ObamaCare: A Camel is a Horse Designed by a Committee

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That is exactly how ObamaCare, aka the Affordable Care Act, the plan that so many Americans have come to despise, came to be.

Now that the Republicans control the House and the Senate, and our lame duck President has apparently abandoned any hope or promise of trying to forge a bipartisan plan for America over the next two years, the time is ripe, and very possibly the votes may be there, to fix the problem once and for all.

Perhaps in order to formulate a serious reconstruction of the ACA we need to restate the problems that it was supposed to have solved and visualize how those problems could have been solved without all the unnecessary complications that found their way into the ObamaCare legislation.

Here is a blueprint to the solutions that America needs.

Why Did We Need Health Care Reform?
What were the critical “Key Problems” that ObamaCare was supposed to solve? That’s easy to answer; in fact the official website of the Democratic National Committee tells us what those two goals were:

  • There were too many Americans without medical insurance, and
  • There were too many Americans who wanted coverage but couldn’t get it because of pre-existing medical conditions.

That’s it, folks. Those were the problems. This entire four-year-long catastrophe was promulgated to fix just those two problems. (Well, unless you cynically believe that the REAL reason was to increase the power of the federal government by taking control of one of the largest sectors of the American economy – but let’s leave that out of this article, just for the sake of simplicity.)

Back to the two problems, which to repeat myself are essentially (1) all those people without coverage, and somewhat separately, (2) all those who couldn’t get the coverage because of their medical conditions.

Let’s look at that first problem: who were all those people without insurance and why didn’t they have it? That boils down fairly easily into two categories. There were those who couldn’t afford it, and then those who could afford it, but didn’t want it.

The solution to the problem of “I can’t afford it” is actually pretty simple, and it doesn’t involve the government getting involved in the details of the insurance policies, or the various policy benefits, or what name you give to the different types of coverage – HMO, PPO, Platinum, Gold, Silver, etc.

When people can’t afford to buy things that they need and want, it’s for a very simple reason: They don’t have the money.

Universal Coverage Without ObamaCares Insanity
Millions of people all across America can’t afford to buy the food that they need to eat. The solution isn’t for the government to get involved in food production, or to operate chains of grocery stores, to change the names of the foods, or to dive into the internal composition of the foods in the grocery stores (although in today’s world the government is involved in many of those ways) – the solution is, and has been for nearly 50 years, a program we all know as Food Stamps. The government prequalifies applicants, determines who is truly at need, and then gives Food Stamps to those needy people who use them to buy food.

So how should the government solve the “I can’t afford it” issue in the medical insurance world? Why not apply the well-known KISS theory (Keep It Simple Stupid)? In this case, I would suggest that the solution is to issue the equivalent of Medical Insurance Stamps, give them to people who can’t afford to buy their own coverage, and the problem is resolved. Period.

Yes, that’s a big entitlement program, but it wouldn’t have required the billions that the government (both state and federal) spent on setting up the ObamaCare exchanges, or their websites, or their additional layers of administrative bureaucrats, not to mention the restructuring of all the insurance plans that were working for 90% of Americans. All those savings would almost certainly have made implementing the Medical Insurance Stamps program far less expensive than the federal subsidy program boondoggle. And we might even have been able to implement a system for validating the information gathered from all those prospective recipients, something that ObamaCare still doesn’t do.

If we’d taken that approach, we could have avoided much of what ObamaCare gave us. We wouldn’t have needed exchanges, or to cancel all the previously existing plans and policies that made over 90% of Americans happy with their medical insurance, or to tell people that they couldn’t keep seeing the doctors that they love. None of those changes really had anything to do with the “I can’t afford it” problem; they were just the almost inevitable result of the government getting overly involved in what could have been a fairly simple solution.

We’re now left with the second half of that first “Key Problem” – those who could afford medical insurance, but didn’t want it.

