The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Massive Small Business Insurance Rate Hikes In California

Twelve to twenty three percent increases are common, with increases as high as 76%. Needless to say, these increases are unsupportable by many businesses, who will drop coverage as a result.

Ok, excuse me, but is anyone surprised?  Democrats had a chance to do real  health care reform, and they balked, kludging together a mess which was guaranteed not to work.

Those of us with an actual track record of, y’know, getting policy consequences right, warned that Health Care Reform was an ineffective mess which wouldn’t control costs, but too many people wanted to be fooled, wanted to “hope”.

Hope’s all very nice, but it’s not a bloody plan, or a bloody policy, nor does it constitute good analysis.


What’s Life For?


Israel’s Three Endgames


  1. b.

    Try this one for size: We let them die over here so that we can kill them over there.

    “While not passing a COBRA extension, Congress did manage to vote for an incredibly expensive second engine for the F-35, which the military says it doesn’t need and really doesn’t want.”

    The House of Representatives, defying the Pentagon for a fourth straight year and a presidential veto threat, voted to preserve a second engine program for the multinational F-35 fighter jet…

  2. marku

    Ian, this is off topic, but your page now displays as text and hyperlinks (no images or screen colors). I am using firefox.

    Maybe this is just a new dada-ist look at blogging…

  3. Ian Welsh

    Marku, I don’t see it. Does anyone else?

  4. The display looks fine to me in FF 3.6.3 on OS X.

    * * *
    Ian writes:

    Needless to say, these increases are unsupportable by many businesses, who will drop coverage as a result.

    So, some “human resources” will die. That’s the feature part. Where’s the bug?

  5. beowulf

    The first mistake Obama made was the type of health reform he elected to pursue, state-based private insurance exchanges w/ individual mandates. First proposed by the Heritage Foundation, its perhaps the only kind of health reform even conceivable that’s financed on a regressive basis. Those making over $250,000 have their earned income (i.e. wages) taxed by an additional .9% and their unearned (capital) income taxed by an additional 3.8%. In contrast, Middle class family have a mandate to pay up to 9.5% of income in private insurance premiums (and that doesn’t include deductibles or copayments). Let’s see, if that 9.5% was applied proportionately as a FICA tax, it’d raise over $700 billion a year, closer to a trillion if unearned income is included. There’s your funding for a single payer system.

    The biggest mistake Obama made, though, was waiting 4 years to start providing universal coverage (if an obligation to buy health insurance can be called “universal coverage”). Unless the plan is to save money on insurance subsidies tomorrow by thinning the herd today, its just cruel and senseless to raise the hopes of the uninsured and then make them wait 4 years before providing any premium credits or “guaranteed issue” protections.

  6. Formerly T-Bear

    Somehow this news is not surprising, given the information available before the “project” passed Congress. Even then, it appeared the universal mandatory insurance scheme was designed to fail. About the only plus, it will keep Congress off the streets for the longest time, trying to “fix what is broke”, a somewhat dubious blessing.

  7. David H.

    Gotta agree with Lambert, the whole HC mess is a feature, not a bug. Obama gave away single-payer right away because he lied to get elected and never had any intention of working toward anything but the Heritage plan. Pretty much everything he said he’d do was a lie, so to ascribe his ”mistakes” to errant strategy misses the point of the man, whose sole purpose is to continue implementing the neoliberal agenda. Not that I have to tell anyone here that.

    A good friend of mine died in 2006 because his 30-hour a week job was designed so they wouldn’t have to buy insurance for him. And now 4 more years of 40,000 deaths/year. Makes me hope the president and his enablers meet untimely and agonizing ends in a stroke of divine justice.

    Anyway, nothing the prez does is a mistake, unless it involves inadvertently helping the middle and lower classes. Defense spending bills pass without debate, while even a beyond crappy health care bill takes over a year. God bless America.

    Reading with XScope browser on Google Nexus One and the site looks good and minimalist as ever.

  8. anonymous

    Ian, this is off topic, but your page now displays as text and hyperlinks (no images or screen colors). I am using firefox.

    This might be a result of your browser’s cache filling up. I see this regularly (a few times a month) with chrome. See if you can find out how to clear your browser’s cache. Or, try restarting your browser or rebooting your O/S.

  9. anonymous

    Those of us with an actual track record of, y’know, getting policy consequences right, warned that Health Care Reform was an ineffective mess which wouldn’t control costs, but too many people wanted to be fooled, wanted to “hope”.

    Another guy who got it right all the way back in Oct. 2007 (you know, while bush was still in power) was Krugman:

    The generic Demoplan, which basically follows the template laid down by John Edwards, involves four moving pieces:

    1. community rating, requiring that insurance companies offer insurance to everyone at the same rate regardless of medical history;
    2. a mandate, requiring that everyone have insurance;
    3. subsidies to help lower-income people pay for insurance;
    4. and public-private competition, in which people have the option of buying into a plan run by the government.

    The public-private competition in the Demoplan is crucial, by the way, because it means that the Demoplan isn’t locked into the inefficiency of the private insurance system – it could evolve into single-payer over time.

    Why not single-payer?

    (Numbering and emphasis added)

    2007 Krugman says that a gov’t. plan — a “public option” as it were — is crucial. 2010 Krugman demurs.

    In a post titled One health care reform, indivisible, 2010 Krugman carefully reasons that three of the four criteria listed by 2007 Krugman are “indivisible.” And yet, somehow the fourth criteria, a public alternative to private plans — which was crucial to 2007 Krugman — is not mentioned. It’s not refuted — 2010 Krugman simply doesn’t mention it. “Crucial” in 2007, not worth mentioning in 2010.

    So, I guess the question is: Are you saying that Krugman has become naïve or that he is a democratic party partisan?

