The Purpose of This Bl;og

By and large, liberals are very decent, kind, and compassionate people who genuinely want what is best. This should be kept in mind as we explore the Law of Unintended Negative Consequences near invariably resulting from Leftist big-hearted solutions to societal problems.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Obamacare - Everyone Covered?

During his first run for the presidency, Obama oft spoke emotionally about the 45 million Americans who were uninsured:
"The very first promise I made on this campaign was that as president I would sign a universal healthcare plan into law by the end of my first term....My plan begins by covering every American...If you are one of the 45 million Americans who don't have health insurance, you will have health insurance available to you. No one will be turned away because of preexisting conditions or illness. Everyone will be able to buy into a new health insurance plan that is similar to the one every federal employee, from a postal employee in Iowa to a Congressman in Washington, currently has for themselves. " (May 29th, 2007, See HERE)
"'In the 2008 campaign, affordable, universal health care for every single American must not be a question of whether, it must be a question of how,' Obama said at the Families USA conference. 'We have the ideas, we have the resources, and we must find the will to pass a plan by the end of the next president’s first term.'” (See HERE)

During the 2008 primaries, Hillary Clinton said this about Obama's healthcare plan: "His plan would leave 15 million Americans out. I have a universal health care plan that covers everyone.” Obama responded: “I do provide universal health care.” (See HERE as quoted HERE) Elsewhere he said: "Well, look, I believe in universal health care, as does Sen. Clinton. And the point of the debate, is that Sen. Clinton repeatedly claims that I don’t stand for universal health care. And, you know, for Sen. Clinton to say that, I think, is simply not accurate." (See HERE as quoted HERE)

At another debate Obama was asked the question: "Sen. Edwards says your plan doesn’t really provide universal coverage. Does it?" Obama responded: "Absolutely it does." (See HERE as quoted HERE)

In part, it was this commitment to universal health care that prompted the Kennedy endorsements (see HERE as quoted HERE) and helped get Obama elected as President. During his second year in office (March 2010), he signed into law "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or 'Obamacare'." (See HERE)

And, while the legislative history is instructive (see HERE), the question for this post is whether Obama was able to fulfill his ardent and repeated commitment to insure "every American."

Greg Scandein commented, "It is cruelly ironic, but the massive law that was enacted to solve the problem of the uninsured in America is more likely to worsen it. This would be true even if the program is perfectly implemented and all the provisions come online on time and within budget." (See HERE)  His blog sets forth a well-reasoned and documented argument in support of this claim. (ibid)

Employee Coverage:

One of the ways in which Obama, through Obamacare, intended to increase the number of insured people was through an employer mandate that required businesses with more than 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance to all their full-time employees.

However, "A [2011] report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office states that by 2016, Obamacare will result in 4 million fewer people getting health insurance coverage from their employers. The estimate is a vast increase from the CBO prediction just a year ago that 1 million would no longer obtain coverage from their employers...It’s not clear how many of the 4 million would be forced out as a result of employers dropping coverage. But it can be assumed that many will indeed lose their insurance and have to seek it elsewhere, since few people would seem likely to intentionally abandon coverage provided by an employer. And many employers have already indicated that they would rather drop coverage and incur fees from the government than continue to provide it. According to a survey published last summer by the Towers Watson consulting firm, almost one in ten medium to large size employers said they are likely or very likely to end health benefits for their workers." (See HERE and HERE)

The CBO has since drastically upped their estimates to 7 million people who may lose their employment-based coverage. (See HERE, as cited HERE)

Several studies suggest that the CBO figures are "grossly under-estimated." Greg Scandein indicates that in 2011, the McKinsey Company survey of employers "found that 30% said they will 'definitely or probably' drop their coverage." (cited HERE) Further, he reported that an article in Forbes notes that "36.5% of primary decision-makers indicated that they 'definately or probably' would drop benefits." (ibid) And, "More recently, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former CBO Director and currently with the American Action Forum, published a study with the economic features the McKinsey critics apparently prefer. He estimated that 35 million American workers will lose their coverage." (ibid)

Greg astutely mentioned that, "no one is estimating the effects of employers who convert full-time workers to part time, reduce the size of the workforce to stay under the mandate, out-source jobs to other companies or even other countries, or enter employee-sharing arrangements with other companies. There is no data for these developments (so they are invisible to policy researchers) but local daily newspapers are awash in stories about companies doing exactly this. (ibid.)

These more realistic estimates have recently been borne out in real-life cases (see documentation below), and this to such an alarming extent that the President ordered the IRS to suspending penalties for the employer mandate until 2015. (See HERE and HERE and HERE)

In short, not only did the Obamacare's employer mandate create economic and political turmoil, it presented the distinct potential of increasing rather than eliminating the number of uninsured as committed to by Obama. If so, it raises serious question about what should happen with the employer mandate in 2015, if not Obamacare, itself..

