ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.

“An early feature of the new health-care law that allows people who are already sick to get insurance to cover their medical costs isn’t attracting as many customers as expected. In the meantime, in at least a few states, claims for medical care covered by the “high-risk pools” are proving very costly, and it is an open question whether the $5 billion allotted by Congress to start up the plans will be sufficient.”

“One of the few programs already active in Obamacare is the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program, a temporary measure that provides money for states to establish high-risk health insurance pools for people with pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, the program’s results so far leave much to be desired.”

“Under the 136-page rule, the federal government will now decide what counts as an ‘unreasonable’ rate increase, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote to Governors yesterday urging them ‘to prevent unjustified and excessive health insurance premium growth.’ Apparently, ‘unreasonable’ means rate increases that exceed 10% next year, except when it doesn’t. If an insurer crosses this arbitrary threshold, ‘The review process would then determine if the increase is, in fact, unreasonable.’ So that’s cleared up.”

“Thin-skinned, vain, prone to seeing conspiracies — Barack Obama now broadens his Richard Nixon impersonation with the imposition of price controls. Obamacare is the gift that keeps on giving — giving us higher real taxes, a bigger deficit, a bloated federal state, and now, if past is prologue, significantly lower quality and less innovation in the field of health care. As some of the smarter critics predicted, Obamacare, butt-ugly as it was in legislative form, is turning into a real beast in the hands of the executive-branch geniuses charged with implementing it and dreaming up the new regulations to make that possible.”

“Individuals seeking maternity coverage in the non-group insurance market are discovering fewer options are available as insurers seek to cut costs to meet the regulatory demands of President Obama’s health care law. Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina dropped the coverage to save costs and keep premiums competitive, and insurers in other states have followed suit.”

“What they found calls into question the assumptions that health policy wonks have been making for years: While Medicare indeed spends almost twice as much more per patient in McAllen than in El Paso, Blue Cross spends about the same in both places. In fact, Blue Cross’s per-patient spending was actually slightly lower in El Paso. These findings persisted for overall spending, as well as for spending on specific types of services and several specific diseases.”

“The recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aims to transform regulation of private health insurance. It would put in place a new federal regulatory regime that prescribes various mandates for covered benefits, imposes tighter restrictions on insurance premiums, sets limits on how premium dollars are spent, and exerts much greater political and bureaucratic control over health insurance.”

ObamaCare created an unworkable cost-control method when it proposed Accountable Care Organizations to manage care in Medicare. Medicare’s payment board is predicting that they will have negative consequences and is calling for them to be pared back. 

ObamaCare is premised on the assumption that government-run systems lower costs better than patient-centered health care. “Private insurance plans might be better at controlling healthcare costs than Medicare, according to a Health Affairs study released Tuesday morning.”

“Incentives count, it turns out. People will do what they are paid to do. Doctors paid to implant stents will implant stents.
Doctors paid to think long and hard about whether a stent is necessary may be less eager surgeons. This story will not be the last in this genre as incentives settle into place under government-run health care.”