  10. anonymous

    ” And now 4 more years of 40,000 deaths/year.”

    Sounds optimistic to me. I expect that over the next four years more people will lose their insurance, for one of several reasons: because they cannot afford the rising costs or their employers drop their insurance or they opt for a plan through their employer that provides less coverage or they become unemployed.

    This is a country with a political class that has ignored decades in which approximately one-sixth of the population had no insurance. Now that they’ve put in place a fix for the one condition that concerned them, namely, the possibility that they would lose their insurance due to a “pre-existing condition” (or some other pretext), they can “weather” any pain that you might have.

  11. beowulf

    “2007 Krugman says that a gov’t. plan — a “public option” as it were — is crucial.”

    The insurance industry sliced and diced the public option from the start. The original Jacob Hacker public option proposal called for a public option based on Medicare rates that 1. any insurance customer (individual, small business or large business) could buy into, 2. an employer mandate (employer paying 80% of premium cost) and 3. a premium subsidy ONLY applicable to public option plan, private plans would be unsubsidized. Pete Stark’s HR 193 Americare Bill kept those elements and would have provided universal coverage within a year of enactment.

    The Democrats sold out their base so completely, not only was the single payer HR 676 bill never on the table, neither was the logical compromise, Stark’s genuine public option bill that (unnecessarily) kept private insurers in business… if they could compete. Much easier for the insurers to convince ($$$) Democrats to pre-negotiate away all these basic PO elements. Instead the President endorsed Baucus’s plan with no public option for anyone, an individual mandate, and an underfunded premium subsidy for private insurers. Oh, and a 4 year wait for “universal” coverage to start.

  12. And when we say “the Baucus Plan,” we really mean the bill crafted by Liz Fowler, the WellPoint VP on secondment to Baucus’s staff.

    * * *

    As for Krugman… The same people who kidnapped Josh Marshall (remember him?) must have kidnapped Krugman, who’s taking the party line not only on HCR (Higher Corporate Returns) but on financial reform as well. Try finding anything from Krugman on “accounting control fraud” or William Black. Very sad.

    * * *

    As for the Ds selling out their base — aren’t you confusing D voters with the D base?

  13. Bernard

    yes this was the plan according to Obama. when an Insurance Co VP writes the “reform” plan for a member of Congress/Baucus’s aide, i don’t think there was any focus on what the average person needs or wants. and besides, this was for the Health Insurance Cos., not health reform for you and me, to save money that is. and of course, who cares about you and me,

    knowing how cheaply Medicare provides services for about 3% of overhead, if Obama was interested in saving money, he could have cut out the Insurance Companies profit, declared Medicare for All and we would have saved something like 30% of present costs.

    this was all a “gimme” that Obama made with the Drug Cos and Health insurance companies. Obama was in on the scam. everything Obama has done since being President has shown his true intentions. especially after hearing about Billy Tauzin from Pharma. lol. sounds like Cheney and the Oil Companies “writing” Federal energy policy.

    when i read about that lady Liz Fowler having worked for Wellpoint, well i knew the fix was in. and of course the re-importation of prescription drugs wasn’t allowed. the fact that we were 37th in Health Care as compared to the rest of the world and spend twice as much as France, alone. not a word about that in the right wing media/MSM

    Obama is a master chess player and we have been checkmated successfully when it comes to supposed “health insurance reform.” what is really fascinating is that this is similar to the plan in Massachusetts, from what i hear. Mitt Romeny’s Republican plan, at that. lol now try to tell me Obama isn’t a Republican. lol

    so if Obama was going to sell out the Democrats, he did a mighty fine job. that was the nature of the Obama’s plan, not an accident. and most Americans won’t know of the fine print or the real costs since the “way” the Health Insurance Companies Reform Act was passed. Americans are so ignorant about anything the Media doesn’t want us to know. the concept of European health care wasn’t ever written about. too un American/socialist to even talk about.

    if it/health reform was any good it wouldn’t have been put off for 4 years, anyway. that alone is enough to question what is in there. with all the people needing health care NOW, why would we have to wait 4 years for it to kick in. and have the IRS to enforce it! lol. my God what a set-up.

    profits over people, once again. screw me, screw you unless you are rich. if you get sick, die quickly is so so true.

  14. anonymous

    I think Krugman is just extremely cautious and trying to run away from the “shrill” label (was that Sully, of all people, who called him shrill?) He’s not absolutely sure HCR won’t be a positive. People around me think I’m a henny penny because the sky has not fallen (yet) after all these years. They laughed at me just this evening because Austin realestate has gone up 50% (at least the houses I’ve been looking at buying) in the last 5 years. The fact that the bust hasn’t caught up to Austin yet tells them it never will. And that’s how they look at all the messes, from banks to health care to the wars in Eurasia.

  15. so true…thanks for the tips Ian…

  16. S Brennan

    By screwing over Democrats, Obama WINS! YEAH!

    The press are openly laughing at the Democratic Congress’s stupidity.

    …and still they don’t get it. Too funny

    “….good news for Obama…a Republican House would give him a handy target for any blame in his anticipated 2012 re-election bid, something he wouldn’t have if both houses remained Democrat…with low approval ratings.”

  17. Sabrina

    I don’t much about healthcare reform issues in the US, but how could a system based on the European model going work when in Europe:

    1) Med school is either very affordable or free, rarely are European student saddled with thousands and thousands of $ of debts.
    2) malpractice lawsuit are uncommon, so European hospitals do not really have to worry about ever increasing insurance cost, or lawyer fees, or settlement.
    3) many food additives allowed in the US are not allowed in the EU, which makes Europeans marginally healthier.
    4) drugs prices are fixed by the government, and I don’t see how the US government can do that with the very powerful pharma lobby.

    If someone could share his/her insight about this , that would be appreciated.

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