June 7, 2011

"If You Like Your Insurance, You Can Keep It."

Justin Katz

Remember when the President of the United States repeated that promise over and over to the American people? Well quite a few of us less-lofty folks predicted this contrary outcome:

Once provisions of the Affordable Care Act start to kick in during 2014, at least three of every 10 employers will probably stop offering health coverage, a survey released Monday shows.

But that's not all:

The survey of 1,300 employers says those who are keenly aware of the health-reform measure probably are more likely to consider an alternative to employer-sponsored plans, with 50% to 60% in this group expected to make a change. It also found that for some, it makes more sense to switch.

In some cases, the lost benefit might transition to some other form of compensation (although many of us have also predicted that ObamaCare will not stop, and may accelerate, cost inflation and quality deflation in the medical industry). In the push for government control of healthcare, though, spanning its peculiar procedural maneuvers and bold flight in the face of taxpayer concerns, likely outcomes were downplayed, not thoroughly vetted.

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The real question I have here is whether President Obama believed the promise when he made it.

Remember that in the same breath (or paragraph) he was promising that the plan would require insurers to extend coverage for (a) all pre-existing conditions and (b) adult children up to the age of 26.

If "your plan" didn't include those things, then "your plan" would no longer exist after enactment of Obamacare.

So the "you can keep your plan" promise had absolutely no foundation......

Was President Obama lying, or was he woefully ignorant about how insurance works?

Posted by: brassband at June 7, 2011 9:19 AM

If Obama-The-Destroyer is moving his lips he is lying. I told you this 2+ years ago.

>>Was President Obama lying, or was he woefully ignorant about how insurance works?

Posted by: Joe Wilson at June 7, 2011 9:33 AM

That trend started long before healthcare reform. In fact, the exchange portion of the bill was included specifically to address how individuals will buy insurance without coverage through their employer (which may explain why employers more familiar with what the reform does say they are likely to consider alternatives once it's enacted).


Cum hoc (sort of) ergo propter hoc, Justin?

Posted by: Russ at June 7, 2011 2:29 PM

The planned endgame of HusseinCare is dependance on mama govt. They will make it easy for employers to drop their private health care plans funneling the masses to the govt. rationing agencies. When the govt. can appotion healthcare the masses are much easier to control....the ultimate goal of Hussein. Better "hope" there is a "change" in 2012.

Posted by: ANTHONY at June 7, 2011 2:34 PM

btw, here's McCain suggesting ending employer based health insurance and saying much the same thing as Obama (clearly because he's secretly a socialist).


Tax policy that favors the employer-based system is unfair, he said, because each worker and family absorbs the costs of their health policies in lower wages and diminished benefits.

Workers content with the job-related benefits would be able to keep that coverage under his plan. "But for every American who wanted it … they would receive a tax credit directly, with the same cash value of the credits for employees in big companies, in a small business, or self-employed. You simply choose the insurance provider that suits you best."

Posted by: Russ at June 7, 2011 2:48 PM

It's actually not the same thing, Russ. At all.

Your paraphrasing is also inaccurate. McCain did not suggest "ending employer based health insurance."

Posted by: Dan at June 7, 2011 3:05 PM

Hey Russ...who the hell liked McCain? Enough RINO's already. Missing Linc was a repub....look at 'em now. We need a conservative to articulate common sense issues to the voters not more of the same. In RI there is more of the same...how's that working?

Posted by: ANTHONY at June 7, 2011 3:32 PM

Dan, fair enough, but I was playing on the idea introduced above that Obama was trying to take over healthcare. I agree it's a silly argument.

Anthony, so we can agree that there's not much difference between Presidential candidates from the major parties. Also fair enough.

btw, this comment above is incorrect...

If "your plan" didn't include those things, then "your plan" would no longer exist after enactment of Obamacare.


Posted by: Russ at June 7, 2011 3:44 PM

Let's agree McShame ran the WORST presidential campaign this side of Bob Dole. He has lost all touch with reality and further disgraced himself earlier this year by holding hands with the Muslim Brotherhod, I mean rebels, and declaring "these guys are not so bad."

Obama WANTED the job. He just stinks at it. The rails have been greased for him since childhood, until now.

