Taxpayers, Seniors Are Double-Billed for Obamacare

By Michael Reagan
Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 12:00pm

Any report issued by the Obama administration assumes the public at large suffers from short-term memory loss and consequently the administration never refers to previous promises or benchmarks. So I’ll be forced to do the job government refuses to do.

One of the main selling points used for the passage of Obamacare was an appeal to the generous nature of the American public. This law would provide coverage for the estimated 15 million people who lacked health insurance.

This lack of coverage was always portrayed in economic terms. These deserving Americans were desperate for health insurance, but they couldn’t afford it (one of the reasons the formal name for Obamacare is the “Affordable Care Act”). This argument ignored facts that weren’t convenient. For example, many young people don’t want to pay for health insurance regardless of cost because they believe they don’t need it. They obviously aren’t old and there’s plenty of time to buy insurance before they become feeble.

Many of the other uninsured are illegal aliens and therefore not eligible. And everyone is already entitled to free care at the hospital, regardless of insurance, due to a decision by the Supreme Court. Studies have shown these individuals have better healthcare outcomes than Medicaid patients.

Which brings us to the latest analysis of the enrollment numbers. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey 60 percent of the 8 million enrolled in the Obamacare exchanges were previously uninsured. This number is significantly higher than a Rand Corp. survey (33 percent) and a McKinsey & Co. study (26 percent). Yet even this higher number only represents 4.8 million people, a far cry from the 15 million who supposedly were desperate for coverage. What happened to the other 10.2 million? Are they living in the “shadows” with the illegal aliens? Or has President Obama hung the “Mission Accomplished” banner and the problem is solved?

But regardless of the missing millions, the problems are just beginning for the rest of us. The Department of Health and Human Services believes the “affordable” part of the act has come true. The department contends that premiums have been reduced by an average of 76 percent.

OK, but how? Did the new influx of customers allow insurance companies to realize economies of scale and reduce rates? Did increased competition among companies lower prices?

No, not at all — HHS reduced the cost by using your money to subsidize the customers. And the deal rivals the one that Jack (of magic beanstalk fame) got for his cow.

HHS says the average subsidy in taxpayer dollars is $264, leaving the customer to cover the remaining $82 out of pocket. But this exercise in arithmetic just serves to highlight the increased cost of Obamacare. In 2010, before Obamacare took effect, the average insurance premium in the U.S. was only $215 per month, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s $49 less than the subsidy HHS is busy spending in the wake of Obamacare taking effect.

So the reduced premiums are nothing of the kind. HHS is robbing Peter to cover Paul.

Instead Obama brought us higher premiums that we pay twice: once through our tax dollars and again through our own insurance premium increases. And those increases in many instances are shocking.

This month the Manhattan Institute released the most comprehensive insurance rate study to date, analyzing premium rates from 3,137 counties in the United States. The average increase in health insurance is a wallet-rattling 49 percent.

Avik Roy, writing in Forbes magazine, cites a number of insurance rate studies, but the one that caught my eye was performed by Sam Richardson of the University of Texas. Richardson was very aware of the contention by Obamacare acolytes that these rate increase comparisons weren’t valid because they were “apples to oranges” comparisons.

So Richardson went micro with a vengeance. He took two nearly identical policies (Obamacare forces some coverage demanded by the doyens of the left and not the market), both sold in California by Kaiser Permanente. In this study the network was the same and the deductibles and co-pay nearly so. Yet the new, improved Obamacare policy premium was more than double that of the old — $205/month compared to the previous $100.

So I would ask the left: How’s them apples?

And as for seniors, if you are feeling a bit pinched this morning it’s not because your lumbago is acting up. It’s because your Medicare is being milked to pay for Obamacare.

Even though the president promised he “won’t touch your guaranteed Medicare benefits. Not by a single dime.” That assurance is now stored in the same dumpster with the insurance policy you can keep. To make the numbers work for Obamacare, Obama cut $716 billion from Medicare over the next 10 years.

The left does not view this as a problem due to its bizarre theories regarding money. Subsidies mean insurance rates haven’t really gone up and they believe cutting payments to providers won’t affect the quality of medical care. In other words, tax dollars are free and business doesn’t really need profit.

But the Obamacare cuts to Medicare will affect seniors’ healthcare. A Heritage Foundation analysis predicts that lower Medicare payment rates will cause 15 percent of hospitals, nursing facilities, and home health agencies to operate at a loss. The net result will be these firms will either go out of business or stop taking Medicare patients. And the same goes for doctors.

Obamacare even steals from tax dollars previously earmarked for Medicare. Heritage researcher Alyene Senger explains that the payroll tax that funds Medicare Part A has been increased from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent. Yet this $318 billion boost, which would have gone to Medicare in the past, will be skimmed to cover the cost of Obamacare. And that’s in addition to the $716 billion already taken.

The Affordable Care Act is nothing of the kind. It is not affordable for taxpayers and it damages the care previously provided to seniors.

The League of American Voters believes it is crucial that American taxpayers and seniors unite to let their elected representatives in Congress know that they must repeal Obamacare.

There is no fixing this monstrosity.

I strongly encourage you to join with us at the League. Your support is vital for us to continue this fight to stop Obamacare and his liberal agenda. Please take a moment and
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Michael Reagan is chairman of the League of American Voters.