Unlimited cost of care under the ACA health insurance policies?

In The Des Moines Regiser’s report about Wellmark getting out of the health insurance market for individual policies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), they reported, “Forsythe (CEO of Wellmark) cited a single Wellmark customer who has a rare genetic disease that is costing more than $1 million per month to treat.” One person – A million dollars a month.  (See link to article below.)
One of the fatal provision of the ACA is the requirement that there be no limit in health insurance policies on how much can be paid for any individual’s care. No limit. Should we really expect others (society) to pay a million dollars a month for the care of ourselves or our family members? If you help to pay that much for someone else, then won’t you expect the same to be paid for you if you have the need? How can that be sustainable? Who gets to makes decisions regarding who we pay for and who we don’t? Unfortunate as it may be, it is a reality of life that we cannot afford, even as a society, to pay for everything we want. To the extent that those decisions, including limits on health insurance policies, can be made privately and voluntarily, we will have a more just, civil, and sustainable society.

Supreme court was wrong on Obamacare!

I will respect the ruling of the Supreme Court in upholding the subsidies under Obamacare, but the decision was wrong.

Those who drafted, supported, and voted for Obama care clearly intended to withhold money from those states that did not set up their own state health insurance exchange – just like many other laws that require states to meet certain requirements in order to get federal money.  In this case, they intentionally wrote the law to provide subsidies only to people in states who purchased their health insurance through an “exchange established by the state.”  It was intended as a carrot or a stick to get the states to comply.  Many did not comply, so the strategy backfired.

The job of the Supreme Court is to resolve disputes based on the law, the facts, and the Constitution.  It is not the job of the Court to fix mistakes in political strategy.  That is what they did, and it was wrong.

Medicare fraud and over-utilization

The Register recently criticized our fee-for-service health care payment system for causing over-utilization and for driving up health care costs.  (2/12/2015 – “Florida, home of medical scans — and scams” – see link below)  They gave examples of doctors ordering unnecessary test because they get paid more for every additional service that they provide.  They advocated paying physicians a salary like Mayo Clinic does, so that doctors, “…have no personal, financial incentive to provide unneeded care.”  They urged the Obama administration to, “…continue to work toward reimbursing providers based on quality instead of quantity while fairly reimbursing them.”  I agree with the Register that, “Ultimately, reducing the overuse and misuse of health care falls to patients.”  They urge patients to not rush to the doctor for every ache, ask questions when doctors order tests, resist clinic staff who want to schedule tests and procedures.

One thing the Register failed to mention is the importance of patients being required to pay out-of-pocket for some portion of their health care costs.   To the extent that patients are not required to pay for some portion of their costs, they will not question the recommendations of doctors and other providers and they will tend to over-utilize health care.  Requiring patients to make some out-of-pocket payment will also help reduce fraud, since patients won’t want to pay part of any fraudulent charges that billed to their insurance.  Many insurance policies under Obamacare do seem to have significant deductibles and co-payments.  That will go a long way to help keep down health care costs.

Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/2015/02/12/florida-home-medical-scans-scams/23278965/

Obamacare supporters want activist Supreme Court

Regarding The Register editorial today (11/17/2014) entitled “Obamacare foes are hoping for activist judges”  Exactly the opposite is true.  It is the Obamacare supporters who are hoping for activist judges to interpret the law differently than it was written.  The letter of the law is clear.  It states that only people who sign up for Obamacare through state run exchanges are eligible to get subsidies.  Obama and his team created this threatening provision intentionally to pressure states to create their own exchanges. But more than 30 states, including Iowa, did not knuckle under to the pressure.  The Supreme Court should uphold the law as written, not as Obamacare supporters wish or hope it was written.  This is what happens when, as Nancy Pelosi famously said, “we need to pass this bill to see what is in it.”
Register editorial: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2014/11/17/editorial-obamacare-foes-hoping-activist-judges/19154603/
Source video of Jonathan Gruber, Obamacare expert advisor, explaining the intentionally threatening provision:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBAHvX1WdWc

Debt ceiling compromise.

Republicans are right to not increase the debt ceiling without some action to reduce our Country’s spending deficit.  They are not right to pick out Obamacare as the only possible target.  President Obama and the Democrats are wrong to insist that the Republican in the House of Representatives pass a “clean” debt limit expansion bill.  The compromise should be to agree on spending cuts that are not specifically related to Obamacare.  The four big drivers of the Federal budget deficit are Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Military spending.  Any other spending cuts, although helpful, do not really solve our long-term problem.  Republicans should propose some type of binding agreement on entitlement and military spending cuts in return for passing a debt increase bill.  The real problem to be solved is that we must stop spending beyond our means.

Keep government out of long term care insurance.

The Register advocated for government operated long term care insurance in its lead opinion on 7/15/2013.  (“Long-term care policies need attention”)  We don’t need or want a government financed program for long term care insurance.  President Obama backed out of a government sponsored long term care insurance program when he felt unable to promise that government would not some day step in and require taxpayers to subsidize the plan.  We have Medicaid for the poor.  That is enough.  If anything, our government should encourage people to buy long term care insurance and/or to save for their own long term health care needs.  Instead, our government seems content to keep interest rates artificially low so that people will borrow and spend.  Low interest rates reduce the returns that insurance companies earn on their reserves, which in turn causes them to increase their long term care insurance rates.  Letting interest rates rise to their natural levels would be one of the best ways for government to help improve the incomes of seniors, and help hold down the cost of long term care insurance.

Register editorial: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/comments/article/20130715/OPINION03/307150025/The-Register-s-Editorial-Long-term-care-policies-need-attention

Naturopathic medicine doesn’t need government help

Contrary to the letter to the Register on 5/28/2013 by Michelle Anderson, “Iowans should have access to naturopathic docs”, we already have open access to naturopathic doctors and medicines.  What we don’t have and don’t need is for our government to license practitioners and then require that their services be covered by insurance.  Individuals are not calling for licensure in the interest of public safety.  Practitioners are calling for licensure in order to have their products and services be a required service under Obamacare.  Unfortunately, as long as our government continues to use its power to force insurance companies to cover politically favored medical products and services, there will be many special interests, such as naturopathic doctors and pharmacists, who will try to get on the government gravy train.