Posted by: dave at June 7, 2011 4:08 PM

Russ --

I followed your link. According to that page all plans -- even "grandfathered" ones -- are required to make the changes relative to pre-existing conditions and adding adult children, eliminate lifetime limits, etc., etc.

If "your plan" doesn't have these things in it after the effective date, it would not be "grandfathered" under the new law.

Is there a different reading of the info on that page?

Posted by: brassband at June 7, 2011 8:33 PM

Yeah, I stand corrected. Let me note though that those changes are changes to eligibility, not to the benefits so a statement that the plan is the same is correct.

Posted by: Russ at June 8, 2011 1:28 PM

btw, nice article on this in McKinsey Quarterly (registration required)...

"How US health care reform will affect employee benefits"

Posted by: Russ at June 8, 2011 1:39 PM

There goes Russ again, spreading lies. Following is from today's Wall St. Journal article about the McKinsey report:

ObamaCare will lead to a dramatic decline in employer-provided health insurance—with as many as 78 million Americans forced to find other sources of coverage.

This disturbing finding is based on my calculations from a survey by McKinsey & Company. The survey, published this week in the McKinsey Quarterly, found that up to 50% of employers say they will definitely or probably pursue alternatives to their current health-insurance plan in the years after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act takes effect in 2014. An estimated 156 million non-elderly Americans get their coverage at work, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Before the health law passed, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that only nine million to 10 million people, or about 7% of employees who currently get health insurance at work, would switch to government-subsidized insurance. But the McKinsey survey of 1,300 employers across industries, geographies and employer sizes found "that reform will provoke a much greater response" and concludes that the health overhaul law will lead to a "radical restructuring" of job-based health coverage.

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Another McKinsey analyst, Alissa Meade, told a meeting of health-insurance executives last November that "something in the range of 80 million to 100 million individuals are going to change coverage categories in the two years" after the insurance mandates take effect in 2014.

Many employees who will need to seek another source of coverage will take advantage of the health-insurance subsidies for families making as much as $88,000 a year. This will drive up the cost of ObamaCare.

In a study last year, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, estimated that an additional 35 million workers would be moved out of employer plans and into subsidized coverage, and that this would add about $1 trillion to the total cost of the president's health law over the next decade. McKinsey's survey implies that the cost to taxpayers could be significantly more.

The McKinsey study, "How US health care reform will affect employee benefits," predicts that employers will either drop coverage altogether, offer defined contributions for insurance, or offer coverage only to certain employees. The study concludes that 30% of employers overall will definitely or probably stop offering health insurance to their workers. However, among employers with a high awareness of the health-reform law, this proportion increases to more than 50%.

The employer incentives to alter or cease coverage under the health-reform law are strong. According to the study, at least 30% of employers would gain economically from dropping coverage, even if they completely compensated employees for the change through other benefit offerings or higher salaries. That's because they no longer would be tethered to health-insurance costs that consistently rise faster than inflation.

Posted by: BobN at June 8, 2011 4:46 PM

Russ --

Well, existing plans are set up and priced based on the characteristics of the members and the items to be covered. If changes to membership or coverage are mandated, then the insurer's risk changes and they will either have to re-price the plan or, perhaps, shut it down if it becomes financially unsustainable.

So if the gov't says to an insurer, "Add all these persons to your coverage," or "Cover a bunch of conditions that were previously excluded," those mandates have consequences which, if they are dramatic enough, may kill the plan.

Did Obama understand that, or not, do you think?

Posted by: brassband at June 8, 2011 6:54 PM

"If changes to membership or coverage are mandated, then the insurer's risk changes and they will either have to re-price the plan or, perhaps, shut it down if it becomes financially unsustainable.

So if the gov't says to an insurer, "Add all these persons to your coverage," or "Cover a bunch of conditions that were previously excluded," those mandates have consequences which, if they are dramatic enough, may kill the plan."

Thank you! Why is this so hard for certain people (our own Congressional delegation, for example) to understand??? Their attitude is, we'll just order those mean ol' insurance companies (and, believe me, I'm no fan of Blue Cross) to cover all of this additional stuff but not allow them to raise their premiums. Problem solved!!!

Well, no, problem NOT solved. All of that additional coverage costs money!

Posted by: Monique at June 8, 2011 10:29 PM

"Did Obama understand that, or not, do you think?"

