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ACA Health Coverage Approval Drops, Experts Blame Mandates

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Advocates HQ Comments are off

ACA Health Coverage Approval Drops, Experts Blame Mandates

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

After Goldman Sachs confirmed that the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate is leading to a rise in involuntary part-time employment, Obamacare continues to make the news nationwide, but not because the current administration has achieved its goals. Instead, Mercatus Center’s Bin Blase argues, Obamacare is in all over the news again for getting people very angry.

healthcareAccording to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest survey, Affordable Care Act enrollees are increasingly unhappy with their coverage. The study used data collected from 671 enrollees who purchased individual market plans compliant with the Affordable Care Act’s mandates.

In an article for Forbes, Blase explains that as insurers either announce they are leaving the market or are planning on increasing premiums next year, consumer confidence tanks.

Instead of helping the group of people it intended to help, Blase argues, the overall unhappiness with ACA shows federal policy must change dramatically if the administration is serious about helping members of the middle- and low-income classes.

Unfortunately, things might not change until Congress—or the next administration—comes up with a new policy. After all, unhappiness with ACA is nothing new.

Between 2014 and 2015, consumers noticed a sharp increase in premiums and deductibles for 2016 policies, Blase explained. But as the cost of remaining insured increased, consumer choice also suffered as available plans started covering fewer doctors and hospitals.

According to the surveys carried out by the Kaiser Family foundation over the years, the percentage of enrollees rating their coverage as “not so good” or “poor” went from 20 percent in 2015 to 31 percent in 2016. Among those who are less satisfied with their plans, a greater number of insured with high deductible policies appear less satisfied with ACA plans than those with low deductible policies. In this latest poll, at least 45 percent responded that they feel vulnerable to high medical bills while in 2015, only 38 percent felt the same way.

The survey also discovered that, in 2015, 55 percent of respondents rated their insurance as a “good” or “excellent” value while in 2016, only 45 percent claimed the same. As Mercatus Center’s Blase pointed out, a large majority of individuals with ACA coverage receive subsidies to help them pay lower premium shares and yet, even more people say their coverage provides poor value. Perhaps, Blase wrote for Forbes, that proves that the “numerous requirements placed on individual market covered by ACA” are pushing the cost of insurance up. Instead of helping, what ACA has accomplished was to make insurance less affordable.

With fewer ACA enrollees actually approving of their insurance plans and the overall quality of their coverage, it’s hard to understand comments made recently by progressive magazine Mother Jones, that claims that Obamacare “is doing great.” Maybe consumer satisfaction means nothing to them.​

White House Sacks the Treasury in the Name of Corporate Welfare

in Economic Liberty, Healthcare, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Taxes by Alice Salles Comments are off

White House Sacks the Treasury in the Name of Corporate Welfare

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Friday, one day before the President’s day holiday weekend, the Barack Obama Administration announced that $7.7 billion of taxpayer dollars would be allocated to Affordable Care Act insurers through the law’s reinsurance program.

From the Americans for Tax Reform website:

“For 2015 Obamacare reinsurance, the administration will pay out $6 billion raised from a fee on private health insurance and an additional $1.7 billion that under federal law belongs to the Treasury department.”

Seal According to pro-taxpayer organization, at least $1.7 billion of the $7.7 being used to cover insurers is being funneled illegally.

Doug Badger of the Galen Institute explains that ACA’s reinsurance program works by silently taxing every individual in America with health insurance. In 2015 and 2016, each individual with insurance is being allegedly taxed a total of $107. According to Badger, the program is designed to “prop up insurers that have agreed to sell Obamacare policies in the individual market.”

While the administration continues to claim that ACA is working, insurers that participate are losing money. But since the reinsurance program exists to cover the losses of the insurers, the administration seems to think keeping corporations happy with the deal is more important than following the law.

With the failure of the system, and with a growing number of consumers referring to alternative methods to have access to care, the administration is having to get creative.

According to the New York Post, not one dollar out of the $7.7 billion being promised to insurers should be taken from the Treasury under ACA law.

