Apparently people in California doctors offices are encountering signs that Covered California (e.g. Obamacare Exchange) Plans are not accepted. If anyone sees one, could you snap me a picture and send it to me?
Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category.
Defenders of the President are arguing that we are misreading the CBO report on job losses due to Obamacare. And I have to agree. Partially.
Looking more closely, the CBO report does in fact say that it cannot find that many companies eliminating full-time jobs due to Obamacare. I think they are missing the boat, as I explained earlier, but perhaps my personal experience as a business owner is unusual.
The President's defenders want to make sure that we understand that the CBO is actually saying the 2 million job losses are from people dropping out of the work force because they have lost the incentive to work and/or they want to make sure they don't earn their way out of government freebies.
Whew. I am sure relieved that all Obamacare is doing is destroying the incentive to work. I thought for a second there we had a real problem.
The Washington Post reports on an updated CBO report:
The Affordable Care Act will reduce the number of full-time workers by more than two million in coming years, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday in the most detailed analysis of the law’s impact on jobs.
After obtaining coverage through the health law, some workers may forgo employment, while others may reduce hours, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office. Low-wage workers are the most likely to drop out of the workforce as a result of the law, it said. The CBO said the law’s impact on jobs mostly would be felt after 2016.
This almost certainly underestimates the impact. Why? Well, one reason is that a lot of full-time jobs were switched to part-time jobs way back in late 2012. That is what our company did. Why so early? Because according to rules in place at the time (rules that have since been delayed at least a year) the accounting period for who would be considered full-time for the purpose of ACA penalties would be determined by an accounting period that started January 1, 2013. So, if a business wanted an employee to be considered part-time on January 1, 2014 (the original date employer sanctions were to begin), the changes to that employees hours had to be put in place in late 2012. More on this here in Forbes.
In addition, this CBO report is a static analysis of existing business. It does not seem to include any provisions for businesses that have dialed back on investment and expansion in response to the ACA (we have certainly cut back our planned investments, and we can't be the only ones.) This effect is suggested (but certainly not proven) by this chart.
The sequester and government shutdown were cited by the Left as reasons for a sluggish economy. Which government action seems most correlated with a flattening in job growth?
This is a topic I have hit on for a while, but now we have even more startling data. Apparently, most of the people buying from the exchanges already had insurance:
Early signals suggest the majority of the 2.2 million people who sought to enroll in private insurance through new marketplaces through Dec. 28 were previously covered elsewhere, raising questions about how swiftly this part of the health overhaul will be able to make a significant dent in the number of uninsured.
Insurers, brokers and consultants estimate at least two-thirds of those consumers previously bought their own coverage or were enrolled in employer-backed plans.
The data, based on surveys of enrollees, are preliminary. But insurers say the tally of newly insured consumers is falling short of their expectations, a worrying trend for an industry looking to the law to expand the ranks of its customers.
… Only 11% of consumers who bought new coverage under the law were previously uninsured, according to a McKinsey & Co. survey of consumers thought to be eligible for the health-law marketplaces.
So, we know that 80% of the people are getting subsidized on the exchanges, and now we know that 70-90% of those previously had a unsubsidized policy beforehand. This means that what the exchanges are doing is NOT insuring the uninsured, but converting people previously responsible for their own health care into government dependents. The more cynical out there will argue that was the whole point in the first place.
Unreported Obamacare Data -- Exchange Sales Conversion Is Much Worse When The Taxpayer is Not Subsidizing the Policy
I like digging through the raw data in the Obamacare report rather than just accepting the bits the New York Times wants to report. As a business guy, I was looking at the data from a sales-conversion perspective -- ie, who is buying and who is not? And of course, why?
When I was in the marketing world, we used to call the process of sales conversion the sales funnel. For the exchanges this means some percentage of the available market actually show up at the exchange, and then some percentage of those actually complete the arduous sign-up process, and some percentage of those actually select a policy, and presumably some percentage of those actually pay, though we don't know what that latter percentage is. At each step, we ask ourselves what people are we converting from one step to the next, and why.
