Tag Archives: Health Insurance

Rising health-care costs are eating away at your wages and you may not even realize it, by Alessandra Malito

Americans spend more for medical care and get less for what they spend than virtually any other country on the planet. The solution is less government interference with the market, not more. From Alessandra Malito at marketwatch.com:

Health-care costs are quietly eating away at American wages.

Employer-sponsored insurance premiums have jumped dramatically in the last 20 years, from almost $6,000 in 1999 to more than $18,000 in 2016, according to a report released Wednesday by the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive Washington-based economic think tank. Those health-care expenses accounted for 51.7% of the average annual earnings for the bottom 90% of the workforce in 2016, compared to 25.6% in 1999.

Out-of-pocket costs have also soared. Between 2006 and 2016, out-of-pocket expenses rose more than 53%. Insurers are paying more too; their costs increased 48.5% over the same time frame. As a result, people are spending record amounts of money on health care. In 2016, medical expenses accounted for 17.4% of gross domestic product — the total value of all the goods and services produced in the country — up from 8.4% in 1979 and 5.2% in 1963.

This rising price of health care costs families thousands of dollars a year in foregone wages, out-of-pocket costs and increased taxes, said Josh Bivens, research director at EPI. “Rising health costs are the clearest sign of how dysfunctional the American health care sector is,” he said. “We spend far more for the same — or worse — quality health care as our international peers, which has a tremendous impact on typical workers’ wages and their ability to secure health care on the job.”

Along with more expensive co-pays and deductibles, employers are pressured to take a bigger cut of their employees’ wages to pay for insurance premiums, it added. Workers may not directly see how those expenses affect their paychecks, but he said it’s one reason wages have been stagnant for most workers.

“If employer contributions to employer-sponsored premiums had remained constant as a share of cash wages since 1979, cash compensation could have been $387 billion higher by 2016 for the total labor force, or $327 billion higher for the bottom 90%,” the EPI report concluded. “For the bottom 90% of full-time-equivalent employees, this would imply cash wages that were higher by roughly $2,740 on average.”

The U.S. health-care system ranks last in numerous categories among other wealthy, advanced countries, according to a report released by the Commonwealth Fund last year, even though the U.S. spends the most on health care per capita. What’s more, medical offices and health insurance providers don’t always agree on what’s covered by insurance companies.

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How Obamacare Fuels The Obesity Epidemic, by Duane Norman

Reward the obese with lower insurance rates that are subsidized by the healthy, and surprise, surprise you get more obesity and less good health. From Duane Norman at fmshooter.com:

Recently, the CDC announced that America has made a new high; not in the stock market, but in obesity rates:

A troubling new report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that almost 40 percent of American adults and nearly 20 percent of adolescents are obese — the highest rates ever recorded for the U.S.

Many contributing factors have been blamed for causing and/or fueling the obesity epidemic, including, but not limited to: overeating, poor diet, physical inactivity, prescription medications, all the crap that is on grocery store shelves, toxic chemicals, diseases, and just plain old genetics.  But while Obamacare certainly can’t be blamed for America’s ever-increasing obesity, the law has added fuel to the fire, and in a manner that has gone unnoticed by most Americans.

First, it is important to understand exactly what part of Obamacare has changed the health insurance equation; the requirement that individuals cannot be screened for pre-existing conditions or denied coverage on that basis.  While it sounds like a “fair” and equitable idea to force insurers to cover the riskiest patients who need coverage the most, its method of implementation has certainly left “healthy” individuals with far higher premiums relative to their unhealthy counterparts.

I signed up for an individual health insurance plan in 2011, after Obamacare was enacted, but prior to its implementation.  The plan complied with all ACA requirements, but insurers could still “screen” me using their existing process.  I was asked a slew of questions; my age, gender, health history, and questions about my personal habits, including, but not limited to; gender, smoking status, alcohol consumption, exercise habits, risky hobbies (i.e. skydiving), and basically any other question you could imagine an insurer would use to quantify what my premiums should be.

After the ACA, the only questions an insurer can ask about a prospective patient are: age and smoking status.  I was previously under the impression that under the ACA, insurers could charge higher premiums to women, as they use health services far more frequently than men, but “gender rating” is actually illegal under the ACA. 

To continue reading: How Obamacare Fuels The Obesity Epidemic

ICYMI: “Trump Preparing Executive Order to Let Americans Purchase Health Insurance Across State Lines” by Rand Paul

Giving consumers more choices by allowing them to buy health insurance across state lines should promote competition and lead to lower prices. From Rand Paul at paul.senate.gov:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Washington Examiner reported on President Trump’s comments regarding issuing an executive order that would enable Americans to buy health insurance across state lines. For several months, U.S. Senator and physician Rand Paul has been working with the administration to achieve such a change by expanding existing federal regulations concerning association health plans, which would allow more Americans to obtain quality, lower-cost coverage.

“The health care debate is not over. Conservatives are still fighting for free-market reforms to the health care system. I am excited to be working with President Trump on this initiative,” said Dr. Paul in response to today’s news.

You can read the article HERE or below:

***

President Trump is preparing an executive order to allow Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines, a reform conservatives have long championed as a way to bring costs down and stir greater competition in the national marketplace.

The executive action gives the White House a chance to follow through on at least one promise related to healthcare reform, after Senate Republicans’ second attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare failed this week. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul first mentioned the action during a TV appearance Wednesday morning, saying Trump was considering taking matters into his own hands.