From the New York Post:

“The law states a fixed share ‘shall be deposited into the general fund of the Treasury of the United States and may not be used’ to offset insurance companies’ losses.

But the administration gave all of it to the insurance companies last year, and got away with that heist. So now they’re trying it again.”

While the administration projected it would be raising $12 billion for the ACA reinsurance program in 2014, it was $2 billion short. In order to handle the situation, the administration decided to keep the money from the Treasury, using it instead to hand it over to the participating companies.

The administration isn’t a stranger to this type of move. According to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, at least $8.5 billion in taxpayer money has already been illegally funneled to ACA’s corporate welfare programs.

Another initiative designed to shield insurers enshrined in ACA also seeks to secure the investment of insurers. The initiative is known as the Risk Corridor program, and it has also been tied to scandals in the past.

In 2014, insurers requested $2.87 billion in “risk corridors” payments, but the administration only offered 12.6 percent of that value.

The risk corridor program works by redistributing funds from insurers that make money with the Obamacare exchange to insurers that don’t. Not knowing how sick their customers were going to be due to the new healthcare law and its mandates, insurers were not being able to set premiums realistically, making it hard for companies to turn a profit.

Despite falling short on the risk corridor payments, the administration decided to bail out insurers that weren’t making money off the exchanges last year. ACA chief Andy Slavitt, who’s also the former Vice-President for United Health, made the announcement in December of 2015, saying the federal government was going to bail out insurers and offer them the amount they had previously asked. Later, however, Congress blocked the $2.5 billion “risk corridor” payment. The effort was championed by several conservative and libertarian organizations that came together to urge Congress to act.

If nothing is done this time around, taxpayers will have to foot the bill and cover the $7.7 billion the administration has vowed

Two Phrases That Unmask Crony Capitalism and Corporate Welfare

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online, One Minute Liberty Tip by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 20, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Chris Rufer is founder of The Morning Star Company, which employs approximately 2,500 people in food processing and agribusiness. He’s also an Advocates Board member.

Last week Chris had an excellent opinion piece published in the New York Times, explaining why the federally run Export-Import Bank is a rip-off and boondoggle that should be shut down.

The article is entitled “End This Corporate Welfare.” There’s a brief excerpt from it in this issue’s They Said It column, and you can read the full article here.

Chris does a great job of making this seemingly obscure and esoteric issue clear, interesting and important to the average reader.

One phrase in particular jumped out at me. Describing how corporate welfare works, Chris writes: “It’s private gain at the expense of public pain.”

That’s a great phrase! I love the populist feel of it, and how it makes the injustice of such things as the Export-Import Bank instantly clear. “Private gain at the expense of public pain” can be used to describe all kinds of corporate welfare and crony capitalism boondoggles: professional sports subsidies, licensing laws that protect politically connected businesses from competition, taxes on imported goods… and many more.

I also like another phrase Chris used. He notes that the Import-Export Bank gives huge private businesses taxpayer-backed loans, guarantees and insurance.

The results: “When a company profits from the bank’s support, it pockets the money. If it defaults, taxpayers’ pockets get picked.”

That, too, is a clever and catchy way to describe the essential unfairness of corporate welfare, how it protects politically connected companies from the risks and consequences of their actions — at the expense of the rest of us.

Consider adding these two phrases to your liberty communication vocabulary.

They Said It With Julie Borowski, Libertarian Girl and More…

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM:
Julie Borowski“Obama suggests voting should be made mandatory. Yeah, the problem with this country is that not enough uninformed people are voting.” — Facebook post from libertarian commentator Julie Borowski, March 19, 2015.

Libertarian GirlGOV’T PRIORITIES: “There are 400,000 untested rape kits across the U.S. The excuses are ‘they’re expensive’ and ‘there’s no time.’ Governments sure do seem to have the time and money to arrest, prosecute, and jail non-violent drug offenders and [those who commit] other victimless crimes…” — Facebook post from Libertarian Girl (aka Marianne Copenhaver), March 16, 2015.

