ObamaCare’s Date with Destiny Approaches

health-overhaul-problemsjpeg-060d8_s640x384Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who remains as determined as ever to substitute Obama administration talking points for the truth, gave it her best effort in yesterday’s session before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. It was an underwhelming performance at best. As key dates approach and more facts about the government overhaul of the health care system emerge, it is becoming apparent that the ObamaCare scheme is headed for structural disaster — and will take tens of millions of Americans with it.

In her testimony, Sebelius was quick to tout the new and improved website. “As more Americans give healthcare.gov a second look, they’re finding the experience is night and day compared to where we were back in October,” she said in her opening statement. “And they’re responding by shopping for plans and enrolling in greater numbers.” She boasted that the improvements resulted in 258,497 Americans “signing up” through the end of November, bringing the two month total to 365,000.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) was the first to let some air out of Sebelius’s balloon. “The AP reported that a September 5 memo sent to you listed monthly enrollment targets for the exchanges, and this memo indicated that your target enrollment number for the end of December is 3.3 million. Based on HHS’s release this morning, your department is more than 3 million off their target number, isn’t that correct?” he asked. “Through the end of November, that is correct, sir,” Sebelius responded.

Pitt also pressed Sebelius on the president’s repeated claim that the average American family would save over $2,000 on their premiums, asking her if that statement was misleading. “I think the president talked about health care costs going down for Americans,” she responded evasively.

Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) took Sebelius’s boasting down another notch, noting that the regulations imposed by the new healthcare bill have already resulted in as many as 5 million Americans getting their plans cancelled. Thus, even if one assumes the administration’s best-case scenario in terms of achievement, “millions more Americans would have lost coverage than gained it in the first months of the rollout,” he said.

It is far worse than that. Of the approximately 1.2 million Americans who have gained healthcare coverage so far, 803,000 have been determined to be eligible for Medicaid. In other words, those enrolled in “free” government-run healthcare account for two out of every three signups.

Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) hammered Sebelius regarding that reality, noting that the expansion of Medicaid “is going to kill the states.” He also grew enormously frustrated by Sebelius’s refusal to admit that ObamaCare is making premiums spike. “It’s like talking to the Republic of Korea or something,” he fumed.

Despite Sebelius’s obstinacy, premium spikes are almost inevitable, and not just because the law mandates unnecessary coverage for some Americans, in order to subsidize coverage for other Americans. For the law to operate effectively, 7 million Americans must enroll by the March 31 deadline for coverage in 2014. But not just any 7 million Americans. According to Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the association that represents U.S. health insurers, at least 40 percent of those enrollees must be young and healthy. “Because if only people who are older and have high health care costs decide to purchase coverage now, that’s going to mean that next year, when open enrollment comes around again, premiums may be significantly higher than we see today,” he explained.

“Purchase” is a key word, and once again at yesterday’s hearing the HHS Secretary was forced to admit the administration’s totals are for those who have chosen a plan, but have not yet paid their premium. Sebelius stated that actual payments are not due until mid-December. “Most Americans will not pay until the money is owed,” she explained.

That is somewhat inaccurate, and perhaps wildly optimistic. With regard to accuracy, payment deadlines vary both by state and by insurer. Yet those who wish coverage to begin on January 1, 2014 must pay the first month’s premium on time. As for optimism, according to consultants and some insurers, it’s been slow going with regard to actual payments. Industry consultant Robert Laszewski reveals that one client reports only 15 percent “have paid so far.” Consultant Kip Piper notes that he’s hearing from health plans where only 5 to 10 percent of consumers are “truly enrolled.” Piper expects less than 50 percent will pay on time for coverage in January, rising to three-in-four by February or March.

Which brings us to the next potential ObamaCare land mine few Americans know about. If consumers pay their first month’s premium, but fail to continue paying, their insurer cannot drop them for 90 days. Yet the insurer is only responsible for making payments during the first 30 days of that grace period. After that, it is up to the enrollee to make payment to healthcare providers for services rendered. If they don’t (and why would they, if they’re not paying their premiums) it’s up to the providers to collect.

