2013 ObamaCare Sticker Shock: Premiums May Increase by up to 100 Percent

In Fixing US Health Care Once And For All – 5 Crucial Steps I wrote:

… without addressing the 5 steps I outlined above, all other efforts will be completely and absolutely futile. Without addressing the root of high health care costs, it does not matter whether we let government alone take care of health insurance, or whether we completely liberalize the health insurance market. Nothing would change substantially. We would still be paying high premiums that go into a pool that pays for overly expensive health care products and services. We would still be faced with an inherent shortage of health care goods and services.

Also in The Truth About Obamacare, Mandates, and Health Care in the US I wrote:

… under the Affordable Care Act health care will become less and less affordable to Americans. And it has. Premiums have gone up two-,three-fold, maybe even more for some. The inability to charge more for pre-existing conditions simply results in higher charges for everybody, regardless of condition, or in bankrupting insurers (a welcome excuse for the all out nationalization of health insurers at some point?). Meanwhile the root causes of rising health costs have not been addressed at all.

Now it’s time brace yourselves for ObamaCare’s Health-Insurance Sticker Shock:

Health-insurance premiums have been rising—and consumers will experience another series of price shocks later this year when some see their premiums skyrocket thanks to the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.

The reason: The congressional Democrats who crafted the legislation ignored virtually every actuarial principle governing rational insurance pricing. Premiums will soon reflect that disregard—indeed, premiums are already reflecting it.

Central to ObamaCare are requirements that health insurers (1) accept everyone who applies (guaranteed issue), (2) cannot charge more based on serious medical conditions (modified community rating), and (3) include numerous coverage mandates that force insurance to pay for many often uncovered medical conditions.

Guaranteed issue incentivizes people to forgo buying a policy until they get sick and need coverage (and then drop the policy after they get well). While ObamaCare imposes a financial penalty—or is it a tax?—to discourage people from gaming the system, it is too low to be a real disincentive. The result will be insurance pools that are smaller and sicker, and therefore more expensive.


Health insurers have been understandably reluctant to discuss the coming price hikes that are driven by the Affordable Care Act. Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, the country’s third-largest health insurer, broke the silence on Dec. 12. “We’re going to see some markets go up by as much as 100%,” he told the company’s annual investor conference in New York City.

To all those who cheered for ObamaCare: You reap what you sow.

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GMO Labeling Mandates

Dear Californian organic food enthusiasts:

I, too, prefer to know which food is genetically modified and which isn’t. So what I do to accomplish this objective is to inform myself via a medium commonly known as “the internet”.

I believe that if we give heavily armed people the power to restrict food supply if a producer didn’t receive their stamp of approval, then in the end you will not have the healthiest and most passionate food suppliers dominating the market, but those who spend the bulk of their time greasing politicians in Sacramento to attain oligopoly if not monopoly powers.

Isn’t the example of the FDA on the federal level proof enough that this is always the course things take?

As a matter of fact, did you know that the FDA actively restricts producers from highlighting the fact that their food is non-GMO?

The labeling matter is further complicated because the FDA has maintained a tough stance for food makers who don’t use genetically engineered ingredients and want to promote their products as an alternative. The agency allows manufacturers to label their products as not genetically engineered as long as those labels are accurate and do not imply that the products are therefore more healthful.

The agency warned the dairy industry in 1994 that it could not use “Hormone Free” labeling on milk from cows that are not given engineered hormones, because all milk contains some hormones.

It has sent a flurry of enforcement letters to food makers, including B&G Foods, which was told it could not use the phrase “GMO-free” on its Polaner All Fruit strawberry spread label because GMO refers to genetically modified organisms and strawberries are produce, not organisms.

It told the maker of Spectrum Canola Oil that it could not use a label that included a red circle with a line through it and the words “GMO,” saying the symbol suggested that there was something wrong with genetically engineered food.

Why is it that so few healthy food advocates and environmentalists ever throw all their support behind abolishing all those dumb-ass government programs that are at the root of the problems they claim to be concerned with? Why is it that most of them spend the bulk of their time to advocate slapping on more government regulations, more power to the state?

