Obamacare's Annus Horribilis
There's no candy coating the truth: Obamacare has had a very terrible, horrible, crappy, none-too-happy year. What it really means is that the victims of Obamacare -- taxpayers, health care consumers, health care providers, employers and employees -- have had a hellish, nightmarish 2014.
Let's start with premiums. President Candy Land promised that he'd "lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year." But premiums for people in the individual market for health insurance have spiked over the last year. In fact, Forbes health policy journalist Avik Roy and the Manhattan Institute analyzed 3,137 counties and found that individual market premiums rose an average of 49 percent.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services itself admitted this month that average premiums will rise at least five percent for the lowest-cost plans offered by federal Obamacare health care exchanges. Democrats' reaction? Obamacare rate shock doesn't matter ... because government is redistributing the burden and taxpayers are footing the bill! HHS crowed this week that nearly 90 percent of exchange enrollees received public subsidies in order to pay their premiums.
"Affordable" doesn't mean what White House truth-warpers says it means -- just like everything else they've spewed about the doomed federal takeover of health policy in America.
As the White House tries to hype year-end enrollment numbers and hide Obamacare-imposed cancellations, just remember that the administration got caught this fall cooking the books by including 380,000 dental plan subscribers that have never been counted before. Innocent oopsie? The "erroneous" inflation just happened to push the Obamacare enrollment figures over the president's 7 million goal, while fudging the attrition of more than 1 million enrolled in Obamacare medical insurance plans.
A "mistake was made," HHS 'fessed up after GOP investigators discovered the Common Core math antics. Lying liars. Caught red-handed.
So, how about: "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor?" Well, not if he or she isn't practicing anymore. After scoffing at conservative warnings for years that socialized medicine-light would create doctor shortages, Obamacare cheerleaders can no longer whitewash the grim reality. The Physicians Foundation found that 81 percent of doctors believe they are "either overextended or at full capacity." Another 44 percent said they "planned to cut back on the number of patients they see, retire, work part-time or close their practice to new patients."
Analysts on all sides of the debate agree that massive cuts in Medicaid payments to primary care doctors, which take effect on Jan. 1, will reduce patient access. Meanwhile, a Commonwealth Fund survey found that 26 percent of American adults waited six days or more to see a doctor -- with only Canada and Norway performing worse. A separate physicians' staffing company's poll, reported by the left-wing New York Times, found that patients "waited an average of 29 days nationally to see a dermatologist [,] 66 days to have a physical in Boston and 32 days for a heart evaluation by a cardiologist in Washington."
Translation: If you like your doctor, it doesn't mean you'll get to see your doctor. Tick, tick, tick.
How about Obama's pledge to lower costs? A Congressional Budget Office reported earlier this year that implementation will cost taxpayers $2 trillion over the next decade. That's just the direct costs. Obamacare's job-killing regulations continue to discourage businesses from expanding and force more bosses to slash hours to avoid the employer mandate.
Based on estimates by Harvard and University of Chicago economists, health care policy analyst John Goodman concludes that the "indirect cost to the economy ... equals more than $8,000 per household per year -- or four times the size of the direct budget outlays."
This includes the tax on innovation. As I've reported over the last four years, Obamacare's reviled medical-device tax has forced companies to cut back on research and development, in addition to catalyzing layoffs of at least 33,000 workers over the past year. A recent study by the New York Federal Reserve found that half of the state's medical device manufacturers were bracing for "considerably" higher health care costs as a result of Obamacare rules. These include "higher deductibles, increased copays, higher out-of-pocket maximums and an increased employee contribution to the premium."
Who's "stupid" now? The fallout from intrepid Philadelphia investment adviser and citizen researcher Rich Weinstein's exposure of Obamacare architect/deceiver Jonathan Gruber has only just begun. Far worse than Gruber's insult of American voters, Weinstein notes, is the annual $250 billion tax grab at the heart of Gruber and Company's scheme. Obamacare's so-called "Cadillac tax" on expensive health plans was purposely "mislabeled," Gruber said in video uncovered by Weinstein, in order to pass a tax that will eventually hit all employer plans.
Separately, insurers have been lobbying for a total taxpayer bailout of an estimated $1 billion in 2014. Meanwhile, beleaguered Obamacare non-profit "co-ops" that were supposed to lower costs have sucked up $2 billion in loans to date and hundreds of millions more in emergency solvency funding this year.
The worst is yet to come. Before the midterms, panicked and politically driven Obama bureaucrats delayed premium payment deadlines, high-risk insurance pool cancellations and onerous "meaningful use" mandates on health providers grappling with Obamacare's disastrous top-down electronic medical records rules. Those chickens will come home to roost in 2015.
One silver lining: A total of 16 Senators who voted for the federal health care takeover either failed to win re-election or declined to run for re-election.
Good riddance to them and farewell to Obamacare's annus horribilis.
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