Los Angeles Times Reports, Obamacare Subsidies On Track To Cost Billions This Year

(via Los Angeles Times)

So, about all those subsidies for health insurance that fueled approximately 8 million sign-ups for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. They are on track to cost us billions of dollars this year, a new federal report indicates.

Nearly nine in 10 Americans who bought healthcare coverage on the federal government’s healthcare marketplaces received government assistance to offset their premiums.

And even better news: Because of an error in calculations, the previous version of this article incorrectly stated that a new federal report indicates that the cost of insurance subsidies under President Obama’s healthcare law may be running above current projections.

It turns out that the figures in the report are actually in line with current projections from the Congressional Budget Office.

So we signed up for this, is what the report is telling us.

All of this “assistance”, that we’ll say, candidly, was grossly misunderstood by the public at large, helped lower premiums for consumers who bought healthcare coverage on federal marketplaces.

On average, premiums decreased by 76%, according to the new report from the Department of Health and Human Services.

However, if these premiums were just paid for by someone else, then the “cost” of the premium didn’t go down.

Isn’t it apparent what’s happening? There’s not actually a CHANGE in healthcare. It’s just some sort of bookkeeping exercise.

Meanwhile, these “insured” people, duped int believing coverage is care, are finding shrinking networks.

“Premiums that normally would have cost $346 a month on average instead cost consumers just $82, with the federal government picking up the balance of the bill,” writes the LA Times.

Though the generous subsidies helped consumers, they also come at a price.

The report, though missing data from some states, paints one of the fullest pictures to date of the actual cost of the 2010 healthcare law’s coverage expansion.

It suggests that the federal government is on track to spend at least $11 billion on subsidies for consumers who bought healthcare plans on marketplaces run by the federal government, even accounting for the fact that many consumers signed up for coverage in late March and will only receive subsidies for part of the year.

That total does not count the additional cost of providing coverage to millions of additional consumers who bought coverage in states that ran their own marketplaces e.g. California, Connecticut, Maryland, New York.

About a third of the 8 million people who signed up for coverage this year used a state-run marketplace.

If these state consumers received roughly comparable government assistance for their insurance premiums, the total cost of subsidies could top $16.5 billion this year. This is in line with projections from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

And now for our daily dose of political doublespeak.

Here is Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell speaking in regards to the ACA marketplace:

“What we’re finding is the marketplace is working. Consumers have more choices, and they’re paying less for their premiums.”

However, the Times points out that officials who worked on the report refused to speak on the record or discuss the potential effect of the subsidies on the long-term cost of the healthcare law.

Although the law’s costs have thus far been lower than projected, some experts question whether the subsidies will be sustainable.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated in April that the annual cost of subsidies will rise to $23 billion next year and $95 billion in 2024, although the budget office continued to project that all the law’s costs will be offset by additional revenue it raises and by cuts in other federal healthcare spending.

We’ll raise a proverbial glass to the harshest critics of Direct Care.

The problem we have with free rides, is that they can’t go on indefinitely. The more free rides we try to give to the general public, to create the semblance of order and justice (in other words, accessible and affordable healthcare for all), the less we’ll have to give to our population who really needs it.

That’s the point we keep stressing. Family medicine, preventative care, sound diagnoses, these things can make a huge impact on our collective health and well-being, and they’re very affordable.

Insurance is absolutely necessary.

Government is absolutely necessary.

However, trying to develop a nation-wide panacea that saves EVERYONE money is liberal hogwash.

You can’t borrow from your right hand only to borrow from your left hand.

Eventually, someone has to pay for all this care.

Our argument is that the more direct we can make payment between doctors and patients, the more social bonding that we can nurture between doctor and payment, involving cash, the better results we’ll see overall.

Direct Care is NOT a silver bullet solution. We keep hearing critics tell us, oh, you’re embellishing. You talk as if you’re going to save all of healthcare with your singular, revolutionary payment model.

No, we’re not a silver bullet. We are not trying to abolish insurance. We’ve said it before: we don’t treat cancer. We don’t perform life-saving operations.

Instead we are fighting for a world where patients and doctors (family docs and internists) actually know their patients.

We are a hand reaching out to insurance, shaking, and saying, Hey, we can sweat the small stuff.

Insurance, you focus on tackling the major issues when they affect individuals in our populace.

Subsidies will happen. Medicare will happen. But quit trying to subsidize the whole damn car to the point that it’s broken down on some metaphorical highway, atrophying, failing on a large scale to actually serve our nation.