The view from the trenches puts the lie to the media’s gloating about 7 million Obamacare new enrollments

Obamacare error 404Rush opened his show today by focusing on the mainstream media’s joyous assertion that, overnight, Obamacare went from a mere 26% in support to plurality support and that, within two weeks, it went from 5 million to 7 million enrollments (with that 7 million number coming from two “anonymous” White House sources).  Rush asserted, and I agree, that this is lies and damn lies, powered through by falsely derived statistics.

Even assuming solely for the sake of argument that there’s any truth to the dramatically increased poll and enrollment numbers, the numbers are still meaningless because the law has failed resoundingly at effecting its primary purpose:  to insure the uninsured.  As of yesterday, based upon the limited data the Obama administration has reluctantly released, only 1.7% of the previously uninsured have enrolled in Obamacare.

If the uninsured aren’t enrolling in Obamacare, who is?  It seems that new enrollees consist primarily of (a) those who were insured but wanted subsidies and (b) those who lost pre-existing coverage because of Obamacare.  Moreover, analyzing enrollment data, it appears that the new enrollees are weighted heavily in favor of those requiring subsidies, as opposed to those paying full fare and funding the subsidies.  Even math-illiterates (i.e., the Democrat party and its MSM mouthpieces) will eventually figure out that this is unsustainable.

The statements I made above are data-based, although the administration’s death grip on actual numbers leaves one unsure even about the accuracy of that information.  Now let me throw in some anecdotal information.  I know that anecdote is not data but, to the extent this anecdote tracks the available data, it’s worth noting.

I have mentioned before that I have a friend who has pursued a very different life path from mine.  We both come from extremely middle class backgrounds, but while I was able to stay economically middle class, my friend made life decisions that saw her sink lower and lower economically.  She now lives in a community where, as she jokes, she and her husband are the only ones she knows who don’t have a parole officer.  (A fact that relates in part to substance abuse problems rife in her community and in part to draconian prosecutorial abuse.)

What distinguishes my friend from her neighbors, aside from her lack of a criminal record, is her middle class values.  She may not live the middle class life, but she still follows middle class rules, one of which is her belief that you pay your bills and you carry health insurance.  Unfortunately for her, she reached a point a few years ago at which she could no longer pay health insurance bills.  Quite reluctantly, she let her insurance lapse.

My friend was therefore delighted when Obamacare finally went into effect.  Because her state’s exchange was dysfunctional, she had to sign up the old-fashioned way (by mail), but sign-up she did.  Moreover, given her dire finances, she qualified for a subsidy.  I don’t have the details, but I believe she pays $50 a month for a Gold plan.  The moment her plan vested, my friend went on an orgy of doctor’s visits to catch up on all the health care (mostly standard tests and procedures) that she missed in the last few years.  While I disapprove of Obamacare, she’s my friend and I’m happy for her.  At least someone’s benefiting from the law.

I was speaking to my friend just yesterday about her healthcare and she offered a very interesting observation:  She and her husband, the only middle class people in a sea of poverty, are the only people she knows, amongst both friends and acquaintances, who have signed up for Obamacare.  The others have no interest in getting health insurance.  Even with a subsidy, they don’t want to pay a monthly bill for health insurance.  Even a subsidized rate is too onerous when they can get all the free health care they need just by showing up at the local emergency room.  Additionally, the ER docs are usually better than any doc who’s willing to belong to whatever plan they can afford.  Nor are these people worried about the penalties for refusing to buy Obamacare, since none of them pay taxes.

Not only are the people in my friend’s world refusing to buy Obamacare, they resent it.  According to my friend, someone she knows abruptly announced that she’s getting involved in local politics, something she’s never done before.  Until recently, this gal was one of those people who just floated along, getting by.  Now, though, she’s fired up.

The reason for the sudden passion is unexpected:  She’s deeply offended by a law that forces people to buy a product they don’t need — never mind that she might benefit from the product, that she would pay far below market value for the product, or that she’s too poor to be penalized for ignoring this government diktat.  The mere fact that the diktat exists runs counter to her notion of individual liberty.  Her view of government is that, while it’s fine if it hands out welfare checks and food stamps, it goes beyond the pale when the government uses its power and wealth to coerce activity.

Dueling headlines: the Obamacare youth edition

Dueling

California poll shows young and healthy more likely to seek medical insurance

versus

Claim: ‘Young Adult Exchange Enrollees Disproportionately Low’

Oh, wait! Actually reading the articles explains the inconsistencies. It turns out that the young are willing to sign up if someone else is paying for their insurance, at least according to the first article to which I linked:

The poll finding “runs counters to what a lot of people were expecting,” said Gerald Kominski, a UCLA health care economics professor who believes that what’s persuading young people to plan on signing up is the significant subsidies many will get from Uncle Sam. If those young people follow through on their intentions, he said, it would result in keeping the cost of the new exchange health plans low.

