ObamaCare hits this week; reach for your wallet

ObamaCare will be back in the news this week, as some of the new coverage mandates begin to take effect.

Democrats who were hoping that seeing what’s in the bill would prompt voters to give them a boost will not be happy to see stories like this one appearing in the Hartford (Ct.) Courant:

The state’s largest health insurer was granted rate hikes Friday that will be well over 20 percent for some plans, drawing sharp criticism from the attorney general.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut requested a wide range of premium increases, which will take effect Oct. 1, to cover the costs of new benefits required by federal health reform. Higher prices mostly affect new members shopping for a health plan on the individual market rather than people who have group plans through an employer or some other organization.

The Connecticut Department of Insurance approved Anthem’s request without changes, including a boost of as much as 22.9 percent just to comply with one provision: eliminating annual spending limits per customer. But it’s unclear how much more customers will pay because of the variety of plans and the complexity of other factors, such as a person’s age.

(snip)

All of Connecticut’s major health insurers filed proposed rate changes for new plans, or revised plans, to cover the new benefits. Besides Anthem, the only other health insurer that has been approved thus far was Aetna, which requested an average 24.7 percent increase over last year for small-group HMO plans. State regulators agreed to an average increase of 18 percent for all of Aetna’s small-group plans and 14.2 percent for large-group and middle-market plans.

People shopping for insurance on the individual market are, of course, the people who needed health reform the most. That doesn’t seem to be working out for them anywhere, which is no real surprise. (Btw, the attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, happens to be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Connecticut.)

Closer to home, a writer at InsureBlog reports the following changes in the Georgia health-insurance market:

All but two health insurance companies have withdrawn from offering maternity benefits.

Only a handful of companies will still write “child only” health insurance plans.

As of this date, it is almost impossible to find a rate for children’s health insurance if they are under age 19 and you are looking for coverage to be effective on 9/23/10 or later.

Some companies have either withdrawn from offering major medical business or are dropping hints they will be out of that market in 18 months or less.

Many have already indicated higher premiums for the 4th quarter of 2010 and later, especially on children under age 19.

Companies are starting to push limited benefit plans as “more affordable” alternatives to true major medical insurance.

Several companies have introduced new plans with stripped down benefits in an attempt to make their product look more appealing.

Drug formulary’s are changing, so the drug that is covered under your plan now may not be covered in the future.

Doctor and hospital networks are shrinking in an effort to further control costs but also has the effect of limiting access to a wide range of medical providers.

One way to look at these changes is to view them, as numerous Democrats acknowledged during the ObamaCare debate, as the first step toward a single-payer health system.

Given that even Bill Clinton is now admitting that he was wrong during the debate to advise Democrats that the bill would be a political winner “the minute” it became law, I doubt this policy of willing a train wreck upon the health-insurance market will end up working — for patients or Democrats.

158 comments Add your comment

Thurston B. Howell III

September 20th, 2010
1:06 pm

arnold

September 20th, 2010
1:10 pm

Republicans had their chance to help influence the bill. Now they want to make changes, but have yet to advance any concrete proposals. They are acting like the Democrats trying to get a consensus.

I wouldn’t mind seeing some tweaks to the program. Maybe if the sun rises in the west, there will be a change.

Not So Casual Observer

September 20th, 2010
1:18 pm

arnold,

The Democrats refused every amendment and every tweak offered by Republicans. The healthcare albatross is a totally Democrat legislation and even Harry Reid is starting to run from the bill.

carlosgvv

September 20th, 2010
1:32 pm

I certainly don’t want the Government helping me get health insurance either. I want to pay all those huge medical bills by myself and when I’m out in the street at least I can proudly say no Obamacare for me!!

The Aristocrat

September 20th, 2010
1:38 pm

Let’s poll working Americans(vs. non-working) and see how many of them want Obama’s proposed health care. That ought to be the tale of the tape.

Peadawg

September 20th, 2010
1:53 pm

“One way to look at these changes is to view them, as numerous Democrats acknowledged during the ObamaCare debate, as the first step toward a single-payer health system.”

That’s exactly what it is. Make private health insurance sooo bad that we’ll be begging for a single payer system.

Arnold, we tried. The Democrats refused pretty much everything we suggested.

Aquagirl

September 20th, 2010
1:58 pm

Let’s poll Americans who actually need/use health insurance (vs. non-users) and see how many of them want Obama’s proposed health care. That ought to be the tale of the tape.