The system is ripe for fraud as well. People can pay nine months of premiums for 12 months of healthcare, and when they are dropped, simply sign up for another plan–since they cannot be denied, due to the guaranteed-issue mandate contained in ObamaCare.

As Bloomberg News reported in October, many providers are already demanding upfront payments based on an individual’s deductible. If enough of them take a beating via the aforementioned scenario, they could end up demanding upfront payments for non-emergency services period.

Sebelius was also pressed on the delays unilaterally imposed by the president on the business mandate part of the bill and the online small-business exchange. “What new delays will be coming on Christmas Eve and New Year’s?” asked Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), seemingly sarcastically. Sebelius didn’t take it that way, failing to rule out further delays. “We’re working with insurers to make sure there is a smooth transition in the new year.”

Make that the beginning of the new year. By the end of the year, experts predict a tsunami of policy cancellations affecting 80-100 million Americans who get employer-sponsored insurance. And despite the Obama administration’s efforts to push the implementation of the business mandate beyond the 2014 elections, policy holders will be notified of those impending cancellations earlier than that. Considering the amount of public consternation engendered by five million policy cancellations, 16 to 20 times that number is likely to ignite an unprecedented firestorm–unless the date is delayed yet again.

Unsurprisingly, Democrats rose to Sebelius’s defense. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) insisted it “absolutely cannot be true, and is not true” that more people would lose insurance under ObamaCare than gain it. Rep. John Dingell (DMI) read letters from constituents and posed a series of yes/no questions to Sebelius, allowing the Secretary to tout the improvements of the website. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) continued in that vein, before heaping praise on Sebelius. “Madame Secretary, let me tell you, I am absolutely confident that the role you have played in bringing health care to millions, tens of millions Americans, will go down in history,” she gushed.

Yet while anecdotal evidence may have comforted Democrats, Republicans remained unsatisfied. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) focused on last month’s testimony by CMS officer Henry Chao, who revealed that the back end of the website, which processes insurance payments, had yet to be built. Sebelius claimed she didn’t know what Chao was talking about, and that the payment process was working. What isn’t working yet is the reconciliation process between the government and insurance companies regarding subsidies, she contended.

That is hardly good news. It is those subsidies that are supposed to help insurance companies defray the costs of implementing ObamaCare. Without them, many of those companies could go out of business.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) wasn’t buying Sebelius’s contention that all was well with regard to the payment process either. He told the Secretary he was unable to make a payment at healthcare.gov, further noting that “it’s almost impossible” to do so.  He remains concerned that people who sign up for ObamaCare won’t be able to complete the transaction, and won’t get insurance.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) speculated that America was headed for exactly the same kind of two-tiered healthcare system separating the wealthy from everyone else. “That’s what’s happened in other countries where laws like this are passed,” he warned.

All of the above, including anemic enrollment numbers for private insurance while Medicaid signups explode; premium price increases necessitated by unnecessary coverage; the undue burden places on providers and insurance companies to collect payments and subsidies, respectively; fraud; and the reality that millions of additional American will see policy cancellations, threaten complete chaos. Chaos that could lead to a massive taxpayer-funded bailout to keep insurance companies afloat, that is already built into the law. If it gets to the point where the federal government owns insurance companies, just like they owned GM, it will be ObamaCare for the masses and healthcare “memberships” for the privileged few.

In other words, Americans are going to have to experience every one of the unforeseen and “unintended” consequences of ObamaCare before they find out what’s really “in it.” The next date with destiny is January 1, when a substantial number of Americans will either be pleased they have coverage, or shocked to discover they don’t–even if they paid for it. That’s reality. And nothing said by Sebelius, any other member of the Obama administration, or any Democrat can change it.

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  • The Carnivore

    It must be tough to be a Democrat. Lying and putting spin on things is a lot more difficult than telling the truth. Obamacare was an ill conceived idea back in 2010, and it will haunt this country for years to come.

    • Jakareh

      No, it’s not tough. Lying comes naturally to leftists.

      • Watchman On the Wall

        Like breathing.

