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Stakeholder Abuse of the Healthcare System

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Thought You Could Win?

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

There are lots of healthcare systems that think they can win by supporting Obamacare.

It has always been clear to me that hospital systems cannot win by participating in the present rules of the Affordable Care Act.

Major hospital systems are finding that fact out slowly but surely.

“HealthSpan is the insurance arm of Catholic hospital system (Mercy Health).”

The Catholic Healthcare System is one of the top ten rapidly growing hospital systems with a network of 387 acute care hospitals.

The governance of the Catholic Healthcare System thought it could profit from Obamacare, its federal Health Insurance Exchanges and the formation of an Accountable Care Organization.

Mercy Health believed it could profit by setting up an insurance arm for its network and selling insurance in the Obamacare Health Insurance Exchanges.

In order to form an ACO it bought an existing integrated physicians group.

Mercy Health, a 23-hospital system, formerly known as Catholic Health Partners, bought Kaiser’s Ohio business in 2013.

Mercy Health tried hard to make the strategy work for its financially.

I have stated previously that it is very difficult to set up ACOs. The business model is destined to fail because of faulty premises and inadequate cultural and financial incentives.

Patients should be responsible for their healthcare dollars. Healthcare insurance companies should be responsible for financial risk and financial reward by providing the insurance coverage.

“HealthSpan, the insurance arm of Catholic Healthcare System Mercy Health, is getting rid of its medical group (Kaiser) and halting sales of Affordable Care Act policies just two years after acquiring Kaiser Permanente’s Ohio subsidiary.”

The move represents a failure of one health system trying to replicate the much-heralded Kaiser model of healthcare which integrates the payment and delivery sides.

HealthSpan has been a failure financially. Mercy Health’s managers realized that the two new programs became a financial disaster for the entire healthcare system.

The reality is in contrast to the optimistic statement made by CEO Michael Connelly two years ago. His announcement was not dissimilar for the many other statements by hospital systems that are on the road to failure. It almost sounds like they had the same consultant.

In announcing its agreement with Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Health Partners president and CEO Michael D. Connelly said in the joint release, “This opportunity interests us because it preserves a values-based, patient-centered care model that we can expand throughout the region. Additionally, it enables us to focus on enhancing quality, improving access to health care, and effectively managing costs.”

No one ever asks practicing physicians what system will work to Repairing the Healthcare System.

No one every talks about the patients’ responsibility in preventing chronic diseases or once a chronic disease occurs, what is their responsibility in managing the disease.

Until a healthcare system is built around patients’ responsibility along with ways to prevent insurance company, hospital system and physician abuse, a healthcare system will not be built that is cost efficient with increased quality of care.

 

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone

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Premises Must Be Re-examined

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

A few weeks ago I had a terrific exchange with Steve Brachet M.D. who forwarded my blog to Steve Gregg.

“Stan,

I forwarded your recent blog featuring the five essential steps for HC reform to Stephen Gregg of Portland Oregon.

Steve Gregg is a former senior hospital executive, turned CEO of a managed care plan (successful in WA and OR), developer of alternative healthcare products, developer of patient care informatics, and thought leader in past 10 years on dimensions and confounding variables of health care in all its complexities.

He asked me to send the attached (very brief) piece recently published in the Oregon main media.

I don’t know if he expects a comment or two – but if you care to comment feel free to respond to Steve Gregg directly.

I take it that you are continuing to do your best to ‘right this HC ship’ that seems unlikely to improve on its own – nor with the help of the current Congress.

Steve Barchet M.D.”

I was fascinated with the article Steve Gregg wrote. I agree with many of the points he makes. I am publishing his article with Steve Gregg’s permission. I wrote back and said;

Dear Steve

I welcome your article.

My blog explains the elements needed to Repair the Healthcare System from a physician’s point of view.

As a result of the Internet and improved software, consumers have become king and are driving the consumer consumption market. Amazon and ebay have led the way. Opaque purchasing models have been replaced by price transparent purchasing.

Wal-Mart has been forced to close stores because of online purchasing to remain competitive.

A consumer driven transparent online purchasing model has replaced airline ticket purchasing through travel agencies.

Online banking is transforming banking services. Hardly anyone goes into banks anymore.

There is no reason that shopping for healthcare services cannot transform the healthcare industry with all its opacity.

Consumers must be put in a position to drive the healthcare system and be responsible for their health and healthcare dollars.

Our 2020 business model can transform the dysfunctional healthcare system that can align all the stakeholders’ vested interests by empowering consumers and letting them drive the system.

The result will be a decrease in cost. It will eliminate the entitlement mentality of healthcare consumers and create a competitive mentality for all stakeholders as it has done in the examples above.

All Obamacare is doing is trying to put a patch on a healthcare system whose demise has been accelerated since passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Your articles describe many essential premises that must be reexamined.

However, consumers must be involved and be the responsible party in the healthcare system. They have to be given financial incentive to be involved and responsible.

Thank you for letting me reprint your article.

 

Health Reform…What Next?

Steve Gregg

With the expensive collapse of Oregon’s Health Exchange, a New Year, and approaching changes at the Federal level, it is time to reconsider the formative assumptions driving health care reform.

Ten Game Changing Assumptions Shaping Health Reform:

 

  1. The ideologies of the left and right will not sustain a reform solution grounded in compromise and “deal making”.   The endless search for consensus confuses the problem, and is a recipe for failure.

 

  1. The State’s public bureaucracy is too conflicted with its own self interest to impartially govern health reform.

 3.The plethora of proposed actions to reduce demand will not reduce costs. “Supply” being a more important driver of costs than ”Demand”.