DISMANTLE THE TSA, SAYS GOP CHAIRMAN: “I believe we made a big mistake in 2002 or 2003 when we set up the TSA. The Transportation committee… had experts from the British, the Germans, the Israelis all come testify before the committee and overwhelmingly they told us: Don’t set up a federal [agency].” — House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) in a March 18 briefing. Shuster suggested that airport security — currently provided by the hated TSA (Transportation Security Administration), now metastasized to over 50,000 employees — be turned over to the private sector, with federal oversight. Quoted in The Hill, “GOP chairman: TSA was a ‘big mistake’,” March 18, 2015.

ONE BEGINS TO SUSPECT…

Jacob Sollum“According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, accounts for nearly two-fifths of global military spending. It allocates more money to the military than the next eight biggest spenders combined. The United States is a large country with peaceful neighbors. Yet it spends more than $2,000 per capita on defense — as much as Israel, a tiny country beset by enemies, and more than twice as much as European countries such as the U.K., France and Germany. One begins to suspect that our so-called defense budget is spent on a lot of things that have little or nothing to do with defense.” — syndicated columnist Jacob Sullum, “The Squeal of the War Hogs: Why Do Lindsey Graham and John McCain Think Half a Trillion Dollars Is Not Enough To Defend the Country?”, March 18, 2015.

STOP THE EXPORT-IMPORT BANK RIP-OFF: “[T]he federally run Export-Import Bank… is a case study in corporate welfare. Founded during the New Deal, its mission is to ‘support jobs in the United States by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services.’ In practice, it offers taxpayer-backed loans, guarantees and insurance to private companies. When a company profits from the bank’s support, it pockets the money. If it defaults, taxpayers’ pockets get picked. … In 2013, roughly 93 percent of the bank’s loan guarantees by value benefited only five companies — including Caterpillar, General Electric and other multinational corporations with hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in annual profits… In 2012, 83 percent benefited a single company: Boeing. … The Export-Import Bank’s charter expires at the end of June and businesses and lobbyists are lining up to persuade Congress to reauthorize it.” — Chris Rufer, founder of The Morning Star Company and Advocates Board member, “End This Corporate Welfare,” New York Times, March 23, 2015.

Campaign for Liberty: National ID Is Back

in Immigration, Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Bad ideas never seem to go away. The Republican House leadership has unveiled brand-new “Immigration Reform Principles” — and the pro-liberty organization Campaign for Liberty reports this proposal resurrects once again the foul idea of a national ID.

In a section entitled “Employment Verification and Workplace Enforcement” the plan says: “In the 21st century it is unacceptable that the majority of employees have their work eligibility verified through a paper based system wrought with fraud. It is past time for this country to fully implement a workable electronic employment verification system.”

This, warns Campaign for Liberty, will require a new national ID card based on Social Security cards — cards that would:

* Be tied to a national database containing biometric identification information, potentially including fingerprints, retinal scans, or scans of veins on the back of your hands, which could easily be used for government tracking.

* Be required for all U.S. workers regardless of place of birth, making it illegal for anyone to hold a job in the United States who doesn’t obtain this ID card;

* Require all employers to purchase an “ID scanner” to verify the ID cards with the federal government. Every time any citizen applies for a job, the government would know — and, warns Campaign for Liberty, it’s only a matter of time until ID scans will be required to make even routine purchases, as well.

Further, according to Campaign for Liberty President John Tate, this sets us up for a swift slide down a steep slippery slope:

“Gun ownership, health records, purchasing habits, religious beliefs — virtually anything you could dream up could all be added to this massive national ID database.

“And doing so wouldn’t even require a vote by Congress. Instead, it could happen with a simple stroke of a president’s pen.

“This is exactly the type of battle that often decides whether a country remains free or continues down a slide toward tyranny.”

Terrorism, border control, immigration reform, voter fraud, gun control, insurance, health care… seems like every year Congress discovers yet another urgent new reason why we need a national ID.

Liberty-minded folks across the political spectrum have denounced the insidious dangers of these schemes. See Wired, the ACLUReason, and the conservative Rutherford Institute, for starters.