Now There Can Be No Doubt: Obamacare Has Increased Non-Group Premiums In Nearly All States

obamacare

Forbes: Remember this categorical assurance from President Obama?

“We’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year. .  .  . We’ll do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States”

OK, it’s probably a little unfair to take some June 2008 campaign “puffery” literally–even though it was reiterated by candidate Obama’s economic policy advisor, Jason Furman in a sit-down with a New York Times reporter: “‘We think we could get to $2,500 in savings by the end of the first term, or be very close to it.” Moreover, President Obama subsequently doubled-down on his promise in July 2012, assuring small business owners “your premiums will go down.”  Fortunately, the Washington Post fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, honestly awarded the 2012 claim Three Pinocchios (“Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions”).

Unfortunately, this has never settled the debate. When the Society of Actuaries estimated spring 2013 that the ACA would result in increasing claims costs by an average of 32 percent nationally by 2017, such estimates could be dismissed as “projections” since at the time of this study, actual premiums in the Exchanges had not yet been announced.  A subsequent plethora of studies showed there had been double-digit increases in premiums (when comparing actual Exchange premiums to previously-prevailing premiums in the non-group market). However, virtually all of these studies focused only on Exchange premiums rather than premiums in the entire non-group market (only half of which consists of Exchange coverage). As a consequence, Obamacare proponents tended to dismiss these studies either as partisan attacks or methodologically limited, making what amounts to apples-to-oranges comparisons.

However, a new study from the well-respected and non-partisan National Bureau of Economic Research (and published by Brookings Institution), overcomes the limitations of these prior studies by examining what happened to premiums in the entire non-group market. The bottom line? In 2014, premiums in the non-group market grew by 24.4% compared to what they would have been without Obamacare.  Of equal importance, this careful state-by-state assessment showed that premiums rose in all but 6 states (including Washington DC).  It’s worth unpacking this study a bit to understand the ramification of these findings.

Non-Group Premiums Rose in 45 States Due to Obamacare

The non-group market can only be accurately assessed on a state-by-state basis. Obamacare. The law creates a single risk pool in each state for non-group coverage. That is, health insurers can sell policies inside or outside the Exchanges but they all are part of the same risk pool.  Unlike virtually all other studies that have been conducted to date, this new study examined premium data from both Exchange and non-Exchange plans, i.e., providing a picture of the complete non-group market rather than one segment.  This is crucially important since in nearly one third of states (16), Exchange coverage constitutes 40% or less of the entire non-group market (Table 1).

PremiumIncreasesKowalski

Of equal importance, unlike prior studies which simply compared pre-Obamacare premiums in 2013 to actual premiums offered on Exchanges in 2014, this new study isolates the causal impact of Obamacare statistically by using trend data in each state to figure out what non-group premiums in 2014 would have been in the absence of Obamacare. Thus, critics could dismiss many other so-called “pre-/post” studies by effectively saying “Well, premiums in the non-group have always gone up by a large amount, so what’s happening under Obamacare is no different.”  Such criticisms cannot be levied at this study. All of the percentage changes shown in the chart below represent the net change attributable to Obamacare after accounting for all the other factors that would have made premiums go up.[1]

Clearly, the adverse impact of Obamacare on non-group premiums varies sizably across states. The law is estimated to result in lower premiums in only 6 states. However, it should be noted that while the author presented premium estimates for California and New Jersey, the data for these two states is incomplete due to anomalous data reporting requirements. Thus, the large estimated premium decline of 37.5% in New Jersey likely would be different were full data available, but there is no way of telling by how much.

What is disturbing is to see premium increases in excess of 35% in 9 states, including some of the nation’s largest states (Florida and Texas). Remember, these are increases above and beyond normal premium trends.  No one can credibly claim that these massive premium increases would have happened anyway since the study was specifically designed to isolate the law’s impacts from all the other factors that have driven up premiums in recent years.

Taxpayers Will Pay About 24% More for Exchange Subsidies Due to Obamacare-induced Premium Increases

Of course, Obamacare enthusiasts will argue that I’m ignoring all the subsidies provided to Exchange members. It’s certainly true that for those lucky enough to qualify for such subsidies, the typical size of a subsidy in any given state would have been sufficient to protect such individuals from the premium increases shown in the chart above.  But that ignores the fact that out of an estimated 13.2 million people covered in the non-group market in second quarter 2014 (Kowalski’s estimate), only about 7 million qualified for subsidies.[2]  Thus, there were 6.2 million in the non-group market who had to absorb these premium increases without the benefit of any help from Uncle Sam.

