The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) released a study earlier this week finding that Americans looking to purchase health insurance on the state and federal Obamacare exchanges would find higher premiums and less choice than plans available last year on private exchanges.
The findings in the study aren’t surprising given that Obamacare mandates a number of changes to health insurance, including minimum benefits and actuarial requirements, all of which result increase the cost of coverage. Though the NCPPR offered some insight into the higher costs consumers face, it didn’t offer much in real dollars being spent on health insurance coverage compared to 2013 plans.
eHealthInsurance.com (eHealth), however, has released data that does provide some insight into how much consumers are paying for off-exchange health plans compared to a year ago. Despite a multitude of promises that Obamacare would make health coverage more affordable, the eHealth study proves otherwise.
“As of February 24, 2014, the average premium for an individual health plan selected through eHealth without a subsidy was $274 per month,” the nation’s first and largest private exchange noted in a recent press release, ”a 39% increase from the average individual premium for pre-Obamacare coverage.”
Nearly an hour after the House of Representatives passed a measure to ostensibly delay enforcement of the individual mandate, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it would extend the “administrative fix” for canceled health plans through 2016 as well as extended the open enrollment period for 2015:
The Obama administration announced Wednesday it will let people with health insurance plans that don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act standard to keep them into 2017 if their states permit.
The administration also extended Obamacare’s open enrollment for next year by one month—it now will run from Nov. 15, 2014, until Feb. 15, 2015—and gave insurers more financial help in dealing with costs from new ACA enrollees.
The announced rule changes also simplified the paperwork that larger employers will have to file when the rule obliging them to offer affordable health insurance to workers begins in 2015.
Under the new rule, people who maintain those plans, and who renew them as late as Oct. 1, 2016, will be able to keep them until as late as 2017. The administration said the rule will apply to anyone currently in a non-compliant small-group plan, as well as an individual plan, and said it would be up to individual states to allow the extension, and to what extent.
It seems that every day there is a new story about the horrors of Obamacare, whether it’s the desperately ill losing their doctors or coverage for life-saving treatments, or radically increasing costs for insurance. The vast majority of this coverage is being handled by conservative or libertarian media outlets, but occasionally something hits the mainstream.
When Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) admitted that he lost his cancer doctor due to his switch to Obamacare, at least a few people probably started thinking that it was finally getting close enough to home for lawmakers to realize that this law is causing real problems for real people every day.
Perhaps Senator Harry Reid missed that story. To be fair, it did appear on Fox News, and it’s possible that Coburn didn’t bother to point out his personal problems to the leader of his chamber on the Hill. Whatever the reasoning or logic, Reid seems to be determined to tow the party line, and insist that all the problems with Obamacare - all the horror stories from people about high costs and limited choices among healthcare providers - are simply lies. It truly is something to behold, that it simply must be shared:
The idea from the start was that Congress and its staff would have to live under the same Obamacare rules as the rest of us. Senator Grassley’s (R-IA) amendment to PPACA added Section 1312, requiring that they move from the enviable employer-sponsored Federal Employee Health Benefit Program to the sub-par coverage offered on the Obamacare exchanges:
(D) MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE EXCHANGE.—…the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are…offered through an Exchange established under this Act….
A good idea indeed, but one that has become a farce in practice.
First, OPM came out with the original exemption for Congress that preserved the 75% employer contribution from the federal government for exchange coverage, rather than the same subsidies available to the rest of us. Then we learned that this congressional Obamacare exemption would be illegally offered on a tax-free basis. Harry Reid followed this up by exempting some of his staff from the Obamacare exchange train wreck (earning multiple pinocchios for his explanation).
“[The President] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed…” — Article II, Section 3 (The Faithful Execution Clause)
Yesterday’s announcement of additional Obamacare employer mandate delays offers us yet another occasion to turn to actual the law passed by Congress. When the four statutory Obamacare provisions below are viewed head-to-head against the new Obama Administration/IRS regulatory guidance, it’s clear that one of these things is not like the other.
EXHIBIT I: EFFECTIVE DATE
Statutory Authority - PPACA Section 1513(d):
(d) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013.
