Thursday, May 19, 2011

Up Up and Away

Employers whom the president peevishly ordered to "step up and start hiring" got more economic bad news yesterday when a study found that their healthcare costs will rise 8.5% next year, due in no small part to (surprise!) Obamacare.

The study cited three key causes adding to the cost increases. The first is the consolidation of more hospitals and physicians to meet government requirements... which reduces competition
and thus raises prices. The second is the increasing dependence on private insurance companies to make up the difference to hospitals and doctors for the habitual underfunding of Medicare (which is slated for $500 billion in cuts under Obamacare) and Medicaid. And as the insurance companies' costs go up, so do the premiums charged to employers.

The third reason is a significant increase in recession-related "stress-induced illnesses," which oddly seem to have skyrocketed since Barack Obama took control of the economy.

But it would be unfair of Hope n' Change to focus only on the areas in which Obamacare is causing costs to go up. So in the interest of journalistic integrity, we need to note that another
study has shown that many emergency rooms will not be charging more for their services in the future.

Unfortunately, it's because they're going out of business at a frightening rate... especially those emergency rooms which are most dependent on getting reimbursement from the government.
And as a result, the remaining emergency rooms must serve more patients, causing longer waits and allowing less attention.

If employer healthcare costs continued to rise at 8.5% a year as they are expected to in 2012, it would be catastrophic for the job market - but experts say that won't happen.

When Obamacare takes full effect in 2014, it will be much worse.


Angry Hoosier Dad said...

I may be guilty of letting my passions run roughshod over my common sense, but one of many reasons I support Sarah Palin for President so strongly is that I know she won't be afraid to take the "death panels" hammer and beat that nasty little socialist sh*t bloody with it.
Frankly, I don't see any other Republican out there with the balls to do it. Maybe Herman Cain, but I wouldn't bet any amount of money on his chances...right now. I think very highly of Michelle Bachmann and believe she'd be a great VP and future President, but like Sarah she hasn't announced yet. And don't even talk to me about Mitt, Mitch and Newt; Weak-as-water GOP establishment types all. Huntsman is Obama's chosen Republican and then who's left?

John the Econ said...

The upside is that more employers (even some states!) are shifting these increases to their employees. Up until recently, most citizens have remained blissfully ignorant of the real costs of their health care, being almost fully insulated from escalating costs by their employers. Too many people think of their health care in terms of $10-$20 co-pays. (and even then, they complain!) Such ignorance has encouraged both the seemingly limitless increase in costs, and a contempt for the system.

Perhaps now that more people are finally made to feel as though they have "skin in the game", they will realize that there is a cost to government mandates and meddling and will pay more attention to how they vote on this matter.

Pete(Detroit) said...

AHDad - I like Sarah too - but polls continually turn out that ~60% of voters (and like 55% of women!!) would not vote for her unless you put a gun to their head.
Kinda the way most of us feel about O...
I don't understand it, but that seems to be the way it is. Bachmann strikes me as being flighty - jumps in w/ quick response, then has to reverse later when more details are known - and no, can't think of anything off hand, but she just doesn't cut it for me.
LIKE Cain, and he seems to be getting some traction post debate - will be interesting to watch, and see what happens there. I like West, too, but I think he wants another term or two in the House, to work for his constituents..
Mitch Daniels looks good, if he decides to run.
Duncan Hunter from last time around I liked a lot...
Would like to see Jan Brewer jump in - THAT would shake the trees!

John - Very true - as more people are starting to realize the costs, there might actually be some interest in reducing them.

Suzy said...

I was in the hospital last year for what should have been a fairly short stay, but ended up being three days. By the third day I had the sneaking suspicion that they were milking my insurance company and I bet I was right. If I had medicaid, they'd have had me out of there the first day, probably. Instead, I had to wait a whole day to see specialists of any kind, and a whole second day to get the testing, and they tried to keep me a whole 'nother day because they didn't know where the doctors were to release me! I had to absolutely beg, and the nurses agreed because they needed my bed, and anyway, I was up and around asking when I could go home. I'm pretty sure they just wanted to keep me around for my insurance.

A friend who works at a hospital also says hospitals will charge you for services you did not receive on your insurance bill, also to make up for medicaid. He told us to check our bill carefully for anything NOT received because they do that.

