Things to Come: ObamaCare Edition

by Dave Schuler on January 31, 2013

Whatever your view of “ObamaCare”, I think this article, on the problems posed by a “glitch” in the law, should prove interesting:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Some families could get priced out of health insurance due to what’s being called a glitch in President Barack Obama’s overhaul law. IRS regulations issued Wednesday failed to fix the problem as liberal backers of the president’s plan had hoped.

As a result, some families that can’t afford the employer coverage that they are offered on the job will not be able to get financial assistance from the government to buy private health insurance on their own. How many people will be affected is unclear.

The Obama administration says its hands were tied by the way Congress wrote the law. Officials said the administration tried to mitigate the impact. Families that can’t get coverage because of the glitch will not face a tax penalty for remaining uninsured, the IRS rules said.

“This is a very significant problem, and we have urged that it be fixed,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, an advocacy group that supported the overhaul from its early days. “It is clear that the only way this can be fixed is through legislation and not the regulatory process.”

[…]

The problem seems to be the way the law defined affordable.

Congress said affordable coverage can’t cost more than 9.5 percent of family income. People with coverage the law considers affordable cannot get subsidies to go into the new insurance markets. The purpose of that restriction was to prevent a stampede away from employer coverage.

Congress went on to say that what counts as affordable is keyed to the cost of self-only coverage offered to an individual worker, not his or her family. A typical workplace plan costs about $5,600 for an individual worker. But the cost of family coverage is nearly three times higher, about $15,700, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

So if the employer isn’t willing to chip in for family premiums _ as most big companies already do _ some families will be out of luck. They may not be able to afford the full premium on their own, and they’d be locked out of the subsidies in the health care overhaul law.

I fear that this is a vision of the future for the rest of my life: trench warfare over minutiae in inherently unworkable plans. When something is poorly designed, patching it doesn’t improve the design. Debating over how to make good plans better may be frustrating but worthwhile. Debating over how to keep inadequate plans from collapsing is just depressing.

More evidence for my “Cheshire Cat” theory.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

PD Shaw January 31, 2013 at 9:47 am

Since defense spending can no longer be cut without tanking the economy, you may also spend the rest of your life wondering why we’ve always been at war with Asia.

Jimbino January 31, 2013 at 9:50 am

I keep wondering how it is that an Amerikan who spends the entire year overseas is still liable for Obamacare premiums, seeing no Obamacare is available outside the USSA.

jan January 31, 2013 at 9:56 am

Are you sure that there will even be a ‘smile’ left when the ACA is finally fully implemented?

Icepick January 31, 2013 at 10:09 am

Okay, so the President, in very uncharacteristic fashion, is claiming that only the Congress can fix this problem. Congress was hoping the IRS would fix the problem. But no one could foresee this was a problem, presumably because they didn’t read the bill. (Or understand the bill, or understand how healthcare insurance actually works in America.)

And no one is clamoring to fix this problem? They’re all shrugging their shoulders and saying “It’s not my problem”?

That leads me to believe that this is simply another feature of the program and not a bug. Some may recall that when this legislation got signed into law I stated that I believed the purpose of the law wasn’t to fix any problems, but to crash the entire healthcare system that much faster. As the law takes effect, I see no reason to change my assessment.

The only thing we’re missing now is for Jay Carney to be asked how this could happen and why hasn’t it been fixed and have him answer, “At this point, what difference does it make?”

Icepick January 31, 2013 at 10:10 am

Are you sure that there will even be a ‘smile’ left when the ACA is finally fully implemented?

I’ll say it: the lords and masters of us all will be smiling, because this is what they want – disaster, chaos and the chance to pound the people of the country into the dirt.

jan January 31, 2013 at 10:35 am

“…. I stated that I believed the purpose of the law wasn’t to fix any problems, but to crash the entire healthcare system that much faster.”

Icepick,

From the onset of this convoluted, impractical approach to HC reform, there have been assertions that this was the prickly path to achieving a ‘single payer’ system — what the dems have wanted all along. Before the ACA was introduced into our life, 85% of people polled were happy with their healthcare. It was the costs of delivery that needed to be addressed.

