EppsNet Archive: Health Insurance

IRS Refunds $4 Billion to Identity Thieves

1 Dec 2013 /
IRS Seal

The Internal Revenue Service issued $4 billion in fraudulent tax refunds last year to people using stolen identities, with some of the money going to addresses in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Ireland, according to an inspector general’s report released Thursday.

The IRS sent a total of 655 tax refunds to a single address in Lithuania, and 343 refunds went to a lone address in Shanghai.

In the U.S., more fraudulent returns went to Miami than any other city. Other top destinations were Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and Houston.

Hmmm . . . aren’t there some sort of sanity checks built into the IRS system? Doesn’t a warning bell go off when 655 tax refunds are sent to a single address in Lithuania?

Does this erode your confidence in the federal government’s ability to manage complex systems and gigantic sums of money?

I’m sure they’ll do a much better job managing health insurance, right? Right?


Another Smoking Gun on “Keep Your Coverage”

1 Dec 2013 /
Christina Romer

Christina Romer

The conversation below took place more than four years ago — June 23, 2009 — at a congressional hearing on Obamacare. The topic was the keep-your-coverage promise, and the participants were Christina Romer, then chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Rep. Tom Price, who is also a doctor.

The conversation plays out like one of those word puzzles where you start out with one word and change one letter at a time to get a completely different word. Watch Romer’s responses on keeping your coverage go from “Absolutely” to a stammering “I’d have to look at the specifics.”

It’s also yet another reminder of what a pig in a poke Obamacare was. Even the people advocating for it had no idea what was in it.

REP. PRICE: You also mentioned, as other folks have, that the president’s goal — and it’s reiterated over and over and over — that if you like your current plan or if you like your current doctor, you can keep them. Do you know where that is in the bill?

MS. ROMER: Absolutely. And things like the employer mandate is part of making sure that large employers that today — the vast majority of them do provide health insurance. One of the things that’s –

REP. PRICE: I’m asking about if an individual likes their current plan and maybe they don’t get it through their employer and maybe in fact their plan doesn’t comply with every parameter of the current draft bill, how are they going to be able to keep that?

MS. ROMER: So the president is fundamentally talking about maintaining what’s good about the system that we have. And –

REP. PRICE: That’s not my question.

MS. ROMER: One of the things that he has been saying is, for example, you may like your plan and one of the things we may do is slow the growth rate of the cost of your plan, right? So that’s something that is not only –

REP. PRICE: The question is whether or not patients are going to be able to keep their plan if they like it. What if, for example, there’s an employer out there — and you’ve said that if the employers that already provide health insurance, health coverage for their employees, that they’ll be just fine, right? What if the policy that those employees and that employer like and provide for their employees doesn’t comply with the specifics of the bill? Will they be able to keep that one?

MS. ROMER: So certainly my understanding — and I won’t pretend to be an expert in the bill — but certainly I think what’s being planned is, for example, for plans in the exchange to have a minimum level of benefits.

REP. PRICE: So if I were to tell you that in the bill it says that if a plan doesn’t comply with the specifics that are outlined in the bill that that employer’s going to have to move to the — to a different plan within five years — would you — would that be unusual, or would that seem outrageous to you?

MS. ROMER: I think the crucial thing is, what kind of changes are we talking about? The president was saying he wanted the American people to know that fundamentally if you like what you have it will still be there.

REP. PRICE: What if you like what you have, Dr. Romer, though, and it doesn’t fit with the definition in the bill? My reading of the bill is that you can’t keep that.

MS. ROMER: I think the crucial thing — the bill is talking about setting a minimum standard of what can count –

REP. PRICE: So it’s possible that you may like what you have, but you may not be able to keep it? Right?

MS. ROMER: We’d have — I’d have to look at the specifics.