  1. Sustainable reform cannot tolerate the variation in provider pricing to patients with differing sources of payment. Perhaps less than 15% of the typical hospital’s patients pay what the hospital bills.

 

  1. It is wrong headed to view reform as a matter of amending the existing system.

 

  1. Financial goals stabilizing health care costs cannot be achieved without prospectively stated and independently measured metrics.

 

  1. Equal access is not a realistic expectation. Universal coverage must be.

 

  1. Genuine Altruism is a deceptive and widely abused value of our non- profit institutions and trade associations.

 

  1. The United States spends twice as much per capita on health care because our health care workers of all stripes (including insurance companies,hospital sytems, government and pharmaceutical companies) s(take out twice as much from the system.

 

  1. The health care structures of other countries, while instructive, are not transferrable to the United States.

 

Bonus:

 The Oregon Healthcare Project rationing experiment was a colossal hoax that channeled billions of new dollars to Oregon’s health care interests. Never measured, never critically evaluated. It was a severe case of the “Emperor Wears No Clothes”.

Conclusion: Think in terms of 2-3 alternative systems reflecting differing ideologies: Liberal / Conservative / Libertarian.

What would this suggest for process?

 

  • Form 3 small task forces assembled around three ideologies: Liberal, Conservative, and Libertarian to articulate assumptions, problem definition, and a broad solution compatible with each ideology.
  • At the end of the process examine what consolidation can occur and if not presume the development of 3 systems available to the free will of people to chose.

 

Liberal: Socially and fiscally liberal

Conservative: Fiscally and socially conservative

Libertarian: Socially liberal / Fiscally conservative

 Note: The prospect of 3 systems capturing U.S. Healthcare, sounds daunting but in reality we have more than that now: Employer, Medicare, Medicaid, TriCare, Municipal, Insured, Self funded etc.

 Alternative List of Assumptions:

 

  1. A sustainable health reform strategy cannot be achieved without the foundation of a well-conceived definition of the problem and formative assumptions.

 

  1. Subsidized or “free” health care is inflationary and will overwhelm administrative protocols for cost reduction.

 

  1. Genuine Altruism is rare and a widely abused cover for proprietary agendas.  Excessive profit is a measure of good management.

 

  1. The community’s health care pathology is infinite and those making a living and profits from health care will seek to capitalize on that.

 

  1. Our health care system in the main is a proprietary endeavor with millions of economic interests seeking to protect or increase revenues. Any initiative that threatens that cash flow will be vigorously resisted.

 

  1. Does the system tilt toward choice and self – determination or equalness, limited choice, and a central authority?

 

  1. “Nearly half of all care delivered produces no medical benefit” is in obvious conflict with a prevailing view of vast health manpower shortages.   Does increasing supply reduce prices and the costs of health care?

 

  1. If the national will demands universal coverage, the utility of competing traditional insurance companies should be called into question.

 

  1. The reformed system must promote individuals seeking care from the “best” provider of care as early as possible in the development of any adverse health care condition.   Forcing patients into an inferior food chain of care is unethical and probably more costly in the end.

 

  1. There is something wrong with a requirement to select a health plan, provider network, and insurance in advance of acquiring a dire condition, and then being locked out of access to the “best” provider.

 


Steve

I do not see consumers playing an active role in your assumptions to Repair the Healthcare System.

Obamacare is wasting money developing an entitlement system that cannot work. The only stakeholder that can develop a healthcare system that can work is a system driven by consumers.

Consumers can force the secondary stakeholders to be competitive and transparent, as they have done in other industries.

It would be cheaper for the government to invest in empowering all consumers using the revolution in information technology and providing financial incentives to all using My Ideal Medical Saving Accounts.

Everyone could be insured as I have described in my article The Ideal Medical Saving Account Is Democratic.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

 All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2015 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

 

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Obamacare Is Increasing Health Savings Account Participation

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

Patients’ responsibility for their health and their healthcare dollars is one of the most important elements in a functioning and cost effective healthcare system.

Despite the fact that my ideal medical savings account (MSAs) would be more effective than health savings accounts (HSAs) in encouraging patient responsibility for their health and healthcare dollars, health savings accounts are flourishing because of Obamacare is costly and has taken freedom of choice away from individuals.

Devenir is a HSA Mutual Fund that accepts and invests HSA trust contributions and invests those contributions. Devenir just published a study that showed that:

1. As of June 30, 2015, the number of HSAs had climbed 23% from the previous year to 14.5 million.”

  “2. Account balances jumped 25% to approximately $28.4 billion over the same time period.”

In 2010 the year Obamacare was passed, there were 5.7 million HSAs with balances totaling $7.7 billion.

The Obamacare bronze plan is the least expensive federal health insurance exchange plan. Its coverage is poor and it has a high deductible that most people cannot afford.

The premium and deductible are only good for patients with pre-existing illnesses that have no other place to purchase insurance. That is the reason the demographic for enrollees from healthcare.gov is so poor.

The government is loosening the noose on HSAs even though it is still restrictive.

“For the 2016 tax year, you can make a deductible HSA contribution of as much as $3,350 if you have qualifying high-deductible self-only coverage or as much as $6,750 if you have qualifying high-deductible family coverage. If you are age 55 or older as of the end of 2016, the maximum deductible contribution goes up by $1,000.

