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Health Premiums Up $3,000; Obama Vowed $2,500 Cut

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 12:07 PM

Re Elect No One

Join Date: 05/10/2012

Posts: 886

Health Premiums Up $3,000; Obama Vowed $2,500 Cut

Health Premiums Up $3,000; Obama Vowed $2,500 Cut

During his first run for president, Barack Obama made one very specific promise to voters: He would cut health insurance premiums for families by $2,500, and do so in his first term.

But it turns out that family premiums have increased by more than $3,000 since Obama's vow, according to the latest annual Kaiser Family Foundation employee health benefits survey.

Premiums for employer-provided family coverage rose $3,065 — 24% — from 2008 to 2012, the Kaiser survey found. Even if you start counting in 2009, premiums have climbed $2,370.

What's more, premiums climbed faster in Obama's four years than they did in the previous four under President Bush, the survey data show.

There's no question about what Obama was promising the country, since he repeated it constantly during his 2008 campaign.

In a debate with Sen. John McCain, for example, Obama said "the only thing we're going to try to do is lower costs so that those cost savings are passed onto you. And we estimate we can cut the average family's premium by about $2,500 per year."

At a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio, in February 2008, Obama promised that "We are going to work with you to lower your premiums by $2,500. We will not wait 20 years from now to do it, or 10 years from now to do it. We will do it by the end of my first term as president."

2008 Promises, 2012 Reality

To back that up, Obama pointed to a memo drafted by Harvard professors (and unpaid campaign advisers), which claimed that investing in health care IT, cutting administrative bloat, and improving management of chronic diseases would cut health costs by $140 billion a year. That would translate into $2,500 in premium savings for families.

But those projections were wildly optimistic, overestimating potential savings from IT, making big assumptions about disease management, and ignoring the fact that past government interventions have always increased health care administrative costs.

Meanwhile, the health reform law Obama signed in March 2010 has pushed up insurance costs.

In 2011, premiums spiked 9.5%, and many in the industry blame ObamaCare for at least part of it. Premiums climbed another 4.5% in 2012, Kaiser found.

And ObamaCare will continue to fuel health premium inflation.

First, the law piles on new coverage mandates. It requires insurance companies to provide 100% coverage for various types of preventive care, bans lifetime coverage limits, extends parents' coverage to offspring up to 26 years old, and requires plans to meet certain "medical loss ratios." Coming up are rules on "essential standard benefits," limits on deductibles, bans on annual spending caps, and much more.

The experience with state mandates show that they only tend to grow over time, and get more expensive. The Council for Affordable Health Insurance found more than 2,200 state benefit mandates, which add from 10% to 50% to the cost of coverage.

"One of the biggest cost drivers in our health care system is the steady proliferation of federal and state-based coverage mandates," noted CAHI's Victoria Craig Bunce.

Meanwhile, ObamaCare's insurance reforms — guaranteed issue and community rating — will likely raise premiums, too.

State Experiments

States that have tried these reforms — which forbid insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions or charging the sick more — have seen insurance premiums spiral upward as healthy people leave the market, knowing they are guaranteed coverage when they get sick.

"Premium rates tended to increase, sometimes dramatically" in the eight states that tried these reforms, according to a study by Milliman, a health care consulting group.

The law's backers claim the individual mandate will prevent these rate hikes, because it requires everyone to buy insur ance. But experts say millions will still refuse to buy coverage and pay the fine instead.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Gruber — who helped design ObamaCare — found that the law will hike individual market premiums in three states by as much as 30%. The Congressional Budget Office said ObamaCare would push them "about 10% to 13% higher in 2016."

Supporters say people will be getting more generous coverage for those higher prices, and that tax subsidies will offset higher cost for many of these families. But that will be small comfort to those forced to pay more.

Perhaps the best evidence that ObamaCare won't bring costs down is a report published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine and signed by nearly two dozen leading health economists and policy experts — some of whom worked for the Obama administration. The report warns that "health costs remain a major challenge" and calls for a "systematic approach" to get spending under control.

One thing that isn't on their list of proposals: Scrapping Obama-Care and starting over.

http://news.investors.com/092412-626848-health-premiums-up-3065-obama-vowed-2500-cut.aspx

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 01:49 PM

DSF

Join Date: 09/04/2012

Posts: 1633

Health Premiums Up $3,000; Obama Vowed $2,500 Cut

Interesting article reno and one that is worthy a legitimate discussion. This is one of those areas i struggle with Obama's decisions. Health care costs have been burying this country for the past twentyfive years. His goal was right to try and fix it, the medical lobby was never going to sit still without a fight. There's too many billions of profit in play to let him change it without them trying to get their pound of flesh. And they've done it with reckless abandon.

Costs have soared and it is one of the reason's his health care bill has caps on profits. Already employers and employees are getting notice of refunds back for the coming year. Frankly it's not enough as the carriers, HMO's and others have been on a feeding frenzy. It's the problem of unregulated industries that hold us captive (us being both the docs and the patients).