Great Moments in Presidential Prevarication

24 Nov 2013 /

“I am not a crook.” — Richard Nixon

 

“Read my lips: no new taxes.” — George H.W. Bush

 

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” — Bill Clinton

 

“If you like your plan, you can keep it.” — Barack Obama


Obama Did Not Lie

18 Nov 2013 /
Barack Obama

When President Obama said that he could provide health care to millions without taking any health care away from people who have already got it, he had no chance of being believed. The statement was absurd on its face. This is a law of arithmetic: If you invite a bunch of friends to share your lunch, there’s going to be less lunch for you. Everybody understands that. . . .

So when the President said he could expand the availability of medical care while allowing everyone else to keep the care they’ve got, it was like saying he’d take us for a tour of England in his rocket ship. It had absolutely no chance of being believed, and therefore, it seems to me, does not count as a lie.

It counts instead as an expression of contempt for the many entirely reasonable people who tried to point out that it is not within a President’s power to suspend the laws of arithmetic.

That expression of contempt was arguably pretty contemptible, and arguably as contemptible as a lie. And of course he’s compounding it by trying to tell you with a straight face that everyone who has to switch health plans will end up with “better” plans that allow them to consume even more medical care. I could give you some pretty striking counterexamples among people I’m personally close to, but there’s no need for that, since anyone who grasps basic arithmetic can see that the president’s words cannot be true. But speaking untruths is not enough to make him a liar. For that, he’d have to speak plausible untruths, and he has too little respect for the American people to bother coming up with any.


ObamaCare Winners and Losers

8 Oct 2013 /
English: President Barack Obama's signature on ACA

Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.

Yet, like many other Bay Area residents who pay for their own medical insurance, they were floored last week when they opened their bills: Their policies were being replaced with pricier plans that conform to all the requirements of the new health care law.

Vinson, of San Jose, will pay $1,800 more a year for an individual policy, while Waschura, of Portola Valley, will cough up almost $10,000 more for insurance for his family of four. . . .

Covered California spokesman Dana Howard maintained that in public presentations the exchange has always made clear that there will be winners and losers under Obamacare. . . .

“Of course, I want people to have health care,” Vinson said. “I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.”


Drive Me to the Junkyard in my Cadillac

30 May 2013 /

Well buddy when I die throw my body in the back
And drive me to the junkyard in my Cadillac

— Bruce Springsteen, “Cadillac Ranch”

Say goodbye to that $500 deductible insurance plan and the $20 co-payment for a doctor’s office visit. They are likely to become luxuries of the past. . . .

Then blame — or credit — the so-called Cadillac tax, which penalizes companies that offer high-end health care plans to their employees.

You’re probably thinking: “So what? I don’t have a high-end health care plan. I’m a working stiff. Let the Wall Street fat cats pay their Cadillac tax.”

Actually, because the plan cost that triggers the Cadillac tax is not indexed for inflation, Bradley Herring, a health economist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, estimates that as many as 75 percent of plans could be affected by the tax over the next decade.

The hospital where Abbey Bruce, a nursing assistant in Olympia, Wash., worked, for example, stopped offering the traditional plan that she and her husband, Casey, who has cystic fibrosis, had chosen. . . .

She has had to drop out of school and take on additional jobs to pay for her husband’s medicine.

“My husband didn’t choose to be born this way,” Ms. Bruce said. The union representing her, a chapter of the Service Employees International Union, has objected to the changes. Her employer, Providence Health & Services, says it designed the plans to avoid having employees shoulder too much in medical bills and has reduced how much workers pay in premiums.

Abbey Bruce

Abbey Bruce, a nursing assistant who works a second job cleaning, will pay a sharply higher deductible.

ObamaCare proponents say the Cadillac tax is bringing down employer (not patient) costs as planned.

Cynthia Weidner, an executive at the benefits consultant HighRoads, [said] that the tax appeared to be having the intended effect. “The premise it’s built upon is happening,” she said, adding, “the consumer should continue to expect that their plan is going to be more expensive, and they will have less benefits.”

Key takeaway: Pay more. Get less.

I hate to say I told you so, so instead I’ll say say an insincere thank you to Obama and all the delusional fuckers who voted for this goddamn law.


Thomas Jefferson on Why Your Health Insurance Premium is Going Up

11 Jan 2013 /
Thomas Jefferson

Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers.