Yes, of course as did the payors, which is why the mandate was included. Those two items are tied.

"Health Plans Propose Guaranteed Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions and Individual Coverage Mandate"

And, again, nothing said above changes what I said previously. This was a trend that was going to occur anyway. The ACA just provided an alternative. Go figure, business owners are reluctant to drop or change coverage if it means their employees will be left with no insurance.

Let's also keep in mind why the survey results were what they were.

Our survey shows significantly more interest in alternatives to ESI than other sources do, for several reasons. Interest in these alternatives rises with increasing awareness of reform, and our survey educated respondents about its implications for their companies and employees before they were asked about post-2014 strategies. The propensity of employers to make big changes to ESI increases with awareness largely because shifting away will be economically rational not only for many of them but also for their lower-income employees, given the law’s incentives...

Finally, we tested options beyond dropping coverage outright. These alternatives will probably be the most effective ones for delivering a reasonable return on a company’s investment in benefit programs after 2014. We would therefore expect to see a level of interest higher than that generated by surveys asking only about plans to keep or drop ESI.

So the "problem" with the plan is that it provides an "economically rational" option for businesses and their employees?

Posted by: Russ at June 9, 2011 9:46 AM

Once again, in a typical misdirection tactic, Russ attempts to redefine the problem as an insignificant detail: "provides an 'economically rational' option ..."

Let's not forget the real problem, which is large and simple but politically difficult to cure:

1. There is no economically rational way to "socialize", via government programs, a good or service provided by some people to others.

2. Medical treatment at someone else's expense not only is not a right, it is a violation of the rights of those who are compelled to provide or pay for it. Every part of the Obamacare bill is unconstitutional.

3. The excessive cost of today's healthcare is primarily due to government meddling in the market. The Obamacare bill will drastically increase the cost and decrease the quality of care. This was known to the people who drafted it and voted for it; therefore they inserted numerous cosmetic gimmicks into the bill in order to game the CBO analysis procedure and make false claims about it.

4. The specific lie, "you can keep your insurance" was crafted through a complex, indirect plan that undermines private insurance without explicitly banning it. Legislators and bureaucrats have gamed the system to get what they want while maintaining formalistic deniability.

Posted by: BobN at June 9, 2011 11:09 AM

"Once again, in a typical misdirection tactic..."

brassband asked a question. I answered it.

If you're interested in getting back on topic, what I said was that the trend away from ESI was occurring anyway, with or without reform. The only question was whether that meant millions more uninsured.

(btw, Monique, you already pay for uncompensated care whether you realize it or not. And that costs money!)

Posted by: Russ at June 9, 2011 11:32 AM

Sure, if that meaningless drivel is what you call an "answer".

The correct answer to brassband's question (which may have rhetorical) is, "Yes, Obama did understand the effect his plan would have on private insurance. His goal has always been to create a nationalized system under government control, if not outright ownership, paid through taxation and debt. This circuitous, indirect route is considered politically necessary because of widespread opposition to his real plan."

Posted by: BobN at June 9, 2011 12:02 PM

"Sure, if that meaningless drivel is what you call an 'answer'."

Sheesh, I suppose it serves me right for thinking I should respond to the taunts from one of the local brownshirts.

As for the rest of it, it's total nonsense. Glenn Beckeque delusions. Let's keep in mind who wrote the bill.

In an interview Friday, Ms. Ignagni [president of America’s Health Insurance Plans] noted that the industry had endorsed many of the administration’s proposed changes, including ending the practice of refusing coverage for pre-existing conditions, and said it would work with lawmakers to develop a bill that did not include a public plan.

Let me know if you have anything germane to add.

Posted by: Russ at June 9, 2011 1:47 PM

Russ is hopeless, but I trust that other readers are amused to note that he calls a "brownshirt" someone who wants maximum freedom and limited government in accordance with the US Constitution; whereas we all know that the real brownshirts were minions of a totalitarian government. A government very like the one Obama is trying to create here, and which has common heritage going back over a century with the American Left.

But nonsensical insults are a common retort of the little Lefty terrorist wanna-bes who provide us with so much amusement on this site.

As for whether I have correctly described the real aim of Obamacare, time will tell. Certainly nothing Russ can say will refute it.

Posted by: BobN at June 9, 2011 4:54 PM
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