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All Da King's Men

On The ObamaCare Front

By David King Published: March 12, 2014

With the President hawking ObamaCare like he's the Shamwow! guy, it seems like a good time for an update on the state of ObamaCare (I hear some people are calling it the Affordable Care Act, or ACA for short. Note - Obama's ACA is not to be confused with that other ACA, the American Correctional Association...even though they both involve punishment for non-compliance).

The White House is promoting the wonders of ObamaCare, but so far, the American people have not received the "good news". According to the latest CNN poll, 57% oppose ObamaCare, while only 39% support it. RealClearPolitics averaged several recent polls and found ObamaCare underwater by 15.4%. ObamaCare supporters tried to trumpet a Kaiser poll that showed American against repealing the health care law by a margin of 56-31, but the pro-ObamaCare crowd forgot to mention the fact that only 8% of those surveyed thought ObamaCare was fine as-is. A whopping 92% thought ObamaCare should be repealed, replaced, or repaired. That's hardly an endorsement, but I'll give the pro-ObamaCare spin doctors an E for effort. More people in the Kaiser poll voted to replace ObamaCare with the GOP plan than voted to keep ObamaCare as-is. This is notable because the GOP really doesn't have a plan !!! The GOP hasn't passed or even voted on anything to replace ObamaCare. This means more people in the Kaiser poll chose something that doesn't even exist over ObamaCare. On a related note, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) claims the GOP is working on a plan, and they will have that finalized sometime this century.

In order to begin evaluating ObamaCare, we have to start by recalling the initial goals of ObamaCare - to provide health insurance for the uninsured, and drive down health care costs. It has already been sufficiently proven that Obama sold his health care plan based on a series of false promises, such as - you can keep your plan, you can keep your doctor, premiums will drop by an average of $2,500 per year, and blah, blah, blah. Polls going back to 2009 show that Americans NEVER believed the President's hype, but the Democrats weren't going to let anything as trivial as public opinion stand in their way. They passed ObamaCare on a strict party line vote, Obama signed it into law, the Supreme Court got the constitutionality question wrong (thanks for nothing, Roberts), and now we're stuck with the results...or as Democrats would say, Democracy Works !!!

Obviously, health insurance premiums have not gone down with the advent of ObamaCare. They've gone way up, unless you are one of Obama's lucky healthcare lotto winners who gets your coverage subsidized by someone else. There's really no debate on this front, so let's take a look at how well ObamaCare has accomplished it's number one goal of insuring the uninsured. With three weeks remaining in the signup period, here's where ObamaCare stands on signing up the uninsured. This is from a Washington Post article titled, "New Health Insurance Marketplaces Signing Up Few Uninsured Americans, Two Surveys Find":

Only one in 10 uninsured people who qualify for private plans through the new marketplaces enrolled as of last month, one of the surveys shows. The other found that about half of uninsured adults have looked for information on the online exchanges or planned to look...

The McKinsey survey shows that of people who had signed up for coverage through the marketplaces by last month, about one-fourth described themselves as having been without insurance for most of the past year. That 27 percent, while low, compares with 11 percent a month earlier.

The survey also attempted to measure what has been another fuzzy matter: how many actually have the insurance for which they signed up. Under federal rules, coverage begins only if someone has started to pay their monthly insurance premiums. Just over half of uninsured people said they had started to pay, compared with nearly nine in 10 of those signing up on the exchanges who said they were simply switching from one health plan to another.

Hmmm. The statistics are "fuzzy", but it appears ObamaCare's performance on signing up the uninsured ranges somewhere between poor and piss poor. The number one reason cited for why the uninsured aren't signing up is - they can't afford it. They can't afford the "Affordable" Care Act. Irony alert.

Let's turn to a government Affordable Care Act official to see if we can get some precise data on how many of the uninsured are now covered. Gary Cohen, the director of the main implementation office at HHS, went to an insurance industry conference to provide an update on ObamaCare enrollment. When asked how many of the 4 million who had signed up were previously uninsured, Cohen responded:

"That's not a data point that we are really collecting in any sort of systematic way."

Say what ? The government isn't collecting data regarding the primary goal of it's own health care legislation ? I find that pretty difficult to believe, especially when the healthcare.gov application process requires you to say whether you are currently insured or not. They know. They just don't want to say, because it will make them look bad.

President Obama touts that 4 million ObamaCare signup number as a sign of success, but most of those people already had coverage prior to ObamaCare, and we don't know how many of the 4 million actually obtained coverage. One has to go through the healthcare.gov "signup" process simply to find out what is available. The 4 million number doesn't signify how many purchased insurance (around half that number have purchased it, per McKinsey), not to mention the fact that at least that many people have received insurance policy cancellation notices due to ObamaCare. Those cancellations led to the latest of Obama's myriad changes and postponements to his signature health care legislation. Now, he is allowing people to keep non-compliant insurance policies for 2 more years on top of his previous extension, through October 2017. The new changes also gave unions a financial break on self-insured health plans. Many unions are angry about the ObamaCare legislation they helped pass. They say ObamaCare will lower living standards for middle and low-income workers. I guess somebody SHOULD have read the bill before they passed it.

Speaking of lowering living standards, the left-leaning Brookings Institute projected that the bottom 20% of income earners will benefit from ObamaCare, while the top 80% will have their standards of living reduced by ObamaCare. Income will be redistributed.

Democrats and Republicans argue about whether or not ObamaCare will kill jobs, but if it won't, then why did Obama delay the employer mandate for a year ? Obama said it was to give employers time to comply, but the real reason is most likely political. The mandate would require employers with 50 or more employees to provide qualified health insurance to their employees or be fined $2-3K per worker. I turn to The Economist for the rest:

...there is a way round the law. [An employer] says he is “very careful with the [number of employees] threshold”. To keep his full-time workforce below the magic number of 50, he is relying more on part-timers. He is not alone. More than one in ten firms surveyed by Mercer, a consultancy—and one in five retail and hospitality companies—say they will cut workers’ hours because of Obamacare. A hundred part-timers can flip as many burgers as 50 full-timers, and the former will soon be much cheaper.

This ties in with the CBO finding that ObamaCare would reduce work hours by the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs. The Democrats tried to spin this as a good thing (more free time, no more "job slavery"), while the Republicans called it losing 2.5 million jobs. Neither side was entirely accurate, but I'll cite more from The Economist:

Health costs seem to depress hiring, too. A study found that from 1987 to 2005, industries that offered health insurance saw jobs grow more slowly than those that did not. No such pattern was seen in those industries in Canada, where people receive health insurance from the government.

This indicates that the ObamaCare employer mandate WILL cause job losses. The Economist ultimately predicted "nasty side effects" on jobs from ObamaCare. It also indicated that single-payer government-run healthcare would solve the problem by removing the health care cost albatross from the backs of the American business sector. That would actually make our businesses far more competitive and result in job gains (I'm betting I can, at long last, get progressives to understand economics when it comes to this last point, lol).

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