Monday, Sep 01, 2014
Columns

Surprise, surprise, surprise


Published:

Gomer Pyle's (Jim Nabors) signature comedy routine was the use of common everyday words, which now serve as a perfect metaphor for the conduct (shenanigans) of this Democratic administration - a big government machine that excels in the use of power.

This thought came to me recently when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius candidly admitted that Obamacare will cause health care costs to rise (Affordable Health Care Act?) and that "everything [going forward] is speculation. I think there's likely to be some shifting in the markets." She could not give specific answers to questions about their plan to roll out the Oct. 1 open enrollment, which will be critical to implementation, and she had no definitive data on costs.

As Gomer said many times in his 1960s sitcom - and I can still hear that hilarious drawl, "Surprise, surprise, surprise." (As every expert knew, any plan to overhaul the American system of health care, which is now - because of Obamacare - predicted to reach a staggering 20 percent of the U.S. economy by 2020 should have taken years of study and planning.)

And keeping in mind the recent scandals - particularly the Big government's IRS punishing its enemies - Gomer comes to mind again with "Well, shame, shame, shame;" and "Gooo-llyy!" (Golly).

These lines were tailor made to describe the never-ending abuse of power of this administration. When they want something done, they simply give the heads of the various agencies their marching orders to use their authority to intimidate those with different political views. The Chicago way.

"Shame, shame, shame."

Sibelius will keep plodding ahead against Republican opposition until the whole scheme collapses of its own weight, at which time Democrats will go back to their original strategy and clamor once more for a Brit-style National Health Service. It could happen. A majority of Democrats favor some kind of universal care, or Medicare for all; but then again polls show a majority of Democrats favor socialism over capitalism. Gooo-llyy!

Unintended results abound. Even Democrats admit there is a glitch in the wording of the very law they rammed through Congress without any Republicans on board. Lower-income families could get priced out of Obamacare, and yet everyone will be required to have health insurance, either by buying their own plan, a government program or from an employer. To prevent a mass exodus from employer-provided coverage, the law reads that in order to be affordable, "affordable" coverage can't cost more than 9.5 percent of family income.

So if an employer doesn't subsidize just enough of the premium, some families could be denied the subsidies Obamacare provides (premium assistance). And it is estimated that 80 percent of young people will pay more out of pocket for coverage despite subsidies.

As to the subsidies, and to demonstrate the lack of planning for the rollout of Obamacare, almost 26 million people will be eligible for health-insurance subsidies, but many (62 percent according to Kaiser Family Foundation Poll) are unaware of this entitlement. That's because most of us - and what's so pitiful is that this includes our elected officials - are only vaguely familiar with the law which provides tax credits to help buy insurance through the government-run insurance exchanges. Nobody will know the specifics until these exchanges open because premiums will vary depending on where you live.

Beneficiaries will mostly be working families that earn from $47,100 to $94,200 annually according to Families USA, a health care consumer group founded in 1982. There are a number of different plans with different levels of coverage. This will turn out to be another unaffordable entitlement. One example could be a family of four earning $94,200 a year and purchasing a government-recommended plan with a premium of $12,500 annually. This family would get a subsidy of $3,550 since the premium cost is limited to 9.5 percent of a family's income.

According to a White House guesstimate, these subsidies alone will cost about $606 billion for the 2014-to-2021 period. Ever a moving target, CBO upped their estimate to $1 trillion by 2022; and now estimates the average exchange subsidy will be $5,510, up from their 2010 guesstimate of $3970.

These are just subsidies - not a reduction in health care costs, which Obamacare originally promised. Statism, or socialism has never been about management cost controls, or actually paying the true cost for benefits. Progressives enjoy blasting conservatives as idiots for comparing America's downward economic trajectory with that of Greece. O.K. then, fair enough. So let's look at two other respected first-world countries - France and Spain.

Since electing a socialist president, France is back in recession with unemployment at 10.6 percent - the 24th consecutive monthly rise. With a 24-percent poll rating, Francois Hollande has a record low for the 5th Republic. Spain is an absolute basketcase in deep recession with unemployment at 26 percent. The pension system needs urgent reform. Only 16 million pay into a pension system which supports 9 million Spaniards.

Both France and Spain both have universal health care systems. Here is an excerpt from a speech made by then Illinois State Representative Barrack Obama to the AFL-CIO in 2003: "I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program (applause) . And that's what I'd like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because we first have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House."

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Once millions of Americans get used to health insurance subsidies of this amount, does anyone think there will be any turning back? The quid pro quo would have to be universal health care because as everyone knows, that's for free. That beats a subsidy any day.

John Reiniers is a retired attorney and regular columnist who lives in Spring Hill.

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