Friday, March 15, 2013

Kaiser's Sunny Obamacare Preview Omits Key Facts

From a recent Kaiser Permanente e-mail touting the benefits of the Affordable Care Act:
  • Expanded no-cost preventive care, including immunizations, diabetes and cancer screenings, counseling for smoking and alcohol abuse, and more.
  • No annual or lifetime limits on essential health benefits. [emphasis added]
No-cost!?! To who? Kaiser isn't going to keep their rates the same and ask their doctors, nurses, techs, and other employees and managers to work extra hours expanding treatment for nothing.

It is only "no-cost" in the sense that the patient under current parameters will not have to pay at the moment of presenting himself or herself for treatment. But, patients will be paying higher monthly premiums to cover the "no-cost" care and "no annual or lifetime limits" on benefits.

By contrast, in a Forbes op/ed, Sally Pipes notes that AETNA's CEO recently predicted that "unsubsidized" premiums may go up 20%-50%. Not quite "no-cost". Blue Shield is also a little skeptical about the "no-cost" features of the bill.
In California, Blue Shield has asked regulators to approve premium increases of up to 20 percent. Obamacare’s new regulations were a factor in the request. A spokesperson for the company said the new law “will bring a lot of volatility” into the market.
However, you may get help with your higher premiums. According to Kaiser lots of people may qualify for health care subsidies.
  • If you’re single, the range of income qualifying for assistance could be between $15,282 and $45,960. In Hawaii, it could be between $17,596 and $52,920.
  • For couples, the range of combined income qualifying for assistance could be between $20,628 and $62,040. In Hawaii, it could be between $23,741 and $71,400.
  • For a family of four, the range of combined income qualifying for assistance could be between $31,322 and $94,200. In Hawaii, it could be between $36,030 and $108,360.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2011 median household income was $50,502. This means that 60% of American households may qualify for a subsidy. A subsidy that undoubtedly will not cover a 20%-50% premium increase. Not to mention, that with sequester and a House of Representatives still in Republican control, massive new dollars for Obamacare subsidies will probably not be forthcoming.

Voters already not too keen on Obamacare will undoubtedly become less keen about the "no-cost" aspects of the bill when the new rates kick in. Then, watch for not so sunny Kaiser explanations.


MAX Redline said...

Yes. It makes one wonder if Kaiser wasn't involved in the Obamacare bill. No-cost flu shots are already part of their plan, and have been for several years. On the other hand, under their current set of plans, the relatively affordable "bronze" one leaves members exposed to thousands of out-of-pocket costs in addition to the $450 a month premiums.

I doubt that taxpayers are going to be thrilled over the idea of picking up those costs.

But, as nanny said, "We have to pass this bill so you can find out what's in it."

T. D. said...

Max, I always laugh at "no-cost" come-ons. Somebody has to pay. It just may not be the actual receiver. No-cost is great when it's done by volunteers since they bear the cost of the goods and services they give. $450/month is nowhere near low cost, let alone no-cost.

What Republicans have going for them is that without major new funding, there isn't going to be enough to even minimally subsidize this money sink hole. So, like with sequester, no action is a loss for the Obama administration. And it will be interesting to see what liberal businesses do when Obamacare costs make PERS costs look extremely reasonable in comparison. I can hardly wait for the Oregonian editorial.

Another get your chair and popcorn moment is coming.

MAX Redline said...

"Buy two rooms of carpet and get the rest for free!" Yep..what a deal.

I really would like to see Republicans play like Obama: no compromises. The beauty of sequester is that it illustrates Barky's petulance: "Fine. No more White House tours."

Spectacular backfire.

T. D. said...

Max, one of the few backfires the media couldn't spin for him or ignore. Heh!