This is a slightly more complex issue because many might suggest that in America – “the land of the free,” remember? – if people don’t want medical insurance, maybe the government shouldn’t be forcing them to get it. That might work, but if and only if we could make a binding requirement that those people who don’t buy medical insurance won’t get their medical expenses paid for by taxpayer dollars when they have medical problems.

And in case you haven’t noticed, that is clearly and without any doubt an utterly impossible thing to do in today’s America. Face it, people – our society will simply not allow those who voluntarily chose not to have medical insurance to suffer the unfortunate consequences involved in having no medical insurance when they end up getting sick. That is not debatable. It will not happen. We have to provide them the care that they need, and unless we want to bankrupt the rest of us in doing so, we need to make them pay their fair share. So – what then? How do we do that?

To understand where we go from here, and why it is absolutely essential that everyone participate in the financial pool that funds our nation’s health care plans, we have to understand the underlying principle of how insurance is designed to work.

The entire concept is to spread the risk of loss over a wide number of people, most of whom won’t suffer that loss, but all of whom contribute to the overall “financial pool” which will end up paying for those relatively few who do have losses.

An excellent and crystal clear example of this would be an early application of this “financial pool” concept which was initiated by ship owners in New England during the 1600-1700s. Every ship owner knew that if his ship went down, he was going to lose a huge amount of money. So each owner who wanted to participate in the “pool” would put in his share of what would be the total cost to lose a ship. Then the first one whose ship went to Davy Jones’s Locker instead of making it back safely to port got all the money in the “pool” and was able to build a new ship. At that point all the owners would then put another chunk of money into the pool, and they started over again, waiting for the next claim.

Simple concept, right?

But how much of that money in the financial pool should go to a ship owner who had refused to join the pool and put in his share? Why, nothing, of course, because he had voluntarily refused to join the pool and had hence forfeited his right to protection. Since he didn’t participate in funding the pool, he sure as heck shouldn’t get reimbursed for his losses by the pool when his ship goes down.

The answer, then, since we know that our society demands that everyone be protected in the case of medical need, is that even those who don’t want to buy medical insurance must be required to buy it. Yes, that legal mandate most assuredly conflicts with one of the underlying principles of our nation – that one should have the freedom to make one’s own decision. But if we don’t require 100% participation, or instead that those who opt out must pay a tax penalty equivalent to their share of the financial pool then, as our example of the ship owners points out, the financial pool cannot survive; it will collapse, dissolve, and the entire system will fall apart. It’s as simple as that. We must require 100% participation in the pool, and everyone who can afford to participate in the pool must be required to do so. For those who are deemed truly unable to afford to participate, then we give them the Medical Insurance Stamps to pay for it so that everyone is in the pool.

That eliminates all of Key Problem #1, that too many Americans were without coverage, because with these two simple steps we have now provided affordable universal coverage. And we’ve done it without disturbing the plans we like, the doctors we like, the freedom to determine what kind of coverage we’ll have, which insurers we’ll work with, without all the unnecessary ObamaCare nonsense.

Making the Pre-existing Conditions Bogeyman Disappear!
And – this may shock you! – we have also simultaneously completely eliminated Key Problem #2, the “I can’t get insurance because I’m already sick” problem.

How did this happen, how did we miraculously solve a problem that we haven’t even started to analyze yet?

Because another important component of every insurance system is that there are almost never any significant problems with anticipated claims, because the systems are designed to anticipate virtually every conceivable claim. What causes problems are unanticipated claims from people who haven’t been participating in the system and who haven’t been a part of creating the financial pool that’s paying for those claims. Since we’ve now pulled every single American into the financial pool, the actuaries and underwriters (those strange and semi-mystical folk who determine claims reserves and the premiums required to accumulate and maintain those reserves) can now include everyone in their calculations and there are no unanticipated claims.

Since everyone is now a participant, either paying to be in the pool on their own or with Medical Insurance Stamps to pay for them, there is no longer anyone who’s outside of the financial pool yet still incurring claims.

