Sunday, November 3, 2013

In Obamacare We Trust (Not so much)

The slow motion train wreck which is the roll out of the mis-named "Affordable Care Act" continues.

At the time I'm writing this, the entire site has "gone dark" in order to effect repairs to the more than 500 million lines of code.  Not to worry, though.  Obama promises that his administration will have everything up and running by the end of November, the fact they've been working on the site for more than three years already notwithstanding......

It's clear to most (other than the usual statist cheerleaders) that Obamacare can never work as advertised; that perhaps it was never intended to.  Many have begun to join the "conspiracy theorists" in positing that the failure of Obamacare and the resulting chaos is fully intended, that it was designed to engender such outrage, consternation and fear in those who rely on health insurance that the country would clamor for the creation of "single-payer", government-run insurance (Medicare for all).  Even the heretofore reliably enthusiastic mainstream press has begun to report stories on the debacle that is the ACA; from hugely increasing premiums and deductibles, to doctors and entire healthcare organizations deciding to forego participation, to states declining Obama's "generous" offer of 100% federal funding (for the first three years) if they will only agree to a massive expansion of Medicaid rolls.

Many outlets (not just Fox News) are reporting on and highlighting the many lies of Obamacare.  From the promises "If you like your current health plan you can keep it." to "My plan will lower premiums $2500/yr for the average family." to "This plan will not affect anyone who currently gets their insurance through their employer.", the President is finally being called on his "misstatements".

When chief Obama advisor (who many say is the true "power behind the throne") Valerie Jarrett made the outrageous claim that the fault lied with the insurance companies, that nothing in the ACA forced them to cancel policies and increase premiums, she was quickly called on her lie.  It was pointed out that the ACA actually forces insurance companies to cancel policies it deems "inadequate", regardless of whether the subscriber who chose that particular plan was happy with it or not, and requires them to offer so-called "comprehensive" care plans which are much more expensive to run and administer.  I guess Obama and his followers think that the insurance companies should take it upon themselves to underwrite the increased costs of the Obamacare-required plans out of the goodness of their hearts?  (Wait a minute!  Obama, and others, have gone on record decrying what "greedy insurance companies" have done to American healthcare.  According to them, insurance companies don't have a heart.)

Obama, himself has had to address his past statements and has attempted to "walk back" what he said.  He and his spokespeople have taken to saying that the plans that are being cancelled are "substandard" and that what he meant was that if you had adequate insurance that you liked you could keep that plan.  What has only gotten limited play so far in the media is the fact that, less than six months after the passage of the ACA, achieved through the promises of the administration, there was a small alteration made through the regulatory process of HHS that severely reinterpreted the clause that allowed for the grandfathering of existing healthcare plans.  This new regulation that wasn't subject to congressional review specified that such grandfathering would only apply as long as the plans remained "unaltered".   Any alteration (apparently even those required by Obamacare) would void the grandfathering provision.  Under the definitions of alterations, ANY change in the plan would void their protections.  Any change in coverages, coverage limits, premiums, co-pays, or insurance providers will invalidate "grandfathered" status even if such changes amounted to improvements and would be beneficial to subscribers!

However, there is ONE segment of the health insurance industry that will be largely unaffected by the change in the grandfathering provisions of Obamacare:  UNIONS.  Yep, that's right.  Buried deep in the legalese is a provision included in the HHS rulemaking that specifically excludes from potential loss of grandfathered status "plans that are the result of collective bargaining".  If you are a member of a union and changes to your healthcare coverage are negotiated as part of your overall package in collective bargaining agreements, the legal requirement that such a change force participation in the Obamacare exchange doesn't apply.  It appears that all the fuss earlier this year by unions, complaining that they should be exempted from Obamacare taxes and surcharges and that their earlier exemption, obtained in return for their support of Obamacare, should be made permanent, along with the "big news" that they were denied any extension of their waiver was largely a smokescreen.

Here's a pull quote from an article sent out to HR officers in June of 2010:

"Unlike the normal grandfathering rules that apply to other group health plans, changing the insurance issuer during the period of a collective bargaining agreement will not cause an insured union-negotiated health plan to lose it's grandfathered status."

So.  If you like your current plan, you can keep it.  Not so much.
If you like your doctor, you can keep seeing him.  Not so much.
Your premiums will be reduced by about $2500 per year.  Not so much.
If you get your insurance through your employer, nothing will change.  Not so much.
The ACA will lower costs by fostering competition.  Not so much.

Obamacare:  an improvement in management and delivery of American healthcare.  Not so much.


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