Affordable Care Act to Result in Less Affordable Care


That didn't take long:

Aetna Inc., some BlueCross BlueShield plans and other smaller carriers have asked for premium increases of between 1% and 9% to pay for extra benefits required under the [new health care] law, according to filings with state regulators.

These and other insurers say Congress's landmark refashioning of U.S. health coverage, which passed in March after a brutal fight, is causing them to pass on more costs to consumers than Democrats predicted.

…Many carriers also are seeking additional rate increases that they say they need to cover rising medical costs. As a result, some consumers could face total premium increases of more than 20 percent.

The insurance industry's top lobbyist, who was basically supportive of the new health care law while it was being drawn up, explains the price hikes pretty succinctly, telling the Journal, "Anytime you add a benefit, there are increased costs." In the past, as state governments have piled on mandates, we've seen evidence that those added requirements can increase the cost of insurance premiums by as much as 30 percent. Mandatory benefits may or may not provide extra value to consumers. But they definitely impose additional costs.

What about those who are happy with the insurance they have? Welll, those who have chosen to keep their old plans may be able to escape the hikes for now:

While the increases apply mostly to the new policies insurers write after Oct. 1, consumers could be subject to the higher rates if they modify their existing plans and cause them to lose grandfathered status.

The problem, though, is that the grandfathering rules are strict enough that virtually any change to a plan triggers a loss of grandfathered status. That means that eventually, nearly every grandfathered plan will lose its grandfathered status. As a draft administration document looking at the grandfathering rules noted earlier this summer "after some period of time, most plans will relinquish their grandfathered status." [bold added] Indeed, that's arguably the whole point—to push health plans away from grandfathered status so that they can be regulated under the PPACA's new insurance rules.

The health care law was sold largely on the dual argument that's spelled out in its name: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. First, it would make health insurance more robust; that's the "patient protection" part. Second, it would make health insurance less expensive; that's the "affordable care" part. But it's tough to achieve both at the same time, especially through top-down regulation. As we're seeing, the end result of insurance that's subject to more mandates is insurance that's more expensive.

NEXT: Can You Smell What Obama's Cooking?

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  1. The Democrats really screwed themselves. Because they passed this thing without a single Republican vote in the Senate and over the objection of the majority of the population, they now own the health care system. Every time a health insurance company raises rates or someone gets turned down for care, they will blame it on this bill. They will be choking on this tar baby for decades.

    1. First of all, racist.

      Secondly, this entire thing was completely foreseeable, so I can’t understand what mass-delusion overtook Congressional Democrats to make them believe this would be a feather in anyone’s cap. Or, what the fuck does leadership have on every member of Congress to get them to go along?

      1. They got so close to their holy grail they didn’t realize it was a golden turd and not a golden cup.

        1. They chose the impressive gem-encrusted golden grail, instead of the simple one which a carpenter would have.

          1. They acted stupidly chose poorly.

      2. They convinced themselves that people would forget about it by the election and that they would be punished worse for not doing anything. It was just mass insanity.

        1. Punished worse by who, Republicans? Maybe a few of the hardcore libs saw it as a way to a permanent majority, but with regards to how it was eventually passed it was nothing more than a pissing contest.

          (i.e. GODDAMMIT WE’RE GOING TO PASS THIS FUCKING BILL!!!! YARGH! RACIST! WE WIN! TEAM BLUE! TEAM BLUE!… wait, what did we just do? aw shit)

          1. It was actually far worse than a pissing contest. With all the backroom deals, bribes, kickbacks, unseemly exemptions, it was the equivalent of the winning couple on “Dancing with the Stars” breaking out into some quick ass-to-mouth sex on camera while the credits are rolling. It was a dirty image that was on display for all to see when everyone was watching.

      3. You mean it was foreseeable that if you force insurers to provide more services, and cover sick people that they previously did not cover, it will cost more? Who would have imagined such a thing?

      4. Its simply a trojan horse for single payer. After rates rise, they’ll continue to blame greedy insurers for not going along with their brilliant plans.

        1. Bingo. Its failures will be used as “evidence” that we need even more government control.

          1. at some point, even they will learn that 1 + 1 does not equal 3.
            They can pay every claim for every procedure…which not even Bernanke’s electronic printing press could keep up with.
            Death panels ensue…er, evidence based medicine ensues.
            The fact remains that the market will supply as much medicine as someone is willing to pay for. It may not be effective, but it will be supplied.
            But the gubermint, or any institution cannot formulate rules, formularies, guidance to address every exigency. It will end paying for kidney transplants of mass murderers, while denying home nursing if someone makes some arbitrary amount of money.