Here is the Obamacare exchange sales funnel through December (as has become tradition, it is a scavenger hunt to fill this in and the data locations move around from month to month).
As you can see, of the nearly 3.7 million people who have selected a private plan or been put in Medicaid or CHIP, fully 88% are on the government dole (subsidized or full Medicare).
The interesting new data is on the plan selection breakdown between subsidized and un-subsidized. This leads to an interesting finding that is a bit non-obvious from the report itself because the data is spread all over the report. But lets look at conversion of applicants to plan selection based on whether folks are subsidized or subsidized.
For the 2,383,131 applicants who find they are no going to be subsidized, only 436,603 have selected a plan, for a 18% conversion rate
For the 2,756,667 applicants who find they will get supported by the taxpayer, 1,646,237 selected a plan, far a 60% conversion rate.
In essence, applicants are more than 3 times more likely to sign up if they are getting taxpayer money. The exchanges are not selling health care, they are selling subsidies. People sign up, check to see if they have money coming, and go away if they don't and stay if they do.
The next really interesting piece of data would be the demographics and health status of the 18% who did sign up for an unsubsidized plan. I would not be at all surprised if the demographics there were far, far worse than the average. Emerging hypothesis: People come to the exchange, and sign up if they get a subsidy, or if they have health problems or high risk.
The proletatrianization of the middle class has been a Marxist goal from the beginning. To this end, Obamacare is making great strides. I will get my new Obamacare enrollment summary out soon, but apparently 79% of the people buying private policies are subsidized. Add to this all the people who are being added to Medicare, and my guess is that over 90% of enrollments are into plans fully or partially funded by taxpayers. Since almost by definition, these are all people who were paying their own way before, these are all people converted from individual responsibility to wards of the state.
And don't forget my 9 predictions for Obamacare stories in 2014. Remember this one?
3. Despite fewer exchange enrollments than expected, total Federal subsidy payments higher than expected
Here are a few shoes that are left to drop for Obamacare:
- Millions complain about their doctor no longer being in-network
- Thousands of companies are finding it cheaper to drop coverage and pay Obamacare penalties than continuing to provide health care coverage under new rules
- Despite fewer exchange enrollments than expected, total Federal subsidy payments higher than expected
- Emergency rooms overflow with new Medicaid patients that no private doctor will take on
- Exchange-sold health policies, particularly the unsubsidized ones, were mainly bought by the old and sick
- Obama Administration works to bail out health insurers via a number of different avenues
- Small to mid-size companies are shocked as Obama Administration finally reveals new record-keeping requirements
- After 5 years of 3-4% growth, health care spending skyrockets in 2014
- ________ health insurance company dropping coverage in ____(state)_______
- Hackers steal tens of thousands of names and social security numbers from health care exchange computers.
I will score myself as the year progresses to see how many of these we actually see. I would not be surprised to see every one of these.
...This is the sensation of the moment, from Barack Obama's Twitter account (apparently real and not a spoof)
Expect this to be the most photo-shopped image of the next 24 hours. My guess is that this is the new punishment for not being insured -- they send this guy to your house to watch MSNBC with you all day.
This weekend our family dog, the world's largest Maltese at over 12 pounds but still a small dog, was attacked by a coyote. They redid the golf course nearby into a links course and ever since we have had an enormous pack of coyotes out there -- the other night I saw a dozen hanging out together.
Yesterday the coyote got into a fenced area and grabbed Snuggles (please no name jokes today) in its jaws and was carrying her off when my daughter saw it and screamed and yelled until it dropped our dog and went away. If my daughter had had a gun, that coyote would have been blown away -- my daughter was in total mama bear mode.
We took the dog to the emergency animal hospital, and eventually to their surgery center. Snuggles was put on oxygen and an IV and within a few hours had a surgeon operate on her chest, stitching closed holes in her chest wall on both sides of her body. So that is how we spent our weekend.
