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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Gross Ineptitude or Intentional All Along?

U.S., Quality of Life, Political, Healthcare, People Making A Difference, Economy

We have watched the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a ObamaCare, being unveiled in all the glory and splendor the government could muster.  We watched as the one-stop shopping center known as Healthcare.gov was made available.  We watched as various and sundry ‘bugs’ were encountered while being reassured that these were only minor “glitches” that would be cured in thirty days.

Throughout this trying period, the multitudes of public opinion surveys shifted from supporting ObamaCare to being less and less supportive.  In spite of the many cheerleading speeches to very favorable audiences, our President has not been able to reverse the trend that is standing ominously at the door to the White House.

Most recently a new twist has been magically called up by the White House.  It now says that insurers will offer (in fact some will offer and others will not since the President cannot order this to happen as he seems to believe) a new form of catastrophic health plan that will help those who have lost their coverage and have been unable either get new coverage through the website or who have found out they simply cannot afford the costs associated with the new ObamaCare plans.

These new catastrophic plans are quite similar to what has been labelled the Bronze plan in ObamaCare.  This plan has a minimum actuarial equivalent of 60% meaning that, roughly, the insured would pay $400 of a $1,000 charge.  The deductibles are in the several thousands of dollars.   Many people have found that plan design, the least costly plan design available due to the higher deductibles and co-payments required, beyond their ability to afford.  This has been set in place by all the new benefits added, by the smoothing of age ranges that caused young people to be required to support old people by even greater degrees than before, and by the elimination of any pre-existing condition waiting periods or outright exclusion.  This might’ve been a plan designed for consumption by the ‘young invincibles’ but they aren’t buying in any significant numbers.

Reports of the premium rates to be charged for the newly minted ‘catastrophic’ coverage the White House is trying to bring to bear are, to be generous, not encouraging.

We are witnessing a very serious problem developing at an even faster pace.  The government thought it knew all about how health insurance worked and thought it knew enough to be able to turn all that to its advantage in the roll-out of ObamaCare.  What the government has actually succeeded in doing is placing our country perilously close to having no effective health insurance system upon which to rely. 

It is fiddling with age-old norms in the health care financing industry, which we call the health insurance industry.  Insurance companies are now moving into entirely uncharted territory, conditions, and coverage mandates that haven’t been seen before.  Insurance companies have been slow to move in new directions because they need to develop experience in those new worlds without risking going out of business.  All this evolving and proved theory is now being overturned by the White House in its seemingly endless wisdom about all things.  The higher premium rates to which people are being exposed are caused by the new factors introduced in large part by ObamaCare.  As ObamaCare’s serious deficiencies are exposed and as the White House works feverishly to fix those things, new problems are being created by the ‘fixes’.

All this is, of course, happening at beyond the eleventh hour.  January 1st is eleven days away as this is posted.  People have had their policies cancelled because ObamaCare made it illegal (even though the Administration denies that) for insurance companies to continue offering those types of policies.  Health plan premiums have increased due to the increased coverage mandated and some of those increases have been very large.  The federal website is still not providing accurate data in the ‘834’ format at anywhere near a satisfactory level thus requiring recently that insurers give enrollees until January 10, 2014 to have their premiums in to the insurer.  Insurers are thusly exposed to another 10 days where any large claim might simply result in no premium being paid thus costing the insurer all the cost of the claims.  This is piled on top of the exposure created by the elimination of the pre-existing condition clause in insurance policies.  All of this raises premium rates.  It is quite simple to comprehend, at least by those who pay premiums.

Additionally, hospitals and physicians are being nibbled to death in the area of acceptable fees for their services.  Networks have been reduced due to this issue and many people have yet to see what the real network will be under their new health insurance programs.  More feces will hit the fan when that begins to unfold with real stories in the media.

We are at a critical period concerning how our health care is delivered and financed.  Our government is, either knowingly or unknowingly, close to creating a situation where it will “be forced” to step in and run all heath care for each person in this country, something that our President, of course, assured his union supporters he would work toward.

As we watch the fouled up effort mounted so far by our government, I have to wonder if this is purely caused by gross ineptitude or if it might have been the ultimate plan all the while?

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