20 Nov 2013 Health Care Odds & Ends
1. “It’s not that it’s not working. It’s still being developed and tested.” Thus spake Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, during an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing yesterday. Apparently 30%-40% (or is it 60-70%?) of Healthcare.gov still has to be built, including the part that will deliver payments to insurers.
That last part is particularly interesting, because the insurance industry definition of “enrollment” is that the policyholder has begun to make payments. If Healthcare.gov can’t yet deliver payments to insurers, does that mean that, in effect, no one is enrolled in a plan through the federal exchange yet?
Anyway, here is Chao’s testimony:
2. Bad liberal policy achieves what decades of conservative/libertarian arguments could not. Look at this graph from Gallup:
According to Gallup, “The 56% of U.S. adults who now say it is not the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage continues to reflect a record high. Prior to 2009, a clear majority of Americans consistently had said the government should take responsibility for ensuring that all Americans have health care.”
James Taranto notes this eye-popping tidbit about the poll: “The proportion of Democrats who say it isn’t the federal government’s responsibility in 2013 (30%) is higher than the proportion of all voters who said the same thing in 2006 (28%).”
One reassuring thing that has come out of the ObamaCare debacle is that while the Administration may still have rose-colored glasses on, the majority of the American public does not.
3. Hey, no big deal. There are only 600,000 such businesses. Public Opinion Strategies just released the results of a survey of franchise and non-franchise businesses that employ between 40 and 500 people and their opinions on ObamaCare. Among the findings, 31% “of franchise and 12% of non-franchise businesses have already reduced worker hours because of the health care law, and 64% “of business decision-makers in franchise-owned businesses and 53% of non-franchise-owned businesses believe the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have a negative impact on their businesses.” Here is the impact it is having on employer-provided insurance:
As the poll notes, there are only 600,000 businesses that employ between 40 and 500 people, but in total they employ 42 million.
4. Tooting my horn. From the AP:
Along with the paltry enrollment numbers released this week, officials in a handful of states said those who had managed to sign up were generally older people with medical problems — those with the greatest incentives to get coverage.
It’s unclear whether that will persist. Young, healthy people may be more inclined to procrastinate, especially given doubts about the law’s technically flawed online signup system. They have until Dec. 15 to sign up if they want to be covered on Jan. 1.
Who was it that, just before the exchanges opened up, wrote:
Among those eligible for the exchange, those ages 18-34 are probably the most web savvy. Thus, they are the most likely to be accustomed the convenience of websites like Amazon.com. Their patience for the exchanges will quickly run thin should they log on to the exchange websites and find it difficult to learn the price of their insurance, to find out how much in subsidies they qualify for (if any), and to enroll. Such frustration will make it less likely they will sign up.
On the flip side, who is most likely to endure the difficulties of exchange websites? If the exchange website initially prove unworkable, who is most likely to return weeks or months later when the websites may be functional? They will be the people who see the most benefit in having insurance—namely, those with health problems. The technology glitches add to the exchanges’ system of incentives that discourage young and healthy people and make buying insurance appealing largely to those with high health care costs.
Ok. Enough bragging. Back to my usual humble self.