          2. Of course that strategy relies on the Dems abilty to bamboozle the public into believing that the rate hikes are entirely due to “greedy insurance companies” rather than the legislation that mandates more services for more people who aren’t actually going to be paying for it themselves.

            That proposition is getting more iffy by the day.

            1. One hopes.

        2. This sounds about right. It’s a staged attack. However, I’d guess that the odds are 50-50 that the ACA gets repealed vs. single payer.

          1. odds are 50-50 that the ACA gets repealed vs. single payer.


          2. I’d say that’s optimistic.

        3. I’m talking about the individual members. The endgame for big picture Democrats is fairly obvious, but what possible personal motivation would each congressman have to give up his seat?

          1. It’s not our fault! They got us drunk and promised nobody would ever find out!

          2. Well Boyd in FL flipped for the promise of support in his contested primary. Now running dead heat with a guy who I had written off. I was totally unimpressed with the (R) until Boyd started running TV commercials about how his opponent wanted to steal Social Security from old people and repeal the 17th Amendment.

        4. …and that may have worked in the past, but this time people were paying attention…and the people who wouldn’t normally have been paying attention were forced to by all the protesting, etc. The Democrats own this failure.

  2. Surprise, surprise, surprise!

    1. Shame, Shame, Shame!

        1. You mean Shame, Shame, Shame!

          I prefer this version.

  3. Obvious prediction: “It’s underfunded, tax the rich!”

    1. “It’s congressional Republicans’ fault!”

      1. “Single payer is the only solution!”

        1. A wizard Deregulation did it!

      2. It’s the remaining free market parts that are to blame! Plus, greed. Good thing there are no greedy politicians so that we can have them run it.

    2. It’s Bush’s fault!

  4. Secondly, this entire thing was completely foreseeable, so I can’t understand what mass-delusion overtook Congressional Democrats

    I think they made a long-term strategic bet, that vastly expanding the entitlement state would increase the number of reliable Dem voters in the long run.

    They’ll pay a short-term cost, but Leadership is all from safe districts anyway, so they weren’t going to pay that short-term cost anyway. I’m not so sure that they won’t win that long-term bet. The miscalculation, if there was one, might be in passing this at the front edge of a sea change in public attitude toward debt and deficit spending.

    1. IT was a stupid bet. This thing isn’t an entitlement. Entitlements hand out checks to people. Who gets a check under this thing? No one that I can see. They deluded themselves into thinking a regulatory and tax bill was really an entitlement bill. This thing is only going to get more unpopular as time goes on.

      1. The Democrats can still run ads saying that the Republicans want to take away people’s health care.

        1. Maybe next will come single payer housing and cars… then Democrats can run ads saying that the Republicans want to take people’s homes and cars.

      2. Leadership is all from safe districts anyway

        This isn’t quite true either, at least for Harry Reid.

    2. The current PPACA’s rules guarentee failure. However, there will never be legislation to revoke the rules, there will only be future legislation to fix the rules. This means lots and lots of dollars spent by industries trying to influence future legislation for decades. This means big long term “winnings” for congress members on both sides of the aisle.

      1. Winner! Winner! Chicken dinner!

    3. One other point to. Not all entitlements are universally popular. Middle class entitlements like Social Security and Medicare and the GI Bill and college loans are popular. Entitlements for the poor like welfare are unpopular. There is reason why the government reformed welfare in 1996 but haven’t touched Social Security and Medicare, even though those are a much bigger long term problem. It is because middle class people vote and the poor don’t. Unless they can figure out a way to make this a middle class entitlement Democrats are pissing in the wind if they think it is going to get more popular as time goes on.

    4. It was delusion. They honestly believe that simple economic laws aren’t real. They are “talking points” and “free market nonsense”. They think that in the richest country in the world that we don’t have to pay attention to the fact that humans have unlimited wants but limited means. They don’t believe the law of scarcity applies. “Other countries do it”

      1. “Other countries do it”

        If Greece jumped off a bridge, would you do it too? I get the idea that our political class missed out on some important parts of the childhood learning experience, like “hot bad” and the whole peer-pressure thing.

    5. I think they made a long-term strategic bet…

      As I note above, my perplexitude is to why individual congressmen voted yes on it. What personal gain do they have in doing that? Are they all ideologues or are there that many guaranteed lobbyist jobs available?