Moreover, the fact that federal taxpayers were handed the privilege of having to offset such premium increases using their hard-earned tax dollars should in no way obscure the reality that Obamacare caused premiums to rise in the first place. Higher premiums are not what was promised when the law was enacted. Of equal importance, such subsidies represent a transfer that does not improve the welfare of the nation as a whole. A dollar given to an Exchange member to offset these higher premiums is simply a dollar taken out of the pocket of another American taxpayer. Indeed, had premiums not risen in the first place, the amount of subsidies required on the Exchanges could have been roughly 24% lower.  Increasing the tab that taxpayers had to pay for such subsidies by roughly one fourth certainly in no way increased the nation’s welfare.

In short, it is harder and harder for champions of Obamacare to ignore the plain truth that this misguided law has increased premiums in the non-group market, a burden borne by millions who have to buy coverage in that market without the benefit of taxpayer subsidies and by the taxpayers who must bankroll subsidies for those who qualify.  As I’ve demonstrated repeatedly, this law creates many more losers than winners. The many millions in the non-group market who are having to pay higher premiums due to Obamacare are just one slice of a much larger pool of losers. But until this increasingly incontestable reality are acknowledged by the law’s supporters there is no prospect of changing a law that continues (quite sensibly) to be opposed by the majority of Americans.

obama

DCG

2014 election fraud has already begun in Chicago

India voter ID

And we call India a third world country?

Shame on America’s Demonrats!

But then how else can the Demonrats carry out vote fraud?

Speaking of vote fraud, the Great 2014 Vote Fraud has already begun.

In Illinois, early voting began on Monday, Oct. 19, 2014. So Republican state representative candidate Jim Moynihan went to vote at Chicago’s Schaumburg Public Library using a touch-screen voting machine. Every time he tried to vote for a Republican, including for himself, the machine registered his vote as for a Democrat. (Read more here.)

In the great DisUnited Corrupt States of Amerika, you’ll vote Democrat, even if you’re not.

And what will the Republican Party do about this?

Nothing! (See “Why the GOP won’t challenge vote fraud“)

H/t Rebel Mouse

~Eowyn

Autopsy of Mike Brown shows he did not have his hands up when shot

Turns out Ferguson cop Darren Wilson is right:

  • Michael Brown did NOT have his hands up when Wilson shot him, as some purported eyewitnesses had claimed.
  • Brown did struggle with Wilson in the cop’s car.
  • Brown was lunging at Wilson.

Color me surprised. Not!

Michael Brown (l); Darren Wilson (r)

Michael Brown (l); Darren Wilson (r)

Christine Byers reports for St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Oct. 22, 2014:

The official autopsy on Michael Brown shows that he was shot in the hand at close range, according to an analysis of the findings by two experts not involved directly in the case.

The accompanying toxicology report shows he had been using marijuana.

Those documents, prepared by the St. Louis County medical examiner and obtained by the Post-Dispatch, provide the most detailed description to date of the wounds Brown sustained in a confrontation Aug. 9 with Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson.

A source with knowledge of Wilson’s statements said the officer had told investigators that Brown had struggled for Wilson’s pistol inside a police SUV and that Wilson had fired the gun twice, hitting Brown once in the hand. Later, Wilson fired additional shots that killed Brown and ignited a national controversy.

The St. Louis medical examiner, Dr. Michael Graham, who is not part of the official investigation, reviewed the autopsy report for the newspaper. He said Tuesday that it “does support that there was a significant altercation at the car.

Graham said the examination indicated a shot traveled from the tip of Brown’s right thumb toward his wrist. The official report notes an absence of stippling, powder burns around a wound that indicate a shot fired at relatively short range.

But Graham said, “Sometimes when it’s really close, such as within an inch or so, there is no stipple, just smoke.”

The report on a supplemental microscopic exam of tissue from the thumb wound showed foreign matter “consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm.”

Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, said the autopsy “supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.” She added, “If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun.

Sources told the Post-Dispatch that Brown’s blood had been found on Wilson’s gun.

Melinek also said the autopsy did not support witnesses who have claimed Brown was shot while running away from Wilson, or with his hands up.

She said Brown was facing Wilson when Brown took a shot to the forehead, two shots to the chest and a shot to the upper right arm. The wound to the top of Brown’s head would indicate he was falling forward or in a lunging position toward the shooter; the shot was instantly fatal.

