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NPR and Harvard Diagnose Obamacare as a Failure

NPR and Harvard Diagnose Obamacare as a Failure

Exactly 7 years after Tea Party gave same diagnosis.

We have continuously chronicled they myriad of symptoms that clearly show the Affordable Care Act is seriously ill.

Enrollments have been significantly short of projections. Premiums for health insurance are escalating to the point many Americans can’t afford the coverage they were mandated to purchase. Obamacare state exchanges have been closing, and the largest of the co-ops was placed under investigation for under-reporting its financial obligations.

Now NPR and Harvard, hardly the bastions of Tea Party activism, have declared Obamacare a failure.

National Public Radio collaborated with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to survey Americans’ recent experience with health care. As to the Affordable Care Act, the survey’s findings are damning. They suggest that Obamacare has been worse than a complete waste of money.

This is the survey’s only question directly on Obamacare. Most respondents say that Obamacare hasn’t affected them; where it has affected them, most say the law’s impact has been harmful:

LI# NPR screen shot 1

For those of you who enjoy schadenfreude, some joy can be taken in the knowledge that insurance companies that previously promoted the complete redo of the nation’s healthcare system are now feeling the effects. Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS) has had a rapid drop in earnings related to this catastrophic piece of legislation.

Fitch Ratings looked at nearly three dozen BCBS companies and found that 23 saw a decline in earnings that totaled $1.9 billion in the first nine months of last year, while 16 had net losses.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan lost $622 million from January through September last year. Blue Cross plans in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Montana lost $442 billion. And those in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia lost $266 million.

The reason is ObamaCare.

Or as Fitch puts it: “Cost and utilization trends from state insurance exchanges from the Affordable Care Act have been higher than anticipated and are the primary drivers of declining earnings.”

However, the impact on insurance companies offers cold comfort to the average American who is struggling to pay twice as much in taxes to satisfy Obamacare penalty.

Halfway through tax season, uninsured filers are paying more than twice as much as they did last year to satisfy Obamacare’s penalty for lacking coverage, H&R Block said Tuesday in an analysis that found other customers are still struggling to match their incomes to tax credits they got from Uncle Sam.

The tax-prep giant said its customers are paying an average penalty of $383 because of the Affordable Care Act’s “individual mandate,” compared to $172 last year.

That’s because the mandate, a lever designed to bring healthy people into the new marketplace, rose from $95 or 1 percent of qualified income — whichever is greater — in 2014 to $325 or 2 percent of income for 2015.

I will simply point out that Tea Parties across the country, many of which had members who read the legislation prior to its rapid passage, gave the same diagnosis….7 years ago.

If NPR and Harvard had bothered to understand Tea Party instead of smear it, perhaps our health insurance options and economy would be healthier today.


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To paraphrase that idiot Nancy Pelosi, we had to pass it and squander a trillion or so dollars on it before we found out what a giant clusterf*ck it is.

I had to buy my own insurance for the first time this year. I went to BCBS Michigan and got a policy. I then went to the State Obamacare site and looked up the equivalent policy. I was eligible for a small subsidy but the premiums were still higher even with the subsidy. Both required total out of pocket (premiums plus deductibles) of about $31,000 before co-pays. Nothing affordable here, but the real question of why is it more expensive for Obamacare is answered in your article: “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan lost $622 million from January through September last year.” Looks like BCBS is looking to the government to make up the difference. Can’t blame them.

    TX-rifraph in reply to DanJ1. | March 11, 2016 at 11:26 am

    ” Looks like BCBS is looking to the government to make up the difference. Can’t blame them.”

    Oh, I do blame them. I did not want the ACA but they did.

    The executives in that organization should go with no salary till the ACA is history. My federal tax dollars should not go to BCBS.

      Whenever government is involved, whether it be with health care or college tuition loans or XYZ, the cost will go dramatically higher because those private entities involved can charge more knowing that the full faith and credit of the federal government is acting to promote a certain aspect of the economy.

In the past, I believe that health insurance, by and large, paid for health care. Now however, I believe health insurance pays for the bureaucracy of government healthcare and not not for caring for the ill.

Another Voice | March 11, 2016 at 11:30 am

Like buying a One-Size Fits All garment even though you wear a size 10 or 16. It may cover up your bare tush, the fit is ugly and you look like hell in it…better have spent your money on an item that fits and one you would keep in your closet and actually enjoy getting some wear out of.

Humphrey's Executor | March 11, 2016 at 12:39 pm

I wonder how the advent of high deductible plans is having on the medical care industry? I have a high deductible plan and it sure makes me think twice about this or that test and where to have it. Before, never gave it much thought — which is part of the problem.

    My previous employer moved to a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). The HR lady had the nerve to try selling it as the best thing ever. Every tech person present saw straight through it and was openly hostile to the idea without being overly impolite.

    I remember under that plan, we paid out the nose in premiums, but the deductibles and co-pays were so high we may as well have not carried insurance at all. Our routine visits, check-ups, and tests — plus a few emergencies — NEVER quite added up to our deductibles, so we had to pay everything out-of-pocket anyway. (Even if it did, insurance would only cover 80% of costs after that.)