In my opinion it’s because deep down they’re not concerned about those problems, but rather about expanding state powers under the guise of supporting a popular cause, or just in general being part of a seemingly simple and quick solution to manage their own anxiety about a problem rather than the actual problem itself. “Give the guys with guns and prisons more powers and they’ll fix it somehow. DONE. NEXT.”

At least I haven’t recently seen many environmentalists advocate the abandonment of taxi cab regulations, of the forced funding of roads via taxation, of “free” (=tax-funded) water supply, or of the implicit subsidization of fossil fuels via troops in the middle east; all things that would actually attack the root causes the things they claim to be oh so concerned with.

No, all they can ever think of is to give the very people who are screwing up the environment most even more powers to supposedly fix what they’re breaking.

California Prop 37 is yet another manifestation of this mode of “thinking”.

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Low Carb Paleo Dieting

I started trying out the paleolithic way of eating out of curiosity because it immediately sounded appealing to me. The things to avoid were things that made me feel uncomfortably bloated after meals anyways, yet never really quite satisfied.

Avoiding noodles, rice, grains, and other high-carb items has helped me feel less filled yet more content in-between meals. On the other hand, there’s really not much I have to do without. In fact, I eat until I’m full and genuinely satisfied.

Why do I post this on EconomicsJunkie.com?

Well, I happen to believe that a balanced, healthy food intake is an important cornerstone to achieving economic independence, in particular in an environment where health care costs are rising so rapidly severely.

I also believe that one of the main reasons why we have gotten so accustomed to consuming carb heavy food, and lots of bad carbs at that, are government subsidies, tariffs, and special privileges granted to big farm conglomerates.

I don’t look at the paleo way of eating as a regimented diet, but rather a holistic approach to health eating and long term well being, and not at all a difficult, sacrificial or expensive one one at that!

For that reason, and also because I think it’s fun to cook and eat healthy, I intend to use FunPaleo.com – Fun & Simple Low Carb Eating to share simple recipes and tips about what I prepare and eat in my day to day life, in hopes that it’ll be of interest and help to others out there looking for dietary alternatives.

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The Truth About Obamacare, Mandates, and Health Care in the US

As expected, the US Supreme Court today once again honored its job description which is to serve as an enabler and facilitator of the expansion of federal government powers.

Some interesting comments on Obamacare from Freedomain Radio:

Its destructive effects on healthcare aside, those liberals who are now cheering and celebrating the Supreme Court Decision on Obamacare (a law by the way that has been written in large parts by the pharmaceutical industry) conveniently ignore the floodgates that have been opened for other kinds of mandates that conservatives will inevitably shove down their (and unfortunately all our) throats in the future.

And those who are cheering the loudest right now, will be the most vociferous ones crying out in outrage then, because that’s simply the way useful idiots “function” in the world of mob rule, aka “Democracy”.

I’ve said before that under the Affordable Care Act health care will become less and less affordable to Americans. And it has. Premiums have gone up two-,three-fold, maybe even more for some. The inability to charge more for pre-existing conditions simply results in higher charges for everybody, regardless of condition, or in bankrupting insurers (a welcome excuse for the all out nationalization of health insurers at some point?). Meanwhile the root causes of rising health costs have not been addressed at all.

But has that bothered any of the oh so caring and concerned people supporting this law today? Of course not. Why? Because to them it’s not about making health care more affordable, it’s not about actually understanding what the consequences of this law will be; no, it’s about deluding themselves into being on some kind of winning team on some kind of issue, so long as it supports their emotional political inclinations and upsets those with opposing inclination on that same spectrum.

And while the thoughtful among us can lay the groundwork for reasonable fixes to the problems with healthcare in the US, the chaotic herd of dizzy, annoying, loud, patronizing, boring, bigoted, and mindless drones will have to run its stubborn course until the system collapses of its own accord, as I pointed out years ago.

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Health Care & Drug Shortages in the USA

I’m seeing more and more reports about drug shortages/unavailability in the US, for example Hospital drug shortages deadly, costly (emphasis mine):

A drug for dangerously high blood pressure, normally priced at $25.90 per dose, offered to hospitals for $1,200. Fifteen deaths in 15 months blamed on shortages of life-saving medications.

