Free Markets, Free People

Health Care Warning Bells

Just a few of the gems beginning to come out of the Democratic health care reform proposals.

Keith Hennessey wonders if the Democrats really want to tax the uninsured because as the bill is structured a) not everyone will have insurance and b) not everyone will be able to afford it meaning c) they pay a tax. He gives 2 examples:

* Bob is a single 50-year old non-smoking small business employee who makes $50K per year before taxes and does not have health insurance.
* Bob cannot afford a $1,600 bare bones health insurance policy, much less a $3K — $5K policy.
* Bob would get no subsidies under this bill, and his employer would face no penalty for not providing him with health insurance.
* Bob would end up without health insurance and would have to pay $1,150 more in taxes.

Now, what you can expect is not that Democrats would stick with the provisions of the bill, but instead they’d find some way to fold Bob into the program further raising the cost.

Same with Freddy and Kelsey:

* Freddy and Kelsey are a 40-year old couple with two kids. They own and run a small tourist shop in Orlando, Florida.
* They are the only employees, and earn a combined $90K per year.
* They cannot afford even an inexpensive health insurance plan, and so the House bill would make them pay $2,050 in higher taxes.

So given those figures (and be sure to read the whole post by Hennessey) and the estimate of 8 million falling into this category, obviously the bill will cost more than projected.

Second point.

When we first saw the paragraph Tuesday, just after the 1,018-page document was released, we thought we surely must be misreading it. So we sought help from the House Ways and Means Committee.

It turns out we were right: The provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of “Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage,” the “Limitation On New Enrollment” section of the bill clearly states:

“Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day” of the year the legislation becomes law.

So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won’t be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.

While assuring everyone that the same choices we now have would still in the system, this was discovered a mere 16 pages into the 1,000 page monstrosity. I’m sure there are other gems to be had in there as well. But the obvious point here is this puts people who make the choice, for instance, to go into business for themselves, in a situation where they are unable to buy health insurance from a private carrier, whether they want too or not. Of course, that will go a long way toward killing any private market in that niche of the insurance industry. And where will these people eventually end up? On a subsidized public plan, of course.

If that’s not bad enough, there’s the planned expansion of Medicaid. What the federal government plans to do is expand insurance coverage under Medicaid by 11 to 20 million people depending on which percentage above the poverty rate the final bill has. But states pay a large portion of Medicaid expenses. The House version calls on the fed to pick up all the expenses while promising to enact big savings in the program. The Senate version has the fed paying the full freight for 5 years. The latter is more likely to be the version that would pass simply because they can hold the “cost” numbers down a bit by doing so.

But not so in the states where the mandated expansion of Medicaid will end up having to be funded by each state’s taxpayers.

Keep these in mind as you hear cost figures bandied about by the blowhards on the Hill. They give used car salesmen a bad name.


26 Responses to Health Care Warning Bells

  • Gotta love those Orwellian terms coming out of Congress and the White House these days.

    “Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage” – preventing insurance companies from signing up new customers

    “holding down costs” – refusing the pay doctors, hospitals, and pharm companies the usual market rate

    “saving money” – making other people pay the price

  • Lots to digest in this post.

    I have written before that Universal Healthcare is coming to America, and as a younger Canadian, I never saw how our system unfolded in Canada, so I am watching things closely in the US.

    I think the best free-marketers can hope for is an option to continue to purchase private insurance coverage to receive care under the non-public system.   This option is unavailable to Canadians in the interest of “fairness and equity”.  One result: universal access to a waiting list for many, many procedures.

    It appears the draft of the bill prevents this option by making it illegal for insurance companies to write new policies.  You need to fight this with all the resources you have at your disoposal. Its the nose of a fully nationalized healthcare camel in your tent. 

    Also, look for union-friendly clauses in this bill too.  Another reason why our healthcare is so costly in Canada is because of the  public sector unions entrenched in our hospitals.  I have a staff member that earns $26 an hour working part time in the unionized cafeteria preparing meals for patients.  This wage is way above what a private contractor would charge for a similar service.  But the hospital rules prevent private contractors from conducting business in the hospital.  

    Bend over, grab your ankles because you guys are going to get it fast and hard. 

  • The outright hostility to freedom in the current administration and Democratic Congress is the elephant in the room that the media refuses to see. It’s one of the major reasons I don’t post or comment nearly as much these days. Until this foundational reality is acknowledged as a basis for discussion, there’s no point.

    Whether it’s giving de facto support to theocrats in Iran, outright support to a leftist thug wannabe in Honduras, taking over a major industry and de facto running it instead of allowing rule of law to put it through bankruptcy, pushing for the largest tax increase in history plus a massive new bureacracy with the power to exert dramatic new controls over every business and home in America in the name of highly questionable evidence on global warming, or forcing Americans into socialized healthcare whether they want it or not, these people demonstrate every week that they hate freedom and choice.