Insurance companies cannot keep up with that kind of crazy spending....*sigh*

Chuck said...

I think we're supposed to take the blue pill. Or is it the red one? Doesn't matter, the solution is simple. Issue everyone their pill(s) and close emergency rooms.

Seriously, the solution to health care costs is simple: remove the middle man: the third-party payer system. Patients pay doctors. No more health insurance for routine care. Health insurance is not a bad idea, but it ought to be like car insurance. Your car insurance doesn't cover oil and filter changes. And it only covers certain catastrophes, depending on the level of insurance you have. How much money is skimmed off the top by Insurance companies to pay their employees and shareholders? they are very much “For Profit”.

If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it. I know, I know … I’m heartless! I don’t live in a million dollar home because I can’t afford it. I don’t drive a $50,000 car because I can’t justify it. I have insurance on my home and cars to the level I need based on their value to me. I used to have life insurance to protect my wife and kids in case something happened to me. Once the kids grew up and our savings reached our threshold goal, I dropped the life insurance (stupid concept anyway: you’re betting you will die and the insurance company is betting you won’t. To win the bet you have to die!).

I don’t have comprehensive or collision on 2 of my vehicles because they are well out of warranty, and their value is not great enough to warrant my continuing to gamble that I’ll cause an accident or that they’ll get stolen or catch fire.

If everyone had to pay as they go, they wouldn’t be going to the Emergency room for the sniffles or other routine care. If doctors had to be both good at what they do and competitive in price, costs would fall. Add a little sensible tort reform and they drop even further.

Or we make Gold-plated health care a right, press medical professionals into servitude, forgo freedom of choice for government control and … wait, that’s what the left wants, isn’t it.

Emmentaler Limburger said...

Obamacare: Healthcare and population control all wrapped together and tied with a bow!

@Pete(Detroit) I heard that Daniels is going to make the run. And I fully agree on Bachmann - she seems to me to be too interested in running for the microphone and getting in front of the cameras to my conservative likings. (Mayhap that is part of our problem as conservatives, though...) The unfortunate thing is that Beltway Gremlins and their tendency to try and jump the train of popularity puts me in suspicion of anyone in DC who seems to have popped to the fore with the Tea Party. Notably, she seems to have gained her popularity and notoriety from that, even to the extent of forming a "Tea Party" caucus. I mean, I appreciate her history, and I generally like what she says, but there's this undercurrent of distrust. I think 0bama is making me paranoid. Or maybe its $0r0s. One of 'em. Or both...

@JonTheEcon: I think those who have employer-provided healthcare plans have recognized the amount of skin they have in the game for about the past 20 years. I think you trivialize their (perhaps: our) understanding of it on the basis of only having to deal with copays. The true, personal economic truth of skyrocketing healthcare costs is the bigger and bigger chunk of personal, previously disposable income being consumed by them, even if they only represent the smallest percentage of the actual costs paid for that care. To my rather simple mind, our politicians - lawyers almost to the one - divert attention from the real issues surrounding these skyrocketing costs, much as they are doing regarding gasoline prices. They prefer to vilify the greedy pharmaceutical companies, the money-grubbing doctors, and the usurious insurance companies rather than focus on the blood-sucking lawyers who are ever-narrowing these others' opportunities for profit by bringing anything and everything to suit. Politicians' deflection of this point is probably more egregious than the deflection of blame from their environmentalist friends over gas prices as, being mostly made up of lawyers, there is clearly a conflict of interest in Congress executing their duties to the American people...

How about the skyrocketing cost of post-high school/college education? What's economic reality is this based on? Where's the outrage in congress over this?

'Nuff said. Time to go shake my pedometer some more - that's my new hobby

John the Econ said...

Chuck, most people don't have or want "insurance" as it's traditionally defined. Like you said, "Insurance" should only be expected to indemnify you against unfathomable losses. What most people really have and want isn't "insurance" but a "payment plan" where someone else handles the big bills, and they only have to dole out $10s and $20s when they have to. And they'd much prefer that someone else (be it their employer or the government) be the one to handle the "big bill" part.

