The parts of the Affordable Care Act that Obama Democrats really care about are working great. The ability to buy health insurance isn’t very important to them yet. That will become a serious political problem if the individual mandate comes crashing down on people who couldn’t possibly have complied with it, because the exchange system doesn’t work… but frankly, not even that is a fatal problem for the Democrats, unless Republicans are somehow able to build veto-proof congressional majorities out of it.
The name of the game at this point is keeping public outraged tamped down enough to keep Obama in office, and Democrats with enough congressional influence to keep ObamaCare alive. That’s not a very high bar to clear. That’s why they felt free to lie copiously during the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and the 2012 campaign. There would be a price to pay for making fools of the American people – they get testy when they’re blatantly defrauded – but the Administration doesn’t have to worry about anything like the kind of fraud prosecution that would annihilate a private-sector company that pulled a scam like ObamaCare. As long as the anger can be controlled, the media doesn’t start treating them like Republicans, and the Democrats’ pet constituencies remain safely bought off, there is no existential political crisis yet. 2014 might be rough, but so was 2010, and the same brass ring remains firmly in the grip of the Left.
And just look at all the components of ObamaCare that are working! Most importantly, the machinery designed to wipe out private health insurance plans is humming along at full power. Another hundred thousand policies just went down in New York. (The total will actually be “much higher, because it doesn’t take into account hundreds of thousands covered under small business group policies that are being scrapped or rewritten to conform to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act,” according to the New York Post.)
An enormous number of insurance policies will soon be tossed on the ObamaCare bonfire in Virginia, Kentucky, and Idaho. These states “have told insurance companies that they must scrap insurance plans that don’t meet the minimum coverage requirements laid out in the Affordable Care Act,” according to CNN. “These three states have determined that with so many changes required under Obamacare, it’s easier to start over than to try to bring existing plans into compliance.”
So much for the left-wing spin that it’s all just a rampage by evil insurance companies using the Affordable Care Act as an excuse to dump unprofitable customers! Pay no attention to anyone who claims this was an unintended consequence of ObamaCare, or that the President was merely an ignorant fool who didn’t think his own policy all the way through, naively promising dozens of audiences that nothing like this would ever happen because he sincerely believed it. Nonsense. This is by design. This is one of ObamaCare’s primary purposes.
It’s supposed to eradicate existing insurance plans. Its authors made certain of it. Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services wrote regulations to ensure it would happen.
And the Democrat Party acted in unison to guarantee it. “In September 2010, Senate Republicans brought a resolution to the floor to block implementation of the grandfather rule, warning that it would result in canceled policies and violate President Barack Obama???s promise that people could keep their insurance if they liked it,” CNN recalls. “On a party line vote, Democrats killed the resolution, which could come back to haunt vulnerable Democrats up for re-election this year.”
Remember that when your local phony-baloney “moderate Democrat” tries to trick you into thinking he or she is stunned and horrified by the tidal wave of insurance cancellations. They wanted your insurance to go away. They made damn sure it would happen.
There is a lot more of this to come. The headline-scorching tsunami of cancellations we’ve seen over the past month is just the warm-up act, the tip of the iceberg. When the employer mandates go into effect, tens of millions of policies will die. The Administration itself very quietly estimated that over half of employer-sponsored insurance plans would be canceled, back in 2010. Surveys have projected that at least a third of employers will stop offering health care altogether, sending their employees into the same ObamaCare exchange hell that individual insurance customers are currently experiencing.
Avik Roy at Forbes estimates “that if ObamaCare is fully implemented, at least 129 million (68 percent) will not be able to keep their previous health care plan, either because they already have or will lose that coverage by the end of 2014.” Yes, the essential insurance-killing subroutines of ObamaCare are working very nicely indeed, but there is still much work ahead for them.
The Affordable Care Act is also doing a bang-up job of raising insurance premiums. This is another thing Barack Obama lied shamelessly and routinely about – remember, he promised his scheme would reduce the average insurance premium by $2500 per year. In reality, he and everyone else connected with this scam knew it would blow premiums through the roof, thanks to the heavy burden of its mandates. They’ve been tacitly admitting this over the past few days, when they sneer that your old, affordable coverage was sub-standard junk you were foolish to have been satisfied with.