As much as this country needs health care reform, my preference would have been for Obama to leave it alone the first term and work/fight with congress to get people back to work. That had to be first and foremeost...and i'm not talking about crappy Walmart and McDonald jobs at $9 or $10 an hour. We need meaningful employment in this country and obviously we have a long way to go.

Health care reform? Absolutely! But, timing is nearly everything in life and in this case, i think O's was wrong.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 02:25 PM

GCR

Join Date: 05/16/2012

Posts: 2318

Health Premiums Up $3,000; Obama Vowed $2,500 Cut

Doc, i totally agree with you and your views on health reform. I thought our goal was to provide affordable healthcare for all. Somewhere along the line we started adding benefits and we all (maybe not our politicians) know that added features drive costs up. The timing was a huge error but, I don't think it was necessarily O's error. I suspect there was influence by the likes of Clintons, Kennedy, Reid, Pelosi,and the likes bending o's ear that with control of both houses HE could 'be the man' to make happen what no man before him could ever accomplish.

Unfortunately there were costs for the rest of us as they lost sight of the real goal of just making sure every American has healthcare. Along with that, the manner in which it was accomplished increased an already existing partisanship congress. It pushed back the focus on economic recovery, immigration reform and a few other pressing needs. In fact, the healthcare reform actually hindered our economic recovery as it increased expected labor costs.

Now we find ourselves with an unemployment rate higher than it should be at this point in our recovery with too many that can't afford increased premiums, can't afford the penalty tax if they opt for no healthcare and a governement budget that really can't afford the additional burden of providing healthcare.

Great debate question I think!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 03:46 PM

designman124

Join Date: 05/10/2012

Posts: 2985

Health Premiums Up $3,000; Obama Vowed $2,500 Cut

Strassel: The Love Song of AARP and Obama

Newly released emails reveal the 'nonpartisan' group's stealthy White House alliance on health care.

Thanks to just-released emails from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we now know that AARP worked through 2009-10 as an extension of a Democratic White House, toiling daily to pass a health bill that slashes $716 billion from Medicare, strips seniors of choice, and sets the stage for rationing. We know that despite AARP's awareness that its seniors overwhelmingly opposed the bill, the "nonpartisan membership organization" chose to serve the president's agenda.

The 71 pages of emails show an AARP management taking orders from the White House, scripting the president's talking points, working to keep its board "in line," and pledging fealty to "the cause." Seniors deserve to know all this, as AARP seeks to present itself as neutral in this presidential election.

The emails overall show an AARP leadership—Policy Chief John Rother, Health Policy Director Nora Super, Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond, Senior Vice President David Sloane—that from the start worked to pass ObamaCare, before crucial details pertaining to seniors had been addressed. This crew was in constant contact with Mr. Obama's top aides, in particular Nancy-Ann DeParle and Jim Messina.

As early as July 2009, Mr. Sloane was sending the administration—"as promised"—his "message points" on Medicare. Ms. DeParle assured him "I think you will hear some of your lines tomorrow" in President Obama's speech—which he did. Mr. Rother advised the White House on its outreach, discouraging Mr. Obama from addressing seniors since "he may not be the most effective messinger [sic] . . . at least to the McCain constituency." Better to manage these folks, he counsels, through the "authoritative voices of doctors and nurses."

AARP had long lambasted cuts in fees to Medicare doctors because reduced payments would mean fewer doctors who accept patients with the insurance. Yet in its campaign for ObamaCare, it argued the money the health law strips from Medicare—by imposing price controls on hospitals—would improve "care." When the organization tried to sell the line to its own people, it didn't go well. Ms. Super told Obama officials in June 2009: "It was actually a heavy lift for us to convince many at AARP that Medicare 'savings' (which they read as cuts) is not bad for beneficiaries." Note the "savings" quote marks.

Even in November 2009, as the ObamaCare debate progressed, Ms. LeaMond worried that the Medicare spin wasn't working against public criticism of the bill. She emailed Mr. Messina and Ms. DeParle that she was "seized" with "concerns about extended coherent, strong messaging by Republicans on the Medicare savings." To pull off the legislation, she mused, "we"—the White House and AARP—will need a "concerted strategy."

The emails AARP didn't want its members to read.

In August 2009, AARP had already unveiled a national advertising blitz for ObamaCare, to ensure that "every member of Congress knows the 50-plus community wants action to fix what's wrong with healthcare." The group made this claim despite weeks of daily tracking showing its members in revolt against the president's plan.

July 23, 2009: AARP reported to the White House that 1,031 members called in against the proposed health-care changes; 77 called in support. July 28, 2009: 4,174 opposed; 36 in support. July 29, 2009: 2,656 opposed; 23 in support. Mr. Sloane told the White House that AARP lost 1,897 members in a single day "in disagreement over our position on health reform." All the reports to Team Obama were accompanied by AARP's request to keep the information "close," apparently so word didn't leak that seniors hate ObamaCare. And the ad blitz went on.

