As zero hour approaches for the full effect of Obamacare to take effect and it becomes more and more obvious that a national tragedy will be unfolding as a result, Obamacare supporters are, to put it bluntly, losing it.
There’s no question that Obamacare faces difficulties. It’s an imperfect law with a lot of moving parts, and it’s also facing tremendous resistance from Republicans around the country, who are doing everything they can to delay, defund, and just generally sabotage it. Put those two things together and smooth sailing was never in the cards.
But “catastrophe” is stretching things a bit.
Oh really? Unable to attack the authors of the bill, some Obamacare supporters have taken to shooting the messenger who brings the bad news. In this case, Minnesota Senator Al Franken, and Obamacare’s #1 non-profit advocate the Kaiser Foundation, try to smear actuaries for running the numbers and releasing a study that says the cost of many premiums as a result of the Affordable Care Act are going to be anything but affordable:
Few aspects of the Affordable Care Act are more critical to its success than affordability, but in recent weeks experts have predicted costs for some health plans could soar next year.
Now health law supporters are pushing back, noting close ties between the actuaries making the forecasts and an insurance industry that has been complaining about taxes and other factors it says will lead to rate shock for consumers.
“Most actuaries in this country — what percentage are employed by insurance companies?” Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, asked an actuary last week at a hearing of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
The committee was discussing a study published last month by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) predicting that, thanks to sicker patients joining the coverage pool, medical claims per member will rise 32 percent in the individual plans expected to dominate the ACA exchanges next year. In some states costs will rise as much as 80 percent, the report said.
The witness was unable to answer Franken’s question, but the senator made his point. Insurance is why actuaries exist. The industry and the profession are hard to separate.
Using predictive math, actuaries try to make sure insurers of all kinds don’t run out of money to pay claims. Many actuaries also work for consultants whose clients include insurance companies.
Undisclosed in the SOA report was the fact that about half the people who oversaw it work for the health insurance industry that is warning about rate shock. The chairman of society committee supervising the project was Kenny Kan, chief actuary at Maryland-based CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.
Others on the committee work for firms with insurer clients. The report included committee members’ names but not their affiliations.
Oh, dear what are we to do? Actuaries working for the evil insurance companies? What a revoltin’ development. Of course they’re giving us bogus numbers. Professional integrity? Ha! No one can believe anything from anyone connected to the insurance industry, right?
Of course, not one shred of proof is offered to rebut the report of the actuaries. Not a hint of evidence by Franken or Kaiser is introduced that could be used to argue that the methodology was flawed, the figures fudged, the people who prepared the report are crooked, or, for that matter, that anything in the report isn’t true. Their entire “case” rests on guilt by association — the last refuge of smear merchants who have nothing of substance to argue.
It is a libelous smear made by desperate people who are going to be held responsible for whatever untoward consequences result from their foolish and arrogant presumptions that the government could actually run 1/6 of the economy without massive dislocations, skyrocketing costs, confusion, pain, suffering, and yes, death.
We will know where to go and who to blame when Obamacare proves to be a disaster. And we won’t have to smear anyone to convince people we were right all along.