health insurance premiums

HealthCare.gov CEO: This enrollment period is going to be even more complicated

Things are running far from smoothly at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ headquarters.

According to The Hill, HealthCare.gov’s newly appointed CEO admitted concern when talking about the many challenges the agency will have to face once the enrollment period rolls in.

The former head of Connecticut’s state exchange Kevin Counihan believes the shorter sign-up period, among other issues, will certainly add more anxiety to the enrollment process, creating headaches for government officials and distress to consumers.

It’s not enough to know technical flaws have been linked to one of the most disastrous government-run program launches in history. It’s also not enough to know that the failure is undoubtedly associated with the Obama administration’s faulty managerial skills; now, we are faced with yet another uncomfortable reality, government officials never learn the lesson.

While reporting the exchange website has indeed gone under extensive repairs since the last botched attempt to provide a health care plan marketplace for consumers, The Hill also highlighted Counihan’s remarks regarding his HealthCare.gov concerns:

“In some respects, it’s going to be more complicated. Part of me thinks that this year is going to make last year look like the good old days.”

Bad news for Mark Begich: Obamacare premiums are going to rise by an astronomical rate in Alaska

The last couple weeks haven’t been kind for Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK). He’s facing backlash over a campaign ad that falsely accused his Republican challenger, former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan, of setting a man free from prison who is now accused of killing two people. The Alaska Democrat was forced to pull the ad from the air due to complaints from the victims’ family.

Once seen as the most likely vulnerable Senate Democrat to survive a Republican challenger, Begich now trails Sullivan by 6 points, according to a poll released over the weekend, the first that has come out since the dust up over the ad. Further complicating matters for Begich is a new report that Obamacare premiums in Alaska are set to rise by a significant margin:

Alaskans buying health insurance through their state exchange can expect a price spike of more than 30 percent on average, news that could hurt Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who voted for ObamaCare.

Legislating from the bench is a terrible idea, even if it’s for a good cause

SCOTUS

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) means well, with his long-standing argument over ObamaCare and health insurance premiums for workers on the Hill. His suit will be heard this summer, even though it probably shouldn’t.

Sadly, the administration’s argument that this case should have been dismissed because it is over legal theory is probably right. It’s a backward lawsuit, that is essentially claiming that the employees should be hurt by the law, as opposed to seeking a remedy for a wrong that was done.

It feels right to try to force the administration to cause some degree of pain for government employees through the application of a law that is hurting so many Americans financially. However, it would be stretching “equal protection” beyond the point where the elastic commerce clause was pulled to justify ObamaCare in the first place.

While there probably aren’t very many private sector employers out there that are willingly taking up the slack, and paying the increases in premiums on insurance for their employees, there is nothing stopping them from choosing to do so.

Johnson’s suit theoretically is claiming that the U.S. government cannot act freely like any other employer, when it comes to determining the level of subsidy for health insurance premiums.

Proving harm is the problem here. The employees are obviously not harmed. Perhaps a thin case could be made that this is harming the taxpayers, but given the amount of money that the government spends otherwise, it’s difficult to show real losses there either.

Jeanne Shaheen dismisses constituent’s health plan cost concerns

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) dismissed a constituent’s complaints about the cost of his new health insurance plan, according to audio obtained by America Rising, a conservative opposition research group.

The unidentified constituent called in on Friday during a segment on Keene-based WKBK’s Good Morning with Dan Mitchell. The caller told Shaheen that “President Obama’s health care is not affordable.”

“It’s cost me more, my deductible has more than tripled and my monthly premium has doubled, so it’s not affordable,” he said. “And so, I’d rather have my old healthcare, my old system back.”

Shaheen dismissed his concerns out of hand, telling him to leave his name with the host so her office could call him back “because that doesn’t sound right to me.” She chalked the caller’s complaints up to “misinformation.”

“It sounds, and there’s a lot of misinformation about what’s happening with the health care law,” Shaheen told the caller, “so we’ll get back in touch with you, we’ll find out what’s going on with your plan, and we’ll help you sort that out because you shouldn’t be paying that much more.”

AR Senate: Mark Pryor says he’d vote for Obamacare again

Mark Pryor

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) has doubled-down on his support for Obamacare. Even though the law has led to premium increases and caused millions to lose their health plans, the vulnerable Democrat told a local media outlet that he would vote for it all over again.

