CNS Strikes Again

Conservative News Service has released a “news story” with the hysterical headline “IRS: Cheapest Obamacare Plan Will Be $20,000 Per Family.” Let’s take a look.

In a final regulation issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assumed that under Obamacare the cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year.

I’ll come back to the word “assumed” in a minute. But if you read the article a little further, you find that the “cheapest” is not really the cheapest, but an average of the level of coverage required by the individual mandate in order to avoid a penalty.

And then if you read the IRS document, it becomes clear that the $20,000 is a round number being used to show how the penalty will be calculated. that’s where “assumed” comes in. The IRS isn’t saying that’s what it will cost.

But on top of that, the fact is that $20,000 for a family of four or five, which is what the article says is being “assumed,” is probably in the ball park of what a comprehensive private health insurance plan costs now. It’s a lot higher in New York, actually. I went to the Empire Blue Cross page to get a quote for private family health insurance for a family of five, with parents in their 40s and three school-age children, living in Westchester County. The monthly premium for an HMO plan is $4,754.66. Yes, the monthly premium. I took a screen shot of the result page (also note all the stuff the cheaper indemnity plan does not cover). The monthly premium for a point-of-service plan is $5,940.60. $20,000 per year is a bargain in comparison.

You can get way cheaper insurance plans in other states, of course, mostly because in those states insurance companies can still refuse to accept you if you have a pre-existing condition (which they can’t in New York, and they won’t be able to do after this year) and can also sell you coverage with big gaping holes that leave you with ruinous out-of-pocket costs (not allowed in New York, and not allowed anywhere else after this year).

So yeah, sweetums, that’s what real private health insurance costs in these parts. And if you don’t have insurance, and someone in your family needs major medical care, you could end up living in your station wagon. But then maybe you’ll qualify for Medicaid, in some states, so the taxpayers will pay the bills.

Single payer starting to look a little better now?

Update: American Thinker takes the CNS article at face value and posts an article called “Working poor families to be big losers under Obamacare.” Actually, working poor families will be somewhat better off than they are now. If they aren’t getting health insurance through their jobs, which many aren’t, there will be subsidies and other assistance made available to them, and the exchanges are supposed to offer plans at group plan rates they can buy into. And more of them will qualify for Medicaid, although several Republican governors are refusing to expand Medicaid, which will leave a few million people out.

American Thinker and other righties refuse to look at the stark reality of what life is like in America if you have no health care coverage at all. If you want to see losing, that’s losing.

Update: Reading comments at American Thinker and other rightie sites, it’s clear the righties are not making the distinction between private plans, group plans, and employee benefit plans. They think everybody is going to have to pay $20,000 a year for insurance, and are worked up into a frenzy about it. (Sigh)

Update: Kevin Drum

Apparently conservatives are outraged by this, but I have one question for them: just how much do you think healthcare coverage costs? Do you have any clue at all? …

… The average cost of healthcare coverage for a family is currently about $16,000, and by 2015 (the base year for the IRS examples) that will probably be around $18,000 or so. And that’s for employer-sponsored plans. Individual plans are generally steeper, so $20,000 isn’t a bad guess. It might be a little high, but not by much. And the family in question will, of course, be eligible for generous subsidies that bring this cost down substantially, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. They won’t actually pay $20,000 per year.

So is this outrageous? An example of Obamacare run amok? Hardly. It’s just an example of how damn much healthcare coverage costs in America and why we needed Obamacare in the first place. Apparently a lot of conservatives are shocked when they find this out

14 thoughts on “CNS Strikes Again

  1. Am I wrong, or do I remember at one time that Blue Cross/Blue Shield was a non-profit, and was very easily affordable?

    When my Grandparents came to this country in 1952, they paid $8,00 a month for the two of them, my young, yet-to-be married Mom, and my Uncle, who was 10. That was $.50 a week!
    And my Grandparents had BC/BS right up until they were eligible for Medicare.

    And then, under Reagan, it seemed like the whole health care system went crazy, and rates started sky-rocketing every year.

    If anyone knows of a good history of what happened in the health insurance business in the past few decades to make them into ‘Health Care Pirates,” please recommend either the article(s), or book(s) to me.