BW

September 20th, 2010
1:58 pm

So what if it’s the first step to single payer? People are acting like NO ONE was mandating which procedures are covered….hello…your policy did that for you. In addition we know that prices were headed higher either way. I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument in favor of the status quo…health care will continue to be according to one’s means….those who have money will have the best care available. This is just another false argument. True freedom is a myth in an governed society…it’s simply a matter of who is telling you what to do and quite frankly there are too many people that are too stupid to understand that fact. Anger is not a governing strategy idiots.

The Aristocrat

September 20th, 2010
2:03 pm

Oh Aquagirl, you confuse the word NEED with ENTITLED. The two are not synonyms, those who pay are ENTITLED to the benefits of health care whether they NEED them or not. Those who do not pay into health care benefits are not ENTITLED to them, even if they NEED them.

CAIR Bears

September 20th, 2010
2:05 pm

Obama is going down in flames.

ExRepublican

September 20th, 2010
2:05 pm

If the Republicans were a responsibly opposing party then we would have a healthy bill. Instead they decided to act like irresponsibly teenagers with fear mongering and voting NO at every opportunity.

CAIR Bears

September 20th, 2010
2:06 pm

“Let’s poll Americans who actually need/use health insurance (vs. non-users) and see how many of them want Obama’s proposed health care. That ought to be the tale of the tape.’

Are these people legal or illegals?

JF McNamara

September 20th, 2010
2:06 pm

We’ll see soon enough. We’re officially entering part two of the Chicken Little phase. I’m sure if one guy in Rolling Fork, MS gets his premium hiked it’ll be national news. Spare me, because no one knows where this will all settle out. If it isn’t working in a couple of years, they’ll change it. If its completely bad, then they’ll repeal it. I refuse, however, to believe that we can’t implement a system that works well in other countries and is cheaper those countries.

AmVet

September 20th, 2010
2:06 pm

…as numerous Democrats acknowledged during the ObamaCare debate, as the first step toward a single-payer health system.

I guess Max Baucus and Nancy Pelosi never got the memo. They ensured that NO single-payer voices were even allowed to be heard in the debate of this latest debacle called the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 …

The Ghost From The Past

September 20th, 2010
2:09 pm

Here comes ObamaCare – better get the Vaseline.

sb

September 20th, 2010
2:14 pm

Kyle, please shut up. We were already reaching for wallets before ObamaCare, was passed.

The saddest thing is that people in this country who need it the most, are the ones yelling loudly they dont want it. Healthcare has it flaws and at least somebody had the power to change it, so please stop ranting and raving about how we need to reach for our wallet. We have and will continue to pay for it for years.

Peadawg

September 20th, 2010
2:14 pm

“If the Republicans were a responsibly opposing party then we would have a healthy bill”

Again, they tried but the Democrats said NO to everything the republicans wanted to do w/ the bill.

Peadawg

September 20th, 2010
2:15 pm

“We have and will continue to pay for it for years.”

Sounds like Obama lied when he said this bill will lower premiums for everyone.

BW

September 20th, 2010
2:17 pm

At best, it will slow the rate of increase…it’s called cost avoidance. No price ever remains static.

Bob

September 20th, 2010
2:21 pm

SB, the people that need it the most are doing the complaining ? Then give them what they want. When they complain about the 1099 provision that most dems did not even know was a provision, do they really need to send 1099’s to every vendor if they are in business ? Tell us who would need such a provision. The fact is that the people that needed it the most also need other gov programs the most.

Bob

September 20th, 2010
2:23 pm

BW, Obama said it would reduce premiums by 18%, what do you mean slow the increase ? How will forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions help slow anything ?

AmVet

September 20th, 2010
2:25 pm

We were already reaching for wallets before ObamaCare, was passed.

True dat, sb. In fact it is in the running for understatement of the year.

Insane through the roof premium prices. Horrific service. Ungodly incompetence, waste, abuse and fraud by armies of fragmented, “free market”, profiteering, paper shufflers.

To the tune of $300,000,000,000.00 each and every year.

Thank gawd, I’m a socialist and have the VA…

markie mark

September 20th, 2010
2:27 pm

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you BOHICA…

Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.

BW

September 20th, 2010
2:28 pm

@ Bob

If you want to say Obama lied then he lied….I’m not even arguing that. My response is that at best the legislation will slow the increases that were coming anyway. Only a rabid partisan will say that the status quo would hold prices at the same level or lower.

