As launch time approaches for the rickety rocket of ObamaCare, it’s still unclear whether any of its vital systems will function. But there are a few things we know for certain. It makes insurance more expensive, with states like Florida and Ohio bracing for the sticker shock of 35 and 41 percent premium hikes, respectively. As CNN Money notes, it’s the more lightly regulated states – the places that were actually doing health insurance right – that will suffer the worst increases. Moribund blue-state regulatory disaster areas like California and New York have already been punishing consumers with ObamaCare-style regulations for years. So much for the will of the voters. Hope you enjoyed your vibrant markets while they lasted, Florida and Ohio!
Another thing we know for sure is that choices for consumers will be reduced, which means less competition. Big insurance companies are bailing out of ObamaCare exchanges left and right. Aetna just announced it was pulling out of Maryland after regulators demanded a 29 percent cut to premiums, which would leave the company selling its products below cost. Aetna already withdrew from the exchanges in California, Georgia, and Connecticut. Aetna is based in Connecticut.
The California exchange also lost UnitedHealth and Anthem Blue Cross, which was the state’s largest small-business insurance provider. Barack Obama is famous for the biggest lie in recent political history: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your plan.” But he also claimed the exchanges would increase competition. Instead, companies are heading for the hills and taking their plans with them.
Another absolute certainty about ObamaCare is that it will be an epic bonanza of fraud, perhaps unequaled in the history of the welfare state (and that’s really saying something.) If you thought the ObamaPhone ripoff was bad – you’re paying a surcharge on your cell phone bill so scam artists can walk away with half a dozen “free” phones – just wait until billions of dollars begin surging through the leaky pipes of ObamaCare’s monster subsidy network. This is going to be little more than an overpriced bureaucracy throwing bags of taxpayer loot on the table and shouting “Come and get it!” to the people who are already rooking the welfare state for billions.
For one thing, when Obama violated the law to move the employer mandate back a year, he also disabled the anti-fraud protections on ObamaCare’s subsidy stream, which relied heavily upon data collected from employers for security. This leaves a $600 billion subsidy system – designed to reach far into what we used to call “the middle class,” back when it had meaningful independence from government – running on the honor system, just like ObamaPhones.
Forbes recently published a jaunty little article entitled “The Dishonor System: A User’s Guide to Committing Fraud On the ObamaCare Exhanges.” Besides outlining a number of easy ways to scam the system, most of which boil down to minor paperwork fudges, the Forbes article notes that people will have plenty of incentives to cheat. They know all kinds of special deals were cut to ram ObamaCare through Congress… and now they’ve watched Obama break the law again, to give Congress a special ruling-class waiver from the requirements that will be driving their wages down, while jacking their premiums up. They know the system is rigged to punish generous employers, responsible employees, and above all healthy people. That’s an environment in which many will feel ethically justified in breaking lightly-enforced rules to get what they “deserve.”
And I’ll wager the Administration doesn’t crack down very hard on them, because it won’t want to alienate the cossetted dependency voters Democrats are counting on, and it really won’t mind the atomic explosion of cost overruns, because that moves liberals closer to the true goal of single-payer nationalized health care rising from the ashes of ObamaCare.
But wait – it gets worse. We all know the ObamaCare exchanges are “train wrecks,” to borrow the memorable phrase of retiring Democrat Senator Max Baucus, who was one of ObamaCare’s authors. But now we learn from Reuters that “the federal government is months behind in testing data security for the main pillar of ObamaCare.” And that means you’ll be exposed to identity theft on an epic scale when Barack Obama shoves you into the unsecured data maelstrom on October 1:
Missed deadlines have pushed the government’s decision on whether information-technology security is up to snuff to exactly one day before that crucial date, the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general said in a report.
As a result, experts say, the exchanges might open with security flaws or, possibly but less likely, be delayed.
“They’ve removed their margin for error,” said Deven McGraw, director of the health-privacy project at the nonprofit Center for Democracy & Technology. “There is huge pressure to get (the exchanges) up and running on time, but if there is a security incident, they are done. It would be a complete disaster from a PR viewpoint.”
The most-likely serious security breach would be identity theft: A hacker steals the Social Security numbers and other information that people provide when signing up for insurance.
There was supposed to be a test of the system on June 3, but it was nowhere near ready, so now we’re supposed to get the big test in August. No worries, because the bureaucracy will have one whole day before ObamaCare launches to decide if security is up to par. Meanwhile, enjoy the spectacle of Big Government spending millions and laboring for years to utterly fail at something the private sector handles on a routine basis. And just wait until crooks inside and outside of government get their hands on that titanic ObamaCare database!
Time contributes some well-founded worries that the bewildering complexity of ObamaCare will leave people open to “scammers and peddlers of health insurance-like products that sometimes dupe unsuspecting consumers,” observing that said predators are “in heavy preparation mode” as they “lick their chops and say, ‘A sucker is born every minute.’” By all indications, they’ll be better prepared than the bureaucrats running ObamaCare.
ObamaCare doesn’t just crush the health insurance industry. It kills medicine, too. We’ve known all along that it would reduce the supply of actual medicine by driving doctors and hospitals out of business, as well as dropping punitive taxes on medical suppliers. The Medicare actuaries have been warning for years that hospital revenues would be driven below cost, most recently estimating that up to 25 percent of hospitals could withdraw from Medicare by 2030.
Today the Associated Press filed a grim report about the demise of small hospitals in New York and other metropolitan areas, which will really come back to bite us as the demand for care surges in the future. “We may look back in 10 years and say, ‘How could we not have seen this coming? Keeping a hospital today is going to cost a lot less than rebuilding at $3 million a bed,” cautioned Boston University health policy professor Alan Sager.
ObamaCare is going to accelerate that trend to Titanic-meets-iceberg speeds:
Starting on Oct. 1, many U.S. hospitals will see reimbursement rates decline because of provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
“That could literally be the final nail in the coffin, not just in New York but in other institutions around the country,” Raske said, though he added that some of that lost revenue could be made up if the new federal health overhaul law helps more people obtain insurance.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked federal government for a waiver that would allow New York to use up to $10 billion in expected costs savings from Medicaid reforms on initiatives intended to address the shifts in the health care landscape.
How nice. More special waivers! ObamaCare is a mass of waivers, carve-outs, kickbacks, exemptions, payoffs, and special privileges, with the frail skeleton of “law” increasingly difficult to discern. Its continued existence is an affront to reason, and the federal government’s fiduciary duty to taxpayers. We should have convened an emergency session of Congress to repeal ObamaCare by supermajority long ago, making it clear to every power-hungry Democrat that his or her career is over if they get in the way. But at the very least, it’s hard to see how any representative of either party could vote against defunding this atrocity without violating their oath of office. It’s fashionable to view the American people as servants of the ruling class these days, but the original understanding was that they would protect our rights, and the integrity of the public treasury.