    These people really, really believe they need to have control over vast aspects of our lives and most of our money. They are reflexively hostile to anything that gives we serfs citizens any real choices.

    The only good aspect is that at some point this reality may be acknowledged by the common citizen, even if our lapdog media never get around to it. 2010 will tell us.

  • This is a form of slow death for the private sector. While the currntly insured are grandfathered in, as people change jobs, as they frequently do, they are precluded from joining the coverage of their new employer. The only choice they have is between GovCare and no insurance. The existing plans will wither and die, via attrition through retirement, layoffs, and career moves, while new entrants into the workforce will have no options. The benefits package offered by competing employers no longer can be a consideration, when assessing potential job offers, such as $XX,XXX per year with good health insurance, vs $YY,YYY with a crappy plan.

  • Let’s take a walk through Freddy and Kelsey’s house. You can tell it from the street, as it’s the nice $550,000 bungalow with the brand new GM SUV and the sporty Toyota Prius in the driveway. Inside, we see the semblences of middle america life: a modest, wall-mounted 48′ LCD flat-screen television (not to be confused with the smaller flat-screens in the kitchen, the bedroom, the rec room and the older daughter’s bedroom), the family Wii in the rec room next to mom’s treadmill, a healthy subscription to the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Mother Jones and The New Republic, a neatly arranged collection of Whole Foods grocery bags used to save the planet while purchasing groceries at 25% markup from average retail, and a calming swimming pool in the back yard.
    Yes, for a family of moderate means, life is good. All except that pesky, unaffordable healthcare insurance policy.
    Think I’m kidding? I just have to walk to my next door neighbor’s house to see several new pickup trucks, a new Jeep Rubicon, several ATVs and snowmachines, and the obligatory assortment of consumer electronics. Yet as a younger couple (age 30-32), they have no health insurance since “it’s just too expensive.” They can’t wait for ObamaCare to pay for it for them, so it’s “free.” I think I’m going to take their ATVs and one of the flat-screens from them when ObamaCare passes. I can’t afford those since I (gasp) actually pay for our health insurance.

    • Looks like somebody wasn’t invited to Freddy and Kelsey’s latest block party.
      But I know what you mean, Hatless.  I have the same problem… well, a similar problem.
      My neighbor has a $300k house, two $30k+ brand new cars, a $50k boat, a swimming pool, and of course your assorted electronics costing almost $10k.  And that selfish prick wants me to help him pay for his 5 kid’s private schooling.
      Since I don’t have any children, I get the raw end of that deal.  Looks like I’ll need to have me some rug rats pretty soon just to even the score.  And with government health care, I can have him help me pay for my kid’s health care.
      Pretty sweet deal.  I don’t know why we shouldn’t just get it over with and once a month everyone in the neighborhood meet and we can have a key party and swap paychecks.  Then he can send his kids to private school and I can take the boat to the gulf for the weekend.
      Hey, I know.  We can have vouchers for people who want to opt out of Obamacare.
      Vouchers for EVERYBODY.

      • And that selfish prick wants me to help him pay for his 5 kid’s private schooling.

        Nah. He just wants his part of the taxes back that he’s still paying for public education even though his children don’t atttend public schools. Like you pay even though you have no children. Same raw end of the deal for both of you.

        • Well that’s all fair and good.  But then shouldn’t I get my tax dollars back?  Even though I don’t have any children to receive vouchers?  If not, then I’m still getting the raw end of the deal.  Paying for others to educate their children.
          Then of course everyone who pays property tax around here will want their tax money back.  Children or no.
          And for those unfortunate not to own property?  Those not receiving any tax money back?  Well…
          “Don’t worry little Johnny, I’m sure you’ll earn enough money digging ditches one day to pay for a GED and then who knows… Community College degree before you turn 40.  Aim high, youngin’.

          Hey!  What are you doing you little brat!?

          • If there will be tax dollars spent on education, then the parents should get to pick which school their child’s share of that money goes to. If that is a private school, that’s their business.

            If the school refuses to participate in or it’s students cannot pass some minimum agreed on standards of learning–to which standard “public” schools are also held–then the share of money they recieve should be proportionally de-rated.

            Do you think there should be any tax dollars spent on children’s education?

            Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

          • If there will be tax dollars spent on education, then the parents should get to pick which school their child’s share of that money goes to. If that is a private school, that’s their business.
            If they’re using my tax dollars, then no, it’s not just their business.  It’s my business as well.
            If my assh*le neighbor wants his tax money back, I’m cool with that.  It’s only fair though, that I should also get my tax dollars back.  Yes?
            But if you’re going to take my tax dollars, give it to someone who doesn’t pay taxes so they can educate their kids, then goddammit, I want a say in how it is spent.
            Would you suggest that people who pay taxes shouldn’t get a say in how those tax dollars are spent?
            I think it was back in 1999, when a Kansas school board voted to include creationism in public schools.  Remember?  And then they were summarily voted out of office.
            That, my friend, is an example of how tax payers get a say in how their tax dollars are spent.
            If one believes that anyone can get vouchers for private schooling, then the same vein would suggest that anyone can get a health care voucher for private insurance.
            Anyway you slice it, it’s wealth redistribution.  Socialism comes in many shapes and sizes.