Today she is doing OK, but is still sluggish and won't eat. We are hoping for the best, and that she will beat the odds (most dogs this size are DOA from coyote attacks). Here she is with her pink bandages, still in the oxygen tent.
Postscript: It was interesting to go through the process of getting emergency care in the veterinary world. At each step of the process we got a detailed cost estimate in advance of the charges we could expect. We were able to request her medical records at any time, and they were both detailed and impressive. Every step was documented. We saw her x-rays and got pictures and video from the surgery to show us exactly what damage had to be repaired and how they did it. The two locations we have been to (the local hospital and the surgery center) both are part of VCA, It has not been cheap, but the care has been impressive.
One odd conclusion to this is that there is something to be said for the old-style communal hospital ward vs. the private rooms of today. One of the reasons I feel good that they are keeping an eye on Snuggs (as the men of the household call her to avoid embarassment) is that all the critical animals are essentially in cages and enclosures in the same room, where someone always is there to see immediately if they are in distress.
Update: Got the bill today for the surgery. Pretty much exactly what they promised in advance. Not cheap -- I think I am going to rename this dog Steve Austin
Update #2: I don't really blame the coyote - nature red in tooth and claw and all that. Anger at the coyote is just cover for my personal guilt that we did not make things safer for her. We are making changes right now to give her a safer area to run around and do her business.
Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.
They are part of an unusual informal health insurance system that has developed in New York in which independent practitioners were able to get lower insurance rates through group plans, typically set up by their professional associations or chambers of commerce. That allowed them to avoid the sky-high rates in New York’s individual insurance market, historically among the most expensive in the country....
The predicament is similar to that of millions of Americans who discovered this fall that their existing policies were being canceled because of the Affordable Care Act. Thecrescendo of outrage led to Mr. Obama’s offer to restore their policies, though some states that have their own exchanges, like California and New York, have said they will not do so.
But while those policies, by and large, had been canceled because they did not meet the law’s requirements for minimum coverage, many of the New York policies being canceled meet and often exceed the standards, brokers say. The rationale for disqualifying those policies, said Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, was to prevent associations from selling insurance to healthy members who are needed to keep the new health exchanges financially viable.
Siphoning those people, Mr. Levitt said, would leave the pool of health exchange customers “smaller and disproportionately sicker,” and would drive up rates.
Alicia Hartinger, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said independent practitioners “will generally have an equal level of protection in the individual market as they would have if they were buying in the small-group market.” She said the president’s offer to temporarily restore canceled polices applied to association coverage, if states and insurers agreed. New York has no plans to do so.
Donna Frescatore, executive director of New York State of Health, the state insurance exchange, said that on a positive note, about half of those affected would qualify for subsidized insurance under the new health exchange because they had incomes under 400 percent of the poverty level, about $46,000 for an individual.
I still do not understand how anyone could consider it a "positive" that 50% of people who were previously self-reliant now become wards of the state.
As I did in October, here are the Obamacare Exchange activity numbers to date, based on their recent report. Hopefully this presentation is a lot clearer than the report.
I know the nomenclature is kludgy, but it is the report that is a pain to work with. No CEO would ever let one of his business units get away with this garbage. The report shifts from visitors and applications to people covered by applications, presumably to pump the numbers up. This means, for example, that the 364,682 number of people who have selected a plan is actually the number of people covered by plans that have been selected (yeah, awkward, I know). Given that they have on average 2 people covered per plan in their application pool, the actual number of selected plans is half this number.
That is the kind of cr*p one has to put up with in this report. Further, there is no actual enrollment data, just number of people who have put a plan in their online shopping cart. Worse, they have a split of subdidized vs. unsubsidized in their applicant pool, but not for the plan selections. How many of the selected plans are subsidized. My bet is that it is a high percentage, which is why they won't tell us. Someday we will find that few of these people are actually selecting plans they intend to pay for with their own money.