As a self-employed, I've been living the way you suggest for years. I can tell you to the penny what I pay for my family's health care. (I'll bet very few people can do that!) I have a high-deductible plan that covers us only in case of a serious illness. (Fortunately, through the years we've been healthy enough to have never reached the deductible) But it does mean that I pay out-of-pocket for every doctor visit and every pill. And we shop long and hard for our health care. It's not easy, especially in a system designed where most people do not have to and therefore never ask what something actually costs before they "buy" it. Much of the time, it's as though the real price is actually a "secret".

This is what needs to change. People need to be aware of what things really cost. In fact, that's one reason that they like the system the way it is; because they are too scared to know!

Jim Hlavac said...

I'm for Gary Johnson - he's about the only experienced guy in the Republican mix without some RINO flaw -- and who actually ran a state for 8 years and built a business. His only "problem" is that he could care less about gay folks -- which is good, we're not important to the greater scheme of things. Though, that seems to be his "flaw" for so many people, sadly.

The rest of the numbnuts running think that we're the problem (though not Palin, which is why she's very popular among 1/2 the guys I know.)

But you should listen to Newt, Rick, Mitt, Tim, Michelle, Don, Mike, et al, get together with Bryan Fischer -- they all have -- who not only calls us "Nazis" and just the worst thing since mustard gas -- but he's been pushing a program of rounding us up at a cost of billions -- to incarcerate us and "cure" us like we're a bunch of hams, or simply kill us -- Fischer doesn't care -- he's calling for genocide. And these "candidates" are listening to this? And agreeing? And you think ObamaCare has "death panels"? It's absurd and sickening; and worrying.

What does it say when candidates for president think that a tiny harmless sliver of the population is the key threat to it all -- and nothing else is important? And how delusional is Bachmann for raising funds for a group called "You can run, but you can't hide, Inc." which is very clear that the only thing to be done with gay guys is "Execute" us. Really, "execute"! -- Oh yes she did -- it's bizarre and genocidal. And very delusional, very. We cannot be the lynchpin to it all -- it's lunacy. But, still, that's the meme coming from the "family values" crowd getting the ear of the Republican field -- kill the gay sons of American mothers! (And they never mention lesbians, I guess they're OK.) Egad. What a country. Stalin would giggle already.

Uganda wants to kill it's gay folks, we already got a Kenyan in office -- now what, are we to embrace the ways of East Africa completely?

And you all need to know this, educate yourself about this "family values" NO GAYS! movement. They want us dead. And Democrat Ruben Diaz, state senator of NY, held a rally where all the speakers agreed gays are "worthy of death." So don't think I pick on just Republicans, oh no. But is this Liberty for All? Is that what the oath of office is? "Kill the gays"? I'm the problem? I'm enraged and a little cranky, but I'm not responsible for this mess.

This is my choice? The destruction of the nation by communists or the destruction of me by Republicans? Geez, give us a state already and let us leave the Union if that'll help you all. We'll take Florida for the speedo weather and the shape of it (one must stay humorous for sanity's sake.)

Meanwhile, in the real world, if you think the 8.5% rise in health care costs is a lot now, wait until inflation really kicks in! Maybe if Fischer & pals get to kill 10,000,000 Americans it will help. I don't know. But I doubt it.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Readers- I'm enjoying the back and forth comments here this morning, and the many good points being raised. Like John the Econ, I'm self-employed (and have been for my entire career). That means I have to write a check for my income taxes 4 times a year (no invisible payroll deductions), I have to pay both halves of my social security payment, I pay every cent of my family's (painfully expensive) high-deductible health insurance, and subsequently pay full price for medical services. It definitely sharpens your awareness of what you're really paying... and heightens your resentment at being expected to pay for others who don't want to put in anything.

As Suzy points out, the underpayments of Medicare and Medicaid have virtually forced medical providers into routinely committing fraud just to stay afloat...and I've personally been victimized repeatedly (and with increasing frequency in recent years).

So yes, the healthcare system is broken...and more than any other single cause, it's the government that broke it. And now their solution is to make everything infinitely worse.

Going back to Chuck's comment, I find I increasingly favor the idea of "if you can't afford it, you can't have it." Whether it's a house, a car, another child, or (if uninsured) medical care.

Is that "heartless?" No. It's "incentivizing" people to get jobs and insurance.

Pete(Detroit) said...

Jim, face it - to 'family values' types, gay guys are just gross, gay chicks are hot. (well, some of 'em - some not even being lesbian can help enough...)
Also, gay or straight, women can still be impregnated.