    • I don’t know exactly what Blue Cross’s status is, although I believe by law they have limits on how much of the premiums they have to spend on care, or else they have to give policy holders a refund.

      In New York, I believe Blue Cross is about the only option for a comprehensive private policy. That may have changed, as I luckily got into a much less expensive group plan with the Freelancer’s Union and I haven’t shopped for insurance for a while. But as recently as about five years ago, there were some other companies selling private indemnity plans, but if you wanted a comprehensive managed care or point-of-service plan it was Blue Cross or nothin’.

  2. They want to believe the worst – this fits their fantasy. So of course they’re trumpeting it.

    The question is how this is handled by people that know the truth. This may stay a tempest in a tea party, but if it has legs and gets on Fox . . . ugh.

  3. This fits right up there with “some people say” as the lamest, laziest, sure-fire way to get the base aroused and to sell snake oil to civilians…

    Can’t say the right wing isn’t clever. Dumb as rocks, but clever as all get out!

  4. The real sighing is going to happen in another year, when the ACA DOESN’T result in $20,000 being taken out of the pockets of every family in the U.S., and CNS will have moved on to something else, and no one reading it will say “Hey, weren’t you wrong about that Obamacare thing last year?”

    No one.

  5. There is a lot of money spent on the last two weeks or so of the lives of people whose conditions are terminal. That is often a pointless endeavor to satisfy the guilt of those who feel that they did not do enough during the dying person’s life. And doctors and hospitals have no reward for seeking to moderate this expense, even being subject to criticism if they spare any effort. But we cannot speak of it without hearing of death panels.

    There is a known increase in the number of particular tests ordered when a practice or clinic obtains a machine to do that particular test. Nobody wants to say “don’t do it” because the 1 per 1,000,000 it would find might be him.

    Laws were lobbied for to prevent home care so nursing homes could capture more of the money spend on elder care.

    How we get to a civil conversation that gores all the oxen I don’t know. But I don’t want to be a victim of the money suck that is trying to replace legitimate medicine. There is no need to do all we do for people who are clearly going to die and only need some palliative care. There should be some serious prosecutions of those proven to be cheating insurance companies, or Medicare and Medicaid. But it does not seem to be a deterrent as currently done. Just like banksters. We have the same problem in all areas: somebody is getting rich and sharing just enough of the ill-gotten gains with just the right people to prevent the rest of us from seing justice.

  6. Sadly today I learned that the girlfriend of a conservative friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer of the larnyx. She has no health insurance due the the fact she works in retail sales. My friend also has no health insurance; they are both 55. I was told she is going to get medicade coverage; the bane of the conservative movement. How terribly sad;I feel terrible for them.

    My wife’s mother has lung cancer, she was told by her doctor that she has less than a year to live approx. 6 months ago, she just called, and sounds like crap, I fear the end is near.

    My daughter is in college, her major is health care administration. Her professors say we need single payer universal care.

    How we got to this point is just a mystery.A sad one at that.

  7. Pingback: » Republicans Shocked That Health Care Is Expensive Liberal Values

  8. The American thinker? Really? No wonder this country is in so much trouble if the dribble found over there is considered to be “thinking”. WOW! Their rational for all of this is insane …it’s all because Obama hates them. He wants to destroy America by making us healthy! They should be grateful for Obama care, since they all seem to have a pre- existing condition( mental handicap)- now thanks to Obama they can’t be denied coverage and they can finally go get the help they so clearly need.

    It has become a real task to get thru a day without the nation being jammed up by this kinda stupid. The right has become life spam, and instead of moving this nation forward they are dragging us down. Avoid the bullets, don’t step in the puddles of stupid they litter the day with like land minds. How much of our time do they waste everyday, keeping us snarled in the traffic of life while they have a tizzy ,flopping on the floor until we get sick of waiting and are forced to find another route forward? What they are having a tantrum about is still gonna happen anyway, it never fails,so their display of childish grandstanding doesnt change anything it just holds us all back a little longer.