With all the ship owners in the pool, everyone is always covered and all the pre-existing conditions concerns have now been banished forever.

Mission Accomplished
In summary, if we were to require that every adult must have medical insurance, and that every parent has to provide insurance for their children, and to continue to allow children to remain on their parents’ medical insurance until they reach working age, and finally provide funding for the truly needy with a Medical Insurance Stamps program, we’ve eliminated the need for probably 95% of the complex, convoluted and confusing absurdity that we all know as ObamaCare.

And, in a not insignificant amount of icing on the cake, we’ve also pushed the intrusive hands of the Federal Government out of one of the largest sectors of our economy – health care – helping to continue to preserve a little bit more of our freedom and independence for ourselves, our children, and our posterity.

Obamacare question

America, 2014: The Land of Entitlements

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This article appeared on American Thinker September 12, 2014.  http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/09/america_2014_the_land_of_entitlements.html

I run an employee benefits company that focuses on helping small business owners with medical and other health benefit plans for their employees.

Earlier this week I had lunch with a CPA client of mine to talk with him about increasing the number of his small business clients who provide medical insurance plans to their employees.  Everything that I am recounting herein is from him; I am not making this up.

His answer and the reasoning behind his answer were stunning to me.  In my naivety I hadn’t even dreamed that I would hear anything like what he was about to tell me.

He explained that essentially all of his clientele is Spanish speaking business owners, almost all of whom employ essentially 100% Spanish speaking workers. They own firms such as restaurants, gardening services, custodial services, small grocery stores, painting companies, trucking companies and so on. But, he said, most of their employees who work only 20 to 30 hours a week, with only a very few who work the full traditional “full time” 40 hours a week. As a result, my CPA client said, nearly all of his clients, the business owners, don’t feel an obligation to provide benefits to these “part time” employees.

When I asked why they had mostly part timers instead of full time workers, he explained that the employees don’t want to earn too much money, or else they’ll lose their government benefits.

They like getting free things like food stamps, a housing allowance, MediCal insurance (California’s government subsidize medical care for low income people), and the like. They would rather earn less and get the entitlement programs for free than work longer hours, make more money, and have to pay for their own food, housing, insurance, and so on.

He shook his head, admitting that he found it a little embarrassing to be telling me this, and said that it was a sad commentary on the way our country operates these days.  But, he pointed out with a shrug, if these people worked a full 40 hour week, yet had to pay for all the things that they now get for free – they’d end up in pretty much the same financial position as they are now – but they wouldn’t have all the extra time to just lie around resting, doing nothing.

I was speechless.  “Are you kidding?” I asked him, but he assured me that he was not.

“They’d rather get stuff for free and spend more time kicking back or hanging out with friends for most of the day than work all day long and end up with no real increase in their standard of living.

“Getting everything for free is a whole lot easier than working for it,” he finished.

I guess the people he was talking about have a very different “American Dream” than my great-grandparents did when they came to America in the late 1800s.  A sad commentary on how our nation is being run here in the 21st century.

Tax-Credits

 

Third Parties Won’t Save Our Country

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Third Parties Won’t Save Our Country

(This article first appeared on American Thinker, September 4, 2014, and can be found at http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/09/third_parties_wont_save_our_country.html )

This upcoming November 2014 election is crucial for America and voting for a third party candidate will not achieve the victory.  To end the Obama “Rule by Decree” power grab, we have to wrest control of the Senate from the Democrats.  The only possible way to do that is for us all to unite and vote GOP.

Thirty-six seats are up for grabs in the Senate and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be contested.  Of those 36 Senate seats, 15 are currently held by Republicans while 21 are held by Democrats.  Clearly, the math is on the Republican side, as is the fact that the incumbent party typically loses seats in mid-term elections.

This November 4 election may well see the Democrat incumbents perform even more poorly than historical analysis might indicate because of the currently extremely low ratings of President Obama. Whether it’s his apparent bewilderment over what do to about the threat from ISIS, his “do nothing” policy towards Russian (I almost said “Soviet”) leader Putin, or his “deer in the headlights” reaction to the immigration invasion along our southern border, it is clear to even the most ardent Obama fans that his polling numbers are not encouraging for the Democrats.