Hardest hit will be a group our social health is entirely dependent upon: large families. In the course of a charming story about a small business owner facing a staggering $8000 annual premium hike under ObamaCare (“We feel like we’re being told that we don’t know what’s good for our family,” complained the victim), ABC News cites this revealing statement from Kaiser Permanente, which is understandably eager for enraged customers to know that it’s merely following Barack Obama’s laws:
First, family coverage in small group plans in priced differently under health reform rules. This customer’s current plan offered three standard rates for ’employee only,’ ’employee and spouse,’ ’employee and children’ and ’employee and family.’ The Affordable Care Act requires plans to take family size and ages of family members into account. So as we see in the individual market, premiums for younger people will increase and premiums for older people will decrease. Under the new rules, larger families are likely to see premium increases because each member is now counted in the rate and covered dependents tend to be young people. Smaller families will likely see premium decreases.
The ACA also established regulations for the minimum ‘essential’ benefits offered in any plan. This new benefit plan includes Pediatric Dental & Vision, which were not part of the customer’s prior coverage.
Finally, insurers have been able to adjust premiums for small groups based on their utilization of medical services, similar to medical underwriting in the individual market in which healthier people benefitted from lower premiums. Health reform no longer allows health plans to discount premiums based on the experience of the small group, so healthier groups will pay more and less healthy groups will pay less.
That’s a big social engineering bonus for the Left, which does not like large, stable families, believing as they do that children are the rightful property of the State. Big traditional families are too independent for their taste, but ObamaCare will take care of that. Population-control fetishists will be pleased by the vision of a future in which Barack Obama’s health-care costs make people change their minds about having a second, third, or fourth child.
These soaring insurance premiums will increase dependency, which has always been a core element of both ObamaCare’s political mission and self-defense system. Crank up middle-class insurance premiums by thousands of dollars a year, and get them hooked on welfare subsidies that will be vitally necessary to pay those bills! So much for “budget battles.” The next time some uppity citizens begin demanding fiscal restraint from the almighty State, they’ll be told the first nickel of spending cuts are coming right out of those insurance subsidies… and a made-to-order mob will rise from the shattered remains of the formerly independent middle class to defend the Mother State.
When those immense ObamaCare deductibles you’ve been hearing about start ruining people’s lives, we’ll be told more subsidies are vitally necessary, which will lead to more deficit spending, and eventually tax increases. Those who object will be castigated as heartless villains who don’t mind watching a struggling single mom get pulverized by her $10,000 “Affordable” Care Act deductible. ObamaCare is an instrument of control, and not just over your health care.
And don’t forget about that mighty surge of dependents flowing into Medicaid, which actually represents the vast bulk of “ObamaCare enrollments” processed to date. “This early imbalance ??? in some places, nine out of 10 enrollees are in Medicaid ??? has taken some experts by surprise,” the Washington Post claims. “The Affordable Care Act, which expanded Medicaid to cover millions of the poorest Americans who couldn???t otherwise afford coverage, envisions a more even split with an expanded, robust private market.”
Like hell it does. This was always part of the plan. “We’re thinking, what planet is this happening on?” wailed Matt Salo of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. It’s Planet Obama, Mr. Salo, and the dominant life form is extremely happy to see a few million more outright welfare recipients pouring into a creaky entitlement program. There’s no question which way those people will be voting, when the opposing party talks about reforming the unsustainable Medicaid system.
And remember how some state governors got suckered into the ObamaCare scam with promises that the federal government would finance their Medicaid expansions by 100 percent at first, 80 or 90 percent further down the line? You know what the surging Medicaid enrollment will become to states caught in that trap? Leverage, that’s what. Every one of those governors has volunteered his state to serve as a federal hostage, forever. Washington has only to whisper about trimming those Medicaid subsidies back a little, and recalcitrant governors will fall quickly into line on a host of other issues.