For 2015, the contribution caps are the same, except the maximum deductible contribution for family coverage is $6,650. These amounts are increased by $1,000 if you were 55 or older as of December 31, 2015. You have until April 18, 2016, to make an HSA contribution for the 2015 tax year.”

You must have a qualifying high-deductible health insurance policy — and no other general health coverage — to be eligible for this HSA contribution privilege. For 2015 and 2016, a high-deductible policy is defined as one with a deductible of at least $1,300 for self-only coverage or $2,600 for family coverage.

For 2016, qualifying high-deductible policies can have out-of-pocket maximums of as much as $6,550 for self-only coverage and $13,100 for family coverage. For 2015, these amounts are $6,450 and $12,900, respectively.

If you are eligible to make an HSA contribution for a tax year, the deadline is April 15 of the following year (adjusted for weekends and holidays) to open an account and make a contribution for the earlier year.”

The government has increased the maximum deductible in 2015 and continues to increase in 2016.

For the 2016 tax year, you can make a deductible HSA contribution of as much as $3,350 if you have qualifying high-deductible self-only coverage or as much as $6,750 if you have qualifying high-deductible family coverage.

“ If you are age 55 or older as of the end of 2016, the maximum deductible contribution goes up by $1,000.”

More large companies are Increasingly offering workers high deductible health saving account. However, the employee is responsible for the high deductible and most of the plans are 70/30 coverage after the deductible is reached up to a maximum of $10,000.

Most large and small employers can afford to pay all or some of the high deductible and buy reinsurance for first dollar coverage beyond the deductible.

Both large employers and small employers are offering their employees health savings accounts. The full insurance premiums have become so high that employers are shifting the burden to employees by having the employee pay the deductible and the employer paying the reinsurance.

UnitedHealth has about 40 individual high deductible plans with 70/30 copays over the limit of the deductible. The maximum out of pocket cost is $10,000. The premium for a young married couple without kids is from $125 to $350 per month depending oo the deductible chosen. The premium increases with the number of children.

A great advantage to these plans now is that UnitedHealth has already negotiated the physicians’ and hospitals’ fees for you. The uninsured would pay retail price for the same services.

The cost to small to large companies is relatively difficult to find in an online search.

Most companies are self-insured and would not fall under the rigid coverage rules of Obamacare. The company can decide on the amount of the deductible they would pay for the employee.

The point of all this is health saving accounts are not as good as my ideal medical saving account. HSA’s do not provide enough incentive for employees or individuals to manage their health or healthcare dollars wisely as an MSA would.

A large defect in Obamacare is patients do not have incentive to be wise shoppers of their healthcare. They have restricted choice. They have little incentive to stay healthy because they have an entitlement program available that will take care of their expenses. There is no financial incentive for them to try and reduce the cost of healthcare.

If the consumers managed their health and healthcare dollars well the cost of healthcare would drop because the complications of chronic diseases would decrease to at least 50%.

If Republicans are looking for an alternative plan to the liberals’ and progressives’ inevitable march to a singe party payer system most of the infrastructure is already in place.

Only small modifications to the HSAs have to be made by the congress and the President and America would be on its way to a free market healthcare system.

This alternative healthcare system would align all of the stakeholders incentives including the government’s incentives, if the Obama administration did not want to increase its power by having more control over its people and its people’s freedom of choice.

My ideal Medical Saving Accounts would be democratic and cover everyone.

 The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

 All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2015 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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Accelerating The Destruction Of The Healthcare System

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

Most of you are familiar with my slide of the demise of the healthcare system.

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Obamacare is accelerating the total collapse of the healthcare system. Once total collapse has occurred Americans might beg for a complete government taken over of the healthcare system with a single party payer system.

I have pointed out most of Obamacare’s new rules causing the unintended consequences and accelerating the healthcare system’s demise.

An unintended consequence in the Accountable Care Organization leads to a new rule to correct the consequence. Unelected officials then create another rule. The new rule results in other unintended consequences. All of these consequences accelerate the healthcare system’s demise.

Obamacare’s first year in operation was 2014. The Obama administration started taxing everyone in 2010 to support the added expenses Obamacare would generate.

Only the individual insurance portion of Obamacare was initiated.

The following are examples of unintended consequences.

Fourteen million people lost their individual healthcare insurance coverage in 2012 because of Obamacare’s new rules. Insurance coverage premiums increased because of the ACA’s required coverage.

Many workers lost their full time jobs. They were put on part-time employment in order for employers to avoid Obamacare penalties.

CMS reported that 13 million signed up for Obamacare in 2014 despite the healthcare.gov website disaster. The number of enrollees was revised a few of times down to 6.6 million because of counting errors.

The direct and indirect costs of Obamacare were never reported to the public.

Obamacare activated a reinsurance program that was built into the Affordable Care Act. The reinsurance program was a bailout to entice the healthcare insurance industry to participate in the Federal Health Insurance Exchanges without experiencing any loses.

The insurance industry has claims the Obama administration owed it 2.5 billion dollars in 2014. The Obama administration was able to pay only 12%. The law restricted the government’s reinsurance payment to a certain percentage of the premiums paid. The amount owed as promised to the healthcare insurance industry for their participation in Obamacare was $2.2 billion short.

I believe the healthcare insurance industry will be loath to participate in the Federal Health Insurance Exchanges in 2017. UnitedHealth has already threatened to quit participating.

This year (2016) during open enrollment only 8.1 million enrolled in the Federal Health Insurance Exchanges.

It has been difficult to trust CMS’s overall claims for the number of enrollees. It has nothing to do with how many people have paid first premium or the anticipated number who will continue to pay premiums throughout the year.