From the recent exchange activity report (I can't call it their enrollment report because they do not actually report enrollment numbers)
- Number of people added to Medicaid or CHIP: 803,077
- Number of people who have selected** a private plan: 364, 682
The Administration knows, but refuses to tell us what percentage of the 364,682 are eligible for subsidies. By the unfailing rule of political life, this means the news is bad (ie the percentage subsidized is high). We do know the percentage of applicants who were determined to be eligible for subsidies: 41%. Since a lot of people who go through the process are doing it just to see if they get a subsidy, there is good reason to believe that applicants who actually are selecting policies will be subsidized at a higher rate, but certainly no less than 41%. So using that number we come up with
- Medicaid or CHIP: 803,077
- Subsidized private: 153,166 (at least, probably more)
- Entirely private: 211,516 (probably less)
So, at best, only 18% of the people enrolling** in an exchange are doing so with their own money. 82% or more are doing so partially or entirely with taxpayer money. Note that these are all people, by definition, who were paying for their own health care before, so the one thing the exchanges are definitely doing is converting independent citizens to government dependents at an 80% rate.
By the way, I am pretty sure the CBO did not score the PPACA as being "deficit neutral" based on more than double as many Medicaid applicants as private applicants and a less than 20% unsubisidized rate.
** These are not actual enrollments until the customer pays. Essentially these are the number of people who have put a plan in their online shopping cart.
For several years I have feared that my high-deductible health insurance would be illegal. I am a big believer in high deductible insurance. First, it is real insurance, requiring that I pay day-to-day expenses but protecting me from catastrophic bill. Second, it improves the health care system by providing incentives for consumers to actually price-shop services.
Well, I was wrong. In fact, most people see to be getting higher deductibles than they want.
My only excuse is that the Obama Administration has acted for three years as if they hated high-deductible health coverage and were planning to make it go away. Kathleen Sebelius has said on a number of occasions that it is not "real insurance" (she believes that insurance should actually be pre-paid medical care). Seriously, here is an example of what she was saying:
At a White House briefing Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said some of what passes for health insurance today is so skimpy it can't be compared to the comprehensive coverage available under the law. "Some of these folks have very high catastrophic plans that don't pay for anything unless you get hit by a bus," she said. "They're really mortgage protection, not health insurance."
She is saying this all while the policies being prepared for the exchange were exactly the kind of coverage she was speaking out against. And she had to know -- I cannot believe a former state insurance commissioner was not looking at what policies were being prepared for the exchange. After all, her organization made the last minute decision to hide policy pricing from the public (e.g. deleted the window shopping functionality) and this almost certainly was in response to seeing the policies being prepared for the exchange and realizing the pricing and features were not going to make people happy.
By the way, there is a certain schizophrenia here that is entirely political: These new policies have a $10,000 deductible, but they pay 100% for condoms? They may well be creating a combination of catastrophic insurance and pre-paid medical care that has the worst of both approaches.
Politicians lie. But what is it about this administration that lies in ways that are inevitably going to be discovered, in just a few months? Can they really be so focused on getting through each individual news cycle that this kind of behavior makes sense?
Long lines in waiting rooms of hospital emergency rooms are often misinterpreted as solely due to demand from the uninsured. Certainly some of the people are there because they have no insurance and they know hospitals have to provide them care. But many of the people in that waiting room do have insurance through Medicare. But they cannot find a doctor who will treat them at Medicare's combination of low reimbursement rates and onerous paperwork requirements.
Five minutes with using supply and demand curves and the most basic lessons of microeconomics would have predicted this. In fact I did, about a year ago.
Almost three years ago, I wrote over 5000 words on problems with Obamacare in three parts (part 1: information, part 2: incentives, part 3: rent-seeking. Since then I have discussed how Obamacare is forcing the retail service sector into a part-time work model, how my policy was dropped, how the real price increases are coming next year, and how millions of dropped corporate policies will soon follow.
Not one single word was about the web site.
We haven't even gotten to the point where the real problems of Obamacare will manifest themselves. While the backlash may be very real right now, we are still in the pre-season.