And yah, the over the top gay bashing is one reason Santorum will not get my vote... I hope

Bobo said...

Again, I state, and I know Stilton commented on my statement yesterday, BUT where are all those politicians we voted in last November who said they were going to eradicate ObamaCare once they got into office? Correct, they don't have a majority in the Senate but why are they NOT even trying to pass legislation to repeal this piece of crap legislation? There just might be enough Democraps in the Senate who might want to keep their cushy job in 2012 and see the light that Republican might have a good chance of taking back the Senate in that election. Instead, they sit in their office and do nothing to better the situation. They are all nothing but self- serving pieces of chicken sh#t in my book, starting with my own Senators, McCain and Kyl, and on down the line.

@Pete(detroit)- Brewer is nothing but a career Arizona politician. She may have signed SB1070, but she's done nothing in her career to better the situation in AZ - other than signing the bill. She moves whichever way Russell Pearce and Sheriff Joe Arpaio tell her the wind is blowing. Hopefully all three are on their last legs, politically speaking.

Suzy said...

Chuck....I have a friend who is from India and their health care system works like that. Its cheaper than here, but its pay-as-you-go. I think they may have calamity insurance of some sort...??? But its no appointments, just walk-in and cash. She actually went to India for fertility problems one time when she was out visiting family. She went to the OB dr out there....paid cash...paid cash for the drugs...and there ya go.

Of course the poorest people are "out of luck" care, truly, and historically, is not a "basic human right". If it were a "basic human right" than it would have been available throughout all of history.

After all, cars have only been available for what, a century or two....but it doesn't make it a basic human right to own one. Or two. Or four.

I personally think McDonalds french fries should be a basic human right. That and chocolate.

Anonymous said...

I'm just happy to see Johnny's doctor over here at Hope n' Change!

Pete(Detroit) said...

Suzy - more like a 'basic human responsibility' - at least for the basics.. For catastrophic stuff, the tribe kept the best witch Dr they could afford.

Pete(Detroit) said...

Oh, btw Bobo thanx for 'insider perspective' on Jan Brewer. Good to know!

Chuck said...

I’m not completely heartless … really! There is a place for charity, and those down on their luck or with urgent needs beyond their means are rightly served by various charities in their community. And that’s great! I voluntarily give of my time, talent and treasure to charities of my choice. I just DON’T think it is, or ought to be, a function of government! The government has no business give my money to charities of their choice. For example, I do NOT support the goals and methods of Planned Parenthood and do not believe that tax dollars should be going there. Period. If someone else does support them, that is their right … and they can bloody well fund it without my money!

pryorguy said...

Ol Barry O is a very ambitious guy, isnt he? It is getting harder and harder to keep up with everything he wants to do...just imagine if this were two years from now! Might as well pack a bag!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Anonymous (four above)- It is a sad fact that in today's brutal economy, no cartoon character can earn a sufficient living appearing in only one strip.

@Chuck- I wholeheartedly agree that there's a place for charity, and I believe that most people are willing to provide it. The problem is getting the freeloaders and abusers out of the system, and especially getting the tiers of paid management out of the way. To me, that's why the best charities are local...where people can see where their money is going.

I'm not a heartless bastard, but if I'd rather give money to kids with AIDS instead of funding Cowboy poets, that should be my choice.

Suzy said...

I definitely agree there is a huge place for charities to help in medical bills. Many, MANY children get free care thanks to charities...I'd like see that continue.

Doktor Paulie said...

I'm fairly certain that the Tea Party candidate, whether-or-not that turns out to be the Republican nominee or a separate candidate, will beat Obama like a drum on the Obamacare and associated issues, so that the vast middle ground of indecisive (aka "independent") voters WILL understand the facts in the end, however much they might prefer to remain blithely ignorant.

If the Republicans insist on nominating a RINO, Romney, for instance, the Conservatives MUST desert the party wholesale, even at the cost of the 2012 elections, in order to either convince the Republicans that they can no longer take us for granted while inexorably sliding the party and the country left, or to send the Republicans the way of the Whigs and form a new party that will stand on principle. If we the people will not take a stand, our politicians surely won't. We have to think several elections ahead because otherwise we will just keep on slowly sliding left and wind up a fully socialist dung heap anyway.