Obama Administration/IRS - Preamble to the February 10, 2014 Final Regulations (Page 106):
Section 1513(d) of the Affordable Care Act provides that section 4980H applies to months after December 31, 2013; however, Notice 2013-45, issued on July 9, 2013, provides as transition relief that no assessable payments under section 4980H will apply for 2014…Notice 2013-45 provides that the employer shared responsibility provisions under section 4980H (and the information reporting provisions) will become effective for 2015.
Given this week’s news of yet another delay to yet another Obamacare regulation that just five short years ago was going to literally keep people from dying in the streets, I thought an illustration would be useful. So here it is:
Yep. That’s it. That’s Obamacare in a nutshell.
I first saw this image linked to Obamacare by Twitter user @cuffymeh (#FF) a couple years ago during the 2012 presidential campaign when the first delays and waivers started popping up. I laughed for a good 10 minutes. It perfectly portrays everything about Obamacare in one neat, catastrophic package.
The absurdly huge amount of flame represents the massive size of the failure so far. From waivers, to delays, to implementation, to website failures, to coverage gaps, to state rebukes, to ever-sinking poll numbers. It is uniquely appropriate that there are more flames and smoke than train in the photo.
While it is, of course, a still photo, the train does have a sense of motion, but it seems like a very sluggish, hampered speed. Obamacare has moved just as slowly and ungracefully. Some of the parts that would eventually become the law started being proposed in 2007 even before the 2008 presidential campaign heated up (pun fully intended).
The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced this afternoon that it will delay enforcement of Obamacare’s employer mandate until 2016 for businesses with less than 100 employees.
The employer mandate is a provision of Obamacare that requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees, defined as someone who works at least 30 hours a week, to offer health insurance benefits or face a punitive, $2,000 per worker tax.
The provision was supposed to take effect at the beginning of 2014, as required by statue. Businesses expressed concern about the mandate, and many responded by cutting hours or dropping health benefits. The Treasury Department unilaterally delayed enforcement of the provision last summer, making the announcement in a blog post.
The Treasury Department announced today that it is delaying enforcement of the provision for businesses with 50 to 99 full-time employees until the beginning of 2016.
“While about 96 percent of employers are not subject to the employer responsibility provision, for those employers that are, we will continue to make the compliance process simpler and easier to navigate,” said Mark Mazur, Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy.
On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office released its regular report scoring Obamacare’s impact on the budget and economic outlook over 10 years. It fails, of course. Big time. But at least Democrats saw it coming.
While arguing in support of the bill just after its passage in 2010, House Speaker at the time, Nancy Pelosi called Obamacare an “entrepreneurial bill”:
…a bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care.
Nevermind that someone else will be subsidizing your funemployment. Not only was this loss of 2.5 million jobs over 10 years expected, it was celebrated by Pelosi (and presumably many other Democrats) as a good thing.
In an occasionally contentious interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, President Barack Obama defended his administration’s handling of the Benghazi terrorist attacks and the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) targeting of conservative groups. He also addressed the Obamacare canceled health plan controversy.
Obamacare rollout and Sebelius
O’Reilly began the interview by asking President Obama why HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius still has a job in his administration after the initial, disastrous rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange, Healthcare.gov.
President Obama repeated the line that no one in his administration “anticipated the degree of problems” on the federal Obamacare exchange website, which isn’t necessarily true, given the warnings from some officials that the website wasn’t ready for launch. Instead, he acknowledge the problems and focused on the fixes applied to the website.
I’ve always admired Jon Stewart’s willingness to question his own side, and to demand substantive answers from his guests. In his recent interview with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), however, he seemed to be arguing with himself. After asking how Democrats can make a stronger case for the competence of government, Stewart lamented “…because on our end, it looks like it’s a bit chaotic.”
From his hilarious ripping of the NSA to pressing Pelosi on why healthcare.gov is such a mess, (to which she replied “I don’t know”) his subtle skepticism about certain government initiatives while believing others to be essential has always puzzled me. It seems obvious that his aversion to concentrated power in the hands of the rich, would be difficult to achieve while entrusting the people they’ve paid to prevent it.
He touched on this Thursday with a question that not only highlighted a lack of awareness on the part of Pelosi but hints at a growing disillusionment among Stewart and many on the left:
“Is it possible that the people within the system don’t have enough distance from it to see…These corporations lobby to get all kinds of arcane things put into the regulations that makes it harder for these small businesses…Can our congress maybe not see the corruption inherent in that?”