CNN, normally a big fan of the President, called his ratings “underwater” and “stuck in a rut” with only 42% approving in their poll.

The Washington Post, another of Mr. Obama’s normally ardent supporters, asked, “Has President Obama bottomed out yet?” while pointing out that 58% of Americans disapproved of his handling of the immigration crisis and 52% disapproved of his performance regarding ISIS in Iraq.

A Gallup poll released August 28 found that 53% of Americans disapprove of the way Mr. Obama is handling his job as president, and that the number of those who strongly disapprove is more than double the number who strongly approve.

By comparison, at this same point (August of two years into their last term), George W. Bush had an approval rating of 54%, Bill Clinton of 62%, George Bush the elder of 68%, and Ronald Reagan of 61%.  I’m not sure it’s much consolation to the current occupant of the White House that he is doing better than Jimmy Carter who had an abysmal rating of 39%.

This November election could well change the course of history.  It might even be so critical as to decide the eventual fate of the United States and whether we remain a bastion of freedom or slip into the oblivion of universal entitlement, “Big Brother” government, and rule by decree rather than by the law of our Constitution, only to eventually dissolve into obscurity.

So, you ask, what’s my point?

My point is – the point is! – that one of the biggest obstacles to the Republicans regaining control of the Senate, and being able to stand off the Harry Reid/Nancy Pelosi cabal, are those who don’t understand the inescapable fact that the United States has a TWO-PARTY SYSTEM.

That’s right; count ‘em.  One – Republicans, two – Democrats.  There is no number three.  Whether it be the Libertarians, the Green Party, the American Independents, or whomever (take your pick –here’s a list of about 100 of them) – the other parties are simply not meaningful choices in the equation!  They can delude themselves into thinking that they offer a meaningful alternative, a reasonable choice to take a valiant step away from the mainstream political world and offer a wakeup call to America, but that’s all a fallacy.  More than a fallacy – it’s a fantasy!

In all of the 230+ year history of the United States, third party candidates for the Presidency have won a total of – are you ready? – zero elections.  That’s right, zero, as in none, nada, zip, zilch.  Not a single one.  And that even includes the Bull Moose progressive party of 1912 whose candidate was former President Teddy Roosevelt.  Even with a former President of the United States at the head of their ticket, they still lost!

Voting for a third-party candidate who drains votes away from a candidate who has a valid chance to defeat a liberal is the craziest so-called “logic” on the political landscape.  Those misguided people who vote for a candidate who cannot possibly win need to recognize that we in the USA have a two-party system.  If they don’t vote for the candidate of whichever of the two main parties is closest to their political point of view, then their decision is, with all respect, quite frankly ridiculous.

Most of you have probably heard the ancient proverb: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  That concept was first published in a Sanskrit treatise on statecraft dating from the 4th century BC. It’s been repeated thousands of times since, not least by Winston Churchill, who went so far as to say, “If Hitler were to invade Hell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”

If there’s an election in which a liberal Democrat backed by Mr. Obama, Mr. Reid, and Ms. Pelosi is running for a Senate office and he’s opposed by a Republican, then by definition, the Republican is his enemy! And if you’re opposed to the Demo liberal, then he’s your enemy too, right?  Hence, by the almost inescapable logic that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, that Republican is your friend – so get out there and cast your vote for him.

I don’t care whether he or she is a Reagan Republican, a Rand Paul Republican or *shudder* a centrist, semi-liberal, barely-knows-how-to-spell-the-word-conservative Republican – she or he is a better choice than another chip-off-the-horrible-block Reid/Pelosi/Obama-ite.  He has to be better! Period.