  • wildjew

    Maybe Speaker Boehner will help his golfing buddy out of a potential fix. Boehner: “I absolutely trust President Obama.” Bill O’Reilly is right in there with Boehner supporting Obama. The only ones out here that see what Obama has done and is doing to this country are (as O’Reilly says) the “hard right.”

    • Watchman On the Wall

      I listen to O’Reilly every night. I don’t hear him giving Obama a pass.

      • wildjew

        Do you agree with Bill O’Reilly, President Obama truly wants what is best for his country?

  • http://miniopus.com/ MiniOpus

    great post

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    Obamacare was designed to fail … and be replaced with full government run healthcare. The big question is whether the American people will demand freedom or more dependency.

    We must explain that we don’t have a free market in health insurance and never had. Government has been driving up the costs for decades. Freedom allows us to choose what risks we want to insure … and fund the level of healthcare we can afford.

    One size doesn’t fit all. Stalinist healthcare is doomed healthcare … let’s liberate the American people.

    • Myrtle Linder

      There is one thing we need to know about Obamination, he is a very brilliant man, he is just a brilliant as he is evil. He has been trained by the masters and has brought American to ruin her financially and morally in five years. He was never distracted by these things to prevent him from working against the Conservative Christians. He has very able workers who are traitors, many of them Republican Rinos, working beside him. We best admit it, there is one, only one who can best him, that is the ALMIGHTY GOD AND FATHER OF JESUS CHRIST, THE SAVIOR OF CHRISTIANS EVERYWHERE. HIS WORD tells us that HE will do this, but we must wait until the time is right, it will be coming soon. HE will deliver HIS people who need to bring more into HIS fold, while we still have little time. We need to witness of HIS GREATNESS, HIS POWER, HIS LOVE for HIS creations.,HIS SAVING GRACE which is all that can save us.

      • Soxtory

        As a conservative Republican and lifelong Christian, I say you are deranged!

        • MLCBLOG

          Myrt is biblically correct though it may sound odd to your ears Try digging a little deeper than just wearing a label. We do have the power.

        • Watchman On the Wall

          Well, you can’t be a Christian if you say Myrtle is deranged. She only told you what God said in His Word.

      • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

        Psst, Myrtle … God helps them who help themselves. We have to get of our a** and fight the powers.

      • john

        He is evil I agree but NOT brilliant !!!!

        • O’Paque

          Yes, he’s shrewd and crafty, but very far from being brilliant. After all, he’s not hiding all his school records for nothing.

          • NAHALKIDES

            Right – if he didn’t have the mainstream media covering up for him, he’d have lost in 2012, and probably even in 2008.

    • WW4

      Jason P, insurance, in general, has been heavily regulated for over 150 years in this country. Yes, people can hypothetically be “free” to buy this or that piece of junk, or pretend to know which risks they believe they should cover (it ‘s safe to say a man doesn’t personally need maternity coverage, but what condition could strike a 24 year old tomorrow that he never planned for?) But the fact is, the vast majority of people are very confused about their insurance. Including smart people who value their freedom and self-sufficiency.

      Insurance operates on collective participation. And as I said, it has been heavily regulated since the middle of the 1800s. Safe to say, regulation can be “smarter,” but it is never going away. So is insurance, in general, the problem (as Milton Friedman once opined)?

      Is the free market answer, then, contractual agreements between providers and patients? If so, how to afford those super-high costs? What happens when those contracts need to be enforced but the patient spent all their $ on procedure?

      Obamacare=half @ssed. Single payer=eventually a nightmare. What’s the real answer?


        The real answer is the one you passed up – the free market. The only regulations of insurance there should be are those to prevent fraud and perhaps to guarantee solvency. Those are all there were in the past. Regulating every element of a policy is a new phenomenon, and these costly state mandates are one of the chief drivers of health insurance costs.

        Once deregulation and other reforms (such as tort reform) are enacted, there won’t be any “super-high” costs any more than there are in auto insurance, or in other industries such as shoes. The “contractual arrangements” will be between insurance company and policy holder, and will work every bit as well as they do for auto and homeowner’s insurance.