Jackie

September 20th, 2010
2:29 pm

Wonder how the Obama Administration is responsible for the greed exhibited by the cost increases requested by the health care companies? Inflation is in the range of 1%, layoffs in many of those companies have taken place, medical providers and facilities cost have remained static, yet, they have asked for rate increases up to 49% in the case of California Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Smokewagon

September 20th, 2010
2:31 pm

I bet Carter’s healthcare bill would have been much better if not blocked by Ted Kennedy and the democrats.

JackLeg

September 20th, 2010
2:31 pm

Arnold are you on drugs? Not one revision or bill submitted by ANY republican has EVER made it off of Pelosi’s desk. That is because the speaker of the house determines what get brought to the floor for debate or vote. Funny how the dimacrats say how the GOP has no ideas, why not look on Pelosi’s desk, there are over 1000 bills submitted by the republicans. How many even made it to the floor, zero. Now that the dimacrats created a situation where they can dismiss any GOP bills then claim they have no ideas….. what a bunch of losers….

StJ

September 20th, 2010
2:37 pm

Regulate the insurance companies to death and you end up with a single payer system, even if not explicitly stated.

The insurance companies will make all the profit they can and then “retire” from the business. After that point, if you don’t like the quality or timeliness of your health care…too bad.

BW

September 20th, 2010
2:41 pm

@ StJ

And for some that would still be the status quo

Nancy Pelosi

September 20th, 2010
2:41 pm

But Ya’ll….We have to pass healthcare to see what’s in it

Intown

September 20th, 2010
2:42 pm

Gust Avrakotos: There’s a little boy and on his 14th birthday he gets a horse… and everybody in the village says, “how wonderful. The boy got a horse” And the Zen master says, “we’ll see.” Two years later, the boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, “How terrible.” And the Zen master says, “We’ll see.” Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight… except the boy can’t cause his legs all messed up. and everybody in the village says, “How wonderful.”
Charlie Wilson: Now the Zen master says, “We’ll see.”

left wing

September 20th, 2010
2:57 pm

What I didn’t see in Mr. Wingfield’s clip was an estimate of how much health insurance would have gone up in the absence of the government healthcare paln.

As someone who buys an individual insurance plan (I’m self employed) I can tell you that 7 years ago, my insurance (thru Blue Cross) cost $350/month, with a $1000/person deductible. As of this month, my new premium will be $1254/month with a $3000/person deductible.

As someone who has a child with a pre-existing condition (my daughter has crohn’s) I can tell you that I’m grateful that she’ll never be ‘recinded’ or denied coverage for a pre-existing condition, or that she’ll never have to worry about hitting limits on her policy.

My worst year was FY 2008, when I had about $16,000 in medical expenses (and no, that didn’t include insurance).

So, for those of you who want to demean the healthcare plan, I’m guessing that for you, life is pretty good. Your premiums are low and your kids are healthy. You probably have never had a problem with your coverage. The fact is that there are a lot of people in my situation, and you have little or no regard for us.

And I have nothing but distain for you.

Ezra

September 20th, 2010
3:07 pm

My family is healthy, we are poor by Kyle’s standards. We have a family history of diabetes and hypertension after the age 60. My sister died of diabetes after blindness. You can disdain me all you want but she never had government help nor did she beg for it. I do not want to pay for YOUR health care. If you need a second job to pay for it then vote Obama out and get jobs back.

Suckers

September 20th, 2010
3:09 pm

left wing- that’s your problem and your responsibility, not the taxpayers. Sure, you got dealt a crummy hand, but it’s yours to play. A 1000 violins are playing for you

Peadawg

September 20th, 2010
3:09 pm

left wing, I feel for you. I’m really sorry to hear about your daughter. But this bill won’t help in reducing your premiums. The bill sounds great and all in theory(especially the not being able to deny pre-existing conditions)!!!!!!! But it will just make premiums go up even faster than they would had before now that insurance companies are being forced to cover those with pre-existing condition.

CAIR Bears

September 20th, 2010
3:09 pm

“The saddest thing is that people in this country who need it the most, are the ones yelling loudly they dont want it.”

No wonder the libs are in so much trouble.

CAIR Bears

September 20th, 2010
3:10 pm

“And I have nothing but distain for you.”

It’s spelled disdain, not distain.

Linda

September 20th, 2010
3:20 pm

If the Dems had done the same thing to auto insurers that they’ve done to health insurers, we would all be paying thousands of dollars a year for old clunkers. Imagine if auto insurers had to insure our kids under 26 yrs. old, disregard our pre-existing driving records, cap our deductibles. etc. Maybe they are next.

left wing

September 20th, 2010
3:21 pm

that’s your problem and your responsibility Gee, I’m shocked that you feel that way. If it’s your daughter, how would you feel?