One of the real frustrations I have with Obamacare is that I believe we were on the cusp of a revolution in health care costs and payment systems, which the PPACA will likely kill. As more and more of us adopted high-deductible health insurance plans, there was an increasing transparency in pricing, and new delivery models were emerging to serve this consumer-based, non-third-party payer health niche.
I think this even more as I read about the CMS revising its future health care cost inflation numbers to take into account a flattening of medical price inflation that has been occurring over the last few years. The Left has hilariously claimed credit for this cost reduction via some kind of time-travelling effect of not-yet-implemented PPACA measures. But Charles Blahous reads the CMS report more carefully and finds that the PPACA has nothing to do with these inflation reductions, and in fact is if anything slowing the cost reduction progress.
The obvious point that leaps out from this graph is that the chief CMS actuary found that the ACA would increase national health expenditures through 2016. Not content to let the tables speak for themselves on this point, CMS was explicit in the text of its memorandum that the ACA increased the near-term cost projections:
“The estimated effects of the PPACA on overall national health expenditures (NHE) are shown in table 5. In aggregate, we estimate that for calendar years 2010 through 2019, NHE would increase by $311 billion or 0.9 percent, over the updated baseline projection that was released on June 29, 2009. Year by year, the relative increases are largest in 2016, when the coverage expansions would be fully phased in…The increase in total NHE is estimated to occur primarily as a net result of the substantial expansions in coverage under the PPACA…”
...CMS is now projecting slower health care expenditure growth than they were in 2009 and 2010. CMS’s current projection of 2016 health spending totaling 18.4% of GDP is 1 percentage point lower than its June 2009 estimate (19.4%) and 0.9 points lower than its February 2009 estimate (19.3%).
Why did CMS lower its estimates of future health spending? It wasn’t because of the ACA. We know this for a fact because CMS has released a memorandum detailing the reasons for changes in their ten-year outlook since April 2010. Here are the factors CMS cited, and the percentage of the improvement each was responsible for:
1) Medicare/Medicaid/other programs “unrelated to the ACA” (50.7% of improvement).
2) Other factors “unrelated to the ACA” (26.1%).
3) Updated data on historical spending growth (21.8%).
4) Updated macroeconomic assumptions (6.1%).
Now, that adds up to 104.7% of the total improvement. The reason these four factors add to more than 100% is that a fifth factor, the “impact of the ACA,” worked against the improvement. Per CMS, adjusting the April 2010 projections for the subsequent impact of the ACA shows it further increasing spending over ten years (equal to and opposite from 4.7% of the total change).
Kevin Drum thinks it is an insight to his readers that the insurance companies are a source of support for President Obama in keeping Obamacare alive. And perhaps it is a surprise. After all, most of the anti-insurance company rhetoric was for the progressives, who are always fired up for any endeavor they think will punish a private corporation.
The rest of us understand that of course the health insurance industry is all for Obamacare. For them, this is the greatest bit of crony legislation in history. For all the Administration rhetoric, essentially the US government has required that every citizen buy their product, and subsidizes many of these purchases with taxpayer money. Corporatism is rampant nowadays, a bipartisan affliction, but ethanol is that only other industry I can think of that has been granted this ultimate crony grail of subsidies combined with a requirement to purchase (though maybe ethanol wins because, at least for cellulosic ethanol, there is actually a mandate to purchase a product that does not even exist).
Politicians frequently argue by anecdote. I don't generally find this compelling -- after all, one can find an anecdote about just about anything among 300 million people.
But for those who do believe that an anecdote proves their case -- doesn't a reversal of fortune within that anecdote then disprove their case? How can a particular person's experience be entirely generalizable, and then suddenly not be so when the facts change?
Back in October, Sanford had written a letter to the White House to share her good news. The 48-year-old single mother of a teenage son diagnosed with ADHD had just purchased what she considered to be affordable insurance on the Washington state exchange....