        • WW4

          Yes, there’s a good argument to be made for portability and the ability to purchase out of state insurance–as long as that state has sufficient protections for the consumer. There are a great number of distortions in the system as it is, and soon to be more.

          But at bottom, there is still the issue of pre-existing conditions and availability of a standard level of care to the needy. There are always going to be those people (“The poor you will always have with you”) and I think it is an obligation of a civil society. Perhaps going the route you advocate would get us part way there because it does address costs and availability.

          • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

            We need protection from the government … and only the free market can do that. When I lived in NJ, I was screwed by the government. Every policy had identical coverage with options I didn’t want but had to pay for. It cost me $2000 a month to insure the two of us and that was with the highest deductible. Plus, most of the doctors I used were out-of-network and I had to pay the balance.

          • Watchman On the Wall

            That is a revealing story. Thanks.

        • pupsncats

          Why is there a need for insurance for health care at all? (Except for catastrophic or long-term care.) Get the third party, the insurance company, out of the picture and allow the individual and the health care provider to determine what the cost of their care will be.

          Why should health care providers have to settle for whatever insurance companies and the government decide their services are worth?

          A truly free market would ensure the right of the individual and the health care provider to determine between/among them what the costs will be.

          Get the government and insurance companies out of the health care business!

      • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

        There would be a plethora of insurance products if there were a free market. Consider the need to provide for job termination. Obviously a rational person would buy a supplemental policy to insure (1) the continuation of existing insurance (2) coverage by a new insurer (3) premium coverage, and more. But these products don’t exist because they are illegal in my state. If I could, I would have bought supplemental insurance early on in my job to take care of my needs upon termination and lock in a low rate. We all know that when you do lose your job you might have a condition that would make a new policy too costly. If we had choice we’d all have brought protection.

        How about insurance for better than standard treatment? I would have bought more expensive insurance to cover a better tier of doctors and hospitals. And insurance companies would love to get my money. In a free market there would be special policies for specific illnesses. Let’s suppose you have a rational or irrational fear of getting cancer and you’d like to insure coverage at New York’s Sloan Kettering Hospital. Insurance companies would create a product custom tuned for you needs.

        I would also like to save money by not having coverage of alcoholism, psychotherapy, and many many more conditions. There are things I want but can’t get and coverage I don’t want but can’t get rid of. One-size doesn’t fit all. The innovation and flexibility in a free market would astonish the average person.

        How do I know this? I worked with Bermuda insurance companies … firms that exist because of US regulations. They love to insure anything and everything. And so would US firms if we had no regulations. I could go on with all the possibilities that you and I would be able to choose from.

  • Cathy1000

    Actually, those that really want to cheat the system could be even more devious than that. Due to guaranteed issue, they could sign up for a plan, pay the 1st month’s premium. Then not pay the next months… the insurer cannot drop them for 90 days after non-payment. Then they can go to another insurer, pay a month to gain coverage then not pay for any more months and the insurer cannot drop them for 90 days again. They could then go to a 3rd insurer and pay their 1 month’s payment, get coverage and not pay any other months… The insurer would not be able to drop them for another 90 days. By my calculation they could get a full year’s coverage by paying for far less than 9 months worth of payments…..In my example, they would have received 3 months of “paid” insurance coverage plus 9 months of “grace period” insurance.

    • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

      You’re right. That’s one of the many ways to game the system.

      Here’s another. Don’t buy any insurance. If you have an emergency go to the emergency room for free healthcare. Otherwise buy health insurance when you become chronically ill. You can’t be turned down. At worse, you’ll have to pay one months’ of medical care until the policy starts but after that you’re covered for life. The risk of the cost of one-month non-emergency care is small enough to justify years of no insurance premiums.

      Of course, there are ways of hiding income and wealth to cover subsidies. I have family members who work in NYC housing police, i.e. they police housing projects. You’d think that poor people in the projects use public transportation … you’d be surprised at the number of luxury cars in the parking lots at the housing projects. Gaming the government is always easy … and it is going to get worse.