Such a high level of satisfaction, though, is an impossible barrier to break through, to successfully legislate a government controlled healthcare plan. So, first you have to make HC more frustrating and less satisfying — then you can go for the HC jugular with the single payer system. What a deceptive strategy! But, that is how the dems operate — deceive and then pounce on people when they’re unhappy, pushing an otherwise unacceptable agenda through..

Drew January 31, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I’m taking wagers. The famous line was “we have to pass the bill so we can see what’s in it.” Anyone wanna bet if, now passed, lawmakers have read it?

Icepick January 31, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Anyone wanna bet if, now passed, lawmakers have read it?

If you find someone willing to take that bet, let me know. I have some swamps and bridges to sell them.

steve January 31, 2013 at 6:19 pm

“Anyone wanna bet if, now passed, lawmakers have read it?”

???? Dont you talk with any congressmen/women? It is abundantly clear that they dont read much of any bills. They are briefed by their staff and get an official analysis from the party, complete with talking points.

Steve

Dave Schuler January 31, 2013 at 6:29 pm

steve’s right on that one. The bills are written by staffers and read by staffers. Now explain to me again why it makes sense for 40% of the Senate and 30% of the House to be lawyers.

Steve Verdon January 31, 2013 at 6:52 pm

I’ll say it: the lords and masters of us all will be smiling, because this is what they want – disaster, chaos and the chance to pound the people of the country into the dirt.

No, not dirt. They want us to be docile and malleable. They’ll do it with a soft, mild form of despotism. It isn’t the boot in the face described by the likes of Orwell. It will be more like what has been described by de Toqueville,

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Crispin Sartwell wrote the samething,

We want the government to guarantee our health, deflect hurricanes, educate our children and license us to drive; we want to be told what to eat, what to smoke and whom to marry. We are justly proud of the fact that no enduring society has ever incarcerated more of its people. Noting that the policeman has a pistol, a club, a stun gun, a can of pepper spray and a database that includes us, we feel happy and secure.

Icepick February 1, 2013 at 7:57 am

The bills are written by staffers and read by staffers. Now explain to me again why it makes sense for 40% of the Senate and 30% of the House to be lawyers.

Explain to me why we need Congressmen and Senators?

Icepick February 1, 2013 at 8:08 am

They’ll do it with a soft, mild form of despotism. It isn’t the boot in the face described by the likes of Orwell.

Doesn’t seem so soft or mild from where I’m sitting. As for the boot, that’s coming as soon as they can arrange it. They already heard us like cattle if we want to fly. Every year there is more and more warrant-less wiretaps and other surveillance of the people. The President was granted vast powers to detain Americans with no judicial review in the defense authorization bill from last year. The Mayor of New York is spending his billions to insure that I must be disarmed. Said Mayor meanwhile walks around with an armed thugs. He’s not giving up HIS rights, but then some animals are more equal than others. (I bet no one insists on the state regulating HIS portion control either.) And on and on and on.

We’re being conditioned to herd status.

PD Shaw February 1, 2013 at 9:17 am

The system works much better when the bills are publicized in well advance of the vote so the lobbyist can point out these mistakes. If your more afraid of the lobbyists than passing messed-up legislation, then you have made your choice.

Steve Verdon February 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Doesn’t seem so soft or mild from where I’m sitting.

Oh, they use force and violence when and where necessary, but for the most part is not used so long as you do what you are told (take of your shoes, let yourself be groped or scanned, pay your taxes, etc.).

The President was granted vast powers to detain Americans with no judicial review in the defense authorization bill from last year.

Right, and what 99.9% of Americans are in little danger of that. And as a result many Americans are fine with this because they see it as enhancing their security and safety.

We’re being conditioned to herd status.

Yep. But a well cared for herd. Yes some need to be culled every know and then, but for most it isn’t bad. You have your internet, big screen, and plenty of food…life’s good for those folks.

TastyBits February 1, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Reading many of these Bills is useless. They contain placeholders for regulations to be written later. Congress should not relinquish their power and responsibilities to “faceless” regulators, but why quibble?

TastyBits February 1, 2013 at 1:18 pm

@

Oh, they use force and violence when and where necessary …

In many instances, they cannot get this right.

… You have your internet, big screen, and plenty of food…life’s good for those folks.

“bread and games”

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