The Kaiser Family Foundation has a new tool that shows you how bad the House, Senate, and Obama health care proposals are for you personally.
You just plug in your income, age, whether you're looking for insurance for an individual or a family of four, and whether your employer provides insurance. It shows you what the average premium is and what your tax-financed subsidy would be.
Even ignoring the higher insurance costs that would result from new taxes and fees, the results are pretty grim.
The first pass I made showed that I would not get a subsidy for the insurance I purchase on my own because the Locke Foundation offers insurance to its employee unless the insurance costs more than some percentage of income (9.8% in the Senate bill, 12% in the House bill, unspecified in the president's proposal). This assumes that the Locke Foundation continues to see value in paying for insurance instead of the $750 to $2,000 penalty per employee if management chooses not to. But I'm ok with no subsidy. That would leave me no worse off, in the unlikely event my high-deductible plan continues to be available.
My family's insurance policy will cost less than $4,000 this year, it now covers vision, and all of our health expenses through the HSA are tax deductible. In what Kaiser calls a "lower cost area," it assumes the premium for a family like mine to be $7,393. Even after the subsidy, which I've already paid for through taxes, this policy would roughly cost between $5,500 (Obama) and $5,750 (House). So my plan likely disappears and I either end up on the Locke Foundation plan which I opted out of from the start or I end up purchasing a plan that costs nearly twice as much, though part of that cost is paid through taxes and the after-subsidy premium is still up to $2,000 more per year.
If insurance companies really are evil, as the president and others would have us believe, why does health reform give them money and more power to control my health. And that's even assuming his new regulatory rate setters don't become pawns of the insurance companies themselves.
I don't have a lot of confidence that Republicans will rise to the occasion Thursday, but there is a lot more to offer patients than what the president and Congressional Democrats have done.
That's the question Paul Chesser, special correspondent for The Heartland Institute and director of Climate Strategies Watch, tackled today during a presentation to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society.
In the video clip below, Chesser explains that Climategate has "cooled" interest in global warming legislation at the national level, opening the door again for his old nemesis, the Center for Climate Strategies:
4:50 p.m. update: Watch the entire 56:33 presentation below.
You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.
State legislators will have to match funding requests and available state funds that are $500 million apart. The News & Observer story describes it as coming up "$500 million short" and misreports the $20.3 billion spending plan for the year as $19 billion.
Whether the problem is too little money or too much spending, though, part of the solution is to focus government on core services and promises made to state employees.
The term isn't heard much these days, but it refers to someone who thinks that just by manipulating the money supply the government can bring about good results. In other words, someone who advocates inflation.
History has had lots of them and in this Freeman article today, Larry Reed (president of FEE and a former faculty colleague of mine) provides a good short history of monetary crank-ism. He focuses in particular on post-Civil War America when inflationists hit upon the idea of diluting the money stock by coining lots of silver. It was corporate welfare for silver producers and meant as a political goody for debtors (mainly farmers) who could pay off their debts in cheapened dollars. That inflationary episode led to the Panic of 1893.
Inflation is the essential ingredient in panics and depressions.
We still have monetary cranks, Larry says, but now they wear expensive suits and work for the federal government or businesses that want to feed at the public trough.
Think those funny-looking light bulbs and energy-efficient appliances are helping to save the world? Even TIME’s in-house environmental alarmist Bryan Walsh realizes that those items can have unintended consequences:
When environmentally conscious consumers buy an energy-efficient dishwasher, for example, they may feel less guilty about running the machine more often and as a result may not end up saving much on their utility bills. Likewise, studies indicate that people who install more-energy-efficient lights lose 5% to 12% of the expected savings by leaving them on longer.
As for whether those energy-efficiency measures would do much for the environment under any circumstances, Roy Spencer offered an interesting perspective during a 2008 interview with Carolina Journal Radio.
Reagan's phrase "Trust but verify" is the best way to think of genuine bipartisan negotiations. Republicans will still be conservative. Obama and his team will still be liberal. The question is whether the two sides can find enough common ground to hammer out agreements that will be good for the American people.