President Obama stated in his state of the union speech that 18 million previously uninsured have received insurance under Obamacare. This is not true.

For argument’s sake let say his number is correct.

More than half the enrollees received Medicaid. President Obama is urging states to expand Medicaid.

What is going to happen when Medicaid is expanded? More people will get free government supplied healthcare insurance but will not be able to find physicians. Medicaid reimbursement is so poor that few physicians participate.

The healthcare system’s demise is rapidly accelerating. Obamacare’s claiming to increase people being covered but these people cannot obtain healthcare services.

Obamacare does not incentivize these people to be responsible consumers. Obesity continues to increase and the dollars spent for healthcare continues to increase.

The truth is enrollment has been terrible for 2016. President Obama is expanding the enrollment period again this year to try to increase enrollment.

“Eager to maximize coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration has allowed large numbers of people to sign up for insurance after the deadlines in the last two years, destabilizing insurance markets and driving up premiums, health insurance companies say.”

“The administration has created more than 30 “special enrollment” categories and sent emails to millions of Americans last year urging them to see if they might be able to sign up after the annual open enrollment deadline.

The Obama administration has done nothing to verify whether these late arrivals are eligible for insurance. They just sign up and are insured.

People have figured out they can wait until they become ill or need medical services to sign up. They then sign up and pay their premiums a few months’ premiums. They stop paying their premiums after they have received their medical services. They figure they do not need insurance any more.

“Individuals enrolled through special enrollment periods are utilizing up to 55 percent more services than their open enrollment counterparts” who sign up in the regular period, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, whose local member companies operate in every state, told the administration.

The Obama administration has told the healthcare insurance industry that it has heard their concerns. The problem is that CMS has not done anything about the insurance industry’s concerns.

“Many individuals have no incentive to enroll in coverage during open enrollment, but can wait until they are sick or need services before enrolling and drop coverage immediately after receiving services, making the annual open enrollment period meaningless,” Steven B. Kelmar, an executive vice president of Aetna.

Twenty five percent of Aetna enrollees have signed up during the special extended enrollment periods. It has been reported that last year 950,000 people enrolled during the special enrollment period between February and July 2015.

“Kevin J. Moynihan, the chief executive of the federal insurance marketplace, said it shows the marketplace is working to meet people’s needs. He said certain life changes like losing your coverage, having a child, turning 26, moving or getting married may qualify you for a special enrollment period.”

People who are qualified for insurance do not get verified for insurance. It is easy to understand that this leads to unstable insurance markets and subsequent increases in premium prices.

It is o.k. for progressives if healthcare insurance is considered a right under a single party payer system with the losses taken by the government even if the deficit increases.

It is not o.k. if the Obamacare healthcare system pretends to be developing an efficient free enterprise system with the healthcare insurance industry experiencing the loss under the weight of unidentified risks created by the federal government.

The number of people not continuing to pay their insurance premiums their entire year is enormous. The healthcare insurance industry had no way of anticipating this occurrence.

“On average,” Aetna said, “special enrollment period enrollees stay with us for less than four months, while enrollees who come to us during the annual open enrollment period maintain their coverage on average for eight to nine months.

The same turnover rate has happened to UnitedHealth. It is one of the many reasons UnitedHealth has threatened to quit participating in Obamacare in 2017.

The result will be even higher insurance premiums next year. Most of the Obamacare insurance rates are unaffordable this year.

Enroll America, a nonprofit group with close ties to the Obama administration, said the government “should not tighten eligibility or verification standards in ways that could place an undue burden on consumers.”

There is no verification for late enrollment. The last statement by “Enroll America” reflects President Obama’s progressive and irresponsible attitude toward fiscal responsibility.

It is no wonder the national debt has grown to $19.2 trillion dollars.

It is another way to accelerate the collapse of the healthcare system.

I believe President Obama knows exactly what he is doing. His problem is he does not understand or care about the significance of the effect the deficit increase will have on America’s financial stability.

Middle class Americans are getting slaughtered.

Additionally he does not understand that Americans will not accept a government controlled single party payer system.

The Republican Party must get on the stick right now. They must offer a viable alternative to President Obama’s goal of a single party payer system. They should not wait until after the election.

The alternative should work in an efficient way. It should put consumers in charge of their health and healthcare dollars.

It would be a good idea for Republicans to understand and offer as an alternative My Ideal Medical Saving Accounts.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

 All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2015 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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Destroying The Healthcare System

Stanley Feld M.D, FACP,MACE

I believe President Obama’s goal is to destroy the healthcare system. The people will then beg the Obama administration to institute a single party payer system with the government being in full control.

The fact is Obamacare is not working despite the Obama administration’s convincing the mainstream media to advertise that it is very successful.

I was shocked at a December 9th New York Times article stating:

A million new customers have signed up for health insurance during the Affordable Care Act’s third open-enrollment season, Obama administration officials said on Wednesday, and call centers have been deluged.”

This statement is an optimistic statement and a distraction from the true. A readers impression would be Obamacare is doing great.

The Obama administration simply ignored last year’s enrollment numbers. Ten million people were supposed to have signed up for healthcare coverage through the Federal Health Insurance Exchanges. Only seven million of those who signed up paid their premiums for the entire year.

The premiums and deductibles were too high even for the poor who received federal subsidies.

Most of the people remaining in the Obamacare in the federal exchanges were people with a pre-existing illness. One diabetic told me her individual premium for Obamacare was $12,500 dollars with a $6,000 dollar deductible. Her bill for last year, being hospitalized one time, was almost $100,000. She felt Obamacare was a very good deal for her.