I have no argument at all, none whatsoever, with enthusiastically supporting candidates in the primaries to oppose that “more-or-less-conservative” guy. In fact, those of us who want and stand for freedom and liberty in the USA should be trying our best to get the true conservatives into the final election.  But in the final battle, it’s one-on-one, them against us, and no time left for indecision.

The battle of the primaries is over!  The finalists are facing each other in November, and if you don’t cast your vote for one of the Big Two parties, you’re wasting it, tossing it in the toilet and flushing it away.

It’s about as logical as taking a shower with a raincoat on – you can pretend to yourself that you’re doing something meaningful, but in reality you simply are not. You’re wasting your time.  By refusing to make a rational, well-thought-out choice between the two real options, you are essentially abandoning your responsibility as an American by not voting for one who really has a chance to win.

To those of you who are considering voting for a third-party candidate, or maybe even not voting, I say:

Please!  I beg you!  As a vote-bearing citizen of the United States, stand up for what you believe in, but don’t forget the truth – the enemy of your enemy is your friend.

Vote for the better of the two candidates, the one closer to being a true conservative, the one closer to the ideals and beliefs immortalized in the US Constitution.  He or she may not be your optimal choice – but he or she has to be better than leaving the Senate in the hands of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi apparatus. Give your vote to one who has a meaningful chance to get elected, and to return control of our Senate, of our government, of our freedom to the only party who comes even remotely close to the ideas and beliefs that our forefathers stood for.

And, for the most part at least, that sure as heck doesn’t mean to vote for the Democrats.

Voting Booths

 

An Open Letter to Those Who Think the ACA is a Triumphant Success:

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I wonder how many people any of you have personally spoken with about Obamacare and how it has impacted them?  Not what stories you’ve heard on the mainstream media, or from the White House, or from some website called ACA Success – I mean that you personally have heard from those impacted.

I’m guessing not very many. I, on the other hand, have spoken with nearly 300 over the past few months, because I run a health benefits brokerage firm in California’s Silicon Valley, and I’ve been doing open enrollment meetings almost non-stop, explaining to people that their benefits have been reduced, their premiums have been increased, and hearing their responses. I did 5 meetings last week alone, meeting with nearly 100 people just last week, and I can tell you the expressions on their faces when the see what their new plans look like are very, very sad.

Premiums have gone up in most cases by a minimum of 20-35%, sometimes as much as 75-90%, and in almost every single case, benefits have gone done. The ones who are really crushed financially are those with more than 2 kids, because under the California ACA exchange, people now have to pay extra for every additional child (up to 3 kids under age 18, and with no limit for those between 18 and 25).

One man asked me with (literally) tears in his eyes, “How am I supposed to pay $1900 a month now when I used to only pay $1000 a month? And…and my benefits are worse!” Reality is – the new plans and premiums are horrible. Period.   What would be nice – but hasn’t happened yet! – is a true and accurate presentation of the facts of the enrollment to date in the new exchanges.

Take all the paid enrollees, subtract all those who were forced into the exchanges when their prior plans were cancelled by the team whose leader promised on July 16, 2009, in a speech to the American Medical Association: “If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.” Then tell us what the REAL enrollment figures are. No one has done that so far.

You can talk all you want about statistics but what I’d like to see are the facts. My experience in life is that when I ask someone for the facts – hard, solid, unadulterated facts – and they won’t give them to me, it means they’re hiding something. I realize that my personal experience in a 4 month long series of meetings with the small company employee workforce in Silicon Valley isn’t statistically large enough to represent the national experience. With an M.A. in political science and over 30 years in the health care industry, I realize that my sample isn’t a scientific analysis – but it is a real life, 100% true presentation of facts.

FACTS! Something that America is still waiting for the Obama administration to release. My bet is that the facts behind the ACA enrollment will not be released prior to the 2014 elections because the truth will not be kind to the administration’s claims of success and glory. But they could prove me wrong by just telling the truth. Why won’t they do that?

Jefferson_flag_capital 518

Why Has The ObamaCare Enrollment Failed?

