Halloween Comes and the GOP Gets Scary: Updated

It must be getting closer to Halloween, because the GOP is dressed up as “a friend of working Americans” and screeching out warnings about the old Devil Obamacare.

Halloween Mask Watch Out! You may not be able to see your family physician under Obamacare!

Did you just wake up from a twenty year hibernation? Private companies have “preferred providers.”  There’s absolutely nothing new about this one.  If you are among those Americans who are not in an employer sponsored health insurance plan, and you select one of the policies on offer in the exchanges, you will get one of those multi-page door stop publications about Preferred Providers.  Remember, you are not buying “public” insurance, you are selecting one of the private health care corporation plans — and private health care corporation plans have “preferred providers.”

Halloween MaskOMG! Employers are going to shift to part time staffing because of Obamacare!

Do, please, shake those cobwebs loose.  In March 1991 — that’s right, 1991 — the Department of Labor (pdf) reported “involuntary part timers — workers who would prefer full time jobs — account for most of the growth in part time employment since 1970.”  In the early 1970’s there were about 200,000 (0.3%) temporary or part time workers in the national workforce, by 1990 there were about one million “temps” constituting about 1% of the workforce.  Ten years later temporary hires made up 2% of the workforce.   Between 2005 and 2008, well before anyone brought up the Affordable Care Act, part time employment increased from 4.3 million to 8.9 million jobs. [NCPA]

Halloween MaskThis is scary! The Administration’s not on Obamacare and the Congress isn’t so if Obamacare is so good why aren’t they on Obamacare?

Well, perhaps that’s because they already have their own health care exchange wherein they can find policies fitting their needs and budgets.   It was Representative Dave Camp (R-MI) who introduced H.R. 1780 requiring federal employees in the FEHBP to get insurance in the state health care exchanges. [fedsmith] The situation at present is:

Members of Congress and their staffs will be required to buy through exchanges if they want coverage from the federal government. Other federal employees will continue to be covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP)” . [Kaiser] There’s nothing to see here… move one.

Halloween MaskMajor employers are going to stop offering health care plans because of Obamacare!

Or has this trend been on-going because of increasing group health insurance premiums charged by the health insurance corporations? The Employee Benefit Research Institute reported on the effect of rising costs to employers back in 2010:

“The ever-rising cost of health insurance affects different employers and workers in different ways—with small employers and low-wage workers being the most disadvantaged. With health premiums having risen almost five times as much as the overall rate of inflation since 2000, employers face unsustainable cost increases in health benefits. For a minimum-wage worker, the cost of family coverage (averaging about $13,700 a year in a small firm) exceeds their total annual income (about $11,500 a year). Small employers, if they offer health benefits at all, pay proportionately more than large employers for the same health coverage.”  [EBRI]

The EBRI also reported in early 2008: “EBRI data also show that the percentage of employers with fewer than 200 employees that offer benefits dropped from 68 per-cent in 2000 to 59 percent in 2007, a “remarkable downward decline.” And employers have clearly passed the “tipping point” on retiree health benefits, which are in a sharp decline.”

“…the type of insurance has changed dramatically. Policies that pay everything are essentially gone, replaced by designs of many names that are rife with employee premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and limitations on covered services.”  [WSJ]

In other words, the decline in the comprehensive coverage for employees before Obamacare was already a predictable trend.  Touting this scary canard demonstrates pretty clearly that the GOP is getting as nervous as an alligator in a purse factory.

Halloween Mask Addendum: “Oh deary me, if young people sign up they’ll just be subsidizing the older sicker people in the health care plans…”

And exactly how do you think the insurance industry works?  When a younger person buys life insurance, it is a fact of life that the older people will be deceased first — that’s why there are actuarial tables.  When a safe driver buys automobile insurance, claims will be paid to those who were either “not-so-safe” or were the victims of the “not-so-safe.”  That is pooling the risk.  The plans offered by the health care insurance corporations in the state exchanges are no different.

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