The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How's that Working Out?

During the 2012 presidential elections, Barack Obama characterized himself as the champion of the Middle Class. Only Obama cared about their plight and only Obama could would take them to a better place. His challenger was viciously characterized as a "one percenter" who didn't care about 47% of the public and would only help the rich. A majority of the middle class voted for Barack Obama because they believed his mendacious claims. How's that working out for them?

The New York Times tells the story of a middle class New Hampshire couple whose existing insurance policy was cancelled because of Obamacare and is now forced to pay exorbitant premiums to cover their family of four.

“That’s an insane amount of money,” she [Mrs. Chapman] said of their new premium. “How are you supposed to pay that?”

The NYT does not indicate whether the Chapmans voted for Barack Obama. Given their penchant for protecting the president, the omission of that information leads me to conclude that they did. How's that working out for them?

On a more general note, the NYT reports:
While the number of people who just miss qualifying for subsidies is unclear, many of them have made their frustration known, helping fuel criticism of the law in recent weeks. Like the Chapmans, hundreds of thousands of people have received notices that their existing plans are being canceled and that they must now pay more for new coverage.

In an effort to address that frustration, the Obama administration announced on Thursday that it would permit people whose plans had been canceled to buy bare-bones catastrophic plans, which are less expensive but offer minimal coverage. Those plans have always been available to people under 30 and to those who can prove that the least expensive plan in their area is not affordable. But the announcement does not address the concerns of those who would like to buy better coverage, yet find premiums in their area too expensive.

David Oscar, an insurance broker in New Jersey, another high-cost state, said many of his clients had been disappointed to learn that the premiums were much more expensive than they had expected.

“They’re frustrated,” he said. “Everybody was thinking that Obamacare was going to come in with more affordable rates. Well, they’re not more affordable.”
The NYT skirts the import and the irony of permitting "people whose plans had been canceled to buy bare-bones catastrophic plans."

The Wall Street Journal explains:
So merry Christmas. If ObamaCare's benefit and income redistribution requirements made your old, cheaper, better health plan illegal, you now have the option of going without coverage without the government taking your money as punishment. You can also claim the tautological consolation of an ObamaCare hardship exemption due to ObamaCare itself....

HHS and the [Democratic] Senators [who are up for re-election in 2014 and are now in full panic mode] must have coordinated in advance because literally overnight HHS rushed out a bulletin noting that exemptions are available to those who "experienced financial or domestic circumstances, including an unexpected natural or human-caused event, such that he or she had a significant, unexpected increase in essential expenses that prevented him or her from obtaining coverage under a qualified health plan." A tornado destroys the neighborhood or ObamaCare blows up the individual insurance market, what's the difference?

The HHS ruling is that ObamaCare is precisely such a "significant, unexpected increase." In other words, it is an admission that rate shock is real and the mandates drive up costs well into hardship territory. HHS is agreeing with the Senators that exemptions should cover "an individual whose 2013 plan was canceled and considers their new premium unaffordable." In her reply letter, Mrs. Sebelius also observes that some people "are having difficulty finding an acceptable replacement." She means the new plans are overpriced.
Most of us who opposed Obamacare from the very beginning thought it would be bad—even very bad. But very few of us believed that it would lead to a nightmarish landscape of cancelled policies, insurance industry chaos, middle class families now forced to spend far more that they did to get lesser coverage, and arguably unconstitutional actions by a desperate president to modify the law on-the-fly.

Most nightmares end when you wake up and see it was all just a dream. This nightmare is real, it's unrelenting, and worse of all, it's just beginning. How's that working out for all of us?


Richard Fernandez weighs in of the latest attempt by the Obama administration to waive still another portion of the ACA that has crashed and burned:
Having attained the dubious achievement of canceling millions of policies in America, including practically all the health care insurance in Guam without providing a working replacement system, the administration has decided to temporarily allow people to buy the “bare-bones” insurance policies formerly allowed only to people under 30. This was suppose to bridge the gap between those who’ve lost their policies under Obamacare and the time when it finally works.

Reuters describes the move vividly.
The Obama Administration has essentially waived the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act, saying people can seek a “hardship” exemption if they lost their coverage. Actually, it is much more complicated than that: If you lost coverage as a result of Obamacare because your policy was not considered good enough, you can either seek a substandard catastrophic policy in the market (which likely still costs more than the one you had) or just carry no insurance at all, at least through all of next year.

As John Fund at the National Review notes, it’s the 14th amendment of the statue by executive order since Nancy Pelosi passed it to find out what’s in it.

However as Reuters notes the 14th fix has made things even worse.
As things get progressively worse in 2014, there is little doubt that Obama will continue to amend the ACA, driven solely by politics, not by what's best for the country. And because the ACA is fundamentally flawed, its architecture weak, and its underlying economic assumptions erroneous, every "fix" will lead to other, more compelling problems. Nightmare!