A sixth shot that hit the forearm traveled from the back of the arm to the inner arm, which means Brown’s palms could not have been facing Wilson, as some witnesses have said, Melinek said. That trajectory shows Brown probably was not taking a standard surrender position with arms above the shoulders and palms out when he was hit, she said.

The county medical examiner, Dr. Mary Case, could not be reached. The assistant who performed the autopsy, Dr. Gershom Norfleet, relayed word that he would not comment. [Both must be terrified of being accused of racism. ~Eowyn]

That post mortem, conducted the morning after Brown’s death, comports in most ways with the findings of a private autopsy arranged by Brown’s family and made public Aug. 18.

In that one, Dr. Michael M. Baden, a nationally known forensic pathologist, said none of Brown’s wounds appeared to have been from shots fired at close range.

Baden noted then that there was no gunshot residue on the body, so it appeared to him that the muzzle of the weapon was at least one or two feet away. He said, “It could have been 30 feet away.”

A third autopsy was ordered by federal officials as part of their separate investigation of the shooting. Results of that one have not been revealed.

The county and private autopsies agree on the number and location of the wounds.

The official autopsy also confirmed that tissue from Brown was found on the exterior of the driver’s side of Wilson’s vehicle.

“Someone got an injury that tore off skin and left it on the car,” Graham said. “That fits with everything else that came out. There’s blood in the car, now skin on the car, that shows something happened right there.

The toxicology test, performed by a St. Louis University laboratory, revealed tetrahydrocannabinol, THC for short, in Brown’s blood and urine.

Alfred Staubus, a consultant in forensic toxicology at the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, said that THC could impair judgment or slow reaction times but that there was no reliable measurement to make those conclusions.

States that have legalized marijuana have struggled with the issue of how to measure impairment.

“The detection of THC in the postmortem blood of Michael Brown really indicates his recent use of marijuana (within a few hours) and that he may or may not have been impaired at the time of his death,” Staubus wrote in an email.

***********

So, with these results from the official autopsy, will blacks in Missouri go on a rampage, as some have threatened?

~Eowyn

St. John of Capistrano (1386-1456): “Initiative, Organization, Activity”

St. John Capistrano

Today, October 23rd, the universal Church celebrates the Feast Day of St. John Capistrano.

John lived in a most tumultuous time.  People were suffering from the Bubonic plague, with one-third of the population dying from this horrible disease.  One can only imagine the deplorable atmosphere and the fear involved.  Additionally, England and France were at war and the Western Schism had split the Catholic Church with two or more individuals claiming the Holy See.

He received a superb education and had many talents, including preaching and negotiating.  At the age of 26, he was proclaimed Governor of Perugia.  Whilst he was in prison after a battle against the Malatestas, he went through a process of conversion and decided to reform his life.  Accordingly, he became a Franciscan novitiate at the age of 30, then ordained as a Catholic priest four years later.

John and 12 Franciscans were welcomed into central Europe, as they preached  so wonderfully, giving the people hope and stability during a time of great confusion and difficulty.

The Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, wherein John was appointed to preach one of the Crusades during this time to defend Europe.  He concentrated his noble work in Hungary, leading the army to Belgrade, wherein under General John Hunyadi, they were victorious.  After this battle, he suffered from an infection and died on October 23, 1456.

An entity in Brussels named their organization after John.  Their motto patterned John’s holy qualities, to-wit:  “Initiative, Organization, Activity.”  John was never lazy and worked very hard in his life to bring Our Lord to people and to fight for his Faith and for the right.

He was buried in Villach, wherein the Governor of that place had this inscribed upon his tombstone:

“This tomb holds John, by birth of Capistrano, a  man worthy of praise, defender and promoter of the Faith, guardian of the Church, zealous protector of his Order, an ornament to all the world, lover of truth and religious justice, mirror of life, surest guide in doctrine, praised by countless tongues, he reigns blessed in heaven.”

Dear St. John, please help us to be bold, courageous and effective today, as we shine our Light for the Lord.  Help us to bring faith, hope and love to everyone we encounter, not being afraid to  speak and live the Truth just as you did.

St.  John, please pray for us!

Why Muslims hate dogs

Islam wants me dead. That’s some “religion of peace”!

Have you wondered why Muslims hate dogs?

Here’s an explanation for why Muslims are forbidden to have a dog as a pet or allow one in their house. (H/t Mike Ramirez, a reader of DanielPipes.org, who has a website on Questionable Teachings of Islam.)