A growing crisis in the availability of drugs for chemotherapy, infections and other serious ailments is endangering patients and forcing hospitals to buy from secondary suppliers at huge markups because they can’t get the medications any other way.

An Associated Press review of industry reports and interviews with nearly two dozen experts found the shortages — mainly of injected generic drugs that ordinarily are cheap — have delayed surgeries and cancer treatments, left patients in unnecessary pain and caused hospitals to give less effective treatments. That’s resulted in complications and longer hospital stays.

Just over half of the 549 U.S. hospitals responding to a survey this summer by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a patient safety group, said they had purchased one or more prescription drugs from so-called “gray market vendors” — companies other than their normal wholesalers.

Most also said they’ve had to do so more often of late, and 7 percent reported side effects or other problems with those drugs.

Hospital pharmacists “are really looking at this as a crisis. They are scrambling to find drugs,” said Joseph Hill of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

At a hearing Friday before the health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, hospital officials and other experts testified that the worsening shortages are preventing them from giving many patients the best care and are driving up costs.

“Considering the nation’s budget crisis and our skyrocketing health care bill, these markups are nothing more than profiteering at the expense of patients and providers who are struggling to afford vital medicines,” said Mike Alkire, chief operating officer of Premier Healthcare Alliance, a group that helps U.S. hospitals and other health providers improve their patient care and finances.

The shortages could cost hospitals at least $415 million a year, he said, citing data from health care providers across the nation. So far, hospitals have been absorbing the extra costs, but they’ll soon have to start passing them on to insurers and patients, according to the American Hospital Association.

The scarcity of mainstay cancer drugs is not only hurting patients but is halting or disrupting clinical studies of potential new treatments, said Dr. Robert S. DiPaola, director of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

“The drug shortages of today can have a ripple effect on the availability of new drugs and treatment combinations tomorrow,” he told the committee.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration is holding a meeting with medical and consumer groups, researchers and industry representatives to discuss the shortages and strategies to fight them.

The FDA says the primary cause of the shortages is production shutdowns because of manufacturing problems, such as contamination and metal particles that get into medicine.

Other reasons include theft of prescription drugs from warehouses or during shipment, as well as the “gray market” vendors who buy scarce drugs from small regional wholesalers, pharmacies or other sources and then sell them to hospitals at many times the normal price. These sellers may not be licensed, authorized distributors.

In addition, many companies have stopped making generic injected drugs because the profit margins are slim. Producing them is far more expensive than stamping out pills, and it takes about three weeks to produce a batch. Making things worse, companies don’t have to notify customers or the FDA that they’ve stopped making a medicine. That means neither FDA nor competitors can fill the gap in time.

Only a half-dozen companies make the vast majority of injected generics. Even if other companies wanted to begin making a drug in short supply, they’re discouraged by the lengthy, expensive process of setting up new manufacturing lines and getting FDA approval.

The article goes on, but that last paragraph is really the most important point we need to wrap our brains around to understand this terrible tragedy: Drug shortages occur precisely because of the existence of the government’s meddling with the process of researching, manufacturing, selling, and purchasing drugs.

As I explained in Fixing US Health Care Once And For All – 5 Crucial Steps:

On the market, such imbalances are, under free competition, swiftly addressed via a simple process: High prices for certain consumer goods indicate a high demand and an insufficient supply. Thus profit seeking entrepreneurs have an incentive to shift from what they are currently doing to focusing on producing more of such highly demanded goods, by employing more commensurate factors of production that turn out the demanded goods. This leads to a decline in their prices, moving the market closer to equilibrium and thus restoring balance.

But when a group of people which obtains its means of operation via aggression and theft, the government,  imposes decrees that prevent the voluntary market participants to perform such balancing acts, and threaten them with imprisonment and fines should they not oblige, the imbalance will persist. If that group’s actions are such as to bring about even more shortages for the demanded goods, the imbalance will grow, prices will keep rising.

Of course Obamacare has not addressed a single one of the points I put forward in that article, quite the contrary, and so it should not surprise us that this horrific and quite frankly murderous trend continues to aggravate shortages of health care products and services, continues to drive sick people into bankruptcy, and continues to kill people by the thousands, if not millions.

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