10/27/2013

Even Ezra Klein notes that Obamacare's problems go far beyond its Web site, though the problems are much worse and more fundamental than he acknowledges

I don't think that there is much new here, but at least a left winger like Ezra is noting these points.  From his post at the Washington Post:
Here is what we learned: “To the White House, the difference between success and failure is straightforward: They need to entice a sufficient number of young and healthy adults into the new insurance marketplaces that open Oct. 1.” . . .  
The key to the exchanges was getting enough young and healthy people to turn out. The reason is simple: Insurers price their products at the average expected cost of the people signing up, plus a bit more for overheard, profits, etc. So if the average person signing up is relatively sick, premiums rise. if they're relatively healthy, premiums fall. 
Sicker, older people, the administration figured, would be desperate to sign up for health insurance. In a sense, that was the problem: They'd be so eager that they'd sign up in much greater numbers than the young, healthy people needed to keep premiums low. 
Attracting those young and healthy people was thus the core challenge. The White House figured that if they got 7 million people to sign up for the exchanges in the first year, about 2.7 million needed to be young. 
The Obama health-care team expended enormous effort figuring out how to reach those 2.7 million “young-and-healthies.” . . . 
The problem of course is that the higher premiums for young people don't encourage them to sign up.  In addition, as Politico notes:
During the open enrollment period, someone could get sick or injured and apply for insurance literally on the way to the hospital - and the insurer will still have to accept him or her. That's a risk insurers are accepting in January, February and March of 2014. Add another month of that kind of risk and it's going to significantly add to insurers' costs, they say. Although others argue that the procrastinators are more likely to be young and healthy than sick and costly. . . .
I have also been pointing out for years that no one really has to pay the fines for not getting the insurance.  This point was made this week by Rush Limbaugh.
“[I]f you structure your taxes so that you do not get a refund, you do not have to buy insurance and you do not have to pay a fine ‘cause they can’t collect it from you if you don’t have a refund due — and that is just another nail in the coffin of Obamacare imploding on itself,” Limbaugh said on his show Thursday night, according to transcript. . . .
To make the point more simply, just increase your deductions so that you aren't paying in too much in taxes.  Despite what some people may think, it isn't good to get a tax refund because it means that you have been giving the Federal government an interest free loan. 

I was listening to "This Week" on ABC this morning and of course people were pointing out that while the insurance premiums were increasing they were claiming that the people were getting "better" insurance policies.  Here is the problem: these people didn't value these additional services as much as they cost.  They could have gotten that coverage before Obamacare, but they didn't want to pay the higher prices at that time.  From the LA Times:
Fullerton resident Jennifer Harris thought she had a great deal, paying $98 a month for an individual plan throughHealth Net Inc. She got a rude surprise this month when the company said it would cancel her policy at the end of this year. Her current plan does not conform with the new federal rules, which require more generous levels of coverage. 
Now Harris, a self-employed lawyer, must shop for replacement insurance. The cheapest plan she has found will cost her $238 a month. She and her husband don't qualify for federal premium subsidies because they earn too much money, about $80,000 a year combined. 
"It doesn't seem right to make the middle class pay so much more in order to give health insurance to everybody else," said Harris, who is three months pregnant. "This increase is simply not affordable." . . .
The media is always trying to spin these increased premiums as good news, but it just isn't so.  Here is something kind of amusing from SNL.

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