Recent changes to how the U.S. Census Bureau calculates the total number uninsured in the U.S. continues to spark harsh criticism. This time it’s by Guy Benson, in Town Hall (online, Sept. 23). Benson’s The Town Hall article explains, a predominant number of “exchange enrollees had prior health insurance coverage. They joined Obamacare, “having lost their existing plans.” Yet, they are not counted as having lost those plans. This, according to Benson’s Town Hall story, serves to counter Barack Obama’s initial ACA-based pledge that people could keep their current healthcare coverage – - if they liked it. Additionally, such persons are not tallied as “newly” insured.
Benson’s Town Hall article also challenges the previously 8 million enrolled number, saying it is more like 7.3 million.
If the story of the Affordable Care Act continues to be about the states, it’s one not only about failed health care exchange websites, it’s also about consolidation in the health insurance industry. Will what is occurring in a state between two leading health insurers in Illinois signal a trend for the rest of the country?
Blue Cross and Blue Shield and State Farm are teaming up in the Prairie State to start selling Obamacare plans. Such sales will be though Chicago’s Health Care Service Corp. This is according to a report posted on Crain’s Chicago Business (online, Sept. 23). The report adds, “The contract with State Farm will likely tighten Health Care Service’s grip on its markets. It already commands about 60 percent of the individual insurance market in Illinois, with similarly dominant positions in other states. State Farm has 3,300 agencies in the five states, with 1.200 in Illinois.”
Breitbart.com (Sept. 22) takes issue with Obamacare architect Ezekiel Emanuel’s latest Atlantic column. In it, he explains why he does not want to live past the age of 75. The main gripe by Breitbart, is over Emanuel’s perceived view of human life as being merely “utilitarian.” Perhaps arguably, during another time, Emanuel’s opinion piece would receive scarce mention, but for the fact he is seen as the chief constructor of the Affordable Care Act- – during its formative years. Breitbart also takes Emanuel to task for a brightly colored chart included in his Atlantic piece, designed to convey to anyone over the age of 75 that very likely their best years are behind them – - as of 10 years ago.
Breitbart also finds fault with those advocating what they term a “structured Utopia”, one in which “the idea that individual liberty and the rights of the individual must be subjugated by the need to perfect society and the future.”
At one time, Emanuel served as Special Advisor for Health Policy – - to the Obama administration.
According to Fortune (online, Sept. 24) during the past year a company known as Teladoc took over its two primary leading rivals, AmeriDoc and Consult A Doctor. Such companies are known in the healthcare industry as “telemedicine”, enabling patients to have access to physicians – online. Due to healthcare costs, and Obamacare, this emerging concept in treatment is also known as the “virtual reality doctor.” Teledoc has about 550 such virtual doctors on-call.
As it is structured now, Teladoc’s service is available with a paid annual subscription. There is also a $40.00 co-pay for each video or phone physician visit. Some businesses and organizations fund or reimburse the co-pay completely – for their workers.
Obamacare’s potential or realized pocket book impacts usually receives prompt attention. This may be true for a recent Human Events article (online, Sept. 22) by Sean Parnell. Currently, according to the Human Events report, those who passively permit their healthcare plans to renew automatically may face a noticeable spike in what they’ll have to pay out of their own pockets. Subsidies for plans, marketed through the healthcare exchanges, are based upon personal earnings. Parnell’s human Events article also takes issue with the lack of personal choice – thanks to the ACA. Translation? The concept of auto-renewal removes consumers’ freedom of choice – which was supposedly going to be a large part of Obamacare.
Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, a market-oriented think tank for contemporary health issues, says, “The law’s endless administrative complexity shows the impossibility of trying to centrally plan one-sixth of the economy. We need to put the market and consumers in charge of choices, not bureaucrats, politicians, and regulators.”
The automatic renewal feature of the Affordable Care Act – begs the question, will “Automatic Renewal” always mean “Automatic Premium Increase”?
A post in the Daily Caller (online, Sept. 24) tells the story of health insurance brokers, especially those described as small businesses, or independent insurance agents, resisting allegedly not well thought out Obamacare policies. Also, according to the Daily Caller, in several U.S. states, an appreciable number of ACA exchanges – - or marketplaces – - are not paying such health insurance sellers their commissions.
The Daily Caller report further clarifies the situation this way, “Although brokers say Obamacare is hurting their profits, that doesn’t mean they haven’t been working harder than ever.” One insurance broker is quoted in the report as saying, “There has been a 300 percent increase in time spent sharing information compared to the past — about three hours per enrolled life.”
Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, feels Obamacare is a system vulnerable to manipulation. Issa contends some 700,000 “got a free ride”, according to a Daily Caller report (online, Sept. 18). Also, according to the Daily Caller, a significant number of consumers, who are not paying their fair share, pose problems for both doctors and others in the business of rendering healthcare.
Obamacare administrator, Marilyn Tavenner, conceded – - in recent congressional testimony to Congressman Issa’s House Oversight Committee — that 700,000 of the initial Obamacare enrollees have nonetheless terminated their coverage.
As an example of what may be concerning Issa, during the initial 90 days of enrollment, a consumer is able to obtain care, even if they are a non-pay.
Another state level story about the Affordable Care Act. This time it’s the Gopher — or North Star State. In Minnesota, MNsure has pulled out of the government run and sponsored healthcare plan. Making news is the fact this is the insurer with the most the most signed-up customers. Also, according to a news release on the Web page for Citizen’s Council for Health Freedom (CCHF) – - of Sept. 16, PreferredOne notified Minnesota that providing coverage (via MNsure) is “not administratively and financially sustainable.” The state’s healthcare exchange, or marketplace, is seen as one whose structure is tenuous, one which may fall apart altogether. This is also according to the Citizen’s For Health Council Web news release. MNsure also said that going on into 2015 is “not sustainable.”
More polling data provides further insight as to the number of Americans disapproving of Obamacare. According to an online post by the Independent Women’s Voice (Sept. 15) voters located in pivotal congressional districts have made their ACA-rooted opposition clear. Tangible clues are found in the iwvoice.org poll, included in the organization’s recent post. 54 percent disapprove of what is termed by IWV as “the federal healthcare takeover”. Whereas, “strong opposition” stands at 25 percent, says IWV. Reasons for the unfavorable views, include:
● Reductions in, and inferior healthcare coverage.
● Physician loss.
● Narrow healthcare provider choices.
The CBS News Web page (of Sept. 15) features a story relating how, for the second year of the Affordable Care Act, many aspects of it are a wait and see. Is it wholly doable? Is it truly helping those it was supposed to in the first place? Meanwhile, the politically-based ACA discord continues. Rep. Bill Pascell, D-N.J., is quoted by the CBS report, as asking, “Why should individuals be punished if they got a bump in salary?” Pascarell is referring to an Obamacare reality, that some, as a result of personal earnings increases, may wind up returning a portion of their Obamacare subsidies. Also, according to the CBS story, Pascrell adds, “To me, this was not the ACA I voted on.” CBS additionally recaps the 2013 HealthCare.gov massive crash, occurring as soon as it debuted in October of that year. The result? A slowdown in Obamacare sign-ups.
For 2014, the Obama White House is promises better service for ACA customers. Yet, federal officials aren’t saying much. One possible reason? It is uncertain as to how well tests, on the system, are proceeding.
The tech executive, Andy Slavitt, who was invited by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — to assist with computer matters — is also quoted in the CBS account, “This coming year will be one of visible and continued improvement, but not perfection.”