Answer: It’s in the Hadith — the corpus of the reports of the teachings, deeds and sayings of Muhammad. The Hadith was used in forming the basis of ‘Shariah’ Law and has had a profound and controversial influence on molding the commentaries on the Quran. Much of early Islamic history available today is based on the Hadith and is challenged for lack of basis in primary source material.

1. Sahih Muslim, Book 24, Number 5246 says:

Chapter : Angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture.

‘Aisha reported that Gabriel (peace be upon him) made a promise with Allah’s Messenger [Muhammad] (may peace be upon him) to come at a definite hour; that hour came but he did not visit him. And there was in his hand (in the hand of Allah’s Apostle) a staff. He threw it from his hand and said: Never has Allah or His messengers (angels) ever broken their promise. Then he cast a glance (and by chance) found a puppy under his cot and said: ‘Aisha, when did this dog enter here? She said: By Allah, I don’t know He then commanded and it was turned out. Then Gabriel came and Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to him: You promised me and I waited for you, but you did not come, whereupon he said: It was the dog in your house which prevented me (to come), for we (angels) do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture.

2. Sahih Muslim, Book 024, Number 5248:

Then on that very morning he [Muhammad] commanded the killing of the dogs until he announced that the dog kept for the orchards should also be killed, but he spared the dog meant for the protection of extensive fields (or big gardens).

3. Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 541

Allah’s Apostle [Muhammad] said, “If somebody keeps a dog, he loses one Qirat (of the reward) of his good deeds everyday, except if he keeps it for the purpose of agriculture or for the protection of livestock. “

So the Hadith would have us believe that an Angel of God, Gabriel, refused to enter Muhammad’s house because a puppy — a creature of God — was there? And that’s why Muhammad commanded that all dogs be killed?

What ridiculous poppycock!

The truth is that when the “angel Gabriel” first visited Muhammad, this “angel” physically assaulted Muhammad, leading Muhammad to think the “angel” to be a demon.

Bukhari, Book 1, Volume 1, Hadith 3:

The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read.

The Prophet added, “The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?’ Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, ‘Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists) has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.” (96.1, 96.2, 96.3) Then Allah’s Apostle returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadija bint Khuwailid and said, “Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, “I fear that something may happen to me.”

Read more here.

What angel of God would physically and repeatedly assault (“pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more”) a man, rendering him cowering and fearful? Muhammad’s account contradicts every account of angelic encounters in the Bible.

That was no Angel Gabriel. It was a demon.

In fact, the earliest biography of Muhammad, Ibn Ishaq, stated Muhammad thought he was demonically possessed.

See also “Was Islam’s founder Muhammad a real man or an invention?

~Eowyn

Are energy drinks safe?

We all have pet peeves.

One of my pet peeves are those TV commercials for 5-hour Energy Drinks telling brainwashing women that buying those drinks is the way to help “fight” breast cancer. The Avon Foundation for Women even has the unmitigated gall to call it a “crusade.”

5-hour energy drink

Every time I see the commercial, I think to myself:

Just wait till some scientist tells us that imbibing those 5-hour Energy Drinks actually causes breast cancer.

That really isn’t so far-fetched a notion.

Researchers already have discovered that energy drinks, which are loaded with caffeine, actually change the way the heart beats and, thus, can increase the risk of potentially fatal heart rhythm problems.

Anna Hodgekiss reports for Daily Mail that research found that even healthy adults who consumed the drinks had significantly increased heart contraction rates one hour later. This means that the chamber of the heart that pumps blood around the body – the left ventricle – is contracting harder even an hour after the energy drink.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

The German researchers examined the effect of drinks high in caffeine and taurine – such as Red Bull and other energy drinks – on 18 healthy adults with an average age of 27.5 years. Each of the volunteers underwent MRI scan of the heart before and one hour after consuming an energy drink containing taurine (400 mg/100 ml) and caffeine (32 mg/100 ml).

After the drink, these people had “significantly increased peak strain” and contractility in the left ventricle of the heart that receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it to the aorta, which distributes it throughout the rest of the body.

Dr. Jonas Dörner of the cardiovascular imaging section at the University of Bonn, Germany said, “Until now, we haven’t known exactly what effect these energy drinks have on the function of the heart. Usually they contain taurine and caffeine as their main pharmacological ingredients and the amount of caffeine is up to three times higher than in other caffeinated beverages like coffee or cola. There are many side effects known to be associated with a high intake of caffeine, including rapid heart rate, palpitations, rise in blood pressure and, in the most severe cases, seizures or sudden death. We don’t know exactly how or if this greater contractility of the heart impacts daily activities or athletic performance. We need additional studies to understand this mechanism and to determine how long the effect of the energy drink lasts.”

