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Stakeholder Mistrust

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Obamacare Is Failing

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

The problems the Obama administration is having with Obamacare have not been in the news lately. They appear in government publications as minor policy changes or in press releases. They also appear in minor trade magazines. Little that is new has appeared in the mainstream media.

Readers of the New York Times are under the impression that Obamacare is working and is successful. The readers’ impression is that President Obama has done a great thing for the nation by getting Obamacare passed into law.

If a lie is told enough times it becomes the truth. The media is the message. All one has to do is lie to the media and the message gets through whether it is true or not.

The public’s perception of reality is not more complicated than the information fed to it whether it is true or false.

A key element in getting the message through is trust. It is my opinion, President Obama and his administration have lied to the public so much that there is a lack of trust in him and his judgment. The Republican and Democratic parties have lied to the public so much that there is a lack of trust in both parties.

It has been shown over and over again that Hillary Clinton as lied to the public. Yet, she is gathering millions of votes in her primary contests while others who have told the same lies have ended up in prison.

Black people are figuring out that the Democratic party has lied to them. The war on poverty started in 1965 and little progress has been made to eradicate poverty since then.

Why is there so much poverty and unemployment in the black community?

Why can’t black kids have a choice of public schools or charter schools in New York City? Why can’t education be a top priority?

As Leonard Cohen says, “the deck is rigged.”

I think the reason Donald Trump is running the table on votes in the Republican primaries is people do not trust politicians.

He promises to unrig the deck and make America great again. The politicians, pundits and traditional media are confused about why the public is listening to him.

The public does not trust or believe them. The public trusts Donald Trump and his promises without having objective reason.

Two significant events have occurred in the Obamacare world in recent weeks which are contributing to Obamacares further failure.

  1. President Obama caving in on the “Cadillac tax”

As part of the budget deal President Obama agreed to sign another delay in the Cadillac tax until 2020.

An Obamacare law provision levies a hefty 40 percent tax on the most expensive employer-provided insurance plans: those costing above $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families.

The Obama administration predicts it will generate $87 million per year in new taxes.

“If a plan cost $11,200, it would face a $400 tax — 40 percent of the amount above the threshold.”

The Cadillac insurance premium was a 100% tax-deductible expense to an employer providing a high cost healthcare insurance policy to employees.

High paid executives and some unions or union executives enjoy this high cost insurance. President Obama’s goal has been to provide a disincentive to employers from providing this type insurance.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates 26 percent of current plans could get hit with the tax in 2018; Towers Watson pegs it at 42 percent. This is the result of healthcare insurance rate increases.

I think it is a trick by President Obama to discourage corporation from providing healthcare insurance for their employees. The Obama administration would like to force corporate employees to buy healthcare insurance from the federal health exchanges. When the federal health exchanges fail the government could take over everyone’s healthcare insurance and dictate the terms of that insurance.

The “Cadillac tax” was suppose to go into effect in 2017 but has been previously delayed until 2018.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed to delay Cadillac tax implementation even longer now until 2020. Some sort of political pressure has forced President Obama to sign the amendment to Obamacare. This new law will decrease the funding for Obamacare.

The traditional media has not emphasized this event leading to Obamacare’s demise.

  1. President Obama backs away from new Obamacare rules for 2017.

The execution of Obamacare by the Obama administration has not stabilized the healthcare insurance industry market as promised. In fact the federal exchange markets have become more chaotic. This is partly because of the inefficient bureaucratic structure and the lack of attraction to non-sick people, who would fund the federal health insurance plans. The healthcare insurance plans dictated by the federal government do not fit the needs of the people who would buy them. Instead, even though the health insurance plans are too expensive they attract people with pre-existing illnesses. These people have no choice.

The Obama administration’s typical response to fix unintended consequences is to create more rules and regulations. The new rules and regulations will lead to more unintended consequences.

The Obama administration just backed off of two big new. The Obama administration proposed tight physician and hospital network adequacy provisions and new standardized health plan options provisions.

The previous Obamacare rules and regulations resulted in the healthcare insurance industry’s adjusting to their loss of income by creating narrower networks of physicians and hospitals. Many of the healthcare exchange plans use HMOs only and narrow networks of hospitals and doctors as a way to keep premiums lower.

The result was a decrease patients’ access to care. CMS basically backed off of the strict network options it wanted to dictate. The Obama administration once again proved that it depends on the healthcare insurance industry to function. The healthcare industry is dictating the rules.

The goal of the Obama administration to standardize options was to make it easier for consumers to compare the various levels of healthcare plans offered in the health exchanges. The Obama administration also felt it was necessary to define the levels of basic benefits to make shopping for the most affordable plan easier.