The insurance company covering these kinds of patients with a pre-existing illness cannot make money for the insurance coverage they are required to provide.

If all the patients have pre-existing illnesses, the only thing the insurance companies can do is raise the premiums or stop selling insurance in this Federal Health Exchange market.

The Obama administration promised it would limit the insurance industry’s loss with its reinsurance program. The Obama administration reneged on its word and only paid 12% of what was due for 2014. The administration did not have the money to pay for it.

In 2014, the first year of coverage, we were told 13 million signed up, but only 7 million had coverage at the end of the year.

The administration provided data to the CBO to predict the number of enrollees Obamacare will have in 2016. The CBO predicted 21 million would be signed up for 2016. The CBO used data provided by the Obama administration to make this calculation.

What happened to the remaining 7 million enrollees for 2015? We are not told how many enrollees automatically re-enrolled.

We only hear that, ‘ A million new customers have signed up for health insurance.”

We can now understand the concerns expressed by UnitedHealth Group and other insurers that say they are losing money in the Obamacare Federal Health Insurance Exchanges.

Open enrollment is due to end January 1, 2015. In mid December CMS announced,

‘We are now seeing a surge of interest as we get closer to the deadline,”   “Each day has been bigger than the day before.”

The last two weeks in December had less that 100,000 people sign up. Yet the government published these numbers. Many wonder how real these numbers are. If they are real there has been no increase in enrollment in the last year.

Confirmed 2016 Exchange QHPs: 9,584,850 as of 12/30/15
Projected Exchange QHPs: 11.32M by 01/02/15 (8.60M via HC.Gov)
In the last week in December only 80,000 people signed up compared to 96,000 the same week last year.

The coverage is poor and too expensive for most people.

Open enrollment has now been extended to January 31 for enrollment March 1st.

People who go without insurance next year may be subject to tax penalties of $695 a person or more, although some may be able to qualify for hardship exemptions.”

This is a joke. However, the joke is on the consumers and taxpayers.

So far, Obamacare has created a 10% increase in federal taxes middle-class taxpayers.

It has increased coverage for the Medicaid eligible poor. However, these people cannot find a doctor who will treat them.

The healthcare system is costing over three trillion dollars a year and increasing our deficit more than $1.5 trillion dollar a year. There are still 34 million people uninsured. How many people are under insured because their jobs have been changed to part time jobs? They cannot afford to buy Obamacare’s insurance?

2017 is the year the healthcare insurance markets are supposed to stabilize. These markets have not stabilized. Healthcare insurance companies, and business groups can not understand how the new CMS’ proposals will regulate and expand provider networks and standardize plan options let alone have insurance markets result in lower premiums.
We remain deeply concerned that this proposed rule will not stabilize the individual market,” Steven Kelmar, Aetna’s executive vice president for corporate affairs, wrote in a letter to the CMS. “Unless some fundamental flaws are corrected, we believe there is a grave risk that the federal exchange will not operate as a viable, competitive market in 2017.” 

One of the more significant and controversial provisions in the proposed rules involves the adequacy of provider networks. The CMS proposal demands that ACA-compliant health plans sold on the federal exchanges in 2017 would have to abide by new network standards.

All plan networks would have to include hospitals and doctors within certain travel times or distances from members. There would also be minimum provider-to-member ratios for some medical specialties.

CMS proposed that all health plans in each metal tier on the federal exchange have the same benefits. For example, all 2017 bronze options would have a $6,650 deductible, and all plans would have no more than one provider tier.

This proposal practically guarantees that the healthcare insurance industry selling insurance under Obamacare’s exchanges would lose money. Therefore, the industry would choose not to participate.

The big losers would be patients with preexisting illnesses. They would lose their insurance.

The traditional mainstream media is already cranking up the Obama administration spin machine to promote a single party payer system as the best and simplest option to provide insurance for all Americans.

Nobody is thinking about who will pay for a single party payer system after the administration emotionally conditions the public to beg for a single party payer system.

The hardest by increased costs in the system are consumers at every income level.

As the cost rises to unaffordable levels all consumers are starting to take think about taking responsibility for their health and healthcare dollars.

“The new research also finds that as a result of the increase in health care costs, focus group participants are changing how they operate within the health care system.

They are questioning their doctors recommendations more frequently, comparing cost and quality information for local providers, and even putting off seeking care altogether.”

Despite the low of enrollment in 2016 (that the Obama administration denies), CMS is about to publish new 2017 rules for the insurance industry. These rules are guaranteed to make the healthcare system more dysfunctional.

The fact is the structure of Obamacare is failing and about to collapse.

All of the Obama administration’s tinkering to stop the free fall is creating greater momentum for total collapse of the healthcare system.

The answer to fixing the healthcare system is not a single party payer system.

The answer is a consumer driven healthcare system with the aid of smart phones and the Internet and Medical Savings Accounts.

Progressives have a tendency to forget the math. They have more interest in satisfying an emotional response. The resulting entitlement policies lead to the unintended consequences and only make things worse.

Neil Cavuto demonstrated this logic recently in an interview with a student campaigning for free student loans.

https://youtu.be/Zmji36q8E4o

Progressives’ logic is faulty. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of the affects of entitlements and their unintended consequences.
 The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

 All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2016 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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Single Party Payer Will Fail

Stanley Feld MD, FACP, MACE

Socialism does not work!

Intellectually, socialism is attractive and easy to understand.