Dr. Dörner said that while long-term risks to the heart from drinking energy drinks remain unknown, children, as well as people with known heart rhythm problems (cardiac arrhythmia), should avoid energy drinks, because changes in contractility could trigger arrhythmias.

He added that alcohol can increase heart rate, mixing energy drinks with it could compound the problem. “There are concerns about the products’ potential adverse side effects on heart function, especially in adolescents and young adults, but there is little or no regulation of energy drink sales.”

In the case of 5-Hour Energy Drinks, Forbes reports they are so ubiquitous in the United States that they account for a whopping 90% of the national energy drink market.

According to an article by Barry Meier in The New York Times, 5-hour Energy has been cited in reports of 11 deaths; that is, 11 people who died had ingested 5-hour Energy drink at some time prior to their passing. The first death was reported on December 17, 2009. Non-fatal reports of 5-hour Energy Drink go back to 2005 and include typical symptoms such as dizziness, anxiety, and nausea all the way to seizures, brain hemorrhages, and heart attacks.

Two other brands of energy drinks are also reported to be dangerous:

  • Monster drinks were listed in five deaths and about 35 other non-fatal adverse reactions.
  • Rockstar was listed in 13 cases, none of which were deaths.

So what exactly are the ingredients of these “energy” drinks?

1. High levels of caffeine: Caffeine is a drug, capable of providing us with mental alertness but at higher doses can make us anxious, shaky, and have gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea. Monster and Rockstar contain 160 to 175 milligrams of caffeine in drink sizes ranging from 5 to 16 fluid ounces. That’s about 3-to-5 times the amount of caffeine in 12-ounce serving of a typical mass-marketed soda. The more concentrated 5-hour Energy doesn’t list its caffeine content but Consumer Reports determined that it contains 215 milligrams of caffeine per 2 fl. oz. bottle.

Another consideration relates to what else is being taken by people drinking any high-caffeine product. An increasing concern among neuroscientists is that caffeine seems to increase the lethality of drugs like ecstasy (X, MDMA), amphetamine, and methamphetamine in rats given caffeine doses in the range of human consumption (reviewed here). This is a concern because energy drinks are primarily targeted toward teens and young adults who are more likely than older adults to use illicit drug.

2. Vitamins: with some vitamins far exceeding recommended daily values.

3. Amino acids: Most troubling is phenylalanine, an amino acid that cannot be adequately broken down by people with a genetic disorder called phenylketonuria. This is why you’ll see diet sodas containing the artificial sweetener aspartame listed with a warning for phenylketonurics: aspartame contains phenylalanine. In such individuals, the amino acid gets converted instead to a chemical that can cause seizures, and even mental retardation in developing infants and children. Phenylketonuria is rather common in the US, occurring in 1 out of 15,000 people but is 3-to-5 times more common in Turkey and Scotland.

The bottom line:

Ask yourself why you’d want to drink these so-called “energy” drinks. Are you trying to stay awake while working or studying late or driving long hours? Take some time to get some sleep instead of exposing yourself to high caffeine levels and God knows what else.

If you absolutely must have “energy” drinks, be sure you talk with your doctor or pharmacist to learn if your health status and/or medications might interact negatively with very high doses of caffeine.

~Eowyn

More cats in tight places!

Yesterday, I posted part one of “Cats in tight places,” and asked why cats are so attracted to boxes, bags, and other hole-ly spaces.

An article in Live Science explains:

Seeking out confined spaces is an instinctual behavior for cats. In the wild, these areas allow the animals to both hide from predators and surreptitiously stalk prey.

“Cats like boxes because they are cryptic animals; they like to hide,” Stephen Zawistowski, science adviser for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told Business Insider. “And a box gives them a place of safety and security.”

While inside a box, cats feel that they cannot be snuck up on from behind or the side — anything that wants to approach them must come directly into their field of vision. In effect, such hiding spaces allow them to watch the world around them without being seen.

And if something interesting passes in front of the cat — be it prey or a toy — it can dash out to get the object, and then quickly return to its safety spot.

Boxes also provide cats with a cozy, safe place to sleep, which is very important given that the felines sleep for up to 20 hours a day.

And now, here are more pics of cats in tight spaces!

cats9cats10cats11cats12cats13cats14cats15cats16

~Eowyn