That headline should not read “DESPITE new health law,” it should read “BECAUSE OF new health law.”

But we were going to get things for free! We were promised better things at a lower cost!

In my day, most of the citizens were farmers or merchants or tradesmen. They lived by their hands and their wits. They had horse sense and they knew when they were being sold a bill of goods.

Of course, that was before television.

Americans today are unfortunately rather stupid. Most of them don’t know anything about economics, science, history, government . . . as George Carlin says, “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” George is here in heaven now. He breaks me up, he really does.

Your president and Congress have decreed that every American will have health insurance whether they want it or not. They have further decreed that a lot of Americans will not have to pay for their own health insurance, which means that the cost of their health insurance has to be paid by the rest of you. That’s one reason why your health insurance premium is going up.

Another reason your premium is going up is the “guaranteed issue” provision. “Guaranteed issue” means that no one can be denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions.

Funny story: My friend Paul Epps, his wife has an insurance agency in Southern California. It’s an area that’s susceptible to wildfires in the summer months. When a fire breaks out, people who live near the fire actually call this woman wanting to buy a homeowners policy.

Of course, she doesn’t sell it to them. Insurance companies are a little bit smarter than that.

Buying a homeowners policy when your house is already on fire is analogous to “guaranteed issue” health insurance: Hello, I’d like to buy some health insurance. Oh by the way, I have cancer, but the doctors think that with lengthy and expensive treatment, I have a chance to pull through.

This is not even insurance anymore. Insurance is something you pay for now to protect against the risk of having to pay a lot more later. In these cases, there IS no risk. The bad news has already happened. It’s a dead loss for the insurance company and they have to spread the cost of that loss to other policyholders. That’s another reason your premium is going up.

This isn’t even economics, folks, it’s just common sense.

Thomas Jefferson


The Lives of Julia and Paul

21 Sep 2012 /

David Henderson says — accurately, I think — that Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remarks can be paraphrased as “People who are dependent on government will vote for the candidate who credibly (to them, at least) promises to keep the programs that have created that dependence.”

Do you think President Obama disagrees with that? He doesn’t.

If you think he does, please see The Life of Julia on the president’s web site. It lays out a “typical” woman’s cradle-to-grave dependence on government assistance and describes how Obama will keep those programs going while Mitt Romney won’t.

The most insulting thing about it is that as you read about Obama funding this and Obama funding that, it sounds like he’s doing it all out of his own goddamn pocket. What a prince!

There’s no acknowledgement that Obama is taking from some and giving to others, and that all of Julia’s “free” stuff is paid for by me and people like me out of money earned by our own labor.

And we are struggling. We’re putting a kid through college, my wife has had an expensive medical condition, our home equity has plummeted, the roof leaks, my car is long overdue for new tires . . . there are unplanned expenses . . . next month, something else will break. That’s life.

As part of our middle-class existence, we pay a five-figure annual federal income tax bill. We pay for Julia’s babysitters, education, health care, etc., and Obama takes the credit. Not even a “thank you.” If we could keep even a fraction of that money, maybe we could afford to pay our own education and health care costs.

How about acknowledging that for every Life of Julia there’s a Life of Paul and presenting their stories in juxtaposition to show how, as with any policy, some people are better off and some people worse.

Life of Julia Life of Paul
As she prepares for her first semester of college, Julia and her family qualify for President Obama’s American Opportunity Tax Credit—worth up to $10,000 over four years. Julia is also one of millions of students who receive a Pell Grant to help put a college education within reach. As they go into debt to pay for their own child’s college education, Paul and his wife are required to pay for Julia’s college tuition as well.

You see the idea? Let’s try another one . . .

Life of Julia Life of Paul
Julia decides to have a child. Throughout her pregnancy, she benefits from maternal checkups, prenatal care, and free screenings under health care reform. Paul’s wife is diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. Although they have health insurance, which they pay for themselves, there are deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses, as well as the financial implications of his wife’s inability to work. They receive no government assistance, which is fine, but their financial woes are compounded by the fact that they are also required to pay for Julia’s “free” medical care.