          • Property taxes? Are those Federal?

          • Property taxes? Are those Federal?
            Well, my bank account can’t tell the difference.  Can yours?
            State, Federal, Municipal, County, MUD…  They’re all taxes.  It’s still wealth redistribution.

          • “It’s my business as well.”
            And as I mentioned, the limit of it being your business is that the funding should be prorated in proportion to how well certain minimal standards of learning are met, but only if the same standard apply to the “public” schools as well.
            Or didn’t you read that?
            Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

          • Or didn’t you read that?
            Well, I read some kind of nonsense like that from you.  And it’s bullsh!t.
            There is no “limit” for it being my business, if it’s my tax dollars that are being spent.
            No matter how you slice it, it’s still income redistribution.  Sorry fellas, but your beloved voucher idea is just another form of socialism.  Taking money out of the pocket of a private citizen to give it to another private citizen, so they can spend it how they see fit.
            Of course there will always be some form of wealth redistribution in a publicly funded education system.  The difference with your voucher idea is that I would have no say in how my tax dollars are being spent.
            It must be that Tom Perkins doesn’t want tax payers to have a vote in how their tax dollars are being spent.  There is no other rational conclusion.

        • Now that I think about it…
          Hatless can rest easy and tell his friends Freddy and Kelsey, that because they obviously make a lot of money to buy all of these nice things they also pay a lot in federal income taxes, that they’re only getting some of their tax money back via “free” health care.
          Freddy and Kelsey are okay with me.  Because they’re so wealthy, not only are they getting some of their tax money back via “free” health care, they’re also no doubt paying for health care for someone else.
          Yeppers… Freddy and Kelsey, wealthy liberal assh*les that they are, are some pretty generous people.

  • And just so we’re all honest here: if/when ObamaCare passes, I’m all in for class warfare. We have to take it to the parasite before they kill our nation. Ridicule, shun, expose and mock them. Use a food stamps card at the grocery store to buy staples with our money, then buy beer, cigarettes, movies, lotto tickets and other discretionary items with “your” money? I’m calling you out. Receive the government health care? I’m calling you out. Buy a GM or Chrysler government car? Ditto. You’re the ruin of our economy. You’re sucking us dry.
    Expose the parasite, declare openly what it is and cause it to either change its ways or hide.

  • I am currrently shopping for healthcare. The most expensive plans for a family of 4 from Kaiser Permanente run about $1100 / month. The cheapest is $341.
    I don’t get how either of the examples “cannot afford” healthcare.

  • I fail to see why you complain about vouchers. Your tax money is gone, no matter where it is spent. Why do you care if part of it is spent sending your neighbors kids to private school using vouchers? In every voucher system I have read or heard about the vouchers are only worth a fraction of what the public system spends per student, leaving the public system with an increase in per pupil expenditures, which is supposed to be a good thing.

    Sounds more like envy or a dog-in-the-manger attitude.

    • Your tax money is gone, no matter where it is spent.
      Well then, that about solves our little nationalized health care debate, doesn’t it?  After all, your tax money is gone, no matter where it is spent.
      Thanks, tim.
      After all, where do I get off wanting a say in how my tax dollars are spent?

      • or…someone could explain why health care is the business of the Federal government in the first place.
        Just a thought, you know, like why Congress is concerned about NCAA championships (Joe Barton heard from me about that in no uncertain terms….) or why the Senate is concerned about the use of steroids in Professional Baseball.
        Let’s not lose sight over who’s about to take tax dollars for what reason.   Why exactly IS it the job of the Federal government in this case?

    • Your tax money is gone, no matter where it is spent.

      Yeah, it’s that part where my tax money is “gone” that bugs me.

  • Kate at small dead animals has a few good points about what happens after Obamacare


    `(a) In General- Each health insurance issuer that offers health insurance coverage in the small or large group market shall provide that for any plan year in which the coverage has a medical loss ratio below a level specified by the Secretary, the issuer shall provide in a manner specified by the Secretary for rebates to enrollees of payment sufficient to meet such loss ratio. Such methodology shall be set at the highest level medical loss ratio possible that is designed to ensure adequate participation by issuers, competition in the health insurance market, and value for consumers so that their premiums are used for services.

    Government will set the amount of profit (if any is allowed) for all insurance plans.

    • Speaking of believing anything – you voted for the guy in the Oval Office no doubt didn’t you?