Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee got their chance to ask embattled Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the disastrous rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov, and other issues that have arisen in recent days with the law.
“The Energy and Commerce Committee welcomes the President’s point person on healthcare, Secretary Sebelius, as part of our continuing oversight of the healthcare law and we look forward to a thoughtful conversation on a number of issues, including transparency and fairness,” said Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) in his prepared opening remarks.
Keep dreaming, the flock is scattered. We’re less than one month away now from the supposed grand opening of the ObamaCare exchanges, and yet 44% of Americans aren’t even sure whether ObamaCare is still a law.
Which begs the question: Is ObamaCare a law?
This 44% shocker from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s August Health Tracking Poll reveals America’s collective “wtf?” when it comes to ObamaCare’s legal status. Some appear to think that the House’s two symbolic full repeal attempts were actually successful (wishful thinking), others believe it was overturned by Chief Justice John Roberts and company (perhaps they read the advance copies before he went the “tax” route?). But most (31%) just can’t figure out what the heck is going on with this law. Can you blame them?
- Is it a law when President Obama spends years telling you that his signature legislation will let you can keep your plan and your doctor if you like them, but you’re now facing the reality of potentially losing both come 2014?
Over the past few weeks there has been much discussion of the Obama Administration’s decision to mandate that even organizations associated with the Catholic Church cover contraception. This has raised the ire of many on the right, who view this mandate as an assault on religious freedom. Since the Catholic Church does not believe in using contraception, they argue, forcing them to cover it means they must violate their consciences. Leaving aside the details, one thing is clear to me - the critics of the mandate are almost without exception missing the larger point.
The contraception mandate is awful, for sure, but not because it is an “assault on religion.” It is wrong because the government has no business telling ANYONE what they must cover. The mandate would be wrong whether it was inflicted on a Catholic group, or a secular one. And to be honest, I don’t think that religion is even a major factor in the decision to establish the mandate. It is born out of a belief that there is some imaginary “right” to free health care, including contraception. That is the true abomination.
Furthermore, why is there outrage only now? Is it somehow okay to force non-Catholics to pay for other’s health care? I understand this involves an issue of great moral importance to Catholics. But is a federal mandate more wrong because it goes against a religious teaching? I say this because many, including myself, do not subscribe to a religion, or belong to one without much political clout. It is disturbing that somehow my liberty is not worth as much because I am in a minority and I don’t have groups lobbying on my behalf.
Note: I intended to merely comment on this chart when sharing it via my Posterous. During the 5 or so minutes I was commenting, it grew to be something more substantial, and at the urging of others, it has been cross-posted here.
Since the 1960s, the percentage of total healthcare cost paid directly by the end consumer, aka patient, has dropped drastically, but out of pocket costs have risen and the cost of healthcare has risen drastically over that same period.
What has happened between then and now? The intervention of government into the marketplace. Insurance regulations, government mandates about what MUST be covered, Medicare/caid, and inflation make costs skyrocket, but the opacity of the prices keeps patients from seeing what each visit, prescription, and procedure actually costs. With that opacity, there is no competitive pricing, because the prices paid by patients are merely co-pays and the withholding from their paycheck for employer-sponsored health plans, insurance companies, and government programs that pay negotiated rates. Without competition and price transparency, prices will continue to rise.
In addition, patients largest out of pocket expense is their insurance coverage, which does not fluctuate to accommodate the amount of healthcare services consumed. The patient knows they only pay $10-$50 for each office visit, but the overall costs of those visits can be thousands of dollars. The patient rarely, if ever, sees the actual cost… Usually only if their insurance claim is denied.
During his speech last week in Boston, President Barack Obama tried to sell his healthcare reform law by slamming “bad-apple” insurance companies that, in his opinion, sold health plans that weren’t up to par.
“Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad-apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received, or use minor preexisting conditions to jack up your premiums or bill you into bankruptcy,” he said. “So a lot of people thought they were buying coverage, and it turned out not to be so good.”