And Ezra I’m sorry to hear about your sister. Did she have decent health care? Did she ever have treatments or drugs prescribed by her doctor, only to have the insurance company deny it because it cost them too much? Did you have your premiums increased by 700% over the last 6 years (hard to compute because I’ve had to change deductibles twice to keep premiums semi-affordable)?

I’m not looking for a handout, and no one is paying for my premiums but me. What I want is to have a government that will protect me from corporations like Blue Cross.

You know what? I don’t think the health care plan is all that great. I’d love to have their ant-trust exemption revoked, for starters. But in this world where health insurance corporations line the pockets of both parties, I know that’s not gonna happen. So, I’m grateful for what I’ve got.

left wing

September 20th, 2010
3:22 pm

CAIR Bears – nice to have the spelling police looking out for me.

TINSTAAFL

September 20th, 2010
3:25 pm

Are you stupid Jackie? If you’re being forced to offer more services, your must of course demand a higher price. It’s okay though. I don’t expect you to understand it, seeing as our dear leader is a Harvard grad and can’t understand it himself.

Let me put it in terms you might demand. Let’s say you own a McDonalds and you make a lot of money on the dolllar menu. One day, the local government decides that you are being unfair with your choices on the dollar menu. Why is it fair that the rich people can go to McDonalds and get the Big Mac for $3.99, but the po’ folk can only get the standard cheeseburger? Obviously, this is a call for the government to intervene. In the interests of the public welfare, the local government mandates that everything be included on your dollar menu. Look now. You have to offer way more for the same price. In order to cover costs, you raise the price of the dollar menu to the $2 menu. Then Jackie comes along, hands on her hips, eyes bugging out, and red in the face screaming that it is absolutely unfair that the profiteers at McDonalds are raising prices. It could not have ever been the fault of the local government. They were, after all, acting in the interest of the public welfare.

Indeed Jackie. How can the Obama administration be blamed for the ‘corporate greed?’

Bob

September 20th, 2010
3:26 pm

BW, I never even implied that premiums would go down. I will argue that under this plan, premiums will rise faster. How can forcing a company to insure somone with existing health problems help slow premium growth ? What provision in the plan will help slow growth ?

BW

September 20th, 2010
3:27 pm

@ left wing

These people don’t understand that in some cases it is their tone and lack of empathy that prevent some from agreeing with them in spite of their sometimes valid points.

Peadawg

September 20th, 2010
3:27 pm

“What I want is to have a government that will protect me from corporations like Blue Cross.”

You’re going to be looking for a long time b/c this bill doesn’t really do that.

Dave

September 20th, 2010
3:29 pm

A little off topic… but I’m sure there are a lot in the ruling class who would love something like this here (because, you know, it’s not YOUR hard earned money in the first place):

UK Proposes All Paychecks Go to the State First

“The UK’s tax collection agency is putting forth a proposal that all employers send employee paychecks to the government, after which the government would deduct what it deems as the appropriate tax and pay the employees by bank transfer.”

http://www.cnbc.com/id/39265847

Bob

September 20th, 2010
3:32 pm

Left wing, that pretty much sums it up, I had problems so screw those that do not. Thats what the left is all about, 80% had no problem, 20% did, so lets screw the 80% so everyone is equally miserable. That is the take with Social Security also, a few will not help themselves so the rest get screwed out of 12.4% of our income.

BW

September 20th, 2010
3:33 pm

@ Bob

This isn’t a vehicle….the basic question is to me anyway is whether or not “affordable” health care is a right or privilege. One’s philosophy will determine the answer to that question. I cannot point to a specfic provision that will definitively do that which is why I said “at best”.

The larger issue is that Washington has become so polarized that it’s impossible to have a rational conservation about it. Both parties are at fault. When or if the Democrats are voted into the minority, this will not change. Democrats will have the same complaints about Speaker Boehner not allowing the issue to be voted on.

SB

September 20th, 2010
3:33 pm

@ BW

I agree.

BW

September 20th, 2010
3:35 pm

@ Dave

Seriously….how is what we do now any different? Well I guess you have a choice to cheat on your tax forms to have no tax withheld. Of course you have another set of problems with an organization named the IRS but hey you were free to make the choice right? LOL

CAIR Bears

September 20th, 2010
3:43 pm

“nice to have the spelling police looking out for me.”

Hey, at least I won’t charge you or give you a ticket.