KARK’s Matt Mosler noted that 6 million people lost their health insurance coverage and that a small percentage of signups came from the uninsured. Pryor, however, disputed the numbers.

“I don’t know that I’d go with the 6 million figure that they’ve lost their health insurance,” Pryor said in video made available by America Rising. “I mean, again, some of these stats are very debatable.”

The 6 million figure may or may not overestimate the number of health plan cancellations. The Associated Press reported at the end of the year that this number came to around 4.7 million.

Obamacare premium increases eclipse previous eight years combined

During testimony last week before the House Ways and Means Committee, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius conceded that health insurance premiums would go up for plans in 2015, though she downplayed the increase by claiming that they would “go up at a smaller pace than what we’ve seen since 2010.”

There are varying estimates about how much premiums have gone up over the last several years, but everyone tends to agree that the increased costs are a concern. In fact, President Barack Obama has cited premium increases as part of the larger case for healthcare reform, promising that Obamacare would reduce premiums by $2,500 per year.

But, to Sebelius’ point, let’s take a look a premium increases, not just since 2010, but going back to 2005 through data provided by eHealthInsurance.com. As you can see in the chart below, the average individual health insurance premium rose by 37% from 2005 to 2013 and by 31% for the average family premium. Keep in mind that these are pre-Obamacare premiums.

 Average Individual and Family Premiums and Deductibles (With Year-over-Year Change) 2005-2013

Here’s the kicker, folks. eHealth, the nation’s first and largest private exchange, has also released data comparing average February 2013 premiums to unsubsidized plans that were being purchased in February 2014.

More Americans fall victim to ObamaCare sticker shock

Many Americans have found out exactly what ObamaCare means for them, and they’re not happy. Sure, some will be able to obtain cheaper coverage, thanks to subsidies that hide the true cost of coverage. But too many people are getting stuck with sticker shock.

“My wife and I just got our updates from Kaiser telling us what our 2014 rates will be. Her monthly has been $168 this year, mine $150. We have a high deductible,” wrote Tirge Caps on his diary at Daily Kos, a leftist blog. “We are generally healthy people who don’t go to the doctor often. I barely ever go. The insurance is in case of a major catastrophe.”

“Well, now, because of Obamacare, my wife’s rate is [going] to $302 per month and mine is jumping to $284,” he continued. “I am canceling insurance for us and I am not paying any f**king penalty. What the hell kind of reform is this?”

“Oh, ok, if we qualify, we can get some government assistance. Great. So now I have to jump through another hoop to just chisel some of this off. And we don’t qualify, anyway, so what’s the point?” he asked. “I never felt too good about how this was passed and what it entailed, but I figured if it saved Americans money, I could go along with it.

“I don’t know what to think now. This appears, in my experience, to not be a reform for the people,” he added.

This reflects the feelings of many people, including some who were previously ObamaCare supporters. The San Jose Mercury News recently told the stories of two Californians, both of whom voted for President Obama, who are seeing premium increases because of ObamaCare.

Obama supporters discover ObamaCare raises their premiums

Opponents of ObamaCare tried to warn Americans, particular those who are covered through an individual health insurance policy, that their premiums would go up because of the law. But many either didn’t listen or dismissed the concerns.

But the San Jose Mercury News recently took note of complaints about the dramatic increase in premiums that two supporters of President Obama will see because of ObamaCare (emphasis added):

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.
[…]
“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.”

Conservative organization ties vulnerable Democratic senator to Obama

Club for Growth's PryorforObama.com

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) is trying to have his cake and eat it too as he runs for re-election. He’s been talking up his independence and working to distance himself from President Barack Obama. At the same time, however, he’s defending his vote for the most unpopular parts of the administration’s agenda — including ObamaCare, which is a big negative for the Arkansas senator.

Of course, Pryor’s support for President Obama’s agenda doesn’t end with ObamaCare, though that may be the most prominent issue in the state as individuals looking to purchase health insurance on the federally-run exchange are looking at skyrocketing costs. He also backed the 2009 stimulus billburdensome financial regulations in Dodd-Frank, and wants to tax purchases from online retailers. And that’s only the top of the iceberg.


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