The money being used to buy the votes of millions of Julias out there is not coming exclusively or even primarily from unnamed “millionaires” on “Wall Street” . . . it’s coming from “middle class” “hard-working Americans” on “Main Street” who are struggling.


Here’s a Good Mandate

11 Feb 2012 /

Remember, we’re supposed to be worrying about skyrocketing health-care expenses. Doubling the number of wellness visits and free pills sounds great, but who’s going to pay for it? There is a liberal dream that by mandating coverage the government can make something free.

Here’s a good mandate: Let’s mandate that every time a government official says that the government is going to “help” some category of voter, he or she has to say who they are going to hurt in the same sentence. Because it has to be someone.


You Don’t Say

10 Sep 2010 /
Thomas Jefferson

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama told voters repeatedly during the health care debate that the overhaul legislation would bring down fast-rising health care costs and save them money. Now, he’s hemming and hawing on that.

Could not have seen that coming!


Unintended Consequences of Healthcare Reform

7 May 2010 /
Medical Cost Versus No Coverage Penalty

Many large companies are examining a course that was heretofore unthinkable, dumping the health care coverage they provide to their workers in exchange for paying penalty fees to the government.

That would dismantle the employer-based system that has reigned since World War II. It would also seem to contradict President Obama’s statements that Americans who like their current plans could keep them. And as we’ll see, it would hugely magnify the projected costs for the bill, which controls deficits only by assuming that America’s employers would remain the backbone of the nation’s health care system.

Hence, health-care reform risks becoming a victim of unintended consequences.

Fortune, May 5, 2010
 

We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.

Nancy Pelosi, March 9, 2010

Twitter: 2010-04-19

19 Apr 2010 /
Twitter
  • "Sorry to hear about President Kowalski … now watch this drive." http://bit.ly/azPYiM #obama #golf #
  • RT @OnSluts: Monday Affirmation: "I didn't get sick today so that means I don't have to dish out a co-pay." #

Thomas Jefferson on the Health Care Bill

23 Mar 2010 /
Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
— TJ
Thomas Jefferson

My fellow Americans –

This is a glorious day in our great nation! No, I’m not referring to that tragedy of a health care bill, which I’ll get to in a moment. I’m talking about Free Pastry Day at Starbucks! Who doesn’t enjoy a tasty scone with his morning coffee?

Now, on a more somber note . . .

Goodbye, representative democracy! Farewell, consent of the governed!

President Obama today signed into law a far-reaching measure that will affect everyone living in these United States, now and in the future. It is opposed by most of the country and it is now law.

I would never have believed that the government I helped to establish would one day engage in this kind of forced sodomy against its own people.

We know what is right and we will do it, regardless of whether you want it done to you or not.

If Karl Marx were here, he would no doubt make a case for trading off liberty in favor of whatever it’s called when a centralized authority redistributes your income in the interest of “equality.” If you know even a little bit about American history, I guess you know which side of that fence old Tom Jefferson is on.

Switching from politics to economics: People with insurance use more health care resources than people without. Put another stitch in my head, doc! I’ve got insurance!

If more people have insurance, it will increase the demand for health care, which in turn will increase the price.

Now imagine that everyone has insurance. I got your health care reform right here: We’re going to drive the price of health care through the roof, then spend a titanic amount of money helping poor people afford it.

I have no (proven) living descendants and for that I say — Thank God! The next generation of Americans is going to be crushed under the burden of paying for this misguided vision of government.

Yours in sadness and in hope,

Tom


Playing Politics

9 Dec 2009 /

Steven Landsburg on a public healthcare option:

The [General Motors] takeover started with this promise from the President:

GM will be run by a private board of directors and management team…They — and not the government — will call the shots and make the decisions about how to turn this company around.

Within one month, powerful lawmakers had successfully “encouraged” General Motors to retool factories in their home states, and Senator Jay Rockefeller had prevented the closing of a dealership owned by one of his wealthy constituents.