 

Simple Definition of Socialism

 

Full Definition of socialism

  • 1
:  any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

  • 2
a :  a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
b :  a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

  • 3
:  a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.”


It would be nice to have the government tend to all our needs equally.

Everything would be free to the public.

  • Not one would need to “get ahead.”
  • No one would have special privilege.
  • Everyone would live the same housing.
  • No one would have to have responsibility for anything.
  • No one would have incentive to be creative or inventive.
  • No one would need to take the initiative to be innovative and create new good and services.

The government would then run out of money because people would have little to be innovative about or have any incentive to work hard to provide for their family.

People would have little incentive to produce income that would generate taxes for government to spend on goods and services to support the benefits offered the people in a socialistic system.

The government would have to borrow more money from others because the people would not produce enough income to tax.

What lender would be inclined to lend money to a country that could not pay it back?

The socialistic system would then become unsustainable and collapse.

This explanation might be considered by some to be a fifth grade explanation of socialism. It is simple to understand but direct and to the point.

America is headed in that direction. The present healthcare system as is unsustainable.

Government cannot spend other peoples’ money when the money is not there.

In America the federal government and state governments keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

Obamacare’s regulations caused 335,000 healthcare insurance policies to be cancelled in Colorado. In 2010 Obamacare made these Coloradan healthcare insurance policies illegal.

Obamacare has failed for the citizens of Colorado.

The state’s politicians tried to fix Obamacare by borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government to set up Colorado HealthOP the state’s co-op health insurance plan.

The goal was to stimulate competition among insurance companies by providing lower priced insurance. The co-op is in debt to the federal government for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Colorado HealthOP became the largest insurer on a state health insurance exchange in Colorado.

Colorado HealthOp lost so much money that it could not borrow any more. The Colorado HealthOp had to shut down in October 2015 leaving the federal government to absorb its loan to the state of Colorado.

The closure of Colorado HealthOP left 80,000 Coloradans without health insurance coverage for 2016.

The other state insurance plans are increasing premiums an average of 11.7% to stay above water according to state calculations.

It has made premiums and deductibles too expensive for many of these uninsured 80,000 people.

Coloradans are tired of all the insurance changes, increasing prices and uncertainty. They want something new.

The knee jerk reaction is to change to something easy to understand. A socialistic single party payer system (SPPS) is the easiest to understand. Let the state provide healthcare insurance to everyone. Healthcare would be universal and free to the public.

The problem is nothing is free. The advocates in Colorado (progressives and liberals) are mobilizing to replace Obamacare with either the Canadian or United Kingdom healthcare system.

However, both of these nations healthcare systems are unsustainable. They are failing because of the cost, inefficiency, long wait times for diagnosis and treatment and lack of services despite the governments claims and some of the consumers’ perceptions.

The progressive advocates accumulated 100,000 Coloradans’ signatures. These progressive democrats have gotten a single party payer (SPPS) proposal on the 2016 ballot.

“ColoradoCare,” as it is being called, would replace private insurance with health care funded completely by the government, substituting higher taxes for premiums.

The conservatives in Colorado do not have a proposal to replace Obamacare to put on the ballot in 2016. They have been asleep at the switch.

Conservatives and libertarians have been sleeping at the switch in every state except Vermont.

Conservatives and libertarians did nothing in Vermont. Peter Shumlin was elected governor to institute a SPPS.

The Vermont experiment with a single party payer system has been a disaster already.

“In 2010 Vermont voters elected Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, who promised to institute single payer in lieu of ObamaCare.”

Jonathan Gruber, who designed Obamacare, and thinks Americans are stupid, along with William Hsiao, who thinks price controls work designed the system for Vermont.

“Helping design the system was advisers such as Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist often described as the architect of Obamacare, and William Hsiao, the Harvard economist who developed the Medicare price controls that are driving up prices around the country.”

Vermont played right into President Obama’s goal of creating a single party payer system (SPPS). Colorado is trying to follow the same path to disaster.

The Obama administration provided Vermont with many millions of dollars in federal grants in order to accomplish President Obama’s dream of a single party payer healthcare system.

In order to pay for Vermont’s SPPS the state proposed an 11.5% payroll tax on businesses, which would have taken the total payroll-tax burden to nearly 20%.

Vermont contemplated a new state income tax of 9.5% to pay for the SPPS on top of the existing 3.55-8.95% individual state tax.

The state budget would need to be doubled with the SPPS, therefore taxes would need to be doubled.

Even with these increases in taxes the plan would be deep in the red in three to five years.

Gov. Shumlin (Vermont) was elected to create a SPPS. In 2014 he abandoned single payer system he was about to create because of its effect on the state economy.

Gov. Peter Shumlin woke up to the impending disaster, “The potential economic disruption and risks,” he remarked, “would be too great to small businesses, working families and the state’s economy.”

Ben and Jerry might even flee the state and move to Texas because of the high taxes and economic disruption.

The people of Colorado should look carefully at Vermont’s mistake. The Denver Post has already predicted tax increases that would drive business and job growth out of the state.

Colorado also has a large VA Hospital System. In April 2015 the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that four of Colorado’s VA facilities were among the 10-worst in terms of wait times of all VA hospitals.

The Veterans Affairs hospital system is a pure a single-payer system.

A September report by the agency’s inspector general supports the conclusion that thousands of veterans may have died while waiting for the care they needed, although shoddy record-keeping made it impossible to know for sure.”

All Coloradans have to look at is their state’s VA SPPS that cannot take care of the 400,000 veterans in the state. Why should Coloradans expect a SPPS would work for five (5) million residents it their state?

