What's hiding behind the administration's statistics on the "newly insured."
Another round of inconvenient realities have gotten in the way of the ObamaCare rollout. A report issued by a major union accuses ObamaCare of exacerbating income inequality. A separate survey explains how the administration is playing it fast and lose -- and downright deceptively -- with their head count of enrollees. And finally, a daunting percentage of the uninsured Americans for whom the bill was ostensibly written have concluded that the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) is, well, unaffordable.
Unite Here, a union with 300,000 workers in the gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, hotel, airport and laundry industries, has published a report titled “The Irony of ObamaCare: Making inequality worse.” The intro gets right to that irony. "The promise of Obamacare was the right one and the hope for extending healthcare coverage to the un-and under-insured a step in the right direction," it states. "Yet the unintended consequences will hit the average, hard-working American where it hurts: in the wallet."
The 12-page document by the union that was the first to give its endorsement to then-Senator Barack Obama further explains that because most the ACA's $965 billion in subsidies will end up in the pockets of insurance providers, it represents "one of the largest transfers of public wealth to private hands ever." According to the union, the bill also strangles fair competition in the insurance market, and pushes people into part-time work. And if employers follow the incentives laid out in the law, families will be pushed onto the ObamaCare exchanges where it will cost low-wage employees as much as $5 per hour to pay for similar coverage.
Testimonials by workers who will be hurt are included. Hotel cook Arturo Marquez, a single father with two children, reveals that the "best deal ObamaCare could offer me would take $1,908 more than our union plan. That’s like a dollar an hour pay cut. If I get really sick and wind up in the hospital, they can charge me $3,700 more out of pocket. I can’t imagine taking care of my son and daughter while taking a $2.70 an hour pay cut.”
Guest room attendant Angela Portillo, who notes that "housekeeping is a tough job" where some of her fellow workers suffer "serious injuries," reveals that ObamaCare would cost her and her husband “$8,057.04 a year more to keep the great insurance we have now. That’s a $3.87 per hour pay cut. We work hard for our insurance. Why should we have to take a cut in pay for it?”
Near the end, the report notes the tragic irony of the Obama administration's highlighting of economic inequality, even as it fails to preserve health plans that have been achieving ObamaCare goals "for decades."
"We take seriously the promise that 'if you like your health plan, you can keep it. Period.' UNITE HERE members like their health plans. UNITE HERE’s plans are ready to compete with the corporate giants of the health insurance industry if Washington will simply create a level playing field," it concludes.
No doubt this report will come as a surprise to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). It was Reid who told the nation in late February that all of the "horror stories" attached to the ACA were untrue. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman will be equally astonished, considering his piece, "Healthcare Horror Hooey" posited that people are "just making stuff up" about the bill's shortcomings.
If anyone is making stuff up, it's the Obama administration. A new survey from McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm that has been conducting monthly assessments of the exchange-eligible population, reveals that the White House's numbers regarding people who have gained healthcare coverage are pure fiction. The survey notes that not everyone who has selected a plan has actually paid the premiums required to truly be counted as covered, and that only a small percentage of people enrolled on the exchanges were previously uninsured. When those "filters" are applied to the administration's totals, they dwindle substantially.
In February, 2,096 eligible respondents were surveyed. Only 48 percent of them had signed up for a 2014 healthcare plan, and three-fifths of that 48 percent were people who liked, and were able to keep, their old plans. The other two-fifths were the ones who enrolled on the exchanges. Regarding the latter group, 27 percent of them had been uninsured in 2013, and almost half of the 27 percent still hadn't paid a premium. Of the remaining 73 percent who had been previously insured, 86 percent of them had paid their premiums.
When the percentages are combined, a far more accurate--and truthful--picture emerges. Only 19 percent of those who had paid their premiums were previously insured, and of those the Obama administration is characterizing as sign-ups, only 14 percent are enrollees who were previously uninsured. Thus, despite the administration boasts about 3.3 million "gaining" healthcare coverage, only 472,000 are previously uninsured exchange enrollees as of February 1.
Far more important, McKinsey & Company's survey then inquired why those who didn't sign up for a healthcare plan avoided doing so. Out of the five possible reasons for people failing to enroll, 50 percent chose, “I could not afford to pay the premium.” In second place, 31 percent cited the technical difficulties of enrolling: "I could not effectively shop," "I could not complete purchase," and "I could not set up user account."
Thus, the central premise of ObamaCare, the heavily promoted notion that leaving millions of Americans unable to afford health insurance was a national disgrace, is revealed to be an utter fraud. It was a fraud buttressed by a 2009 Harvard survey that contended as many as 45,000 people per year died from a lack of coverage. That research was subsequently debunked by other healthcare experts, but it mattered little to Democrats determined to pass a so-called affordable healthcare bill by any means necessary -- including serial lying President Obama himself.
Then, Democrats were guilty of lying by commission. One of the most popular lies was the idea that there were 47 million Americans without health insurance. That figure was revealed to be fraudulent even before Obama was elected. In a 2008 Washington Times article, Sally Pipes, president and chief executive officer of the Pacific Research Institute, revealed that figure included anyone who went without insurance for any part of the year (including a single day), 14 million people who are eligible for public health-care programs such as Medicaid, 10 million people with household income above $75,000 (meaning they could afford insurance), and 10.2 million illegal aliens.
Now, the Obama administration is lying by omission. When Gary Cohen, who will soon be leaving his job as the director of the main implementation office at the Health and Human Services Department, showed up at an insurance conference last Thursday, he touted the administration's updated enrollment figures of 4 million enrollees. Unfortunately for him he was asked a critical question: how many of the people who signed up for ObamaCare were previously uninsured? "That's not a data point that we are really collecting in any sort of systematic way," he responded.
As the Washington Post notes, making sure the administration can't collect that data appears to be a feature, not a flaw, within the system, due to differences in wording on paper and online HealthCare.gov applications. "The paper versions of applications, used by a small fraction of people who are signing up, contain a multiple-choice question asking whether people in a household currently have insurance," the paper explains. "'No' is one of the boxes people can check. But the online application, which most people use to enroll, asks whether people want to apply for coverage but does not give them a place to indicate whether they have insurance now or have had it in the past. As a result, HHS analysts have no way to assess how many of the online enrollees were uninsured in the past."
Finally, in what at first glance appeared to be good news for ObamaCare defenders, a new Gallup Survey indicates that the percentage of Americans without health insurance continues to decline, from 17.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, to 15.9 percent so far in 2014. Yet the devilish details reveal that number is still higher than 14.8 percent of Americans cited by Gallup as uninsured in 2008, long before ObamaCare became the law of the land. "The number of uninsured was generally below 15% in 2008 until it began to increase in November of that year, coincident with the worst of the economic crisis," Gallup explained. Furthermore, a Gallup-Healthway's Well-Being Index brings up another obvious reason why the latest drop "could be" due to ObamaCare: Americans are now required to buy health insurance, or pay a fine for failing to do so.
As the Associated Press revealed in December, 4.7 million Americans had their "bad apple" insurance plans cancelled. How many of them the administration is now promoting as new healthcare enrollees is not only impossible to determine, but as Gary Cohen reminds us, of no importance. In other words, we have a healthcare plan sold to Americans based entirely on the premise of reducing the number of uninsured -- by an administration that now professes to have no interest whatsoever in knowing whether or not they achieved their objective. Absolutely pathetic.
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