have no idea that the biggest costs of Obamacare/MNSure haven’t even set in yet.
And the DFL is going to keep it that way until after as many as possible of them have been duped into voting for Governor
Messinger Dayton again.