Making Individually-Purchased #Healthcare Great Again

Healthcare-LunchboxThe article, “How Would The Senate Discussion Draft Affect Individually-Purchased Health Coverage?“, caught my attention. As a person who opted to not purchase health insurance in 2017, I hate to give advice to those folks still trying to make this pig fly but here goes.

Still Searching For Affordable Health Care Options

Prior to the ACA the individual market was the only health insurance market that demanded affordable health insurance.  Compared to the small, medium, and large business markets, the individual market was aggressively priced in most states in 2011. The price increases I experienced from 2011 to 2016 led me to believe that federalizing health insurance has encouraged cronyism and corruption. I can see where the insurance companies and politicians benefited but not customers like me. If the health care industrial complex wants me back they have to offer me affordable health insurance(<8.05% of AGI) with a lot less lying.

Trust Matters

I believe that the ACA attitude toward health care reform was best expressed by Professor Gruber’s “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” comment. This attitude explains why we succeeded in creating a dysfunctional, unsustainable health care system that surprisingly poisoned the waters for a single payer system, too. The next health care reform needs to be less political and more honest.

Medicaid Plus

If society wants to subsidize high-risk pool, chronic care, and low-income customers than it is society’s responsibility. Trying to get the smallest insurance market with the most price sensitive insurance customers to pay a disproportionate share of the cost is just plain foolish. The government should make the rules in markets they are paying the majority of the cost. Let’s start calling the subsidized market what it really is, Medicaid Plus. Let the individual insurance market have the flexibility to go back to being the spearhead of health care cost control for healthy people. Let’s make health care great again for the customers.

Life Immitates Hate Art, Steve Scalise Is The First Casualty

The Democrats bargain with the Devil has finally paid out. The more you try to justify Kathy Griffin’s beheading of President Trump as just “a bad joke”, the more you encourage hate art. It was just a matter of time before this “bad joke” or a stabbing of Trump results in bloodshed.

How #Healthcare Markets Work

Unbridled Wealth Redistribution Breeds Corruption

Healthcare-LunchboxThere is nothing that says health care policies are not working than 13% annual increases in health insurance premiums for healthy people. My wife and I have not had a health insurance claim in over two decades and until this year we had a grandfathered health insurance plan. Since our health insurance plan and health status did not change, we have to conclude that unbridled wealth redistribution leads to cronyism and corruption. The insurance companies raised the rates because they could get away with it. What options did we have? Some people might call that an unintended consequence of the ACA, I call it cronyism. At some point the customer has to say, enough is enough. Not only did our most recent grandfathered health insurance premium exceed 8.05% of our adjusted gross income but so did every ACA plan. I am 63 years old. For the first time in my life, I can not find affordable health insurance. Sadly this is the ACA’s most important accomplishment.

Unbridled Wealth Redistribution Versus The Healthy Customer

This embrace of unbridled wealth redistribution has corrupted the only market that had any resemblance of a well-functioning market. The only way the ACA health exchanges would succeed at attracting healthy customers is if they offered affordable health insurance. Putting healthy customers in the same market as high-risk pool and subsidized customers was probably too much to ask. Where the subsidized customer is not price sensitive, the healthy customer is. The ACA health exchange is meaningless to the healthy customer if every health insurance plan costs more than 8.05% of a person’s adjusted gross income. It did not have to be this way. The ACA chose to leave cost control to the next administration.

Making Markets Work For The Healthy Customer

In 2015 my wife and I came to the conclusion that the health care industrial complex would not willingly change their ways so we started building up our HSA. At the end of 2016 I asked our insurance company if they would offer me a lower rate. They declined and we chose to drop our health insurance. The markets are working, the customer has spoken, and our health policies are dysfunctional. Although we are nervous about our choice, we think we can do a better job managing our health care than the health care industrial complex. It is amazing how fast the money builds up when you divert your old health insurance premium amount into a savings account. I am mildly optimistic we can get better health care advice for non-emergency room treatments if we tell our health care providers that we are a cash customer.  Every month we get by without a cancer diagnosis makes us a little more confident we made the right decision. If the insurance companies want us back all they have to do is show us an affordable health insurance plan!

In Honor Of Pulling Out Of The #ParisAccord, My Favorite Cartoon About #ClimateChange

Dilbert Cartoon 2017-05-14Climate science is interesting because its data and models are so bad! My inner scientist says that there is nothing that screams lousy climate data and models more than bad predictions. This is a pretty good example of garbage in creating garbage out. The joke is that climate science was created to make weathermen feel good about themselves.  Oh wait, that joke is supposed to be about economists! When you combine climate science with economics, hilarious predictions will be forthcoming. There is no shame in climate science! Here is the transcript from the cartoon.

Boss: I invited a climate scientist to explain the risk of climate change to our company.

Climate Scientist: Human activity is warming the earth and will lead to a global catastrophe.

