Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Death Spiral Begins

Higher rates under Obamacare:

//So the proposed 2016 Obamacare rates have been filed in many states, and in many states, the numbers are eye-popping. Market leaders are requesting double-digit increases in a lot of places. Some of the biggest are really double-digit: 51 percent in New Mexico, 36 percent in Tennessee, 30 percent in Maryland, 25 percent in Oregon. The reason? They say that with a full year of claims data under their belt for the first time since Obamacare went into effect, they're finding the insurance pool was considerably older and sicker than expected.

Don't panic, says Kevin Drum. This is just the opening bid in a regulatory dance that will end up somewhere very different: "A few months from now, the real rate increases — the ones approved by state and federal authorities — will begin to trickle out. They'll mostly be in single digits, with a few in the low teens. The average for the entire country will end up being something like 4-8 percent."

He's right, of course, that the proposed rates will not end up being the final rate. Regulators are going to push back on these rates as hard as they can, with some success.

But in the case of the companies cited by the Wall Street Journal, I'd bet they're not going to go down to 4-8 percent. As it turns out, the insurer filings are public information, available on state websites. And in the three cases where I could see supporting data about premium revenue and losses, those losses appear to be large. Moda of Oregon says that its claims were 139 percent of revenue, making for a margin of -61 percent. If I am reading their somewhat confusing table right, Health Service Corporation of New Mexico says it lost $23 million on revenue of $121 million. CareFirst of Maryland says that claims were 120 percent of revenue, which if we add in some money to pay for overhead, amounts to ... less than or equal to what they're asking from regulators. I can't find claims experience data for Tennessee, but that state told the Wall Street Journal that it lost $141 million on exchange plans last year.

Now, this is not the whole story. These are only the biggest insurers in some states. Smaller insurers may price lower in an attempt to grow their business (though if their claims experience matches the biggest insurers, that's going to be a recipe for a quick bankruptcy). And the median request on a list of the biggest insurers in 12 states was more on the order of 10-15 percent, and three states -- Maine, Connecticut and Indiana -- had insurers ask for increases in the low single digits.

That's only 12 states, of course, and none of the biggest-population ones. But even if we assume that the regulators cut the increases in half, that's a median increase of 5-6 percent, with a mean considerably higher than that. Even if you weight by population -- well, actually population-weighting makes that worse, not better, because the states with the lowest rate requests are disproportionately sparse.

Moreover, significant rate increases are what I would broadly expect, because these rates are the first ones set with a full year of claims data, and what we know about the pool is that it is poorer and older -- which would also mean sicker -- than was projected. Initially, HHS was saying that it needed about 40 percent of the exchange policies to be purchased by people age 18-35 to keep the exchanges financially stable. It was 28 percent in both 2014 and 2015, according to HHS data. The CBO had projected about 85 percent of exchange enrollees to be subsidized, falling toward 80 percent as enrollment grew; instead, that number is 87 percent and actually rose slightly from 2014. It would be pretty surprising if rates weren't increasing faster than inflation, or even than general health care cost inflation.

Eyeing the Journal's list, the most obvious pattern is that states are converging on a price somewhere well north of $300 a month for a 40-year-old nonsmoker seeking a Silver plan; the states with the biggest rate hikes all had premiums under $250, and are asking to be allowed to go near or over $300, while the states that asked for low increases were already over $300, and in some cases well over. (Vermont is at $430 -- and asking to go to $476! "Only" an 8.4 percent increase, but wow.) It seems as if states where insurers initially underpriced are now trying to move toward a natural price somewhere between $3,600 and $5,000 a year for a single nonsmoker. If that's the price of providing basic benefits, regulators cannot command it away by fiat; the best they can do is to force insurers out of the market.//

Plus higher deductibles!!!!

Thank you, Obamacare!


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Thomas Kuhn was right.

Notice which study gets vindicated by vigorous examination and which study was accidentally discovered to be a total fraud by scientists who wanted to expand on its findings?

Amazing lessons for the day: Science is done by Scientists, and Scientists are Human Beings.

I know....mind-bending.



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why everyone loves atheists!!!

It must be their tolerance and good humor and willingness to respect diverse beliefs....

...or maybe not.

//An Air Force two-star general is being blasted by a civil liberties group for speaking in uniform about how God has guided his career.

Video posted on YouTube shows Maj. Gen. Craig Olson speaking at a National Day of Prayer Task Force event May 7. In the speech, Olson refers to himself as a "redeemed believer in Christ," who credits God for his accomplishments in the Air Force.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has called for Olson to be "aggressively and very visibly brought to justice for his unforgivable crimes and transgressions" by a court-martial, adding that any other service members who helped him should be investigated and punished "to the full extent of military law."//


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fraudulent science?

Used to influence politics?

Incredible!

Data Faked In Study About Gay People Changing Voters’ Minds

A study claiming that gay people advocating same-sex marriage can change voters’ minds has been retracted due to fraud.
The study was published last December in Science, and received lots of media attention. It found that a 20-minute, one-on-one conversation with a gay political canvasser could steer voters in favor of same-sex marriage. Not only that, but these changed opinions lasted for at least a year and influenced other people in the voter’s household, the study found.
Donald Green, the lead author on the study, retracted it on Tuesday shortly after learning that his co-author, UCLA graduate student Michael LaCour, had faked the results.
“I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers, and readers of Science,” Green, a professor of political science at Columbia University, said in his retraction letter to the journal, as posted on theRetraction Watch blog.
LaCour has not responded to requests for comment from BuzzFeed News, but tweeted this Wednesday morning:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The nice thing about having a Democrat in the White House is that there is never any bad news...

CBS and NBC again refuse to criticize Obama after ISIS captures Ramadi.

CBS and NBC continued their refusal on Monday evening to criticize the Obama administration’s handing of Iraq and so-called policy on ISIS as the Islamic terror group seized control of Ramadi over the weekend. 
 While those two networks continued to spin for the White House, ABC went in the other direction (albeit slightly) by providing a blunt critique of the Obama administration for “painting far too rosy a picture of how this war is going for far too long.” 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Consensus means "suppress heretics in the name of Science."

University Pulls Funding For Think Tank Because It’s Run By A Global Warming Skeptic

Professor Bjorn Lomborg has become the target of environmental activists. Last week, activists convinced the University of Western Australia to cancel a plan with Lomborg to create a major research center that would focus on the economics of global development projects.
Why were global warming activists upset? Because Lomborg doesn’t believe global warming is currently the greatest threat facing mankind. Activistspressured the university to return $4 million to the Australian government that would have gone to create the think-tank Australia Consensus.
The move was celebrated by environmentalists, but bemoaned by Australian conservatives as a blow to free and open debate. Lomborg, the self-styled “skeptical environmentalist,” didn’t sit idly by, but instead took to the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal to voice his disgust.
So did you hear about that ABC comedy inspired by an ex-gay that mocks and trashes gays by stereotyping and ridiculing them?

Probably not, because that would be bigotry.

There would be protests and outrage.

Now, having an ex-Catholic homosexual stereotype and ridicule Catholics is perfectly hunky-dory.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

OK, Food Fans....Let's try....
Thousand Island dressing and Green Olive Surprise!
What's the Surprise!?
Just ask Miss Semi Sweet.
 
Who links to me?