The challenge for Obama is that in almost every case, the American people now want solutions different from his ideology and the passionate desires of his strongest partisans. A recent New York Times/CBS poll showed that by a 56% to 34% majority, the American people prefer "a smaller government providing fewer services" to "a bigger government providing more services." An even larger majority, 59%, say the government is doing too much, while only 35% say it should be doing more.
One of the more disturbing aspects of the health-care reform debate has been the absence of discussion about how proposed “reforms” would lead to actual improvements in health.
Those advocating reform say too few people have health insurance; reform would ensure that everyone (more or less) would have insurance. They assume this change would improve health.
But The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle, no foe of the concept of reform, nonetheless punctures that myth in a new article:
The possibility that no one risks death by going without health insurance may be startling, but some research supports it. Richard Kronick of the University of California at San Diego’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, an adviser to the Clinton administration, recently published the results of what may be the largest and most comprehensive analysis yet done of the effect of insurance on mortality. He used a sample of more than 600,000, and controlled not only for the standard factors, but for how long the subjects went without insurance, whether their disease was particularly amenable to early intervention, and even whether they lived in a mobile home. In test after test, he found no significantly elevated risk of death among the uninsured.
This result is not, perhaps, as shocking as it seems. Health care heals, but it also kills. Someone who lacked insurance over the past few decades might have missed taking their Lipitor, but also their Vioxx or Fen-Phen. According to one estimate, 80,000 people a year are killed just by “nosocomial infections”—infections that arise as a result of medical treatment. The only truly experimental study on health insurance, a randomized study of almost 4,000 subjects done by Rand and concluded in 1982, found that increasing the generosity of people’s health insurance caused them to use more health care, but made almost no difference in their health status.
If gaining insurance has a large effect on people’s health, we should see outcomes improve dramatically between one’s early and late 60s. Yet like the Kronick and Rand studies, analyses of the effect of Medicare, which becomes available to virtually everyone in America at the age of 65, show little benefit. In a recent review of the literature, Helen Levy of the University of Michigan and David Meltzer of the University of Chicago noted that the latest studies of this question “paint a surprisingly consistent picture: Medicare increases consumption of medical care and may modestly improve self-reported health but has no effect on mortality, at least in the short run.”
If you’ve read Roy Cordato’s critique of current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s policies, you might find interest in Geoff Colvin’s latest Fortunearticle, in which previous Fed chairman Alan Greenspan attempts to defend his record.
Much has been made of Greenspan’s October 2008 congressional testimony, in which he admitted that the events of recent years did not comport with his fundamental beliefs about the economic system. But that doesn’t mean the man once known as “The Maestro” is now ready to turn more of the economy over to the government:
Self-interest failed, Greenspan believes, mainly because no one, including himself, understood the costs of the extremely unlikely risks the big banks faced. "This is a once-in-a-century event," he says.
It may seem unsurprising that in those rare circumstances the banks disastrously misjudged their counterparties, mainly other institutions that owed them payments. But a central element of Greenspan's belief system was that such things don't happen. "Counterparty surveillance failed to protect the system this time," he says. "I always thought it would. I held that belief for 60 years."
Yet he doesn't believe tougher regulation by the Fed could have saved the banks. The problem in his view is that regulators would be much worse than the banks themselves at judging banks' counterparty risk. "I was on the board of J.P. Morgan prior to becoming Fed chairman," he says. "I knew what J.P. Morgan knew about Citi, Bank of America, Wells, and others. When I arrived at the Fed, I quickly learned that J.P. Morgan's knowledge of those organizations was far greater than what the Fed knew."
Greenspan isn't opposed to more regulation, mostly fine-tuning. But on the central issue of self-interest, the safeguard that failed, he isn't giving up. He wants banks more exposed to market discipline by making sure that the "too big to fail" doctrine disappears. "Counterparty surveillance will remain the regulators' first line of defense," he says. The banks may have blown it, but now they've learned how to do it better, and that's what they must do.