    It seems to me that kind of plan is fantastic for insurance companies, provided they don’t care about their customers. They get to keep the premiums and don’t have to pay anything out.

    The doctors and care-providers? Not so much, with every patient penny-pinching and asking extra questions.

    The patients? Even less, considering they’re paying high premiums and still having to decline necessary services due to costs.

    Health care isn’t expensive because patients aren’t shopping for discount X-rays.

    The cost of medical services to insurers and their patients largely depends on the contracts that the insurers have with hospitals, clinics, and other providers. In many cases there’s no point in shopping around for the cheapest price, because the contract prices negotiated by your insurer with their medical providers will be very similar. Of course, that assumes that you are going to in-network providers, and that your insurance company has decent contracts.

    Not too many years ago many people were simply excluded from health insurance. In the early 80s my wife and I applied for health insurance through Blue Cross. I was a student and she a waitress. We filled out the Blue Cross application. One of the questions concerned whether we thought about having children. We answered “yes.” We were denied coverage. We were young and healthy and willing to pay for insurance, but the company wasn’t interested.

    The high cost of Obamacare is due to the fact that under it many people have insurance who otherwise would be uninsurable. You take several million people who are disabled, or who have chronic health problems, and are either unemployed or working in places that don’t offer health insurance, make them eligible for health insurance, and yeah, that’s going to cost some money. An interesting survey would be to ask all of these “uninsurable” people whether Obamacare is a failure.

    Whats the alternative? Throw these people on the scrap heap? Have people going blind because they can’t afford cataract surgery? Leave them crippled because they can’t self-pay for joint replacements? Let cancer patients crawl into a corner and die because their treatments are too expensive? Have people go into kidney failure because we’re not up to treating diabetes?

    At some point we have to decide what kind of society we want to have. Either we decide to abandon the “uninsurables” or somebody has to pick up the tab, and there is no cheap way to do that.

      Serfin_USA in reply to siguiriya. | March 12, 2016 at 8:45 am

      re: “Whats the alternative?” Obamacare has the alternative baked into the cake. IPAB COMMITTEE, a group of unelected presidential appointees with the power to ration healthcare by whatever criteria they pick.

      Dr. Ezekial Emmanuel, who helped shape Obamacare, is a huge fan of the UK’s NHS and its use of a committee like IPAB to allocate NHS resources. How is this done? 1) Rationing of treatment for old people, also possibly a form of euthanasia (Liverpool Care Protocol) has been allowed by NHS.

      Your question: what kind of country do we want to be has already been asked and answered in the UK.

Anyone thinking that the gov, which runs medicare, medicaid and the VA already, was going to be good at doing it for the entire population was beyond stupid. In addition, a single payer was going to be even worse than the existing programs. Competition is what keeps quality up and costs down. Allowing a gov take over means that money pays for gov expansion first and leaves those paying with crumbs.

Interesting, the discrepancy in how Obamacare affects individuals vs. how it’s perceived to have affected the general State populations:

Individual: 15% helped, 56% no direct impact, 25% harmed.
State: 35% helped, 21% no direct impact, 27% harmed.

(I’m going out on a limb and assuming the unreported balance — ~4% answering for themselves and ~17% answering for the State — are undecided and/or not sure.)

People seem to believe that Obamacare helps more people than it harms, even though fewer report themselves directly helped. And four times as many are undecided/unsure about the impact to their State.

This leads me to one conclusion: The pro-ACA PR campaigns are working. Folks who are NOT helped are in the clear majority (81% of “Individual” responses, combining the harmed and unaffected), but believe themselves to be a minority (48%, combining the same “State” numbers) or simply aren’t sure how the general community is faring at all (conflicting reports, perhaps).

I’ll just pop the popcorn, sit back, and wait for the preference cascade to begin. (Two links, there.)

    DaveGinOly in reply to Archer. | March 11, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    I have to wonder how many people in that 81% are supporters of the ACA. Many of those people still wouldn’t be against it, believing that although they have not been helped/harmed, the ACA still helps others, so they’re willing to tolerate the lack of effect or the downright harm to themselves. This same group of people are probably also of the type to reject any actual analysis of the ACA’s cost and effectiveness, because, like all good liberals, they prefer to feel good about something than to actually do something constructive. They’re perfectly happy to suffer under the ACA so long as they can maintain their own belief that by suffering (or by someone else’s suffering) others are being helped.

Conservative Beaner | March 11, 2016 at 5:34 pm

“NPR and Harvard Diagnose Obamacare as a Failure”

“Exactly 7 years after Tea Party gave same diagnosis.”

Well the left is kinda slow to realize what conservatives said all along.

Insufficiently Sensitive | March 12, 2016 at 12:45 am

If NPR and Harvard had bothered to understand Tea Party instead of smear it, perhaps our health insurance options and economy would be healthier today.

What? ‘Understanding’ is only applicable when intellectuals regard members of a different race, or members of a ‘protected’ class. In all other cases of differing opinions on governance, the Party Line or The Narrative shall rule, whichever is more verbose.