Was AARP sending these tracking reports to its outside board of directors—its governing body? Maybe not: AARP staff seemed to view the board as a problem. In June 2009, Ms. Super emailed Obama budget guy Keith Fontenot: The AARP board is meeting, she said, and we "need to get their buy-in on several proposals," including the president's Medicare cuts, which "as you might imagine, they are a bit concerned about." Could he share ideas with her? "It would really help get them on Board."

When Mr. Rother was asked in December 2009 by the White House to attend an event with Mr. Obama, he declined. "I am presenting to my Board on health reform" on the same day, he wrote. "I think you want me to keep my Board in line, so please understand my need to regret."

 

AARP was, however, on 24-hour alert to do the White House's political bidding. Typical is a March 2010 email exchange about Rep. Larry Kissell, a North Carolina Democrat who remained a "no" vote as ObamaCare neared its endgame. Labor boss Andy Stern emailed Mr. Messina—"Kissel [sic] a Problem"—and advised bringing in the AARP guns. Mr. Messina forwarded the note to Ms. LeaMond, with the word "Help." "On it," she quickly responded. Soon after: Does Mr. Messina want AARP to have its board chairman arrange a meeting, or just call the congressman "right away?" "Both?" Mr. Messina asked. "Will do," she assured him. Rep. Kissell voted no.

In an interview, AARP spokesman Jim Dau and Legislative Policy Director David Certner noted that the lobby was committed to health-care reform long before Mr. Obama's election, that it pushed for policy additions to the bill that were crucial for seniors, and that it did not endorse legislation until AARP's priorities were met. They said that the board was kept informed and that AARP faced similar criticism when it worked with the GOP on a drug benefit in 2003.

"We get criticized, but we never take our eye off the ball when it comes to pursuing things that are good for our members," says Mr. Dau. "We make no apologies for our advocacy."

AARP's ardent efforts on behalf of ObamaCare bear a resemblance to the work of the drug and health industry in 2009—with one significant difference. Those industries' backroom dealing was motivated by financial self-interest. What motivated AARP, given that its membership of 37 million people 50 years old and older was clearly opposed to ObamaCare, since they recognized that it would hurt them? The answer appears to be: pure ideology.

In October 2009, Ms. Super expressed frustration that the Senate might strip more spending from the bill. She declared to colleagues: "I'm heading up to the House now where at least Democrats are Democrats (sort of)." Ms. Super is now working for Mr. Obama's Health and Human Services Department.

In November 2009, Mr. Rother declined a White House request to have an AARP person take part in a roundtable. "I think we will try to keep a little space between us and the White House," he explained, adding that AARP's "polling" shows the organization is more "influential when we are seen as independent." He wanted "to reinforce that positioning," said the man working daily to pass ObamaCare, since "the larger issue is how to best serve the cause." Mr. Rother has left AARP and now leads the liberal National Coalition on Health Care.

When the health-care reform bill passed the House in March 2010, Ms. LeaMond exuberantly emailed Mr. Messina: "This is the new AARP-WH/Hill—LeaMond/Messina relationship. . . . Seriously, a great victory for you and the President."

But not one for America's seniors, who had looked to AARP to oppose ObamaCare's cuts and rationing. That's worth remembering come the next AARP bulletin to seniors offering its "balanced" view on issues.

 
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 11:46 PM

Re Elect No One

Join Date: 05/10/2012

Posts: 886

Health Premiums Up $3,000; Obama Vowed $2,500 Cut

obamacare omitted personal responsibilty when it drafted it's healthcare TAX.  Now it is effecting the national security of this nation!

 

Military leaders: We're still too fat to fight

Childhood obesity isn't just a health issue, according to a group of retired military leaders. It's also a national security issue.

One in four young adults are too overweight to join the U.S. military, a new report from the advocacy group Mission: Readiness says. And the U.S. Department of Defense spends an estimated $1 billion each year on medical care related to obesity issues for active duty members, their dependents and veterans.

"No other major country's military forces face the challenges of weight gain confronting America's armed forces," according to the report.

"At the end of the day, the reason America is safe and sound is not because of its tanks," adds retired Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, spokesman for Mission: Readiness. "It’s really the men and women who volunteer and so proudly serve."

Kids on average consume 130 "empty" calories a day from candy, cookies and chips, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mission: Readiness has been working to get rid of junk food in schools since 2010, when it supported the passing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The act requires the USDA to update nutrition standards in schools.

Mission: Readiness believes having healthier food in the cafeteria and in vending machines will help slow - or even reverse - rising childhood obesity rates. And healthy children are more likely to grow up to be healthy adults who can serve their country.

"We’re not picking on the schools," Seip says. "The schools are part of the solution. We like to think that this obesity problem... is one that’s going to require all of America to tackle."

 

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/25/military-leaders-were-still-too-fat-to-fight/?hpt=hp_t3


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