Monday, May 30, 2016

On this Memorial Day

Thank you.

[Hat Tip: RedState]

Friday, May 27, 2016

InHealth Collapse: Immediate Aftermath

So I reached out (via email) to my InHealth clients today:

"Yesterday afternoon, the Ohio Department of Insurance placed InHealth into receivership. This was not completely unexpected: almost all the Co-Ops nationally have failed; we were hoping that IH would be an exception.

The good news is that the DOI will handle taking care of outstanding bills, etc, and this is a trigger for a Special Open Enrollment period so that you can obtain coverage elsewhere.

I'll be in touch early next week to let you know how we can help with this transition. Meantime, have a GREAT (and safe!) Memorial Day Weekend."

I sent this to all my IH clients, and almost immediately received this reply from one:

"Does this mean that I will be required to meet my deductible again this year with the new company?  I've already met my deductible with IH for this year and have more expected medical expenses scheduled in the next few months (MRI for GI and more testing for the neurosurgeon).  Hopefully they take these sorts of things into consideration. 

Hope you have an enjoyable weekend as well!

Keep me posted..."

Good question.

Here's my reply:

"That will depend on the carriers, but my guess would be that yes, everything would reset to zero. I’ll know more as they roll out what options will be available: it’s possible (no idea how likely) that the DOI could make some provision for this. But just don’t know yet."

To which he responded:

"Ugghhhh.....not the answer I was hoping for; however, the one I had expected.  Guess they feel like the working middle class is made of unlimited amounts of money. Rant over.  Lol!"

I can certainly empathize. I'm sure that the coming weeks will bring some clarification, both as to how the transition will be handled by the DOI, and my own choices viz fees.

A dear friend has reminded me that things change, and I do need to be more open to other practice choices (less medical, more life, etc). I know that he's right, and I've been wrestling with this for a while (as regular readers have likely gathered). I do love what I do (mostly), so one supposes that it's natural to sound off on having to adjust course.

But time and tide....

Thursday, May 26, 2016

BREAKING: InHealth Mutual Now Under DOI Control [UPDATED]

[From email just now]

"COLUMBUS - Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor was appointed receiver for Coordinated Health Mutual, Inc. today following the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) request to liquidate the company which provides health insurance to nearly 22,000 Ohioans under its InHealth Mutual brand.  The action allows ODI to assure that claims of policy holders, providers and vendors are provided for in an orderly manner while it winds down company operations."

More as this develops.

Really disappointed, had hoped that they'd make it. Take-away? Co-Op model = wishcasting.

UPDATE: Full DOI statement here.

ACA-related Spelling Problems [UPDATED!]

Folks keep misspelling "3,000% rate decrease." For instance:

"Most health insurers in Pennsylvania are pressing for double-digit rates increases for Obamacare plan coverage starting in January"

This is unpossible.

Or this egregious example:

"Health insurance industry lobbyist tells me that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas will announce a 59% rate increase today for next year."

Sure wish they'd get this under control.

UPDATE: Check out this post at Bob Laszewski's place for the full story of the Empire State's health insurance market travails. Money quote:

"Let me also suggest that people don't pay rate increases--they pay premiums."


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Of Belly Dances and Obamacare

Quick update on how our tax dollars are being spent to promote and enroll people in Obamacare.

A recent audit of the Nevada state Obamacare exchange looked at how money was spent on education, training, etc. Among other things they found this .......
Six of the nine navigator organizations offered explanations for the time they weren't at events, saying they were working on social media posts, emails, training or helping with walk-in customers, but auditors said it was still unclear whether those paid hours were spent on exchange-related activities.
Gilbert also took issue with auditors singling out one navigator organization's attendance at the belly dance and lingerie events, saying the exchange needs to target women who are self-employed or operate small businesses and prioritize women's health issues. He said the exchange's success came in part because it appeared at less-traditional events. - Herald Online

Less traditional indeed.

Where to I sign up?

#ObamacareFail  #LingerieShow

O'Care Hall of Shame (Part 367)

So, the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform has released the findings from its most recent survey of the last Open Enrollment (its 8th such). Those of us who've been following along at home are not surpriosed, but one suspects that folks who haven't been paying attention (and those with their eyes willfully closed) may well be.

For starters:

"Over half of QHP-eligible uninsured individuals have been uninsured for over three years." [ed: QHP = O'Care compliant]

This dovetails perfectly with how long we've been going through this charade. The very obvious conclusion is that the scheme is not working, period. The whole point was to get people insured, and that's clearly not happening.

"While awareness of penalties and subsidies continues to rise, fewer consumers understand their personal eligibility or are shopping."

Um, d'unh! People do understand quite well that even if they could afford the outrageous premiums, how do they afford the additional out-of-pocket costs?

As an aside, I find it interesting that it's quite difficult to determine how many people actually paid the ObamaTax: there are plenty of articles of how many were subject to it, and how many had the amount dinged from their tax refunds. But what about folks who were due no refund? How many of them actually ponied up?

'Tis a mystery.

Here's something quite interesting:

Almost 40% of those eligible for an ObamaPlan have opted not to sign up. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of this train-wreck, is it?

Not much of a surprise, either.