  5. [insert exclamation of surprise]

  6. this entire thing was completely foreseeable, so I can’t understand what mass-delusion overtook Congressional Democrats to make them believe this would be a feather in anyone’s cap.

    I seriously believe they knew it would be an epic clusterfuck; since nothing ever just gets repealed, no matter how obviously disastrous it is, their plan all along has been to “fix” it with single payer, once it goes over the cliff.

    1. Bingo!

      We might as well start lining up now.

    2. their plan all along has been to “fix” it with single payer

      I agree. The apparent miscalculation of the apparent, um, “correction” coming to their party is what I find interesting.

      1. “The apparent miscalculation of the apparent, um, “correction” coming to their party is what I find interesting.”

        Liberlas generally have this sence of self moral and intellectual superiority. They truelly think they represent the the real wishes of the masses and that its only because of corrupting powers like coporations and rich people that the “people” don’t get what they want.

        Democrats can’t really understand why it is that people reject their policies – they just can’t fathom it. They keep telling themselves that once people “know” about the bill they will like it.

    3. Unless they can sell the middle class on single payer, that is not what is going to happen.

      1. I agree. The Democrats are going to get killed in November. There’s also the massive debt they keep running up. The state are already beginning to revolt over this so they can’t make the states pay for it. If the Repubs were smart enough they could rollback and deregulate a lot of this POS.

        1. Except that there’s a president who would veto the stuff.

          And the Republicans, even if they were smart, won’t get to a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate.

          1. They could de-fund parts of it

    4. it is the kind of principle/pragmatic way to play the game that the Libertarian Party refuses to engage in (and thus gets only meaningless victories for the most party) and the
      tea party folks can’t see either through their desire to punish “rinos” who can, after all, help take back the Senate and install conservatives in committee chairmanships. If you are going to go all political and roll in the mud with the pigs, then don’t worry about a spot or two soiling your clothes.

  7. But the car, it’s in the ditch!

    They had to pass this craptastrophe in order to get the car out of the ditch!

    Republicans can’t drive! Obama told me!

    Actually, I’m kinda excited to see President Weasel Pants explain during the next presidential debate why our premiums went up when this whole thing was supposed to lower health care costs, according to him.

    You think he’ll still be using the car metaphor? I doubt it since GM will be in bankruptcy again by that point. He probably won’t want to remind anyone about cars.

    1. Tata, Mr. President!

  8. I remember when President Obama at the Healthcare summit using the example of the minimal car insurance he had in college. He stated that it was not real insurance. He was comparing it to high deductible health insurance which he believes is not real insurance. I was screaming at my tv because of his poor understanding of what Insurance is for and what will reduce the cost of healthcare. Insurance is supposed to cover disasters, not every doctors visit and medicine. Insurance that has co pays for minor expenses is mostly responsible for driving up the cost of healthcare. Any time you add a third party, the cost goes up. Just think of car repairs, there is a cash price and a insurance price. The cash price is always less.

    1. Good points.
      Reminds me of the doctor Lister who wanted surgeons to wash their hands before operating – but bloody hands were the mark of a busy, and therefore good surgeon. Poor man went insane trying to get doctors to wash their hands.
      Think if we had homeowners insurance run like health insurance. I need a preventive coat of paint! I need granite countertops to uh…make me want to prepare healthier meals! I need new flooring! I need an addition!
      Insurance is for UNFORSEEN emergencies.

      1. I need granite countertops to uh…make me want to prepare healthier meals!

        I think that may be covered by PPACA.

        We’ll see.

      2. Even more than unforeseen emergencies, it is for potentially catastrophic ones. I can foresee that my kids will get the flu, need stitches, or sprain an ankle. I can reasonably set aside money for those things. I can’t reasonably set aside money for chemo or care following a particularly severe auto accident.

        I want to be able to mitigate my risk for catastrophic costs without having to pay premiums toward being able to get a $20 co-pay for every runny nose. Why is that do damned hard for people to understand?

    2. Insurance is supposed to cover disasters, not every doctors visit and medicine.

      (repeated for thoroughness)

  9. “Anytime you add a benefit, there are increased costs.”

    Why couldn’t the Democrats understand this very cogent argument during the debate over the Affordable Care Act?

    Maybe they had to pass it not only so the American people could find out what was in it, but so that the laws of economics (suspended during the debates) could once again take effect?

  10. PPACA, single payer, it doesn’t matter. We’re out of goddamn money and can’t afford either.

    1. We’ll just lower interest rates and run the printing presses at full speed.

      We can have money for every program that way!