Individual Coverage:

Another way in which Obamacare intended to achieve universal health insurance coverage was through the individual mandate, which required everyone, upon the threat of tax penalty, to be covered by insurance. If individuals or family members weren't covered by employer insurance, they must purchase insurance on their own.

Yet, in spite of the mandate, according to a survey released in 2013 by, "Nearly two-thirds of Americans who currently lack health insurance don't know yet if they will purchase that coverage by the Jan. 1 deadline set by the ACA." (See HERE and HERE)(See also HERE and HERE and HERE amd HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE)

So, the individual mandate likely wont work among the uninsured in producing universal health care as intended.

Even more interesting, because of various Obamacare provisions, a growing number of private insurance companies are now going out of business and have begun dropping plans paid for by individuals and families. (See documentation below) In other words, Obamacare is now causing millions of people to lose their current plans, thus increasing rather than eliminating the number of uninsured. Who knows if, or how many, will become insured through the government administered insurance exchanges?

What makes this bizarre is that the Obama administration knew early on that this would happen. A commentary in the Federal Registry "cited 'four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act' as saying that '50 to 75 percent' of people who buy coverage on their own are likely to receive cancellation notices due to Obamacare." (See HERE, as reported HERE).

Putting this into perspective, in Ovtober of 2013, the first month of Obamacare sign-ups, according to Forbes, "Over 500,000 individuals have seen their insurance policies cancelled in just 3 states.  In all 50 states, only 476,000 applications have been 'filed' in an exchange. (Even though we are still learning the true definition of 'filed.')." (See HERE)

Be that as it may, because of the uproar over the loss (or potential loss) of millions of existing plans paid for by individuals or families, and even though the President and his Democrat allies in the Senate shut down the  government for several weeks in September of 2013 rather than agree to a compromise bill that would simply postpone for a year the individual mandate, in November Obama surreptitiously ordered the delay of the individual mandates by six weeks (See HERE and HERE)--for all the good it will do, and he proposed a so-called "fix" that would supposedly enable individual payers to keep the old plans that they have already lost, and supposedly prevent the cancellation of other policies, which likewise portends to create more problems than it solves. (See HERE and HERE)

[Update 8/19/2014 : We have been told by the Obama administration that as of the deadline in 2014, approximately 8 million people signed up for Obamacare on the exchanges--though this number is unvarifiable. (See HERE)) And, while this is a far cry from everyone being covered as promised, and well shy of the administration estimates of 30 million plus being added to insurance roles (see later posts), not to mention that it is off-set by the 6 million or so who have lost coverage because of Obamacare regulations (see later posts), there are now indications that the enrollments have shrunk by as much as 30% due to non-payment or discontinued payment (see HERE and HERE)]


Hans Bader has said: "President Obama has recently acted as if the millions of cancellations were a surprise to him, but that is not the case (indeed, the Department of Health and Human Services has long projected in the Federal Register that its narrow interpretation of the Affordable Care Act’s grandfather clause would eliminate a substantial fraction of America’s existing health plans). As Liberty Unyielding notes, 'If you trust Barack Obama to tell the truth (and if you do, have we got a bridge to sell you!), he learned only within the last month or so that millions of Americans would receive cancellation notices from their health insurers. The president even said [so] on Thursday, during his 'confessional' interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd' after 'repeating at least 36 times that if you liked your health care, you could keep your health care.' But 'someone dredged up video of him acknowledging as early as February 2010 — before the bill had even been passed into law — that 8 to 9 million Americans will in fact lose coverage.'  The video can be found here." (See HERE)

Even given the most charitable estimates, the CBO projects that "2 million fewer uninsured will gain insurance under the law than previously thought, with the total uninsured population declining by 30 million instead of 32 million. While the law increases the number of people with health insurance, it does not provide for universal insurance. Instead, the number of non-elderly legal residents with insurance will rise from 82 percent in 2012 to 93 percent in 2022." (See HERE and HERE)

Less charitable estimates anticipate the Leftist LUNC of more people ending up uninsured than before Obamacare. The Washington Times reported, "Reports that between 93 and 129 million Americans will lose their insurance are on their way to being proven true." (See HERE)(See also HERE and HERE and HERE)

What is disturbing is that it isn't the rich that will be going without health care under Obamacare, but the poor and elderly and young--i.e. the very demographics for which Obamacare was allegedly designed to serve.

[Update 7/26/15: More Americans Than Expected Forego Healthcare - And Pay Obamacare Penalties]

For an explanation as to why these Leftist LUNCs occur, please see: Gov: Wrong Tool for the Right Job - Introduction and Cold Nanny as well as The Politics of Compassion, Emotions, Ignorance, Denial, Blame-Shifting, and Victimization

Additional Documentation:

Decrease in people covered by insurance:

Companies may drop some coverage, lay off employees, freeze hiring, cut back hours, and expand contract work:

Individual/Family-Paid Insurance Cancellations:

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