Or recall what happened with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who succumbed to so many political pressure [sic] that–well, you already know the rest of that story.

When you politicize an industry, be it cars, mortgage lending or health insurance, you invite interventions on behalf of the rich and powerful. The less rich and the less powerful foot the bill.


Thomas Jefferson on Obama’s Healthcare Speech

13 Sep 2009 /

My fellow Americans –

Perhaps it was unfair of me to be critical of President Obama’s healthcare speech without having heard it. There’s not much to do on a Saturday night when you’re dead, so I read the transcript:

Thomas Jefferson

We’ve estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system, a system that is currently full of waste and abuse. . . . The only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies . . . Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan.

And how much money are we talking about, sir?

Now, add it all up, and the plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years.

WTF?!

I will not accept the status quo as a solution.

OK — cut the bullshit, my friend. Your “plan” vs. “the status quo” is a false choice. You’ve just said so yourself. If you’ve figured out how to eliminate $900 billion in waste and inefficiency from the current system, GO AHEAD AND DO IT! Why are you tying that to 1,000 pages of unrelated “reforms” that no one has even bothered to read?

If you can eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency — I don’t believe that for a second, but let’s say you can — you will have no greater supporter than old Tom Jefferson. AND — you will have acquired so much credibility that you’ll be able to pass any reforms you like.

Don’t present false choices to us like we’re a nation of fools. Cut the bullshit and DO something.

— Tom


Thomas Jefferson on Healthcare Reform

9 Sep 2009 /

My fellow Americans –

Did you watch President Obama’s healthcare speech tonight? Neither did I. But I did learn from msnbc.com’s First Read that he hoped in his speech to explain to ordinary American voters — “call them Joe and Jane from Kansas City” — that his health-care reform will 1) cover nearly everyone and 2) cut costs in the long run.

Thomas Jefferson

So let me get this straight — we’re going to spend money to save money!

Does he think everyone in Kansas City is that stupid or just Joe and Jane?

What — you don’t believe we can insure 50 million more people and cut costs at the same time? Well then, you’re an uninformed kook!

You’re scared that those cost savings will come from drastically rationing access to care, particularly for people who are chronically ill and/or near the end of their lives? You’re un-American! Probably a Nazi!

I’m going to tell you something about myself that you probably didn’t learn in school: When I died, I was deeply in debt. Do you know why? Because everyone, including successful politicians like yours truly, struggles to keep up with the demands of organizing and managing the daily realities of their own lives, let alone trying to micromanage the entire goddamn United States healthcare system.

Let me leave you with this final thought. Don’t believe everything your leaders tell you. Use some common sense, as my old friend Tom Paine used to say. Think for yourself.

— Tom


Twitter: 2009-08-21

21 Aug 2009 /
  • Want to buy a customized Michael Vick Eagles jersey for your dog? http://tinyurl.com/la3o36 #
  • Obama: "We are God's partners in matters of life and death." Good mission statement for the death panels! #
  • RT @diablocody: Obsolete memory: pushing card catalog drawers in and out at the library. Also, the tangy smell of the old cards. #

You Better Believe It

10 Aug 2009 /

These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views–but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.

 

The “facts” to which they refer turn out to be not facts at all but representations about the glories of ObamaCare: “Health insurance reform will mean more patient choice. . . . Reform will mean stability and peace of mind for the middle class. . . . Reform will mean affordable coverage for all Americans. . . . Reform will also mean higher-quality care.”

What, you don’t believe it? You better believe it, or you’re un-American.


Helping the White House Keep an Eye on Things

5 Aug 2009 /

From the White House Blog:

Scary chain emails and videos are starting to percolate on the internet, breathlessly claiming, for example, to “uncover” the truth about the President’s health insurance reform positions.

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care.  These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation.  Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

Right. There’s no informed opposition to health insurance reform, only “scary chain emails” and “disinformation” traveling “just below the surface,” whatever that means.

It all sounds very sinister though, so as agents of the government, we are encouraging all good citizens to inform on their neighbors if they may be up to something.