On the important issue JimH raised: I've always thought of myself as a "family values" guy and I don't recall ever wanting any homosexuals (GLBTG) dead, put in concentration camps, cured like hams, or otherwise bothered, harassed, mocked or pestered. That would include one cousin of mine, one niece, a couple of current friends and my scuba dive buddy at a previous job who I reckon saved my life one day.

We might have to agree to disagree on some issues, or to continue the discussion on them, but none of us is going anywhere, so we'll find a way to get along.

And I STILL think Jim should run against Pelosi!

John the Econ said...

Yes Stilton, you know what I do; that if all Americans had to write big checks to the federal and state governments each quarter for the whole amount of their federal taxes due, and then actually had to write checks every single month for the whole amount of their health insurance, and then have to pay for their doctor visits and drugs with money out of their own pocket, there'd be a revolution in this country that would make the Tea Party movement just look pathetic by comparison.

I bet you also feel like I do when you see local, state and federal employees who will be expecting pensions that pay 50% to 90% of their current income when they retire along with 100% of their health care whine about having their co-pays increased by $10, or that they're going to have to pay another 5% of their insurance cost. Whaaaaaa!

Or how about listing to some middle class moron whine about how he/she can't afford their own health care because it's just too expensive, and then go on to brag about the new $600/month car they just leased!

America, we the genuinely productive are sick of hearing about it!

John the Econ said...

I don't know Doktor Paulie. The ugly secret about ObamaCare or like plans, is that most people secretly want it, or something like it, because they have a sense of how expensive health care really is, and deep in their heart they believe that under a government-run system, it will be someone else who will be footing the bill for their care. The age of the independent, self-sufficient American has waned. Generations now have been nursed in some form or another on the government tit, and secretly they don't want to stop.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Doktor Paulie- I also worry about getting a RINO candidate. My emotional reaction would be to ditch the Republicans and go third party, but it would easily throw the election to Obama...and my fear is that having him in charge until 2016 would put this country into a pit there's no climbing out of.

@John the Econ- It sounds like you've been spying on me; steam literally shoots out of my ears when people complain about small rises in their co-pays when I'm paying (literally) 10 or 20 times more for my coverage, and wouldn't know a co-pay if it bit me in the keester.

Moreover, I don't think it's a secret anymore that people want "the government" (ie, other people) to pay their bills. They don't give a rat's patootie about the economics, who gets hurt, or what it will do to our country as long as they can get it for "free."

Part of that is (the worst side of) human nature. But just as big a part is the long and deliberate process by which the government (and particularly the left) have trained people to believe that they are owed everything.

Doktor Paulie said...

John the Econ, yes I WANT free high-quality healthcare, but I'm not dumb or ignorant enough to think I can really get it (now, friend, I'm smiling & chuckling as I write this) and I think most of our fellow countrybeings feel similiarly. There are those, like one woman I work with and, sigh, several of my relatives, who ARE both dumb enough and ignorant enough to think they CAN get free high-quality healthcare. They are resistant to all facts and logic, but I'm making headway with them anyway. All we really have to do is steadily work on those indecisive independents and win over a few in order to swing all the necessary elections to secure that revolution at the polls that we need.

The Republicans lost the presidential election of 1856, and Lincoln lost the senatorial election of 1858, but he and they continued to stand on the principle of no extension of slavery, and you know what happened next. Right, in the moral, not political sense, really does make might. But you have to hold fast.

Doktor Paulie said...

Let me say it again: Hold fast, friends! Hell's a comin', but THIS is the greatest generation and we'll win through in the end.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Doktor Paulie- Perhaps being too naive, I actually believe that a lot of people would let go of the "free healthcare" idea if they understood the economics. And the reason they don't isn't because it's complicated (the math is actually screamingly simple), but because they're being lied to by groups they think they can trust, like mainstream media and the politicians.

That's why I want some plain talking, of the Chris Christie variety, in this election cycle. I want someone to say "The money for Social Security and Medicare has been stolen. It's gone forever. Case closed. Anyone who says different is lying to you, whether they're president or pauper."

I want to believe that most Americans are still willing to do the right thing. Our great task now is to dispel the lies and remind them of what's right.

Doktor Paulie said...

So true, SJ, so true! That IS our great task! Hold fast friend!