North Carolina was supposedly one of the big ObamaCare success stories, at least in terms of how many people signed up. But a report posted Tuesday at Carolina Journal Online is simply oozing bummer sauce:
A sizable number of North Carolina residents are learning they are no longer eligible for Obamacare, and some health policy premiums could jump 60 percent within two years, an insurance official says.
Rufus Langley, an Apex insurance agent and state leader of the North Carolina Association of Health Underwriters, said Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas CEO Tracy Baker recently told his group that substantially higher consumer costs are anticipated.
“He can see in 2016 this thing shooting up anywhere from 30 to 60 percent in costs” as delayed taxes start to kick in this year and next year, and medical care costs still rising, Langley said Monday at a Raleigh panel discussion.
He said many of the small businesses his agency specializes in are giving up group insurance and sending employees to the subsidized exchange because of escalating costs.
How about those encouraging enrollment figures? That tidbit of good news hasn’t gone stale, has it?
While North Carolina has been touted by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is formally known, as one of the nation’s top success stories in recruiting uninsured people to sign up on the HealthCare.gov exchange, Langley sounded a sour note.
“Termination letters are going out this month,” he said. “A fair amount [of consumers] didn’t qualify” for coverage, though he had no specific numbers. “There will be people who are going to be flushed out, and not eligible for subsidies, because they didn’t provide the right information, or they didn’t verify whether or not they were U.S. citizens,” Langley said.
Some never paid their premiums, Langley said. “You’ve got to pay to stay.”
I wonder how much “pay to stay” enthusiasm will wane after premiums go up by 30 to 60 percent.
That was just the bummer sauce on this grim hamburger of woe. Here’s the all-beef patty of dismay:
Langley and Chris Conover, a research scholar at Duke University’s Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research, said of the 7.3 million people who purchased plans nationally — a number the federal government recently scaled back from the original estimate of 8 million — many will end up owing the IRS money at the end of the year.
That is because Obamacare requires participants to estimate their annual income at the beginning of the year. Subsidies are awarded based on those numbers. If an Obamacare participant earns more than expected, thus receiving a higher subsidy than allowed, the IRS could seize that overpayment at income tax return time.
“I would think it’s probably going to be a minimum of 10 percent” of Obamacare participants who will fall into that situation, Langley said.
“I would guess that the number is going to be in the millions,” Conover said. “At least 1 million will end up having to pay the government back, and that’s going to create a lot of chaos.”
That does sound like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? You’d think the media would be warning Americans to get ready for their tax bills. Oh, wait, that’s right: midterm elections. What the heck, it’ll keep until December.
Say, remember how ObamaCare critics have always maintained it was a built-to-fail Trojan horse for single-payer socialized medicine?
Conover advanced a proposal to replace Obamacare with a market-driven reform. Jonathan Kotch, a research professor at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, spoke as president of Health Care for All of North Carolina, which advocates a government single-payer national health insurance system.
“I disagree that single-payer requires that health care delivery remain in private hands,” Kotch said. “Some single-payer systems such as those in socialist countries utilize both public financing and public delivery of care.”
His organization models its proposal after the Canadian medical care system in which private providers negotiate reimbursement contracts with the federal government. Keeping delivery private challenges the claim that single-payer is socialized medicine, he said, though doctors and hospitals would be nonprofit providers.
“It is only the power of corporate interests that is preventing us from getting it right” in the United States, Kotch said. “They’ll do whatever they can to maximize profit.” He opposes individuals or companies profiting from the delivery of health care.
While Kotch believes some elements of Obamacare are positive steps, he says it did not go far enough.
“The Affordable Care Act is a good example of how political compromise for its own sake can lead to a bad outcome,” Kotch said. “The Affordable Care Act, while expanding access to care, is little more than a life preserver for insurance companies, which, if left to their own devices, probably would have cost themselves out of business.”
Yes, because free-market companies allowed to do business without government interference tend to “cost themselves out of business,” and then no other companies ever come along to meet the demands of the marketplace. Capitalism is just everyone charging everybody else ridiculously high prices for everything, until they all go out of business. Why, there would hardly be any companies left at all, without the miraculous leadership of the same all-wise, all-knowing super-government that brought you HealthCare.gov, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and a steadily declining American workforce. We should all be grateful for government’s magical power to conjure free stuff out of thin air, or we’d all go broke paying for things.
The limits of fair-use oblige me to send you to Carolina Journal to read the rest of that free market vs. single-payer debate, but here’s one more snippet that offers a look at what’s going wrong with the Affordable Care Act at this very moment:
Among Obamacare’s more objectionable flaws is that its costs reduce wages of low-paid workers in large firms “by at least $1 an hour,” while subsidizing workers who earn the same wage at small firms $9 an hour, he said. Subsidies are not available to employees at large firms.
“In a sensible system, the government shouldn’t be tilting the playing field in either direction,” Conover said.
Obamacare increases costs for the millennial generation, people in their 20s, by about 18 percent over their lifetime, Conover said, while using their higher payments to subsidize older people who typically have more income and wealth, and more health care needs. “It’s a regressive tax.”
Obamacare will divert tens of billions of dollars from Medicare “to fund a new entitlement, and that’s going to jeopardize access to care for seniors, and it’s also going to worsen Medicare’s fiscal future,” Conover said.
Because low government reimbursement rates have led many doctors to stop accepting Medicaid patients, “the probability of ending up in the emergency room is higher for Medicaid patients” than uninsured people, he said. Yet Obamacare wants to expand Medicaid by 30 percent. “That’s crazy.”
Obamacare will cover less than half of the nation’s uninsured while adding $2 trillion to the national debt in its first two decades, and $6.2 trillion over a longer period, Conover said. It will cost 2.5 million jobs, and 10 million workers will be switched from full-time to part-time status, according to projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Who cares what a program costs, as long as some politically-useful number of beneficiaries is pleased with what they receive? So what if compassion turns out to cost billions of dollars more than projected? All that matters are the promises, not the outcome. Only hard-charging capitalists care about what important goods and services cost, because they haven’t accepted the catechism that what is Good must also be Free, no matter how expensive that gets.