Is the health plan you chose before Obamacare good enough for you and your family? For many Americans, the Obama administration doesn’t think so.
The success of Obamacare relies on some 2.7 million young Americans — Millennials or “young invincibles,” as they often called — signing up for health insurance through the state exchanges to help defray the costs of sick and older people.
But in a recent video, Julie Borowski humorously explains why Obamacare is a pretty bad deal for young people, regardless of what President Obama says.
“The Affordable Care tries to bribe young people with free stuff,” notes Borowski, pointing to “free birth control,” as an example. But she explains that these “free” things aren’t free at all, the costs borne by insurance companies to provide these benefits are worked into the cost of health insurance premiums.
“You can’t force insurance companies to pay for more expensive stuff and expect that the insurance companies won’t go up, because that’s what happening,” she says. “You may not directly paying for birth control at the pharmacy counter, but you’re still paying for it, and probably significantly more.”
Now that the White House has finally admitted that President Barack Obama lied to Americans when he promised that they could keep their keep their health insurance coverage under Obamacare, a new talking point has emerged from Democrats.
“Don’t be foooled [sic]. Nothing in the ACA forces people out of their plans. No change is required unless [insurance] companies change their existing plan,” tweeted White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz on Monday evening.
“FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans,” tweeted Valerie Jarrett, an advisor to President Obama, just moments later. “No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans.”
These are very misleading claims, if not completely false, and they’re easily disproven by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s comments during the briefing with reporters on Monday afternoon and admissions from the Obama Administration.
“I think that insurance companies that have existing products that do not meet minimum standards obviously cannot — those products are not — they don’t fit under the Affordable Care Act anymore,” Carney told reporters. “There’s a minimum level of insurance coverage that is part of even the most basic plans under the Affordable Care Act.” [emphasis added]
As the opening of the Obamacare insurance exchanges and the individual mandate to purchase health insurance loom, new attention is being given to a few available options to avoid the likely catastrophe.
Section 1501, Chapter 48, Paragraph (d)(2) of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act exempts certain religions like the Amish from the individual mandate, but it also exempts members of a “health care sharing ministry” from the specific requirements of coverage under the act. Medi-Share, one of the plans grandfathered into this exemption, is a sort of faith-based co-op.
Members pay a monthly fee, then go to their medical providers as cash customers, which usually means lower bills since doctors avoid the claim process. When they receive a bill for service, members submit it to the organization, which then approves or denies the claim based on Christian principles. Things like abortion and contraception are obviously not covered (along with most preventative care and some preexisting conditions), but the 76% of claims they do approve are paid in full.
More than three years after it was signed into law, ObamaCare remains unpoplar with Americans, according to the latest tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Overall, the public remains as divided as ever when it comes to their overall evaluations of the health law,” stated the Kaiser Family Foundation, which does a monthly tracking poll of ObamaCare. “This month, 35 percent report a favorable view, 40 percent an unfavorable view, and a full 24 percent report they have no opinion on the law, continuing a recent trend of particularly high shares not offering an opinion.”
While it’s still vigorously defended by the Obama Administration, the poll notes that only 57% of Democrats have a favorable view of the law, which is low, while 67% of Republicans have an unfavorable view.
The poll also shows that a majority of Americans support efforts to alter or prevent ObamaCare. “In terms of the law’s political future, just over half of Americans (53 percent) continue to say that they approve of efforts by opponents to change or stop the law ‘so it has less impact on taxpayers, employers, and health care providers,’” noted the Kaiser Family Foundation. “One in three (including more than half of Democrats) believe that the law’s opponents should accept that it is the law of the land and stop trying to block its implementation, down somewhat from January (33 percent now compared to 40 percent at the start of the year).”
Interestingly, the poll found that some 40% of Americans don’t even know that ObamaCare is still law and still being implemented by the administration.