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Why Has The ObamaCare Enrollment Failed?

It’s not because of errors in the rollout. It’s not because the website was horrible. It’s not because the Republicans opposed it.  It’s not because the Democrats passed it through political maneuvering that bypassed the normal procedural process of the US Senate.

The reason is more at the heart of the entire rationale and justification that Mr. Obama and his people advanced from the very beginning of their campaign for health care reform.  Namely, it is because the facts that were screamed at us by the Obama Administration and their supporters both in the political world as in the main stream media were fallacious from the very start.

The statistics that Obama and his cronies were so fond of quoting back when they were pushing for passage of health care reform were that approximately 15% of Americans were uninsured. Unfortunately that was merely a shadow of the actual truth. Leaders of the health care industry tried to tell the Obama-ites that, but the main stream media shouted down the blasphemous cries of the people who really knew the facts about the numbers.

Of that 15% of our population, those 45 million uninsured that we heard about ad nauseum, nearly 1/3, or 15 million could have afforded care and were qualified to get it based on the insurance underwriting procedures then in place, but just didn’t want it. They had no interest, didn’t feel they needed it, so they didn’t buy it. Nothing much has changed – they still don’t want it and they haven’t bought it.

Another 1/3 of that oft-quoted number, another 15 million, were already qualified for government supported medical insurance programs such as MediCal and Healthy Families (in California) but had so little interest that they simply hadn’t bothered to apply! That 15 million still aren’t interested and still haven’t bothered to apply.

The final 1/3, the last 15 million of the “famous” 45 million, who either couldn’t afford it or couldn’t qualify for it, were truly in need. What is the biggest surprise to me (I’ve been in the health insurance industry for over 35 years) is that less than 1/2 of those who I fully expected to be very excited about and to enroll in with alacrity haven’t done anything either. Perhaps as time passes they may, perhaps the system may get easier to navigate, or the “mandate penalty tax” may motivate some – but by and large the result has been what America has seen for many years in many instances.

The proverbial bottom line is that government legislation – whether it be banning alcohol or marijuana, dictating speed limits, or mandating health insurance – can’t force people to do something that they simply don’t want to do. It’s as simple as that.  Americans don’t want ObamaCare, and all Mr. Obama’s whining and crusading and main stream media support can’t change that hard fact, not even one tiny little bit.

Obamacare question

The President Who Cried Wolf!

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“The boy President who Cried Wolf”

When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.”
― Thomas Jefferson

 

All the world remembers last September when President Obama proclaimed that Syria, by launching gas attacks on their own people, had crossed a “red line” which America would not tolerate. The President then went on to announce that he had “determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.”

This was a clear and powerful statement by the President, one which reverberated across America and indeed the world, giving notice that there was a point at which we would not back down.

Unfortunately, it proved to be a rather hollow statement. As of this date, nearly half a year later, the situation in Syria is unresolved, and Mr. Obama’s statement proved to be on the edge of completely meaningless.  Syria missed the December 31 deadline to remove the most dangerous of their chemical weapons, then missed the second deadline for removal of weapons on February 5. They’re now over a week past the March 1 timeframe which Russia promised Syria would achieve in moving towards the final steps in the negotiations to remove their chemical weapons as concluded last fall.

Now, six months after his famous – or will it go down in history as infamous? – “red line” speech, he is again threatening sanctions, this time against Russia herself!

I can just imagine how Russian President Putin is quaking in his shoes after hearing Mr. Obama’s threats to “impose a cost” on Russia for its incursion into the Ukraine?

Or is it more likely that, having watched Mr. Obama’s blustering approach to the Syrian issue which accomplished next to nothing, Mr. Putin is probably chuckling softly to himself, convinced that the threats he’s hearing from the White House are about as meaningful as the ObamaCare websites were functional back on October 1.

That’s the problem with making big bombastic statements which are followed up by inaction – you set a precedent for the future, and people stop listening when you make threats.

I guess no one ever told Mr. Obama the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

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