Posts Tagged ‘Health care’

We know better than you

Let’s review the tortured verbiage that passes for logic in today’s majority opinion in the “Hobby Lobby” case, shall we?

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Ration Wisely

All of economics is the study of rationing, because no resource in infinite. Efficiently allocating finite resources is the heart of any economics discussion, health care economics included. Which is why I don’t get how every discussion of changing how our health care system immediately prompts screams of “Rationing!” Well, of course! Since we don’t have infinite doctors, infinite medicine, and infinite time, we are going to have to ration things somehow. The question is, how?

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Healthcare Agonistes Redux

It’s been a few months since the launch of the health care exchange, one of the biggest remaining pieces of Obamacare. It’s been rocky, but the numbers are not too far off from projections. As the exchanges and the other pieces of the law become status quo, however, that has not stopped the doom and gloom stories. Obamacare will cut two million jobs (or maybe not)! Obamacare is the cause of AOL’s decision to cut 401(k) benefits for its workers! As much as people try to blame Obamacare for the latest business decision or news story, it’s true that the law has started changing our economy. However, these changes are for the better.

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How good would you feel about an IRS website that promised you 90% of your income tax refund if you used it? Or a DMV website that allowed you to have a pretty good shot of renewing your license tabs, but if your birthday was in December you’d find that your purchase couldn’t be completed? Would it be acceptable to use government services that make a “best effort” to follow the law, or would you expect more? Odds are, you’d expect compliance. If you fell in that minority for whom it didn’t work, you probably wouldn’t be okay with that “best effort”. This is the environment that lives in, and you can’t forget it.

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So it’s been a month since the rollout of the health insurance exchanges created by the ACA, and it hasn’t exactly been a fantastic rollout. It also isn’t that unexpected, nor is it the worst rollout of all time. It certainly doesn’t mean that Obamacare is doomed to failure. But there are a lot of lessons to be learned from this.

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How to manufacture a controversy

There’s a whole lot of stupid involved with the government shutdown, but the story that just blows me away is the Vitter Amendment and the so-called “special treatment” that Congress is supposedly getting with regards to health insurance. If you want to hear a small part of why we are in the situation we are in, let’s go down the rabbit hole and try to figure this one out…

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Bravely tilting at windmills

There’s hardly much more to be said about the all-too-likely government shutdown, or the possibility of an even more terrifying default on our debt obligations. But even so, I firmly believe it’s a good idea to repeat this as often as possible so everybody understands it: Republicans in Congress are drawing their line in the sand, throwing thousands of government works temporarily out of work and threatening the entire world economy, not over a fiendish Democratic plan to confiscate all guns in the country, or to raise income tax rates to where they were in the 1960s, or to get involved in another costly war, or even a plan by President Obama to become dictator for life. No, they are fighting to the death over a plan to give poor people better access to health insurance.

And they are using the words of real heroes in the most offensive way possible to do it.

Minnesota Insurance Rates

MNsure and the Department of Commerce announced yesterday the rates for the insurance plans that will become available on the exchange October 1st, and it was great news: Minnesota has the lowest average rates in the country based on all the states that have made their rates public. A young non-smoker in the Twin Cities could get a plan for less than $91 a month, and that’s before subsidies are included.

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Where the uninsured live

Wonkblog has a great post today showing two maps: the first shows where the uninsured live who make less than 138% of the poverty level, which shows who could benefit from the expansion of Medicaid, and the second shows uninsured people who make less than 400% of the poverty level, which shows who could benefit from Obamacare’s subsidies.

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Healthcare Roundup

What’s going on with health care these days? Here’s a story about a Congressman who took some heat for being less than supportive when it comes to the new healthcare law. What I find very interesting is that he supports ending discrimination against pre-existing conditions, but is opposed to Obamacare. As many people have pointed out, eliminating “pre-existing conditions” + community rating = individual mandates = Obamacare. You can’t have the first two without mandates, and that’s Obamacare in a nutshell. There’s no other way around it.

Another interesting bit of news, if unsurprising, is that most people have no idea how health insurance works. I got 3 out of 4 questions right, missing one, and I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about health insurance. Even aside from the ACA, if most people have no idea how health insurance works and they are limited to what their employers provide, economics tells us that this information asymmetry is not going to favor the consumer. Imagine if restaurant bills had copays, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums!

I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more stories as we approach October 1st.

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