Many Americans who have been pushing into Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges have experienced sticker shock at the cost of health insurance plans available to them. Some are wondering why this has happened after President Obama promised Americans “affordable” health insurance.
During an interview last week, Maria Bartiromo, host of CNBC’s Closing Bell, asked Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini about some of the insurance premium horror stories that she and others in the media are hearing and asked what exactly is causing the cost of plans to necessarily skyrocket.
“[W]e spoke with two people yesterday who so upset. Intitially, her plan cost her, I think it was $250 a month. It’s gone up to $600 a month, the new plan. And then the other, it was costing her $500, it went up to $2,000,” noted Bartiromo. “I mean, the numbers are skyrocketing in terms of what these new plans are costing. Is it just because there’s just a lot more things in there, and many of these things, they don’t even want?”
“I mean, they said, ‘I don’t need this, I don’t need that. I don’t need child care, that’s not what I’m looking for.’ How come it’s so much more expensive, the new plans?” she asked.
Bertolini explained that there are three factors that are behind the skyrocketing premiums, taxes and fees, Obamacare’s “minimum essential benefits.”
“The largest factor is that the essential benefits requires a minimum of a 60% actuarial benefit,” noted Bertolini. “For most Americans and more than half of Americans who buy individual coverage, there current benefit plan is below 50%. So if you just move up to 60%, that’s a 20% increase out of the box.”
Basketball great Shaquille O’Neal has endorsed Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and shot an ad for his re-election bid in the Garden State.
“I don’t endorse many politicians, but Chris Christie is different. He’s working with me to bring jobs back to our cities and on a new program to help kids in tough neighborhoods get ahead,” said O’Neal, who played in the NBA from 1992 to 2011, winning four championships and one MVP award in that time. “Gov. Christie has provided more funding for schools, given parents more choices in what schools their kids can go to and merit pay for good teachers.”
“He’s a good man. Excuse me, he’s a great man. Please join me in supporting Chris Christie for governor,” he added.
O’Neal, a New Jersey native, joined Christie’s urban youth initiative, “Just Play,” earlier this month. “I do think you’re cool, very cool,” the ex-NBA star told Christie during a press conference announcing the initiative.
American-owned candymakers have gotten tired of the protectionism that driving up the cost of sugar, according to the Wall Street Journal, and they’re responding to the market-distorting policy by taking their operations overseas:
The squeeze explains why Atkinson Candy Co. has moved 80% of its peppermint-candy production to a factory in Guatemala that opened in 2010. That means it can sell bite-size Mint Twists to retailers for 10% to 20% less.
“It wasn’t like we did it for profit reasons. We did it for survival reasons,” said Eric Atkinson, president of the family-owned candy maker, based in Lufkin, Texas. “These are 60 jobs down there…that could be in the U.S.,” he added. “It’s a damn shame.”
Jelly Belly Candy Co. is finishing its second expansion of a factory in Thailand that was opened by the Fairfield, Calif., company in 2007. The sixth-generation family-owned firm sells about 20% of its jelly beans, made in flavors from buttered popcorn to very cherry, outside the U.S.
Sugar makes up about half of the ingredients and cost of a typical jelly bean, said Bob Simpson, Jelly Belly’s president and chief operating officer. Thailand is the world’s fourth-largest sugar producer and gives Jelly Belly access to cheaper sugar, labor and other raw materials than the candy maker has in the U.S.
With the unpopular law’s health insurance exchanges set to open tomorrow, NBC News will began airing a series of reports today to help the Obama Administration sell ObamaCare to a skeptical American public:
NBC News announced Friday that it will present a special series of programs and reports next week intended to “help Americans get the most out of the Affordable Care Act,” according to a press release.
Timed to coincide with the rollout of new insurance exchanges, “Ready or Not, the New Healthcare Law” begins airing Monday, Sept. 30. The series will appear on such network mainstays as “NBC Nightly News” and “Today,” as well as on social media and other digital outlets.
The programs will provide interactive tools “to help shed light on what the healthcare act means for [consumers] and explain how to enroll” in the new marketplaces opening on Oct. 1, according to the statement. Additionally, the series will include reporting on the Obama administration’s messaging, primary-care physician shortages, changes to emergency rooms and other topics related to the law’s rollout.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) says that “stealth socialism” has been “created” in the United States through the Federal Reserve’s bond buying program, which essentially monetizes the government’s debt. What’s more he’s happy about it.
“The one good thing that’s happened in the past five years, in the sense of making people hopeful that the economy might survive a collapse, is that the Federal Reserve’s unconventional monetary policy put us back on a low-level track toward growth,”Grayson, a far-leftist firebrand, told Salon.com in a recent interview. “They showed that monetary policy in extremis can work to some degree.”
In a surprise move, the Federal Reserve announced last week that it would continue the bond buying program, known as “quantitative easing,” in hopes that it would stimulate an economy that is still struggling to recover from the 2008 recession. This is the third round of quantitative easing (QE3) since 2009, bringing the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, according to the Los Angeles Times, “to nearly $3.7 trillion from about $900 billion in mid-2008.”
