Politics

The “glitches and bumps” of ObamaCare

The "glitches and bumps" of ObamaCare

During a long, rambling press conference ostensibly about the first hundred days of his second term – but intended more as an opportunity to rescue some of his credibility after the Airport Sequester Terror blew up in his face – President Obama made an astonishing mess of a simple question about ObamaCare.

The question came from Chuck Todd of NBC News, who asked (as transcribed by the Washington Post):

Mr. President, thank you. Max Baucus, Democratic senator, referred to the implementation of your health-care as a potential train wreck. (We’ve had ?) other Democrats been whispering nervousness about the implementation and the impact — (inaudible) — the impact that it might have on their own political campaigns in 2014. Why do you keep — just curious, why does Senator Baucus, somebody who extensively helped write your bill, believe that this is going to be a train wreck? And why do you believe he’s wrong?

Obama’s long answer included a priceless comment that “there’ll still be, you know, glitches and bumps” even if ObamaCare is implemented perfectly, “and that’s pretty much true of every government program that’s ever been set up.”

Now he tells us!  Of course, not “every government program that’s ever been set up” has out-of-control costs running into trillions of dollars, and begins the process of nationalizing one-sixth of the U.S. economy.  Far from suffering a few “glitches and bumps,” ObamaCare has broken every promise made by the President, while exceeding every laughable estimate of its cost.  Each week brings a new story of businesses cutting jobs, changing full-time positions to part-time, or canceling expansion plans to avoid the costly ObamaCare mandates.  Congressional Democrats just got busted trying to cut a backroom deal that would allow them to escape it, and some of their union allies are following suit.

Daniel Kessler of the Hoover Institution took a look at those implementation “glitches and bumps” in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, warning “the unpopular health-care law’s rollout is going to be rough.  It will also administer several price (and other) shocks to tens of millions of Americans.”

Start with people who have individual and small-group health insurance. These policies are most affected by ObamaCare’s community-rating regulations, which require insurers to accept everyone but limit or ban them from varying premiums based on age or health. The law also mandates “essential” benefits that are far more generous than those currently offered.

According to consultants from Oliver Wyman (who wrote on the issue in the January issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries), around six million of the 19 million people with individual health policies are going to have to pay more—and this even after accounting for the government subsidies offered under the law. For example, single adults age 21-29 earning 300% to 400% of the federal poverty level will be hit with an increase of 46% even after premium assistance from tax credits.

Throw in another 30 million people in small companies that will fall prey to ObamaCare’s “small-group reforms.”  The lucky ones will only see their premiums go up by 13 to 23 percent, but in a few states the “community rating” system will double premiums.  Kessler then estimates two-thirds of the individual insurance market will see increases, while other plans will have to cut back on services desired by their customers to fulfill the ObamaCare mandates.

“In addition,” Kessler writes, “according to Congressional Budget Office projections in July and September 2012, three million people will lose their insurance altogether in 2014 due to the law, and six million will have to pay the individual-mandate tax penalty in 2016 because they don’t want or won’t be able to afford coverage, even with the subsidies.”  Adding in jobs lost, and the reduction of hours available to part-time workers, he gets to “30 million to 40 million people damaged in some fashion by the Affordable Care Act – more than one in 10 Americans.”

That’s tough to square with Obama’s blithe assurance that “for the average American out there, for the 85 to 90 percent of Americans who already have health insurance, this thing’s already happened, and their only impact is that their insurance is stronger, better, more secure than it was before.  Full stop.  That’s it.  Now they don’t have to worry about anything else.”

What we should be worried about is a combination of mandates that hit employers with specific incentives to reduce work hours, drive up the cost of insurance for those who were happy with the plans Obama falsely said they could keep, an unworkable implementation that didn’t come anywhere close to estimating cost and difficulty correctly…. and, on the far side of all that, a health care plan that will begin reducing the quality and supply of medicine, as doctors and medical suppliers bail on the system.  If something this expensive is so ineffectual that 85 percent of America supposedly doesn’t know it exists, then repealing it should be relatively painless, provided we act quickly.

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