The first Morning Jolt of the week features President Obama’s Christmas holiday plans, a reminder of China’s industrial-strength crony-capitalist corruption, and then this roundup of Obamacare’s continuing
Tough Weekend for Dallas Cowboys Fans. Tougher Weekend for Obamacare.
The insured are finding their premiums, deductibles, and co-pays are going up, and their spousal coverage is disappearing — and they’re not happy about it.
Americans who already have health insurance are blaming President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul for their rising premiums and deductibles, and overall 3 in 4 say the rollout of coverage for the uninsured has gone poorly.
In the survey, nearly half of those with job-based or other private coverage say their policies will be changing next year — mostly for the worse. Nearly 4 in 5 (77 percent) blame the changes on the Affordable Care Act, even though the trend toward leaner coverage predates the law’s passage.
Sixty-nine percent say their premiums will be going up, while 59 percent say annual deductibles or copayments are increasing.
Only 21 percent of those with private coverage said their plan is expanding to cover more types of medical care, though coverage of preventive care at no charge to the patient has been required by the law for the past couple of years.
Fourteen percent said coverage for spouses is being restricted or eliminated, and 11 percent said their plan is being discontinued.
“Rightly or wrongly, people with private insurance looking at next year are really worried about what is going to happen,” said Robert Blendon, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, who tracks public opinion on health care issues. “The website is not the whole story.”
But at least the uninsured are happier, right? Nope, not really.
Uninsured Americans have soured on the Affordable Care Act in the past three months — and that bodes ill for the law’s popularity and financial underpinnings.
Less than a quarter — 24% — of uninsured Americans think the health care law is a good idea, and half think it’s a bad idea, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Wednesday. That’s an 11-point dive in support from three months ago, when a September poll — before the troubled rollout of the HealthCare.gov marketplacefound that 35% of the uninsured thought it was a good idea, and 32% thought it was a bad idea.
The claims of a fixed web site, coming through the weekend from the administration, don’t match what the insurance companies are reporting:
Insurers said they had found many discrepancies and errors and that the government was overstating the improvements in HealthCare.gov.
In some cases, they said, the federal government reported that the home address for a new policyholder was outside an insurer’s service area. In other cases, a child was listed as the main subscriber — the person responsible for paying premiums — and parents were listed as dependents.
In some cases, children were enrolled in a policy by the federal government and parents were left off, or vice versa. In other cases, the government botched up the members of a family: A child or spouse was listed two or three times in the same application in late November. Such errors can have financial implications, increasing the amount of premiums that a family is required to pay.
While some of the problems were discovered in the last few days, insurers said that they had previously reported many of the errors to the “help desk” at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and that the problems remained unresolved.
Federal officials, insurers and health care providers said they were concerned about confusion and possible chaos in the early days of January, when people try to use the new insurance coverage they believe they have.
Hear that? “Chaos.” We’ve got good seats with an unobstructed view of America’s Medical Armageddon.
Meanwhile, remember the worries from a few weeks ago about whether volunteer fire departments are required to offer health insurance to their firefighters? Those fire departments are still waiting for answers from the administration and IRS.
“It would be just devastating to our budget,” Burlington Township Fire Director John Stewart said Friday. “Right now, we have three full-time employees and 90 qualified volunteers. I don’t know what we would do.”
Pemberton Township Fire Chief Craig Augustoni said informal estimates were that the mandate might cost the municipality an additional $2 million to insure its volunteers.
“That, or pay a fine of $2,000 per worker,” Augustoni said…
Among their questions: Would the 30 hours a week include training or just time spent at fires and other emergencies? Will it be based on the hours of each volunteer or the entire department or company? Will it apply to all volunteers or just those who don’t already receive coverage elsewhere?
“We know about (the possible mandate), but we can’t really plan for it because nobody can say what it really means,” said Scott Jones, administrator for the Mount Laurel Fire District. “We went to our attorney with it, but he says there’s no sense worrying about it until the IRS spells out its rules.”
Kathleen Sebelius, what do you have to say about all this?
Q: Madam Secretary, PolitiFact, which is based here, just found that the administration committed the lie of the year by saying, ‘if you like your plan, you can keep it.’ As the person in charge of the agency at the heart of that lie, what do you think of it?
Sebelius: I think that, um, the statement about keeping your plan was one that is applicable to the vast majority of Americans in the health insurance market. What we know is that we also designed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act to make sure that plans that were in place in March of 2010 that kept the same benefits in place, didn’t shift costs to consumers, and stayed in place were actually eliminated from needing to conform to any of the consumer protections in the uh, 2014 Affordable Care Act. So a number of customers in the individual market had those grandfathered plans in place, it varies by company and by market. I think the president felt it was important to make sure that individuals as much as possible did not lose coverage that they had, so in addition to early renewals, which I think virtually every company in this market offered to their consumers, he asked us to use our discretion authority and asked insurers to consider allowing their customers, if they were interested in staying in those same plans. And that’s happening across the country. Florida has decided to take up that transition plan, so a number of individuals who are in individual market that they like, which certainly is not 100 percent of all the people in the individual market, will be able to work with their insurers choosing a new plan in the marketplace, choosing a competitive plan, or staying in their same plan.
Clear as day, huh? The reporter continues:
So you don’t think it was a lie? (ignores question) You’re not going to answer that?
Another reporter: At any point during the initial rollout, or after the rollout did you ever offer your resignation ot the president?
Sebelius: I’m not going to discuss what I talk about with the president.
There really is nothing she can do to get canned, is there?
Bruce Webster notes, “I’m not sure how much new IT-related systems analysis I have to give. The IT problems are all pretty much unfolding as I and many, many others said they would, which is probably why the Obama Administration is resorting to its current measures. It is, perhaps, time to sit back a bit and see what happens next,” but sends in this image.