  11. The rate increases largely apply to policies for individuals and small businesses and don’t include people covered by a big employer or Medicare.

    Sounds like they’re just using the ACA as cover to raise rates on people that can’t/won’t fight back.

    1. No Mo… its because the bill grandfathered in most large group plans so there is no effect yet.

      1. Ahh, didn’t know that. Because if I were the pricing exec at an insurance company I would blame every penny of rate increases on the ACA. It’s a great way to get all of your customers upset at someone else.

        1. Except that if your competitor offers the same type of plan at a lower price, your customers won’t care who you can blame, they’ll just switch.

        2. It’s B to B. They don’t get upset. The just go looking for cheaper alternatives.

  12. The best way to make health care affordable for everyone is to take rich people and turn them into poor people. This should be obvious duh.

  13. I run a small business, 43 employees. We have Blue Cross Blue Shield and pay 75% of the premiums (Used to pay 100%). Just got notice that our premiums will go up 34%. Now we go through the tedius process once again of shopping for a better deal. Thank you ObamaCare

    1. Chad believes you don’t exist.

      1. I may not for very much longer.

      2. Obviously he must be lying. A real small business owner would want nothing more than to give Barack Obama head for all the wonderful things he’s done.

    2. You should pass the costs onto your employers as an “ObamaCare fee”.

  14. “Anytime you add a benefit, there are increased costs.”

    This would be true only if the benefit were utilized, correct?

    Mandatory benefits may or may not provide extra value to consumers. But they definitely impose additional costs.

    If they’re providing extra value to consumers, that suggests to me they’re not being utilized. If they’re not being utilized then why do they add cost?

    1. Yes, but when a nameless, faceless Big Insurance Corporation is paying for dinner, you always order steak.

      1. Yeah. I could maybe get behind regulating the sorts of pricing schemes insurers can offer in order to build more “cost awareness” into health care spending. But god forbid I suggest regulation here. 🙂

    2. Ask one of my recent patients, who wanted us to x-ray his elbow in the emergency room that had been bothering him for years (not his reason for visit, by the way) and became upset when I refused. He complained to the hospital administration that I wasn’t doing my job. As a result, I got to spend an hour defending my medical decision making to what amounts to a secretary and listening to a lecture about “customer service”. Now what do you think the odds are of me willingly going through that again?

      I am required by law to see and examine you, regardless of your presenting complaint. Many patients know this and present to the emergency department demanding whatever test they wish with the belief that if they don’t receive it, the doctor is in violation of the law. It’s often less of a headache for me, my staff, and the other patients waiting to just give in to them. This principle is at work everywhere in medicine. Adding on additional entitlements will create a market for those services to be utilized. It has happened before and will continue to happen.

      1. spend an hour defending my medical decision making to what amounts to a secretary

        This is the plan, at least to a retired doctor friend of mine. The government will develop protocols for everything and then hire a bunch of Michelle Obamas secretaries at $300k plus a year to put their thumbs on the necks of the doctors to keep them in line.

      2. Worked with a guy who told me that he always goes to the ER just so that they will run all those tests as opposed to going to the clinic where they will just address his runny-nose or cough.

        He was mad that the co-pay at the ER was $50 instead of $20 for the clinic, but had no clue that the insurance bill for his “full service” ER visit was about 10x more than the clinic visit.

        1. This seems like another situation where regulation could help. Mandate that insurers may only offer benefits that scale with price, below a certain threshold of yearly spending. Maybe cover 80% of the cost of all drugs, visits and procedures until the insured has spent $1000 for the year, then cover at a higher percentage after that. Since most of the insured are for all intents and purposes “guaranteed” to spend up to this threshold over the course of a year, premiums might also be lower. Twiddle the payout percentages and threshold as needed.

  15. LOL, is anyone actually surprised by this? I mean seriously.


  16. You free-market fundie fucktards just don’t understand how awesome single-payer will be when it replaces this engineered clusterfuck.

  17. Using numbers that I’m not going to cite because you all should look them up for yourselves rather than me coddling you, I predict that each million dollars of ACA spending will create over 9000 jobs.

    1. And if it doesn’t work, it will be 9/11 times a thousand.

      1. It will work! IF unemployment still goes up, that simply means that we saved over 9000 jobs per million spent!

      2. That’s 911,000!!! Exactly!!!

        1. No, 9/11 times a thousand is 818.181818.

    2. THIS is a good Chad spoof: easily recognized as a spoof, yet close enough to seem authentic. Well played.

      1. Thank you.

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