The winner is the healthcare insurance industry. The loser is the Obama administration. The biggest losers are patients both in Obamacare and those who have private insurance.

As time goes on it is becoming clearer to everyone that Obamacare is not the success that President Obama and Paul Krugman are talking about.

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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President Obama Somehow Finds The Money

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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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Here It Comes!

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE

The mainstream media has been very quiet about Obamacare lately as the defects in its execution keep rolling along.

You may recall President Obama telling Senator John Kerry and Representative Barney Frank not to worry about including a Public Option in the bill. He told them they would not have to include the Public Option in the Affordable Care Act.

Barney Frank said we would never get a single party payer system unless we have a Public Option in the bill.

President Obama was right. He didn’t need a Public Option because the single party payer system was already embedded in the bill without anyone knowing it.

Medi-Cal is California’s name for its Medicaid program. California is one of the states that have expanded the Medicaid program under Obamacare.

Twenty states have not expanded their Medicaid program for fear of the federal government impinging on states rights while sticking their state with the bill.

The states also feared increases in their budget deficit. States are required to balance their budget. The result would be an increase in state taxes.

The increase in state taxes would render the state unattractive to companies and their business. Less company growth would mean an increase in unemployment and a decrease in state tax revenue. A decrease in tax revenue would result in a decrease in state services.

President Obama said, “Don’t worry.” He promised to fund Medicaid expansion fully for the first 3 years. Federal funding would decrease after the first three years to 50%. The funding percent has changed a few times since that promise. One could not know the present decrease unless one read the Federal Register daily.

Expanding Medicaid was a key part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). It was also a hidden trap set by President Obama to slip the healthcare system into a single party payer system by default. That is why President Obama insisted we did not need a Public Option.

Obamacare required nearly all Americans, under penalty of law, to have insurance starting in 2014.

Though a surprise, the high Medi-Cal enrollment is generally hailed as a success. California’s uninsured population has been cut in half since Obamacare, in large part because so many Californians signed up for Medi-Cal, which is free for beneficiaries.

Medi-Cal was opened to all low-income Californians starting two years ago, with the federal government paying for those new enrollments.”

In 2016 one third (1 in 3) or 12.7 million Californians are covered by Medi-Cal.

The total cost of the Medi-Cal explosion is $91 billion dollars, up from $54 billion dollars in 2012. California is responsible for $12 billion dollars. It will increase California’s budget deficit and may result in another tax increase.

The cost per insured is $7,165.35.

“The Medi-Cal program continues to grow at a very substantial rate, which is great. We are very happy that we’re able to provide healthcare to getting close to 13 million Californians,” said Mari Cantwell, chief deputy director at the state Department of Health Care Services, at a hearing in downtown L.A. this month. But, Cantwell added: “Obviously with that comes cost.”

The Medi-Cal is viewed by many state officials as being underfunded.

Medi-Cal patients are struggling to find doctors.

Many patients are receiving low quality of care by government standards.

A psychiatrist in Los Angeles told me that all the private practice internists in L.A. require an upfront concierge fee of at least $2,000 a year at the beginning of the year to be in their panel. If this is true, Internists in L.A. are insulating themselves against the low reimbursement of Medi-Cal. This concierge fee increases the California physician shortage.

The result has been that groups of activists have filed a federal civil rights complaint alleging that Latinos are being denied access to healthcare because the program does not pay doctors enough.

The Affordable Care Act allowed states to open up Medicaid to anyone making less than 138% of the federal poverty level.”

Twenty states did not sign up for the expanded Medicaid because of the fear of federal takeover and the further impingement of state rights.

Pre-Obamacare, states were required to pay 43% of Medicaid’s cost and the federal government paid 57% of the costs. States ran the program and determined reimbursement.

As costs increased reimbursement was decreased and physician participation decreased because of the decreased reimbursement.

As a result of the 20 states resisting Medicaid expansion the federal government will pay 100% of the cost of new expansion enrollees and 93 percent off the cost of expanding Medicaid over the next nine (9) years instead of the next two (2) years.

The present rule looks like a great deal for the states. However with the federal government paying most of the Medicaid bill for the next nine (9) years the federal government will want to control Medicare.

Who needs a Public Option to get to a single party payer?

Who is going to stop the federal government from changing the eligibility for Medicaid to 200 or 400% of the poverty level?

Who is going to force doctors to participate in Medicaid if they want to practice medicine with a federal license?

Where is the government going to get the money without having skyrocketing increases in taxes?

Tax laws and lack of pro-growth tax reforms are inhibiting America’s economic growth.

America has been set up to have the future state of healthcare be a single party payer system. President Obama has done it in a clever way. He has had no regard for being fiscally responsible in the face of a 19 trillion dollar, and rising, debt.