“I think there’s going to be big news from the White House in the next week or two, something they can do on their own,” Paul told MSNBC, adding that Trump “can legalize on his own the ability of individuals to join a group or a health association across state lines and buy insurance.”

A Senate GOP source told the Washington Examiner the executive action is considered “a done deal” and likely to be announced “in the next few weeks.”

Trump later confirmed to reporters he is likely to issue an order permitting “people to go out across state lines, do lots of things, and buy their own healthcare.”

The president described the forthcoming executive action as “very major,” adding he also intends to spend the next few months negotiating with Democrats on a bipartisan healthcare bill.

Paul said he has discussed the proposal with the president and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta on “multiple occasions” while the Senate was focused on advancing the Graham-Cassidy bill, which was pulled from a vote on Tuesday.

A White House spokesman declined to provide details on the executive order.

https://www.paul.senate.gov/news/press/icymi-trump-preparing-executive-order-to-let-americans-purchase-health-insurance-across-state-lines?utm_content=buffer5369c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

A Health Care Plan So Simple, Even a Republican Can Understand, by Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter is a lot closer to a workable, market-based reform to replace Obamacare than Congressional Republicans’ efforts. From Coulter at anncoulter.com:

It’s always impossible to repeal laws that require Ann to pay for greedy people, because the greedy run out on the streets wailing that the Republicans are murdering them.

Obamacare is uniquely awful because the free stuff isn’t paid for through income taxes: It’s paid for through MY health insurance premiums. This is unfortunate because I wanted to buy health insurance.

Perhaps you’re not aware — SINCE YOU EXEMPTED YOURSELVES FROM OBAMACARE, CONGRESS — but buying or selling health insurance is illegal in America.

Right now, there’s no free market because insurance is insanely regulated not only by Obamacare, but also by the most corrupt organizations in America: state insurance commissions. (I’m talking to you, New York!)

Federal and state laws make it illegal to sell health insurance that doesn’t cover a laughable array of supposedly vital services based on bureaucrats’ medical opinions of which providers have the best lobbyists.

As a result, it’s illegal to sell health insurance that covers any of the medical problems I’d like to insure against. Why can’t the GOP keep Obamacare for the greedy — but make it legal for Ann to buy health insurance?

This is how it works today:

ME: I’m perfectly healthy, but I’d like to buy health insurance for heart disease, broken bones, cancer, and everything else that a normal person would ever need, but no more.

INSURANCE COMPANY: That will be $700 a month, the deductible is $35,000, no decent hospital will take it, and you have to pay for doctor’s visits yourself. But your plan covers shrinks, infertility treatments, sex change operations, autism spectrum disorder treatment, drug rehab and 67 other things you will never need.

INSURANCE COMPANY UNDER ANN’S PLAN: That will be $50 a month, the deductible is $1,000, you can see any doctor you’d like, and you have full coverage for any important medical problems you could conceivably have in a million years.

To continue reading: A Health Care Plan So Simple, Even a Republican Can Understand,

Your Health Insurance Premiums Are About To Go Through The Roof -The Stunning Reason Why, by Tyler Durden

From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

After years of delays and failed launches, Obamacare has finally taken hold, and with it the economic and financial implications from this mandatory tax are finally being felt.

We have extensively covered how Obama’s Affordable Care Act will end up being a failure, observing both the economic implications in “In Latest Obamacare Fiasco, Most Low-Income Workers Can’t Afford “Affordable Care Act” as well as its operational shortcomings in “Obamacare Is A Disaster: Co-Op Insurers Across America Are Collapsing, And Now There Is Fraud”, paradoxically even as Obamacare – a tax – was according to the BEA the single biggest contributor to GDP growth in the third quarter.

Of course, the most obvious reason why Obamacare will have a dire impact the economy is also very simple: soaring healthcare premiums, also covered before…

… which incidentally also explain why all those touted “gas savings” failed to materialize in discretionary spending behavior: all of the “saved” money went to cover rising health insurance costs.

None of this should come as a surprise.

What should, however, is that according to a very unexpected twist healthcare premiums are about to soar so much in the coming months that the shocking increases of the past year will seem like a walk in the park.

The reason for this comes courtesy of a new report from the WSJ which explains something few if any had expected: corporate insurers are scrambling to profit from Obamacare!

Yes, we know: Obamacare was written by the health insurance companies, and it was supposed to benefit them first and foremost as US households struggled to catch up to what most rational observers had said would be surging premiums. And, on the top line, it did just that: “under the ACA, insurers have seen an influx of new membership in individual plans and in Medicaid plans they administer for the government, expanding the industry’s total U.S. revenue to $743 billion in 2014, the year the law’s biggest changes took effect, from $641 billion the year before, according to a new analysis by consulting firm McKinsey & Co.”

So far so good, and just as expected – incidentally, that 16% increase in industry revenue comes right out of your pocket, dear U.S. reader with the blessings of the US Supreme Court of course.

But where it gets fascinating is that while the surge in the top-line was expected, what comes as close to a black swan as possible, is what happens below the revenue line on the insurers’ income statement.

The stunning finding comes from a new analysis by McKinsey which notes that much of that revenue growth has been unprofitable! Health insurers lost a total of $2.5 billion, or on average $163 per consumer enrolled, in the individual market in 2014, McKinsey found. A number are also expecting to lose money on their marketplace business for 2015.

To continue reading: Your Health Insurance Premiums Are About To Go Through The Roof