Tag Archives: Obamacare

More Horrors of Obamacare

Well, I see that the Star has a story quoting one of Governor Pence’s political appointees; said employee is predicting a huge increase in health insurance premiums, caused, of course, by the hated “Obamacare.”

The prediction is interesting in light of recent news from elsewhere. On July 17, Reuters reported  “Many New York state residents who buy health insurance next year will most likely see their premiums cut by half as President Barack Obama’s healthcare law creates subsidies that may increase the number of people in this market by the hundreds of thousands.”

News reports suggest that other states anticipate similar decreases. Evidently, officials in other states know something ours don’t.

Even if you are stuck in backward Indiana–even if you don’t live in New York, or one of the other states anticipating reduced premiums, you still may be one of the 8.5 million people who will get a check from their health insurance companies this summer. The checks are rebates required by the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) from companies that failed to spend at least 80% of premiums received on actual medical care.  Insurance companies that fail to pay out 80% on claims are obliged to send the difference between what they did spend and 80% back to the policyholders.

Has there ever been such an outrageous assault on the American Way of Life?

But never fear, policyholders–the House GOP just took its 39th vote to repeal this affront to liberty, and to protect you from its horrors. In fact, protecting you from Obamacare is so important, they haven’t done anything else.

An Unhealthy Partisanship

As Hoosiers proved again last November, we’re a Red, Red State. And evidently, that partisan identity–and a deep desire to thwart that Kenyan interloper who inexplicably occupies the White House–is motivating a costly and immoral decision on healthcare.

The Affordable Care Act–aka “Obamacare”–provides incentives for states to expand Medicaid coverage. That expansion is not mandatory, however. (The Supreme Court’s decision upheld the Act, but not provisions making Medicaid expansion obligatory.)

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about Medicaid and who it covers. Currently, Indiana’s Medicaid program provides health care to about one in seven Hoosiers–mostly children, pregnant women, the disabled, seniors in long-term care and very low income families. The word “families” is key here, because non-disabled childless adults under the age of 65 are not eligible for Medicaid, no matter how poor they are. And the “eligibility” of families with children is mostly illusory: a family of three (mother, father, child) with income over $4582 a year makes too much to qualify.

The new health reform law gives Indiana the option of expanding Medicaid to provide care to Hoosiers who are currently uninsured–by increasing eligibility to low-income working adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. Last year, that would have been $15,415 for an adult, and would have allowed that  family of three to make the princely sum of $26,344.

If Indiana opts to participate, an estimated 450,000 Hoosiers would benefit. And here’s the kicker: if Indiana does participate, the federal government will pay all the costs for the first three years. The state’s portion would then phase in gradually, topping out  at 10% in 2020.

And if we don’t participate? Well, poor people have this pesky habit of getting sick anyway. And we already pay to treat them–frequently, in the least cost-effective way, when they appear at hospital emergency rooms. When uninsured folks are treated there, the costs of their un-reimbursed care drives up the premiums of those with insurance. If the hospital is public, our taxes go up. If the hospitals still can’t recover their costs, they cut healthcare workers or reduce services. The 10% Indiana would eventually have to pay to cover far more people is unlikely to be more than we are actually paying now in a variety of ways–it would just be more visible and much more cost-effective.

The arguments against participating mainly boil down to two: the feds might change the formula sometime in the future, and we don’t like the government or the President.

Let’s see: on the one hand, the federal government will pay to cover nearly half a million Hoosiers whose lack of insurance is currently costing all of us money and jobs. On the other hand, we can show that socialist Barack Obama how much we hate him.

Even Ohio Governor John Kasich–a man without a “blue” bone in his body–has concluded that cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face is rarely a sane public policy option.

Thus Spake the Profits

We do seem to live in the Age of Hypocrisy.

A Facebook friend posted a comment about Hobby Lobby, the craft store chain headquartered in Oklahoma. Like Chik-fil-A, the chain makes much of its Christian values, closing on Sundays and, most recently, suing the Obama Administration over the mandate to include contraceptive coverage as part of the health insurance offered to employees.

“Next time you hear someone defend Hobby Lobby’s extremist stance on birth control and health insurance law, try this little thought exercise. Go to a Hobby Lobby and make a small inventory of every item they sell that’s made in China. Yes, the same China that has MANDATORY FORCED ABORTIONS. Then ask a salesperson why Hobby Lobby’s commitment to Christianity extends to how their employees live their lives but not to where they get their inventory from.”

Seems like a reasonable question to me.

Short Story

A couple of days ago, a good friend (male) confided that he’d gone in for his annual checkup, and his doctor had found prostate cancer. Fortunately, it was very early, and the prognosis for full recovery is excellent. His surgery would be outpatient, and he’d be home the next day.

I commented that this was exactly why those annual exams are so important, especially for those of us getting along in years. He nodded his head, and proceeded to share a story.

He has a friend–a tennis buddy–who skipped those check-ups for three years. When he finally went to the doctor, he also had prostate cancer, but it was already stage four. They could slow it down, and give him an extra year–perhaps two. But that was it.

He’d skipped those physicals because he’d been between jobs, and without health insurance.

With all the talk about “Obamacare” and the focus on costs and mandates and political ideologies, we sometimes forget the consequences of our current system for real people. This man will die many years before he otherwise would. Those are years he won’t spend with his wife, won’t watch his children and grandchildren mature and grow, or play tennis with my friend.

If you don’t care about the human equation, I’ll just point out that these are also years he won’t pay taxes, and that the medical costs of treating him at this stage vastly exceed the costs of curing my friend at an early stage of the disease–prevention and early interventions are far less costly than later treatment.

Sometimes, a story tells the story.