“We’ve had a government takeover of the bond market. Stealth socialism’s been created. Government simply ends up owning more and more and more,” he said. “If government had taken over the steel industry, maybe it would have been more noticeable. They’ve taken over the financing of housing industry as well, with a desired result.”
Yet another employer is has announced big changes as they deal with the costs of ObamaCare, joining an ever-growing list of businesses that have cut hours, rolled back health benefits, or laid off workers because of the law.
Atlanta’s WSB-TV reported Emory Healthcare, a healthcare provider connected to Emory University, announced recently that 101 workers will be laid-off in mid-November, partly because of ObamaCare:
Channel 2 Action News has confirmed that more than 100 Emory Healthcare employees will lose their jobs, in part, because of the Affordable Care Act.
An upset viewer alerted Channel 2’s Erica Byfield to the development.
A letter the viewer provided from Emory Healthcare’s Chief Human Resources Officer reads, “This notice is to inform you that Emory Healthcare is restructuring and consolidating its Psychiatry Services Program.”
A spokesperson from the health system confirmed the letter was mailed to 101 employees on Sept. 9.
An Emory spokesman, Vincent Dollard, said the new health care law backed by the president played a role in the layoffs. Dollard added the economy was also a factor.
Here’s the video from WSB-TV:
While President Barack Obama’s push for war against Syria is dominating headlines and television news, the jobs numbers for August posted on Friday were nothing short of disappointing, despite the economy adding 169,000 jobs last month and the employment rate dropping by one-tenth of a percent (emphasis added):
If you only looked at the headlines on Friday’s August jobs numbers, you’d think “Not bad!”
You would also be completely wrong.
Yes, the unemployment rate fell a notch to 7.3 percent, from 7.4 percent in July. Yes, the nation added 169,000 jobs, broadly consistent with the pattern of recent months.
But in almost all the particulars, you can find signs that this job market is weaker than it appeared just a few months ago, and maybe getting worse. The drop in the unemployment rate was caused by 312,000 people dropping out of the labor force. The number of people actually reporting having a job actually fell by 115,000 in the survey on which the unemployment rate is based.
And while the overall August jobs number was okay, the Labor Department revised down its estimates of June and July job creation by a combined 74,000 positions. In other words, through the summer, hiring has been quite a bit shakier than it had appeared.
While President Barack Obama has been trying to rally his base by talking up climate change and taking shots against Republicans for their support of the Keystone XL Pipeline, he may be doing so at risk of alienating labor unions — specifically the AFL-CIO.
Writing earlier this week at the Heartland Institute, Marita Noon took note of the AFL-CIO’s support for the pipeline, noting that it means jobs for their workers, even if they’re temporary, at a time when the economy is struggling to gather steam:
By Obama’s calculus, the 5,000 to 6,000 jobs a year created in the construction of the pipeline (State Department estimate) or the “approximately 42,100 average annual jobs across the United States over a one-to-two-year period” with wages totaling $2 billion the project would support (also State Department) are to be dismissed. These jobs include the manufacture of steel, the people making the pipe, and the waitresses and hotel workers. Of course, if the Keystone jobs were tallied in the same way as the Bureau of Labor statistics counts green jobs, the number would be massive.
No one knows better than the major labor unions—which support building the pipeline—that the entire construction industry is based on a continuing series of single projects, be they roads, buildings, bridges, or other structures.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced yet another ObamaCare delay. Reuters reported this morning that the department overseeing implementation of the 2010 healthcare law announced that they’ve pushed back the deadline to finalize agreements with health insurers:
The Obama administration has delayed a step crucial to the launch of the new healthcare law, the signing of final agreements with insurance plans to be sold on federal health insurance exchanges starting October 1.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified insurance companies on Tuesday that it would not sign final agreements with the plans between September 5 and 9, as originally anticipated, but would wait until mid-September instead, according to insurance industry sources.
Nevertheless, Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for HHS, said the department remains “on track to open” the marketplaces on time on October 1.
The reason for the hold-up was unclear. Sources attributed it to technology problems involving the display of insurance products within the federal information technology system.
This is the latest delay in implementation of ObamaCare, though not as significant as previous setbacks.
The surge in part-time hiring is beginning to catch the attention of some in the media. Reuters reported on the phenomenon yesterday and explained that there are a couple different reasons for it — ObamaCare’s employer mandate and an economy that has yet to fully recover from a recession that officially ended in four years ago:
Faltering economic growth at home and abroad and concern that President Barack Obama’s signature health care law will drive up business costs are behind the wariness about taking on full-time staff, executives at staffing and payroll firms say.
Employers say part-timers offer them flexibility. If the economy picks up, they can quickly offer full-time work. If orders dry up, they know costs are under control. It also helps them to curb costs they might face under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
This can all become a less-than-virtuous cycle as new employees, who are mainly in lower wage businesses such as retail and food services, do not have the disposable income to drive demand for goods and services.
Obamacare appears to be having the most impact on hiring decisions by small- and medium-sized businesses. Although small businesses account for a smaller share of the jobs in the economy, they are an important source of new employment.
Some businesses are holding their headcount below 50 and others are cutting back the work week to under 30 hours to avoid providing health insurance for employees, according to the staffing and payroll executives.