Dilbert: How do scientists know that?

Climate Scientist: It’s easy. We start with the basic science of physics and chemistry.

Climate Scientist: Then we measure changes in temperature and CO2 over time.

Climate Scientist: We put that data into dozens of different climate models and ignore the ones that look wrong to us.

Climate Scientist: Then we take that output and run it through long-term economic models of the sort that have never been right.

Dilbert: What if I don’t trust the economic models?

Climate Scientist: Who hired the science denier?

The #SethRich Story Is Boiling Over

The number of stories about the Seth Rich murder is peaking. I think the frustration over the Seth Rich murder is best explained by this quote from the Counterpunch article, “Seth Rich, Craig Murray and the Sinister Stewards of the National Security State“.

Why is it a “conspiracy theory” to think that a disgruntled Democratic National Committee staffer gave WikiLeaks the DNC emails, but not a conspiracy theory to think the emails were provided by Russia?

Why?

Which is the more likely scenario: That a frustrated employee leaked damaging emails to embarrass his bosses or a that foreign government hacked DNC computers for some still-unknown reason?

That’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?

The Washington Post is trying its best to write it off as a conspiracy theory. Recently two people gave the conspiracy pot a big stir. Kim Dotcom says he knows that Mr. Rich leaked the DNC emails to Wikileaks and a surgeon is raising questions about Mr. Richs treatment at the hospital. Since I believe that the simplest answer is probably correct, let’s look at some of the theories on Seth Rich’s murder.

The “Robbery Gone Bad” Theory

The “robbery gone bad” theory is the most popular explanation of his death. The problems with this theory are that nothing was stolen, it occurred at 4 am, and he was shot twice in the back. This looks like an unusual time for a professional or even a novice robber to be practicing their craft on the street. If you are a robber who is up at 4 am, you are probably trying to break into a house or to steal a car. A robber knows the difference between robbery and murder. Shooting someone in the back does not look like a robbery victim. Shooting someone in the back when they are trying to flee is an act of passion. The biggest problems with this scenario are why was he shot twice without a kill shot and where are the shell casings. The only reason to shoot him more than once is to make sure he does not testify. Shooting an unarmed man once can be explained as an unintended consequence of a fight. Shooting an unarmed man twice is a strong case for murder. A criminal would know this. Did the police find fingerprints on the shell casings and did they run the prints? A criminal would probably have their fingerprints in the system already.

The “Seth was assassinated” Theory

The “Seth was assassinated” theory explains the fact that nothing was stolen and the time of the shooting. There was nothing professional about this murder. Only an amateur would have left Seth alive.

The “Angry Person” Theory

A more likely scenario is that Mr. Rich got into a heated argument with a person on the street and when Mr. Rich tried to leave the fight he was shot in the back. This could be almost anyone walking the streets at 4 am with an emotional problem. The problem with this theory is imagining Mr. Rich talking with any person at 4 am. An intriguing possibility is that a person associated with the DNC found out that Mr. Rich was leaking emails to Wikileaks and went to confront him. Although this person may have been angry, they did not plan to kill him. The only person I can imagine Mr. Rich would allow getting close to him at 4 am is someone he knew. When the argument became violent and Mr. Rich tried to leave, it was in the heat of the moment that he was shot twice in the back. If you believe this theory then the list of suspects is small and this case should have been tied up before the election last year. Oops!

#ComeyFiring Why Did Director #Comey Stay On For So Long?

Jail CellIf Director Comey has as much integrity as his supporters claim then why did he not offer his resignation the day after the Presidential election regardless of who won? If Ms. Clinton won the election then it is obvious that she would request his resignation. For the good of FBI, he would comply. What is not obvious is why Director Comey stayed on after Mr. Trump won despite feeling “mildly nauseous’’ at the thought that his decisions about a probe into Hillary Clinton might have affected the outcome of the election? This sounds like a guy who is having trouble coming to work each day. After alienating both political parties and politicizing the FBI, his future was a political minefield. If he succumbed to political pressure in the Clinton email investigation, what were Republicans supposed to think about the Flynn investigation in this hyper-partisan political atmosphere? How could he satisfy either party? As long as he was there, there was no way to put a non-partisan FBI back together again. Director Comey was the weak link. The right thing for him to do was offer to resign and let someone else pick up the pieces.

#comeyfiring The press doth protest too much, methinks

This morning I was amused when I heard a news pundit complain that President Trump failed to leave a trail of breadcrumbs that would explain his decision to fire Director Comey. Although the journalists agreed with the President’s action, they were really bent out of shape by the lack of anonymous government officials giving them an advance warning of the firing. It was unacceptable to them that they found out about the story at the same time as the rest of America. Without special knowledge to spice up the story, why will the average American listen to them? Maybe the real story is that President Trump is different than your typical politician. Oh wait, we already knew that!