Her heartfelt letter made it to the President's hands and then into his October 21 speech.
"'I was crying the other day when I signed up. So much stress lifted.'" Obama said, reading from Sanford's letter.
The president said Sanford's story was proof, despite the technical problems with the healthcare.gov website, that the Affordable Care Act was working....
But then, after Obama mentioned her story, Sanford started having problems. Sanford said she received another letter informing her the Washington state health exchange had miscalculated her eligibility for a tax credit.
In other words, her monthly insurance bill had shot up from $198 a month (she had initially said $169 a month to the White House but she switched plans) to $280 a month for the same "gold" plan offered by the state exchange....
Last week, Sanford received another letter from the Washington state exchange, stating there had been another problem, a "system error" that resulted in some "applicants to qualify for higher than allowed health insurance premium tax credits."...
The result was a higher quote, which Sanford said was for $390 per month for a "silver" plan with a higher deductible. Still too expensive
A cheaper "bronze" plan, Sanford said, came in at $324 per month, but also with a high deductible - also not in her budget.
Then another letter from the state exchange with even worse news.
"Your household has been determined eligible for a Federal Tax Credit of $0.00 to help cover the cost of your monthly health insurance premium payments," the latest letter said.
Hospitals are required to treat everyone who shows up at the door, which results in a substantial amount of uncompensated care that hospitals must spread into their rate structure for other patients (and which also gives the lie to the syllogism that being uninsured means one does not have access to health care).
Supposedly, the PPACA was going to eliminate all these costs. Actually, it does not eliminate these costs, it just changes who subsidizes them. Currently, other hospital patients (and their insurers) subsidize this care. In the PPACA medicaid expansion, some of this subsidy would shift to taxpayers (whether the actual amount of costs subsidized would go up or down depends on your assumptions as to whether the Feds or the hospitals are better at managing them).
But hospitals think they might have found a third approach. By law, insurance companies cannot legally turn down any applicants, particularly through the exchanges, based on their health condition. So why not have the hospital (or its non-profit Foundation) buy policies for its perennially most expensive uncompensated patients?
US hospitals are exploring ways to buy “Obamacare” insurance plans for their sickest and poorest patients as they strain under the weight of tens of billions of dollars in uncompensated costs from the uninsured.
...The controversy is another reminder of the complexity of the US healthcare system, where hospitals are forced to pay about $40bn a year in so-called “uncompensated care”. People who are not insured go to emergency rooms because they cannot legally be turned away, and often hospitals bear the brunt of the costs.
“Hospitals are considering it,” says Mindy Hatton, general counsel of the American Hospital Association, the hospital lobby group. “Hospitals shouldn’t be on the front lines delivering preventive care that patients should be receiving in a clinic or doctor’s office. That doesn’t make sense for anyone.”
This is insurance companies' worst nightmare, of course. It would not take very much of this sort of thing to trash the whole insurance market.
The Administration response to all this has been typical of its behavior through the whole PPACA implementation. In general their approach to all new problems has been to:
- Make it clear that it hadn't really thought very deeply or completely about important implementation issues
- Make snap implementation decisions to tactically deal with one problem only to find they had created new problems
- When everything gets really messy, claim broad dictat-by-press-release powers it is not clear the law actually gives them
In this case, the Administration was faced with questions from Representative Jim McDermott. He asked if exchange-sold health plans were considered Federal Qualified Health Plans (QHP) under the law. If so, he pointed out that several of the things the Administration had discussed (e.g. allowing insurers to offer monetary inducements to customers who maintained good health habits) could be illegal under anti-kickback provisions.
As usual, it was pretty clear the Administration had no answer. Or more accurately, had five different answers from five different people and agencies. Kathleen Sebelius wrote back to McDermott that no, exchange sold plans were not QHP's and so the anti-kickback law did not apply. This tactically solved McDermott's issue. But it created large new issues, since it is the anti-kickback law that would have prevented hospitals from buying exchange plans for their most expensive patients. If exchange plans are not QHP's, then hospitals considered that buying such plans was now legal.
All Sebelius has been able to do to temporarily quiet this mess has been to claim vague and unlimited powers to regulate virtually any behavior related to the exchanges. Like Obama, she believes her press releases have force of law. But in fact, even if she does have the claimed regulatory power, she actually has to go through a rules-writing process before any such rules can take effect. These are structured, drawn out affairs with long delays for public comment. This is the type of thing she needed to be doing 18 months ago.
Got this from some Republican group (the "virtue" of being a libertarian is that I get bipartisan spam).
Tim Bishop = ObamaCare
Bishop Has Been a Co-Conspirator in the Disaster That is ObamaCare; It’s Time for Him to Apologize For This Colossal and Expensive Mistake
WASHINGTON – Today, in a rambling press conference, President Obama admitted he “fumbled” the ObamaCare rollout. And the president even warned of more problems to come.
Tim Bishop has been a vocal ObamaCare supporter from the beginning—voting for the bill in 2010 and giving the president a blank check on ObamaCare time and time again. Now that the law is becoming more of a disaster every day, Bishop needs to answer for the higher premiums and canceled plans facing families in his district.
Didn't even know who this dude was until I checked (US Representative from NY, apparently). I expect to see a lot of this. At least for now. Things can change quickly. After all, just 30 days ago the Republicans were supposedly on the ropes from self-inflicted wounds vis a vis the shutdown. Now, no one even remembers it.
I have not seen anyone notice this yet, but perhaps it is just because I have obsessed over the pathetically bad Commonwealth Fund survey whose findings were demolished by the numbers in the October report (here and here). Well, it turns out, the October report actually proudly highlights the Commonwealth Funds report, and quotes this line from the Commonwealth Fund in Appendix D:
Of those who have visited the Marketplace, 21 percent enrolled in a plan.
WTF are you doing including this survey finding in a report that essentially makes a laughing stock of this very finding? Let's review what numbers we have in the October report:
- From our chart here, the people covered by a "clicked" plan (sorry, but that is their circumlocution, not mine) were 106,185 (note this is generous because it is not actual enrollments, which will be less)
- From the same chart, the people who were found eligible for Medicaid were 396, 261 (note this is generous as this is not actual enrollments, which will be less).
- Finally, from the same source are total web visitors times 1.78 family members per visitor (to make our ratio apples to apples) of 47,840,217. See here for further explanation of why this calculation is necessary
This gives us a percentage of web visitors of 1% that managed to do something kindof sortof close to enrollment.
This demonstrates just how insane the 21% figure is from the deeply flawed Commonwealth study. So why in the hell is the Obama Administration quoting it as authoritative in their report? Do they think anyone is dumb enough to use the 21% figure instead of the 1% figure? Is this just providing ammunition to political hacks who want to spin the story in Obama's favor? Did the Administration or possibly OFA actually pay for that study?
The only effect including that 21% number has on me is to say that Obama likely has a bigger problem -- If 21% of visitors THINK they enrolled and less than 1% actually did so, aren't a lot of people in for a rude shock?
I did not want this to get lost -- in an Enrollment report that used the word "enroll" or some variant 229 times, the one thing the report was missing was the actual number of people who had enrolled. On the Medicaid side, the report said how many had been found eligible but not how many had enrolled. On the private side, the best we get is this, which is just a classic of the political art:
106,185 (10 percent) of the 1,081,592 total Marketplace plan eligible persons have already selected a plan by clicking a button on the website page.
The obvious language would have been "106,185 enrolled in a plan" or "bought a plan." But it does not say this, despite the fact that the Obama Administration certainly has the relevant number. What this means is that 106,185 people ... OK, a quick aside. It is not actually 106,185 people being successful on the web. This is the number of people who would be covered in plans "clicked on" by visitors. The total number of clicks is well under this -- likely something like 60,000, if the ration of 1.78 persons per application holds from the other numbers in the report. So this is the number of people covered in something like 60,000 plans that visitors did the equivalent of putting in the online shopping cart but may not yet have paid for.
Well, maybe the number paid is really close to 106,185. Hah! I can disprove that quite simply: We were not told the number. QED it sucks.
Well, so much for the implicit gag order Obama has had on the insurance companies. Bet we will find out a lot more interesting details about the exchange rollouts now.
[T]he White House has its own idea to stop the bleeding: Allow insurers to renew existing plans in 2014 (which means they could continue into 2015) while forcing them to send Landrieu-like letters explaining why their plans don’t conform to the Affordable Care Act’s standards.
This doesn’t really ensure anyone can actually keep their plan — which means it also doesn’t affect premiums in the exchanges. But it makes it easier for Democrats to blame insurers for canceling these plans. And it perhaps makes it easier for the White House to stop congressional Democrats from signing onto something like Landrieu or Udall.
The insurance industry is furious. They’ve been working with the White House to get HealthCare.Gov up and running and they’ve been devoting countless man hours to dealing with the problems and they’ve been taking the heat from their customers over canceled plans, and now the Obama administration wants to make them into a scapegoat.
“This doesn’t change anything other than force insurers to be the political flack jackets for the administration,” an insurance industry insider told Evan McMorris-Santoro. “So now, when we don’t offer these policies, the White House can say it’s the insurers doing this and not being flexible.”
This is like telling GE to reintroduce 100 watt lightbulbs on thirty days notice, and then blaming them if they don't do it. Or as I tweeted earlier,
— Coyoteblog (@Coyoteblog) November 14, 2013
Update: Left rallying around Obama, spreading the word that cancellations are all the insurance companies' fault. I am SO glad I am not affiliated with a political party such that I would feel the need to embarrass myself to support some flailing politician on my team.
The Left has been calling cancelled policies "sub-standard" for months now. For three years Obama's own folks were estimating that over half of individual policies would have to be cancelled due to the law, and in fact they purposely wrote the regulations narrower to invalidate the maximum number of policies. But now cancellations are the insurance companies' fault??
President Barack Obama said Thursday that insurers will be able to continue health-insurance coverage next year for current policy holders that otherwise would be canceled under the new health-care law....
"Insurers can offer consumers the option to renew their 2013 health plans in 2014 without change, allowing these individuals to keep their plans," a senior White House official said, previewing Mr. Obama's announcement. These consumers will be given the opportunity to re-enroll, the official said, essentially extending the so-called grandfather clause in the 2010 health overhaul that allowed people to keep their plans if they were in place before the law passed.
"This step today is in the interest of fixing some of the challenges that have arisen" since then, the official said.
Under the plan, insurers are required to notify consumers whether their renewed plans don't include coverage that was required under the new health law, which set minimum coverage standards. They must tell consumers that new insurance options and possibly tax subsidies may be available for policies bought through online federal marketplace.
1. The President announced this today to try to head off Congressional legislation to do the same thing. Have we just given up on the rule of law? Can the President unilaterally modify any law he pleases? Shouldn't a modification in existing legislation have to come from the Legislature? Can we just make it official and change the Constitution to say that the President can alter any legislation he wants as long as his party originally passed it?
2. How is this even going to be possible? My understanding is that insurance companies spend months preparing the pricing and features of their products for the next year. The have done no preparation to offer these plans in 2014, because, you know, they were (and still are, whatever the President says in a news conference) illegal. Its like your wife telling you to take the next exit when you are in the left lane driving 75 miles an hour in heavy traffic and the exit is about 100 yards away. With 31 business days between now and the new year, how are they supposed to do this? Or are they even expected to be able to do so? Is this the President's way to blame shift to insurance companies?
Insurance source: WH fix places "onus on us even tho they know we can't" effectively extend cancelled policies given rates/logistics probs
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) November 14, 2013
More from insurance industry source on WH O-care fix: "This is a joke - doesn't change anything but allow WH to blame insurance companies"
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) November 14, 2013