  • Jakareh

    Some say Obamacare was designed to fail in order to be replaced by a Canada-style nationalized system. I don’t think that’s true. The unvarnished truth is that America at the moment is under the rule of a regime that combines black racialist policies with socialism. That’s no different from the ANC government in South Africa, the one Mandela struggled so hard in order to impose on that country. In America as well as in South Africa, the people in charge are utterly incompetent. If America doesn’t want to follow South Africa into the ranks of Third World sewer nations, we ought to get rid of the Obama regime by impeachment or any other means.


      I think you’re half right: the Democrats knew there would be problems, which they planned to use as an excuse to impose fully socialized medicine, but they underestimated how bad it would be and the resulting electoral backlash. In that sense they are incompetent, but they always intended “single-payer” – Obama once admitted that to be his preference in a speech years ago.

  • chuckie2u

    The Healtcare Industry has profited by Socialized Medicine for years but this venture is going for the gold ring. The ultimate objective is for the Government to control or take over the Medical Insurance Industry,Hospitals,Clinics and all Medical personnel. They can run all of these businesses better than those who are running them now. Just look at the wonderful job the Politicial Caste is doing running our country.

  • Ron


    • BS77

      The sheeple are getting exactly what they voted for.

      • Ron

        I wonder if they realize it?

        • NAHALKIDES

          Not if they have to depend on either the mainstream media or the Republican “leadership” for information they don’t.

      • Mo86

        Too bad the rest of us who DIDN’T vote for it have to suffer the consequences for their ignorance and stupidity.

  • Mark McDonald

    ObamaCare is now called DemoCare, since all of the Democrats support this train wreck and seeing what it is doing to our jobs and insurance cost/coverage. It is called ” redistribution of wealth” and attack on Republicans States. I am shocked that the Democrats are not trying to blame Bush, calling ObamaCare BushCare.

    • Robert Lande

      They are blaming the GOP claiming that Obamacare is really a bunch of Republican ideas. It’s the Trojan Horse excuse. If they had looked inside, they wouldn’t have passed it.

  • Mark McDonald

    BushCare, HaHa, soon Democrats are going to blame Bush, calling ObamaCare BushCare.

  • Mo86

    This is all so terrifying.

    I am barely working part time. I refuse to let the government force me to buy insurance that I can’t afford. I don’t know how much the penalty will be, or HOW I can possibly pay it.

    I guess they will have to toss me in jail. Come and get me, Barry. I will not bow to your bullying. I will not!

    • O’Paque

      Penalty is $95 on 2014, deducted from any tax refund. Those making less than ~$8,500 are exempt from the fine – and might be eligible for Medicaid. That sleaze Obama is effectively taxing the working poor.

      Don’t forget that “conservative” Chief Justice John Roberts approved of this extortion by Obama and the Dems. Individual rights are secondary to corporate profits for Roberts, as always.

      • Mo86

        Tax refund – HAHAHAHAHHA! I am barely working part time and just finished PAYING off my taxes in November!

        • Drakken

          Keep voting for folks like Obumbler and your going to be working even less. If you voted for Obumbler and folks of the progressive left, it is your fault.

          • Mo86

            How dare you insinuate that I voted for this criminal? How dare you?

          • Notalibfool

            I feel your pain, Mo86. I work about 30 hours a week for low wages. It seems like every time I turn around someone has found a new way to spend all of the money I don’t have. Obamacare is just another straw added to the camel’s back.

            Obama is a criminal.

          • Mo86

            Yes, indeed. It’s unbearable.

            Maybe that’s the point; destroy the middle/lower class so that we must ALL become dependent on the government, whether we want to or not!

          • Watchman On the Wall

            That is the plan. But, we have to find a way to NOT be dependent on government in anyway. That is freedom.

          • Watchman On the Wall

            He is. He is a sociopath minimum.

          • Watchman On the Wall

            Come on, lighten up. The DemonRats want us to fight each other. Let’s save our energy to put them out of office.

          • Mo86

            No apology, eh? How I hate it when people shoot off their mouths to say something FALSE and then don’t even apologize for it.


        Right – so don’t despair, Mo86! In fact, it’s doubtful whether the IRS actually has the legal authority to collect the fine from a tax refund in any case. If they try it, you can sue them in court, and I have no doubt some people will until we have a ruling at the appellate level one way or the other.

        • CaptainAmerica

          If every American opposed to the ACA just files 15 phony 1040 ez’s, the IRS will have no chance at being staffed enough to do the work they are required to do. Want your taxes lowered? Bombard the tax officials with junk mail!

          • NAHALKIDES

            Well, I think we’d better be careful about doing things like that – I’m pretty sure filing a false tax return is a felony. We must try using perfectly legal tricks as the first stage of resistance to tyranny, with civil disobedience only later if we have no other alternative. That’s why I suggest suing the IRS – enough lawsuits could certainly tie them up for years. Remember, there are many ways to resist the government, and it’s better to try the legal ones first!

          • Watchman On the Wall

            I agree with you that we need to pursue things legally. And, wisely. And cautiously.

        • Watchman On the Wall

          Ever try to sue the IRS?

    • Wolfthatknowsall

      I will note … in addition to O’Paque’s post to you … that the penalty is $95 per adult, OR 1% of family income, whichever is higher. In 2015, it goes to $325 per adult, or 2% of family income, and in 2016 $695 or 2.5%, respectively. Most people don’t know about this.

      Unless the law is repealed, or the Courts hold it up, you will not be able to avoid paying this, if you are due any tax refund. The only way to avoid paying the penalty is to refuse to file income taxes.

      The purpose of this is to drastically reduce your refund, or do away with it, altogether.

      This administration has been a nightmare …

      • Mo86

        Sickening. Guess I’m going to jail. I simply don’t have it to give – even if the gov’t says I SHOULD have it to give.

        I can’t think about it. It makes me sick with anger.

        • Watchman On the Wall

          The whole thing is horrible. To witness what has become of our once great country is so very grievous. But, let us not be disheartened. We need to stay strong and focused.

    • Watchman On the Wall

      Good for you. May you encourage others to get some backbone.

      • Mo86

        I hope so!

  • physicsnut

    the libs always go on about Freeloading on health care, yet they are strangely silent about 20 million illegal alien freeloaders. Gee I wonder why.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      Because you’re not a “freeloader” if you can be counted as a DP voter no matter what the circumstances.

  • DinaRehn

    The Conservative Alternative to Obamacare
    Patients need to be the main decision makers.

    Recognizing this, the Heritage Foundation last week released a definitive compilation of health-care solutions that make patients the primary decisionmakers. Our commonsense solutions are based on five principles:

    *Let Americans have total choice and control with regard to their health insurance.

    *Allow free-market forces, with light regulation, to incentivize insurers and health-care providers to offer affordable and effective health coverage.

    *Encourage businesses to provide portable health-insurance benefits to their employees.

    *Help the most vulnerable Americans through the states, non-government organizations, and the free market.

    *Protect Americans’ right of conscience and unborn children.

    Guided by these principles, Heritage health experts outline solutions for dealing with preexisting conditions, helping Americans have continual coverage when they switch jobs, lowering health costs while increasing quality of care, and honoring people’s faith and right of conscience in health-care decisions. Our solutions include changing the tax treatment of health insurance so that all Americans, not just those getting coverage through work, can benefit from a tax credit to buy private insurance.

  • A Z

    Sebellius is merely crowing about patches to the front end

    Front and back ends

    There is still potential disaster with the back end (the databases and other guts) not to mention all the identity theft victims, who will number in millions.

    Most Identity theft victims will be b_tched slapped so hard they will not vote Democrat.

  • Watchman On the Wall

    What’s next? Having to have the Mark of the Beast 666 tattooed on our foreheads?

  • Ellman48

    “That is hardly good news. It is those subsidies that are supposed to help insurance companies defray the costs of implementing ObamaCare. Without them, many of those companies could go out of business.”

    For conspiring with Democrats and Obama to force this monstrosity on the American people I hope that many insurers do go out of business. But Obama won’t let that happen, will he? He will repay their diabolical cooperation with his schemes by bailing them out. Who pays for bailouts ladies and gents? You and I!

    • JustSayNo

      He has a record of betrayal. What a POS.