(Human Events) – A watershed moment in the ongoing disaster of ObamaCare, as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finally admits that health insurance premiums are rising because of the President’s health insurance takeover, per the Wall Street Journal:
Ms. Sebelius’s remarks come weeks before insurers are expected to begin releasing rates for plans that start on Jan. 1, 2014, when key provisions of the health law kick in. Premiums have been a sensitive subject for the Obama administration, which is counting on elements in the health law designed to increase competition among insurers to keep rates in check. The administration has pointed to subsidies that will be available for many lower-income Americans to help them with the cost of coverage.
The secretary’s remarks are among the first direct statements from federal officials that people who have skimpy health plans right now could face higher premiums for plans that are more generous. She noted that the law requires plans to provide better benefits and treat all customers equally regardless of their medical claims.
“These folks will be moving into a really fully insured product for the first time, and so there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market,” she said. “But we feel pretty strongly that with subsidies available to a lot of that population that they are really going to see much better benefit for the money that they’re spending.”
Ms. Sebelius added that those customers currently pay more for their health care if their plans have high out-of-pocket costs, high deductibles or exclude particular types of coverage, such as mental health treatment. She also said that some men and younger customers could see their rates increase while women and older customers could see their rates drop because the law restricts insurers’ ability to set rates based on age and gender.
Don’t worry, folks, ObamaCare is blowing premiums through the roof, but there will be subsidies available for lower-income Americans! That means the rest of us will get screwed twice – once when we pay our higher insurance premiums, then again when we pay for all those lovely subsidies.
On the political front, Obama’s cherished young voters are getting rooked, but luckily they tend to be low-information types who don’t hold him accountable for anything – they keep saying jobs and economic growth are their top concern, but they voted to re-elect him, didn’t they? And Sebelius is doing her best to mitigate political fallout from sticker-shocked young people by keeping that “War on Women” narrative going. Those brutish misogynist ObamaCare opponents just want to repeal the President’s magical program because they want insurance companies to be able to discriminate against women!
Sebelius also put some effort into attacking a Society of Actuaries study that predicted an average 32 percent increase in the cost of claims paid out by insurance companies, thanks to the new regulations requiring them to cover people with pre-existing conditions. The effect will be felt unevenly by various states, with the “overwhelming majority” on track for “double-digit increases in their individual health insurance markets,” while a few are expected to see cost reductions. Sebelius tried the same tactic of hiding the corresponding increase in premiums by folding them into the immense red inkblot of general federal taxation and spending:
The Obama administration challenged the design of the study, saying it focused only on one piece of the puzzle and ignored cost relief strategies in the law, such as tax credits to help people afford premiums and special payments to insurers who attract an outsize share of the sick.
The study also doesn’t take into account the potential price-cutting effect of competition in new state insurance markets that will go live Oct. 1, administration officials said.
At a White House briefing Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said some of what passes for health insurance today is so skimpy it can’t be compared to the comprehensive coverage available under the law. “Some of these folks have very high catastrophic plans that don’t pay for anything unless you get hit by a bus,” she said. “They’re really mortgage protection, not health insurance.”
Sebelius said the picture on premiums won’t start coming into focus until insurers submit their bids. Those results may not be publicly known until late summer.
It’s cute when these people pretend to care about the deficit in order to beat tax increases out of us, isn’t it? But when multi-trillion-dollar government programs need even more taxpayer subsidies to function, we’re not supposed to bat an eye. How many “sequesters” will these subsidies be worth over the next decade? Because when the government is asked to spend $80 billion less in the coming year, it’s a world-ending crisis that causes the entire federal system to tremble on the verge of collapse.
Remember back when Barack Obama was lying through his teeth and promising you could keep your plan, if you liked your plan? Well, his Health and Human Services commissar thinks your skimpy high-catastrophic hit-by-a-bus plan sucks, so it’s dead. Welcome to socialist reality, suckers. Just wait until you find out what other promises won’t be kept, like maybe those promises of huge federal subsidies for state Medicaid expansion.
There could be even more taxpayer subsidies on the way, because the Financial Times reported on Tuesday that the US Chamber of Commerce is “appealing to the Obama Administration to grant special relief to employers in states that are rejecting federal aid promised under the President’s health reform program.”
In states that are not expanding Medicaid, employers will have to pay $3,000 for each employee who joins a state exchange programme to buy health insurance.
In a filing this month, the US Chamber of Commerce urged the administration to exempt employers in those states from the tax penalties.
In doing so, the chamber pointed to a decision by the Obama administration to exempt poor people in states that do not expand Medicaid from the “individual mandate”, which requires people to get health insurance or face an individual tax penalty. The chamber said the same approach should be used for employers.
“If an employer penalty is only triggered by a would-be Medicaid eligible employee, that trigger should be exempted or excused,” the Chamber of Commerce said.
The additional cost to employers in states that do not expand Medicaid has been estimated as $1.3 billion a year. Of course, if Medicaid is expanded, that’s another fleecing for we, the taxpaying sheep. If we’re going to get our pockets picked anyway, subsidizing businesses sounds like it would be cheaper. And that’s what waiving the notorious “individual mandate” or business mandates amounts to, because the purpose of those mandates is to force every American to buy health insurance right away, rather than waiting until they get sick and invoking that “must cover pre-existing conditions” mandate.
Governor Rick Perry of Texas, which is resisting Medicaid expansion, made this point through a spokeswoman: “This is not free money from the federal government – it’s either being borrowed from China or taken out of taxpayers’ pockets. The state and federal government can’t afford the current Medicaid program as is, and it’s financially irresponsible to continue expanding a program that we know to be broken.”
Who knew all these mandates would be so expensive? Oh, that’s right: ObamaCare critics, the most thoroughly vindicated group in modern American political history.