What have conservatives and liberations offered as a substitute for the failed Obamacare experiment?

Nothing!

Leaders should start looking at My Ideal Medical Savings Account system that would put consumers in charge of their health and healthcare dollars.

Please send my summary blogs about an alternative to Obamacare and my Ideal Medical savings accounts to your elected representatives.

Spread the word about My Ideal Medical Savings Account as an alternative to Obamacare.

I wish everyone a HAPPY AND HEALTHY HOLIDAY SEASON

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2015 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Breaking The Law Again

Stanley Feld M.D, FACP,MACE

The mainstream media is biased. It usually supports the Obama administration blindly. Many intelligent liberals believe everything in the New York Times and what Paul Krugman says as if both were source material.

The New York Times and the TV networks ignored the initial press release by United Healthcare potentially withdrawing from the 38 federal health insurance exchanges in 2017. Fox news was the only cable network that covered the story.

The potential withdrawal is a very big deal. It is an indication that Obamacare is failing. Paul Krugman continually declares Obamacare is a success.

In order to induce United Healthcare’s participation in Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges the Obama administration guaranteed the healthcare insurance industry stop loss protection.

Then the Obama administration only paid 12.6% of the $2.8 billion dollars due the healthcare insurance industry under the stop loss agreement.

Health insurance stocks took a nasty tumble last week, and maybe the markets are realizing that ObamaCare isn’t performing as well as the political class pretends.”

“The immediate cause of the selloff was UnitedHealth Group ’s shock $425 million downgrade to its earnings forecast for 2015, almost entirely driven by losses on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. “

United Healthcare did not sign up to sell insurance in the federal health insurance exchanges originally because it was afraid it would suffer large losses. It signed up only after President Obama activated the stop loss provision embedded in the reinsurance program of Obamacare legislation.

The United Healthcare announcement comes only a few weeks after 12 of 23 smaller, nonprofit insurance cooperatives failed and stopped selling insurance to Obamacare subscribers. These co-ops received billions of dollars in federal loans that will never be paid back to the nations taxpayers.

These cooperatives were given federal loans by the Obama administration in order to be competitive with the big insurance companies.

The federal health insurance exchanges attracted people with pre-existing illness. President Obama’s legacy law guarantees people with pre-existing illness availability to healthcare insurance at the same price as people without pre-existing illness.

People with pre-existing illnesses cost more than people without existing illness.

The resultant premiums are high and the deductibles are higher. Consumers who qualify for subsidies do not receive subsidies for the $6000 deductibles.

Young healthy consumers are not buying insurance from the federal health exchanges. They have figured out that they are not getting insurance coverage until they spend the $6,000 deductible.

These young consumers did not earn enough money to afford the high premiums and higher deductibles. The poor cannot afford the deductibles either. No one at low risk is signing up for Obamacare.

In order to keep Obamacare going the Obama administration needs the healthcare insurance industry. The healthcare insurance industry performs all the administrative services for the government.

United Healthcare is not interested in selling insurance on the health insurance exchanges because the government has not been trustworthy and has not paid them what was promised.

The stop loss insurance should not have been promised to the healthcare insurance industry in the first place. However, President Obama jumped in and essentially gave the healthcare insurance industry the ability to sell insurance at no risk.

United healthcare did not sign up for 2013 but jumped into the Health Insurance Exchanges in 2015 because of the government’s stop loss guarantee.

Obamacare now owes the healthcare insurance industry 2.5 billion dollars. The budget contained an amendment that does not permit the government to reimburse more than it collected in premiums. Both houses of congress and President Obama signed the amendment into law.

At present President Obama has pledged to pay out the risk corridors payments despite the massive shortfall in the near term.

All President Obama has to do is ignore the law he signed in order pay the $2.5 billion dollars illegally. If he pays United Healthcare the money due it might continue to participate in Obamacare’s federal healthcare insurance exchanges.

HHS “will explore other sources of funding for risk corridors payments, subject to the availability of appropriations. This includes working with Congress on the necessary funding for outstanding risk corridors payments.”

“The risk corridors program, one of three health insurance risk programs established by the Obamacare, essentially helps mitigate insurers’ losses in the early years of the new insurance marketplaces. The risk corridors program expires after 2016.”


United Healthcare is in business to maximize profits and not to lose money on good deeds.

Obamacare’s business model is a terrible model destined to lose trillions of taxpayers’ dollars. United is not interested in losing billions of dollars doing the government a favor.

Paul Krugman continues to tell his readers Obamacare is working wonderfully despite fact that it is failing. Major media networks have hardly described the problem.

It will be worse if we go to a single party payer system. Socialism has never worked.

It should be all about consumer driven healthcare and market forces driving healthcare with consumers being responsible for their health and healthcare dollars.

Government only function should be to create simple regulations that none of the stakeholders should abuse. The government must execute the enforcement of these simple regulations.

My ideal medical savings account will work. It will permit universal healthcare coverage and eliminate the development of the massive, inefficient and dysfunctional healthcare system called Obamacare.

Obamacare is unsustainable. It is being proven every day even if it is ignored by the traditional media, President Obama and his administration and Paul Krugman.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2015 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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I Told You What To Do 8 Years Ago: Part 4

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

This is the last of the series of blogs I wrote in 2007 explaining what should be done in repairing the healthcare system.

The issues causing the dysfunction in the healthcare system have been explained, expended and simplified by detail throughout the succeeding eight years.