That Gerald Kominski is a healthcare economics professor proves that you don’t need brains for the job. Unless he was misquoted, he said two mutually exclusive things: (1) that young people sign up to get subsidies and (2) that these sign-ups are necessary to fund Obamacare. Excuse me, professor, but Obamacare funding is set up so that young people do not get subsidies. They’re the low insurance users who are being charged a premium for care they usually don’t need so as to fund all the old, sick people.

What this tells me is that young people are saying “yes” to Obamacare when they think their insurance will come to them courtesy of other people’s money.  Then, when they learn that they are the “other people” funding Obamacare, they back off from enrolling, having decided that they don’t really need it.

And why shouldn’t the poor have free cars? The rich are already getting green car subsidies

Working class and lower middle class people can't afford to own this car, but they can help offset the costs for the rich guy who wants one.

Working class and lower middle class people can’t afford to own this car, but they can help offset the costs for the rich guy who wants one.

One of the things that drives me bonkers-nutso about the green movement is the way that it subsidizes rich people when they make “green” purchases.  I dislike subsidies generally, because they’re a form of wealth redistribution.  But I really dislike it when government takes taxpayer money and hands it over to the very wealthy so that they can buy themselves an electric sports car, such as the Tesla.*  I know that the rich pay the largest percent of taxes in America, but the non-rich middle and working classes are paying some taxes too, and they shouldn’t be subsidizing luxury automobiles simply because they’re “green.”  (And I’ve mentioned before that their “green” claims are dubious, since they rely on electricity generated through dirty means at far-away plants.  It seems to me that all they do is move pollution, not decrease it.  And let’s not even talk about the toxic batteries….)

In a perverse way, therefore, it makes sense for the broken and broke California government to play around with the idea of giving free green cars to poor people.  After all, since the shrinking middle class is already paying for rich people’s “green” playthings, why shouldn’t they pay for poor people’s cars too?  Each increasingly poverty-stricken middle class taxpayer can take pride in the greening of California and can only hope that he goes broke (and therefore qualifies for a free green car) before all the other taxpayers go broke too.

The worst part is that the “green” subsidy, which currently benefits rich folks, is all part of a giant con to prevent an apocalyptic event that’s not going to happen.  If anything, we should be hoping that the increasingly ephemeral, even illusory, greenhouse effect really does kick in, because we’re hosed if there’s another ice age.  Water and sunlight — both of which are plentiful during warming periods — are good for all living things.  Barren, frozen wildernesses are not.

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*These green subsidies also fund the solar panels you see on rich people’s houses.  Indeed, they fund everything green that the rich can afford without subsidies and that the poor can’t afford even with subsidies.

Problems with Obamacare exchanges are a feature, not a bug

Avik Roy advances a very interesting theory about the disastrous Obamacare exchange.

First of all, you need to think about  how it works compared to other online shopping sites.  At all other sites, you find your product, and then you submit your information.  At Obamacare, you must submit your information before you’re allowed to go shopping for your product.  It’s this information demand that has made a poorly constructed design collapse under the weight of even a relatively small number of visitors.  So why was it built bass ackwards?  Because it’s not really a free market exchange.

Here’s the deal:  prices across the board have increased for insurance as insurers struggle to deal with the fact that they cannot scale prices depending on risk (which is, after all, what real insurance does) and because they are now required to offer a ton of services, whether consumers want to pay for them or not.  Congress knew that this would happen, but it didn’t care.  The real purpose behind Obamacare was to get the haves to pay for the have nots.  The haves will take the high prices and like them . . . or else.  But the have nots cannot be allowed to see the high prices lest they run away screaming.  The reality for them is that, as have nots, their increased prices will be subsidized — and then some — by the haves.  Everyone has to be fed into the system for this wealth transfer to work:

So, by analyzing your income first, if you qualify for heavy subsidies, the website can advertise those subsidies to you instead of just hitting you with Obamacare’s steep premiums. For example, the site could advertise plans that “$0″ or “$30″ instead of explaining that the plan really costs $200, and you’re getting a subsidy of $200 or $170. But you’ll have to be at or near the poverty line to gain subsidies of that size; most people will either not qualify for a subsidy, or qualify for a small one that, net-net, doesn’t make up for the law’s cost hikes.

This political objective—masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans—far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly. Think about it the other way around. If the “Affordable Care Act” truly did make health insurance more affordable, there would be no need to hide these prices from the public.

Read the rest here.  And then, if you haven’t already, read Zombie’s post catching the SF Chronicle offering a remarkable piece of job advice.