Single party payer systems have failed in England and Canada.

Why should America create another failure?

Can Americans have a future state healthcare system that is not destined to fail?

Yes we can!

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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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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$3 Trillion And Rising

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE

The Obama administration is spending money on Obamacare like a drunken sailor. It has no respite for the budget deficit. Paul Krugman even said deficit spending is not a problem.

The deficit could almost be justified if there was a possibility that Obamacare could work.

If Obamacare could provide universal healthcare at an affordable price, increase the efficiency and quality of care, and align all the stakeholders’ interests the increasing deficit caused could almost be justified.

Obamacare can’t work. Its business model is just accelerating the path to the total collapse of the healthcare system.

The dysfunction and inefficiencies didn’t happen overnight. It started when the government set up its bureaucracy for Medicare in 1965 and has gotten worse as progressives tried to adjust to the unintended consequences and rising costs.

Obamacare has accelerated the path toward total collapse of the healthcare system. It has caused more rules and regulations. The increase in bureaucracy leads to more inefficiency and increasing adjustments by providers to make the defective business model work for their vested interests rather than the patients’ vested interests..

Little tweaks to fix the healthcare system have lead to unintended consequences, greater dysfunction and higher costs.

In 2010 with the passage of Obamacare, bureaucracy increased. Businesses have invested great deals of money to adjust to new regulations imposed by Obamacare.

David Brooks said on the PBS News Hour on January 8, 2016 that Obamacare cannot be repealed because it was embedded in the business model of too many healthcare businesses.

I thought healthcare reform was dedicated to the proposition of providing universal healthcare and improved healthcare at an affordable price to patients.

In the last two years there has not been an increase in the number of new patients insured in the Federal Health Exchanges.

There has been an increase in the number of Medicaid patients insured. However, Medicaid provides such poor insurance reimbursement that few physicians participate.

The few physicians who do participate have to see many patients a day using many physician assistants. “These Medicaid Physicians” are frequently accused of running “Medicaid Mills.”

The physicians are accused of corruption and gaming the system. Then they come under federal investigation. Some of these physicians are corrupt but most aren’t.

David Brooks is drinking the Kool Add of the progressives and President Obama. He stated that Obamacare is now embedded in the fabric of our culture.

None of the stakeholders are having any fun. I believe everyone would jump at being given a viable alternative. The viable alterative is not a single party payer system.

Countries which have a single party payer system are working hard to avoid bankruptcy.

All one has to do is read Canada’s Fraser Institute Report.

Obamacare is an entitlement. It does not promote consumer responsibility for their care or healthcare dollars.

There is a better way. The Republican political establishment just refuses to listen. The Democratic establishment continues to make fun of the Republican establishment for not having an alternative.

Meanwhile all of the stakeholders, including the government, are experiencing increased pain.

Last month government officials announce that healthcare spending in the United States was 3 trillion dollars or an average of $9,500 a person.

A soon as the figure was announced the Obama administration’s spin machine got started with disinformation about the 3 trillion dollars.

The New York Times continues to report that Obamacare is working. The logic used is America has had a lower growth in healthcare spending in the last five years.

The New York Times completely ignores the fact that healthcare taxes have increased yearly over the last five years while Obamacare healthcare coverage has only been in effect for two years since 2014.

The spending curve for every aspect of healthcare experienced a sharp upturn in 2014.

The Obama administration is trying to blame the upturn on drug prices. Drug prices are partly to blame increase in cost. If one digs deeper it will be seen as a small part of the cost increase.

The increase cost is due to the accelerated dysfunction caused by Obamacare.

“Health spending in the United States last year topped $3 trillion — an average of $9,500 a person — as five years of exceptionally slow growth gave way to the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid and private insurance coverage, and as prescription drug prices resumed their sharp climbs, the government said Wednesday.”

Only a few of the major provisions in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) took effect in 2014.

What is going to happen when all of the major provisions of Obamacare take effect?

“Total spending on health care increased 5.3 percent last year(2014), the biggest jump since 2007, and accounted for 17.5 percent of the nation’s economic output, up from 17.3 percent in 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services said in its annual report on spending trends.”

 “By contrast, health spending grew 2.9 percent in 2013, the lowest rate of increase since the federal government began tracking it in 1960.”

2013 was three years into increased Obamacare healthcare taxes that affect all taxpayers including those that make less than $250,000,000 per year.

The people making less than $250,000/year were promised they would not spend one dime more for Obamacare.

I believe many American are aware of the mind games the Obama administration has played on them and are ready for an alternative that is a consumer centered and consumer driven system with them being in control of their health and healthcare dollars.

Republicans should at least offer the public a choice of My Ideal Medical Saving Account.

 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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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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