    And all I saw in the comments section was “me, me, me !” But I guess if you consider anyone else who lives in this country you are a socialist. If you want to see your neighbor suffer a little bit less your a marxist. They got theirs and they don’t care about the needs or problems of anyone else and they are just not bright enough to see they are picking up the tab for those without insurance everyday anyhow. In higher premimums, in higher bills from hospitals, in higher taxes to state and federal governments who end up picking up some of the tab. Every sick person that makes those bills is also costing us all in lack of productivity in the community and when they cant work they don’t pay taxes so WE all have to pay more.I could go on and on about how doing noothing was costing us more, creating the health care crisis we faced but OMG if they are that far behind that we need to explain what the problem WAS I don’t believe there is much hope of it helping.
    I suggest that the “American thinkers” need to stop. Take a deep breath and start the entire thinking process all over , this time trying a little harder to introduce logic into the exercise. At the risk of being accused of trying to convert anyone to socialism I also suggest looking at what is best for the country as a whole and not just you. Understanding the country doesn’t revolve around you might help a lot. Perhaps then you wouldn’t feel like the President has it out for you, because he” hates you”

    Imagine when the interstate highway system was built. I can hear this group complaining “He only built it because he hates America” Then, just like now, I imagine us waiting till they were done laying on the ground throwing a tantrum, standing above them rolling our eyes, only to build a road there anyhow once they got up.

    You would think that the GOP(GUNS OVER PEOPLE) party would want health care so all the people they shoot will be covered– you KNOW they are not gonna pay the bill for the damage their guns do.

  9. Bill,
    One of my sisters oldest and dearest friends recently became a nurse. She’s often in the unit that mostly handles these end-of-life cases, and she said something to me last time I saw her, that floored me. She said that a lot of the family members of people who are at the end of their lives, want their relative kept alive for as long as possible, because they need/want that person’s SS or pension money, for themselves.

    And, when I thought about it, it made perfect sense – especially in these tough economic times.

    Grandma/pa, has been living with their children and grandchildren, or the other way around, and added her/his money into the monthly total, and the family has come to depend on that money. And so, they want that person kept alive as long as possible, as long as it doesn’t cost the family for the hospital and staff to do so.

    That, to me, was yet another sad statement about the sad state of affairs in America. Families want their relatives kept alive as long as possible, not just because they love them, but because they need the money. And, as I discovered when my own Father died last year, funeral costs are absolutely insane. We could only afford about the most meager funeral arrangements possible, with no funeral home involved, and it cost almost $8,000, if not more, to bury the poor dear.

    I told my sister that when my time comes, to just cremate my fat @$$, and send my ashes down the Hudson River, figuring, ‘how much can a cremation possibly cost?’ She told me, that even a simple cremation costs over $3,000. I didn’t ask if they charged by the pound, and whether losing weight might lower the cost. But I suspect not.
    So, there’s yet another thing that’s ‘out-of-whack.’
    I don’t begrudge people making some money, but $3,000 for cremation?
    Too bad, “Leave my body for the vultures, who need to eat, too,” isn’t an option.
    I’d rather the birds feed off my corpse, than the human vultures. I know it’s in the nature of both, but the birds only eat the body, not someone’s bank account.

    Oh, and take a look at what SS pays when someone dies. It’s only a couple of hundred bucks.
    Now, that may have been enough back in the 1930’s, but that won’t even pay to bury a person’s head nowadays. It costs an arm and leg to bury the arms and legs, and the rest of the body.

  10. Gulag, if someone is so poor that their SS is keeping a family afloat, and so sick as to be hospitalized, it looks to me as if the SS check would have been eaten up by medical costs and Rx drugs each month already. Maybe that works in the case of people suddenly taken terribly ill.

    Just prepaid my Mom’s funeral. $7,000 for a graveside w/ casket, vault (required) and already own the plot. And that is at the locally owned, most economical funeral home.

    Cheapest to leave body to University, be studied, then all cremated at end of 1 year, with communal service for all that year’s donors. Of course, the communal service freaks out the wingers, so I think we can say that all medical progress is due to liberals’ last ditch efforts to improve life for the human race.

    Yes, the SS burial amount is about $275, I think. I don’t know why they even pay it.

    There is a small development, I have read, of “natural” body disposition in the woods, in restricted areas and only if your carcass is not loaded up with toxic drugs. Transport would be problematic, and who knows if such a spot is bonded/permanent enough to count on it as a real plan?

    I’d like to be cremated, too, but I’ve been thinking that is a huge energy input, so still not settled. Definitely no burial or stone. What a cheerful start to the weekend.

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