Saturday, February 13, 2016

Exploding ACA Premiums: Why Hillary's Proposed Extension of Obamacare Will Not Help Americans

"What really troubles me is the assertion that we ought not aspire to achieve the best, most equitable and just solutions to our most serious problems because that is unrealistic, politically infeasible and dooms us to fail. This criticism of Bernie Sanders' platform is really unsettling.This argument that we ought to tamp down our political aspirations has taken many forms as it is oft repeated by those politicos who seem terrified that Bernie might actually win the Democratic presidential nomination" - Donna Smith, on

To see and hear Hillary proffering her "pragmatic" solutions to the ongoing  health care cost crisis, (in the last debate with Bernie Sanders), was enough to make a cynic laugh. In fact, anyone aware of the facts on the health care situation to do with Obamacare (aka the ACA) would be more likely to cry. As per a Wall Street Journal article ('Insurers Flag Deepening Losses on Health Care', Feb. 11, p. A1, A10) Obamacare this year is looking at a "36.8 percent increase in premiums."

Yep, you read that right. And to add insult to injury,  the increase in key prescription drugs (that seniors especially use) will likely increase in cost even more. This will force  them to have to choose between groceries and meds. A Hobson's choice if ever there was one.

If Hillary - who plans to keep the ACA as it is - has any real plans to fix this broken program one wonders how she will do it so it doesn't bankrupt most citizens. As the WSJ article notes, the problem at root is serious losses by the insurance companies that Hillary insists be kept in the loop - but Bernie Sanders wants to ditch as the major contributors to the problem.

The article cites Humana, Inc. as the "latest to flag its losses" which are expected to total $176 million including this year. Meanwhile, Anthem Inc. barely broke even and UnitedHealth Group, Inc. "said it had losses of about $475 million on its 2015 ACA plan business and booked $245 million projected 2016 losses"

These results have led to (p. A10): "negative margins of 3 to 4 %  on individual plans" and paved the way for the expected increases in premiums. After all, if as Obama and Hillary demand,  health care be kept a business (since insurers are part of the mix) then profits will be incorporated. The profit expectations will also be continuously  increased so higher and higher premiums must be expected. Further, with further losses on the ACA's horizon the insurers are already looking to even greater premium rates in 2017.According to Roy Vaughn of Blue Cross Blue Shield (ibid.):

"The insurer will need to seek another rate boost for 2017 to try to get us to a level that makes us sustainable".

But, of course, none of these ACA plans will be sustainable so long as younger citizens, especially of the healthier 22- 30 age group, refuse to sign on. The whole basis for the ACA in the first place was that the total medical burden would be shared, and so younger,  healthier ACA signees would ensure lower costs for the sicker, older ones. But this isn't happening.

Leading one to ask if Americans are really, really prepared to put up with this BS. The only plan that can work, in fact, is Bernie's 'Medicare for All', though WSJ cynics like Holman Jenkins Jr. (in a recent column) insist Sanders is nuts to offer it because seniors would "never allow a raid by everyone else on their Medicare:"   Seriously? Other needy citizens represent a "raid"? Seems Jenkins like the other tools really do want to start an intergenerational war.

After all, to the conservatives and especially the Reepo -backing jackals of the WSJ,  we are not all in this together, we are each man (or woman) for himself and devil take the hindmost. Charming! Social Darwinism at its most fecal and feral.

But Medicare seniors aren't out of the hole either so long as drug costs are not controlled. I can aver to that having had to spend a lot of money on prescription drugs this year just to get a gout attack under control, as well as an ear inflammation. Fortunately, like millions of other seniors, I didn't have to choose between food and meds. Many millions do!

Critics of Bernie's single payer proposal like to make it out as "pie in the sky" but I guess those who say that would rather have bankruptcy and "shit in the face". NO? Then what's the alternative? If you are just going to accept the status quo of the ACA - which even Obama admitted wasn't perfect - then it means greater and greater health care costs will have to be borne each year. This, even as the rest of the advanced world laughs at our venal stupidity and myopic sense of priorities.

"Heh, heh, heh, look at those dumbass yanks! They finally got a guy running for president who can help dig them out of their health cost hole and they want to toss him down a drain. Fuckin' idiots!"

If we want to prove our exceptionality to the other advanced nations (whose citizens enjoy health care as a right),  then we need to prove we can not only do it too - but better.  This as opposed to lamenting every goddamned day that "it's too costly", "it's too impractical", "it's too socialist" blah blah blah.  Because truly exceptional nations don't make excuses for not attaining the ultimate security for their citizens: their health without massive debt.

We have a choice, and it is a real one: Stick with the status quo of higher and higher health and drug costs as Hillary insists we do, or break free and liberate our propagandized collective consciousness. But the latter means choosing Bernie, and then - after he gets in -joining with fellow energized citizens to raise holy hell to make sure our reps act on our behalf. It will be difficult, make no mistake, but you tell me what other choice we have?

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The idea that things We the People “get” from government is just “free stuff” misunderstands the purpose of government. We the People established our government as a mechanism for all of us to decide to get together to do things that make our lives better. In a democracy, if We the People decide it is a good idea to, for example, have public schools, does that qualify as “free stuff?” Or is it an investment in making our lives better? And, while we’re at it, an educated population makes the society better.

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