The result was the business plan for an alternative future state of medicine in 2020.

If one follows the logic of this plan carefully understand that Obamacare has escalated the pre Obamacare problems in the healthcare system one will visual this potential alternative future state business plan not only achievable but successful..

When reading Part 4 it must be remembered that 2007 was pre Obamacare.

Nothing has changed since 2007 except consumers are more aware that they are continuing to be shafted by the government, the healthcare insurance industry and hospital systems.

Many consumers believe physicians are shafting them. The reason for this belief is physicians are the stakeholder that consumers make initial contact with in the healthcare system.

Physicians have not made the rules or issued the regulations.

Physicians have been trying to adjust to many of the insane and impractical rules and regulations that have been written.

Consumers are starting to recognize that government says it is there to help and all it accomplices is making the healthcare system worse.

Obamacare, along with its special interest group, the traditional mainstream media, is trying to keep consumers stupid before it is too late for consumers to use their immense power.

Leadership, creativity and vision are missing from the Republicans, Independents, Libertarians and Democrats. The problems in the healthcare system are not a partisan problems.

Americans have been conditioned to go along to get along while many elected officials and officials running for election lie to us and cheat.

Many consumers blindly forgive politicians they elect not realizing that their condition will get worse and their freedom will be compromised.

Please keep in mind that the following comments where written in 2007.

 

What I Said So Far? Spring 2007 Part 4

Stanley Feld M.D., FACP, MACE

Many people have made the following comments about the healthcare system;

  • “It is hopeless!”
  • “There will be no solution in our lifetime.”
  • “Good luck.”
  • “You are wasting your time.”
  • “We are too far down the road to be able to save this puppy.”
  • “The politics and economics are out of the control of physicians and patients.”

Only 20% of the people are sick at any one time. Therefore only 20% of the people think about the healthcare system and their healthcare insurance policy at any one time.

The uninsured think about the potential cost of getting sick and fear not having health insurance.

When insured people get sick and navigate through the healthcare system is a nightmare for only about 40% of them.

At any one point in time only 8 out of 100 people who have health insurance are having difficulty with the healthcare system. When all the people with healthcare insurance are forced to think about the healthcare system only 40% has experienced a horror of the situation.

The other 60% that did not have a problem think the problems with the healthcare system are over exaggerated.

In August 2006 I received this comment from Cleve:

“Great post and keep it up. After 44 years of perfect health, my 45th was spent with doctors, labs and hospitals …the system is beyond Kafka. I’m no expert but I have a feeling that doctors will have to be the spearhead of change (with patients the driving force maybe?). So keep at it…please!!
Cleve”

Last week I spoke to a friend who had neck surgery two years ago. He was hospitalized for 2 days. He had the opposite comment. He has health insurance with UnitedHealthcare. He thought my comments about UnitedHealthcare were exaggerated.

His hospital bill was $17,500. The surgeon charged him $17,000. I remembered his complaining about how atrocious these two bills were.

I assured him the adjudication of the bill would look nothing like the retail charges.

UnitedHealthcare paid both the hospital and the surgeon $3,500 each. He was responsible for nothing. He was relieved and pleased with the system. He said the hospital and surgeon seemed satisfied.

What about Denise?

Remember her. She did not have health insurance. She was self- employed with a preexisting condition. She did not qualify for health insurance.

If she needed emergency neck surgery she would have been responsible for the entire $34,500. Both the hospital and doctor would have been unrelenting in the pursuit of payment.

If the hospital and doctor would settle for $3,500 with the insurance company they should settle for the same with Denise. However, she would probably go to the collection agency and if she did not pay, her credit would be destroyed.

Denise could not get information for the price of a simple x-ray from the hospital. This precipitated her frustration and letter to then Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, the comedian cowboy, running for governor.

My goal is to help people who are not sick understand the problem with the healthcare system. I believe the only thing that will repair the healthcare system is people and their purchasing power.

Matthew Huebert wrote:

“There is something meaningful about blogs and RSS that I’ve only begun to understand recently, and this post describes and exemplifies it well: you are a thinking person, putting yourself ‘out there’, introducing outsiders into your own world and adding depth to a discussion that matters to you and matters to society.

For me, it is writing like this that is an antidote to the superficial sound bytes that obscure possibilities for change by avoiding the “Why?” questions.

I think what’s finally hitting me is the fact that these conversations simply wouldn’t be happening if RSS did not exist! What you’re doing is inspiring. Thanks for the great post.
Matthew Huebert”

A huge barrier to real repair is the lack of awareness of 60% of the insured population.

The 46.7 million uninsured are a mere abstraction to these people. The horror of the 40% insured is also an abstraction. If the trend continues the system will cave in all at once and everyone will be affected.

People have to be stimulated to action now and demand the solutions.

I outlined in the last three blogs.


We are approaching a Presidential election year. We will hear all sorts of noise from “leaders” who in my opinion have little serious knowledge of the problem or the solution as seen in recent initiatives in California
and Massachusetts.

Our leaders are not stupid. The problem is the input of information is coming from the facilitator vested interest groups and not the people in the street.

Perhaps I can capture the imagination of all of the stakeholders. If we could all focus on the higher goal of excellent medical care at an affordable price rather than improving the financial results of facilitator vested interests, all of the stakeholders could all flourish with the minimum of pain and maximum creativity.

Nothing has changed because we the people have not made the correct demands.

All that has happened is that Obamacare has made the healthcare system worse. Obamacare Is going down in tubes.

It is time for Consumer Power to act.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone

 All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2015 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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