This sets the stage for another vital component of ObamaCare to fire up: wealth transfers. ObamaCare’s thousands of pages boil down to a gigantic middle-class tax increase, delivered through both fairly explicit means – the individual mandate, which as you’ll recall was certified as a tax by the Supreme Court – and the usual underhanded pass-through tax skulduggery. Those increased premiums are actually a disguised tax hike, as Charles Krauthammer explains:
The planners knew all along that if you force insurance buyers to overpay for stuff they don???t need, that money can subsidize other people.
Obamacare is the largest transfer of wealth in recent American history. But you can???t say that openly lest you lose elections. So you do it by subterfuge: hidden taxes, penalties, mandates and coverage requirements that yield a surplus of overpayments.
So that your president can promise to cover 30 million uninsured without costing the government a dime. Which from the beginning was the biggest falsehood of them all. And yet the free lunch is the essence of modern liberalism. Free mammograms, free preventative care, free contraceptives for Sandra Fluke. Come and get it.
And then when you find your policy canceled, your premium raised and your deductible outrageously increased, you???ve learned the real meaning of ???free??? in the liberal lexicon: something paid for by your neighbor ??? best, by subterfuge.
And of course, ObamaCare is serving as excellent battlefield preparation for the war to impose single-payer socialized medicine on a subdued American population. There have already been a few attempts by liberals to leverage the spectacular failure of the ObamaCare launch as an argument to step up the single-payer timetable. How much of this complexity we could do away with, if we no longer had to preserve the illusion of private-sector insurance or medicine!
“You might have thought it was killed off, but an ugly embodiment of the public option is alive and well in ObamaCare,” warns the Heritage Foundation:
Health expert Robert Moffit pointed out in 2011 that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) next year will administer at least two nationwide health plans that will compete against private insurance. OPM is responsible for these plans??? pricing, profits, and operations.
These government-sponsored plans are the only health plans that can compete nationwide under a new set of rules, giving them an unfair advantage in an already disrupted health insurance market. ???Instead of fair competition with private health plans, Congress is sponsoring the equivalent of a national monopoly,??? Moffit wrote.
Socialized insurance is the harbinger of socialized medicine. Government runs private insurance industry into the ground, using special State-backed plan with unfair competitive advantages; government later declares the enormous “public option” is unsustainable; government proposes doing away with health insurance altogether and taking direct control of medicine, which will be distributed to the proletariat as a gift by its benevolent Ruling Class.
The New York Post ran a story the other day about how doctors in their state “are treating ObamaCare like the plague,” with 44 percent of doctors saying they would not participate in the President’s scheme… and another 33 percent feeling conflicted about it. The president of the New York State Medical Society said there was “a lot of resistance” because the system “is so poorly designed that a lot of doctors are afraid to participate.” Here’s a little taste of that resistance:
???Obama Care wants to start right away, but who see all these new patients???? Not me,??? e-mailed one doc.
Another said, ???I plan to retire if this disaster is implemented. This is a train wreck.???
???I refuse to participate in the exchange plans! I am completely opposed to this new law,??? said a third respondent.
One doctor recycled the mantra used to attack addictions: ???The solution is simple: Just say no.???
One physician was so disgusted, he threatened to taken only cash patients going forward.
???I am seriously considering opting out of all insurance plans including Medicare because of [ObamaCare].???
That, my friends, is the sound of a system doing exactly what it was designed to do. It’s music to the ears of every socialist goon huddled inside the single-payer Trojan horse. These doctors will be demonized, and the poor people who can’t find a physician will be told that iron government control of medicine is the only answer.
So don’t say ObamaCare is broken. Its free-market costume is merely torn in a few embarrassing places.
Update: Peter Suderman at Reason has done yeoman work collecting all of the errors riddling the federal exchange system, concluding that “almost nothing” actually works. “Just about every part of the system that has been reported on seems to have problems, many of which are quite serious,” he judges, listing errors in the front end, back end, and every segment between them.
That’s all very inconvenient for American consumers, but it won’t compromise the crucial functions I listed above… which, you’ll notice, received considerably more managerial oversight and personal attention from Obama and his top officials than any of this online shopping stuff.