[Hat Tip: Allison Bell]

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Subsidies vs Rate Hikes

ObamaTax architect Herr Jonathon Gruber famously quipped that "the stupidity of the American voter ... was really, really critical for the thing to pass.” Confusing go-along-to-get-along as "stupidity" may have been his arrogance speaking, but he wasn't wrong:

"86 percent of the people who use the marketplaces get health insurance subsidies” to buy coverage, a point repeated by policy shops and advocates who want to downplay the effects of possible rate increases"

That's the popular press' spin on the impact of continued premium increases - some higher than 45% - and fewer carriers with narrower networks. If only there were a term for this.

Oh, yeah.

Regardless, the point is that trying to gloss over significant rate and out-of-pocket increases by touting potential subsidies is not just wishful thinking, it's delusional:

"Subsidies diminish in value the more money a family has ... Higher premiums matter a lot to those receiving smaller subsidies and could potentially force some of them to drop their coverage."

It also touches on something we've observed before:

"One's premium and subsidy (if applicable) are based in part of where one lives (zip code, county), but the penalty is simply a flat percentage of income regardless of one's location."

And, finally, roughly the same number of people buy unsubsidized plans as subsidized ones, but few in the press seem the implications of this. That is, an awful lot of folks don't enjoy the benefit of fellow tax-payers footing significant portions of their health insurance tab, amplifying the effect of these rate and out-of-pocket increases.

But we had to pass it to....

[Hat Tip: Charles Ornstein]

"Winning," O'Care Style

Gosh, what a complete surprise:

"Obamacare Poll: Most Enrollees Hate Their Plans"

According to the (not exactly right-leaning) Kaiser Family Foundation, "just over half (54 percent) now rate the value of their coverage as ‘only fair’ or ‘poor.’”

And of course they throw in the lie that rates - and out of pockets - have increased.

What has increased is that dissatisfaction trendline:

"[In]n 2014, the percentage of enrollees who rated their coverage “only fair” or “poor” was 39 percent."

This new result indicates a 40% increase [ed: Gee, what else has increased over 40% the past few years, health insurance-wise?]. Adding insult to injury, a recent Gallup poll shows that a majority of Americans favor repeal of the train-wreck.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Death (Panel) Comes a'Calling

We first wrote about the IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board) almost exactly 6 years ago:

"A stealth, 15 member panel appointed by the king, I mean president, to make sure Medicare doesn't spend too much money on health care."

At the time, the idea that the IPAB was in reality a Death Panel was mocked and derided as hopelessly over the top. But was it?

Turns out, not so much:

"ICER [Institute for Clinical and Economic Review] portrays itself as being independent when it is nothing of the sort, as it was founded and is being run by people with strong ties to the insurance industry ... ICER is set to review new therapies for small cell lung cancer."

So what, you ask?


"It recently reviewed a drug for another type of cancer, Multiple Myeloma, and, not surprisingly, it found the drug too expensive."

When insurance companies (and Medicare) pay the piper, they call the tune, and if the price is deemed too high, then the music stops. Britain's Not So Vaunted National Health System© bases care on quality-adjusted life years (QALY), and "seldom endorses treatments costing more than [$43,000] per additional year gained." No matter how one spins this, it is rationing.

Now, there's a case to be made that this is for the public good: after all, we all most of us pay premiums and taxes, and therefore have a horse in the race. But what's insidious about this method is that, unlike the one used by the NSVNHS©, ICER is not transparent. And so one is left wondering when one's spigot will ultimately be turned off.

Second look at a cancer policy?

[Hat Tip: FoIB Holly R]

A Cancer Story

Full disclosure: I have yet to sell a cancer policy myself, but I've been told by more than a few colleagues that I'm remiss in this.

And here's a perfect illustration of why:

"When Shirley Tully was just starting her career ... in 1993, she had a number of reasons to buy cancer coverage. When she bought the policy, she wasn’t even eligible for some of the benefits, such as mammogram wellness benefits, because of her young age."

One day, that all changed:

"In September 2008, however, her life changed forever. When she visited the doctor for the follow-up appointment, she got the news: “Shirley, the test did not come back as well as we had hoped.”

Please click through for the rest of this incredibly moving, and ultimately uplifting story.

And maybe ask your agent about a cancer plan.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Doctor Won't See You Now

No doubt you have heard about the long lines in the airport due to TSA understaffing and poor morale. But have you tried to find a doctor willing to see you and accept your Obamacare health insurance plan?

The folks in DC are discovering their plan isn't exactly the gold, silver or bronze coverage they expected.
The average wait in the District to see a psychiatrist is almost three weeks, showing a glaring deficiency in mental health treatment in the city. The D.C. health care network, who’s mission is to, “implement a health care exchange program in the District of Columbia in accordance with the Affordable Care Act,” serves roughly 200,000 residents, reports NBC Washington - Daily Caller
Between skinny networks and high deductibles those who need care the most can't afford it.
“This study shows us that many people are not able to access needed care and people are paying for mental health care they cannot access,” 
Add to the mix the enormous paper work and requirements Obamacare places on doc's and you have a real mess.
A staggering 86 percent of psychiatrists in D.C.’s Health Insurance Exchange Network said they were unable to take on new patients or were completely unreachable.
How is that Obamacare working for you?