When Clapper Said He Was Not Aware Of A Counter-Intelligence Investigation At The FBI, I Was Concerned For #Comey

Jail CellI do not trust Mr. Clapper. Time and time again he inevitably answers questions in a way that allows him plausible deniability. Good for him but bad for the American people. However, I do not believe he knowingly lies.  At a recent Senate hearing, I believe him when he said he did not know of a counter-intelligence effort at the FBI. This left me with me with the thought there might be an off-the-books counter-intelligence operation at the FBI that Mr. Clapper was not aware of. As Director of National Intelligence, Mr. Clapper, is one person who absolutely, positively should know of a counter-intelligence operation at the FBI involving Russia. The Director of National Intelligence position was created to avoid intelligence coordination mishaps that occurred prior to the 9/11 attack. Now Mr. Clapper says he did not know of a counter-intelligence operation. Did Director Comey lie to Mr. Clapper? This behavior is the type of offense that got Mr. Flynn fired. Should we expect a different result?

#YatesHearing If the Russians were going to blackmail Flynn, what does this say about a Clinton Presidency?

If Ms. Yates was drawing the proverbial line in the sand for Mr. Flynn’s actions, why did the Justice Department not indict Ms. Clinton and the Clinton Foundation? The Justice Department should have indicted either Ms. Clinton or the Clinton Foundation if they wanted to limit future Russian blackmail. The Podesta emails show us that there was a lot more money involved and the “pay for access” was common. Although I doubt a “reasonable prosecutor” would get a conviction, it would serve as a reminder that there are limits to influence peddling. Instead, we had a Presidential election which largely hinged on the “untrustworthiness” of Ms. Clinton.

How Congress Could Make @SteveKBannon Wildest Dream Come True

Over at The Fiscal Times I tried to make a comment on the post,  How Congress Could Make Steve Bannon’s Wildest Dream Come True, but either Disqus or The Fiscal Time had a problem that prevented me from completing the login. So here is what I wanted to say.


The idea that Senator Portman will make Steve Bannon’s wildest dream come is laughable. Both Senator Portman and Steve Bannon agree that the regulatory system is broken. How to fix it is where they differ. Mr. Bannon would like to start over with a smaller federal footprint while Senator Portman would like to reform the current system. Here are my reasons why powerful insiders, Senators Portman (R-Ohio) and Heitkamp (D-N.D.), are more likely to fix the regulatory system before Mr. Bannon or the Supreme Court can garner enough support for a more drastic reform.

Reason #1 – Senator Portman Is The Best Man For Regulatory Reform

Senator Portman is my senator so I am familiar with what he stands for and how he legislates. Senator Portman believes in the establishment class. No one has ever confused him with a libertarian. The bills he sponsors typically try to make the existing government agencies work better. The Regulatory Accountability Act is exactly the type of legislation I expect him to propose. As the ultimate insider and consensus builder, he probably solicited input from the affected agencies in crafting the bill. If anyone can write a bill that will make the regulatory system work more efficiently, he is the one.

Reason #2 – The U. S. Chamber Of Commerce Wants Regulatory Reform

The best explanation of the reason for the law comes from U. S. Chamber of Commerce. Once again they emphasize the importance of regulatory reform when they say:

While most federal agencies exercise regulatory self-restraint, there are at times agencies that use these delegated powers as if the agency was the elected legislature. And Congress can sometimes find itself unable to control the conduct of that agency. More troubling are those situations when the courts fail to scrutinize agency action by granting deference to agency overreach, causing the checks and balances in our system of government to fail.

Reason #3 – The Courts Want Regulatory Reform

A bigger threat to the Administrative State is that their incompetence and arrogance is irritating the court. When you look at the Supreme Court opinions in the Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby cases you can see that the Court is getting frustrated with cases that should never have gone to court. I sense that the Court believes the regulatory system has gotten too political. Unless things change quickly, the Supreme Court will start looking for cases to roll back the Chevron Deference to encourage more consensus building and fewer lawsuits. It will be a small step to a more libertarian approach. If an agency cannot attain a consensus then the Court will go “old school” and ask Congress to pass legislation that provides adequate direction.

So the Congress, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce all want the regulatory system reformed. Unlike the author of the Fiscal Times article, I think the presence of folks like Mr. Bannon will convince these groups to do a meaningful reform. Kicking this regulatory reform down the road is not an option for the establishment class in this political environment.

Trivia Fact: The “cancer-causing dust” referred to in the article is sand. I am guessing that “cancer-causing dust” is a lot scarier than regulations on breathing sand. Silicosis is a greater medical threat than cancer. OSHA set standards to limit worker exposure in 1971 so updated standards are long overdue. The OSHA site says,

OSHA will delay enforcement of the respirable crystalline silica standard for construction until September 23, 2017, to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers.