Great post at Half Empty today.(http://halfempth.blogspot.com/) First, Hal quotes from Obama’s speech:
“I have no problem with folks saying 'Obamacare,' I do care. If the other side wants to be the folks who don't care, that's fine with me. But, yeah, I do care about families who have been struggling because of crushing health care costs.”
Then he points out that the provision on the Affordable Care Act that limits insurance companies’ medical loss ratio went into effect this month. This means that large health insurance companies (who spent billions of dollars sending thousands of lobbyists to defeat this legislation) are now required to spend at least 85% of premiums on actual health care, or refund the money to their customers. The industry has been accustomed to spending as little as 60% of premiums on health care. The Dept. of Health and Human Services has even issued a ruling that payments to brokers do not qualify as health care. The typical 35% off the top burden for overhead and profit has been a boon for stockholders who enjoy rising stock prices and dividends, and for CEO’s making seven-figure salaries and bonuses, but help make the case for Medicare-for-all proposals, as Medicare delivers care to millions on about 3% overhead.
It baffles me when I hear Congress propose raising the age of eligibility for Medicare as a cost-saving measure when this is the most cost-effective system in the country. Some have proposed that the age of enrollment be lowered year by year to take more people into the system. Who hasn’t heard stories of seniors under the age of 65 divorcing or declaring bankruptcy to become eligible for health benefits?
The coming of this provision is probably responsible for 10% annual rate increases in recent years, which some have blamed on Obama, even though 10% is also the average rate increase during the Bush administration. As GOP presidential candidates unanimously pledge to repeal the law, I wonder how voters would feel about losing benefits already in effect; the probation of companies denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, the extension coverage under their parent’s plan to millions of young adults under the age of 26, the $1.5 billion saved by seniors this year as the prescription drug donut hole is eliminated, and now the limit on insurers medical loss ratio. I think that once Americans get to experience “socialized medicine” they’ll never give it up, and that further refinements will eventually shrink the private sector’s part in the system, as medicine becomes a public service and not an opportunity for profit-seeking.