October 5, 2009

Deny This: Guess Who Has the Highest Medical Claim Rejection Rate?

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:55 pm

file-social-security-reconsideratioOh, the establishment press will just loooooove this — not.

From BigGovernment.com (HT Mark Levin over the airwaves this evening):

Beverly Gossage, Research Fellow for Show-Me Institute and founder of HSA Benefits Consulting wondered which insurance companies rejected the most claims.  She found her answer in the AMA’s own 2008 National Health Insurer Report Card (fairly large PDF).

I’m curious. Was it Aetna? Humana?

A chart showing the major carriers and how Medicare compared to them in the study follows:

DenialsByInsurer2008

Well, well.

The Medicare denial rate found in the study was, on a weighted average basis, roughly 1.7 times that of all of the private carriers combined (99,025 divided by 2,447,216 is 4.05%; 6.85% divided by 4.05% =1.69).

You would Medicare’s sheer size might enable it to have smoother procedures with its providers that would enable it to turn down a lower percentage of claims. But no, this is the government we’re talking about.

So who’s the most “heartless” now? And why should Americans accept the idea of gradually being forced into a government-run system when, based on documented government experience, they will be more likely to see their claims denied?

And I didn’t even get to the idea of refusals to treat in the first place, something that is present to some degree in virtually every state-run system, but is currently against the law in hospital emergency rooms in the U.S.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Following the Damage Inflicted by the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy …

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:31 pm

The economy, according to a composite of the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing indices, is finally expanding.

Manufacturing’s September reading came in at 52.6% last Friday, a slight dip from August’s 52.9%, after a string of 18 straight sub-50% performances.

The Non Manufacturing Index showed its first expansionary reading (above 50%) since October of last year, at 50.9%. The economy’s combined reading, weighting the indices 85-15, is 51.2%, the first time the combined number is over 50% since August of last year. That month eked out a 50.2% weighted-average reading.

It was the Non Manufacturing Index’s “totally unexpected” drop into contraction in June of 2008 that, combined with June 2008′s employment report, that confirmed my satisfaction that Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid had launched the POR Economy.

Maybe we’re out of the woods in the sense of the economy finally starting to grow again, but Pelosi, Obama, and Reid shrunk it by about 3.8%. There’s a lot to make up, and one decent quarter, if that’s indeed how the third quarter turned out, does not a turnaround make.

And of course, the employment situations remains pathetic, and may stay that way for years to come.

Record Teen Unemployment: Only WSJ Seriously Looks At Minimum-Wage Hikes As Cause

Note: This post originally appeared earlier this morning, and has been carried to the top, because of the importance of the topic and the possibility of light blogging for the remainder of the day.

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TeenWorkingBased on the data, the current job situation for teenagers in America is the worst on record.

According to Uncle Sam’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Seasonally adjusted teenage unemployment hit 25.9%. That is the highest rate in the nearly 62 years BLS has been reporting this number. The previous record was last month’s 25.5%. The record before that was 24.1% in November and December of 1982. A graphic of the complete history of the teenage unemployment rate that will open in a new window is here.
  • Unemployment among black teens not enrolled in school is over 50%.
  • The rate among 20-24 year-olds is also alarmingly high at 15.1%.

Almost alone among establishment media publications — and even then in an editorial, not a regular news report — the Wall Street Journal commented on this distressing set of circumstances, identified the most likely cause of the problem, and worried about its longer-term consequences:

Washington will deny the reality, and the media won’t make the connection, but one reason for these job losses is the rising minimum wage.

Earlier this year, economist David Neumark of the University of California, Irvine, wrote on these pages that the 70-cent-an-hour increase in the minimum wage would cost some 300,000 jobs. Sure enough, the mandated increase to $7.25 took effect in July, and right on cue the August and September jobless numbers confirm the rapid disappearance of jobs for teenagers.

The September teen unemployment rate hit 25.9%, the highest rate since World War II and up from 23.8% in July. Some 330,000 teen jobs have vanished in two months.

…. The biggest explanation is of course the bad economy. But it’s precisely when the economy is down and businesses are slashing costs that raising the minimum wage is so destructive to job creation. Congress began raising the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour in July 2007, and there are now 691,000 fewer teens working.

…. Congress and the Obama Administration simply ignore the economic consensus that has long linked higher minimum wages with higher unemployment. Two years ago Mr. Neumark and William Wascher, a Federal Reserve economist, reviewed more than 100 academic studies on the impact of the minimum wage. They found “overwhelming” evidence that the least skilled and the young suffer a loss of employment when the minimum wage is increased. Whatever happened to President Obama’s pledge to follow the science?

…. Study after study reveals that there are long-term career benefits to working as a teenager and that these benefits go well beyond the pay that these youths receive. A study by researchers at Stanford found that those who do not work as teenagers have lower long-term wages and employability even after 10 years. A high-wage society can only come by making workers more productive, and by destroying starter jobs the minimum wage may reduce long-term earnings.

…. If Congress won’t suspend its recent minimum wage hike, it should at least create a teenage wage of $4 or $5 an hour to help put hundreds of thousands of teens back to work. White House chief economic adviser Larry Summers has endorsed this in the past. Without this change, expect the teen unemployment to remain very high for a long time.

The wonder of it all is that liberals still call “progressive” a policy that has driven the wages of hundreds of thousands of the lowest skilled workers down to $0.00.

The chances of a teen minimum getting through Congress, let alone being signed by the president, are unfortunately slim and none. The objection to the idea in the 1970s was that it would encourage employers to “fire the father and hire the son.” Perhaps that fear was slightly justified in the case of interchangeable blue-collar jobs decades ago, but it’s hard to believe that it would be a problem in today’s much more technical and skill-based economy.

The Journal is virtually alone in noting the teen unemployment/minimum wage hike correlation. A September 23 AP report, while noting how ineffectual federally funded teen job-finding efforts were this summer, doesn’t even mention the minimum wage. A September 4 story on the topic at the New York Times by Catherine Rampell devotes all of one sentence to the possibility that minimum-wage hikes might be largely to blame (“Increases in the minimum wage may have made employers reluctant to hire teenagers, said Marvin H. Kosters, a resident scholar emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute”), and doesn’t even bother to evaluate it. Instead, Rampell tries to pin the blame on older workers reluctant to retire (even though there has been a dramatic spike in workers retiring to take Social Security benefits this year), and the higher percentage of kids in college (that shouldn’t affect summer or Christmastime availability).

One possibly valid point Rampell raises is that “the ability of more young people to rely on family may allow them to be pickier about jobs and therefore to stay out of work longer than they did in previous recessions.” My interpretation of this is that “too many overprotective parent are shielding their kids from the ‘mean, cruel world.’” More kids than ever aren’t taking their first job, even in good times, until they have stopped going to school either after high school or college. Part of the blame should probably also go to high school extracurriculars that demand what I believe are often excessive summertime commitments (e.g., band, sports). I’m not sure that parents, or the schools, are doing kids any favors by keeping them away from the early lessons one can learn in exposure to the working world.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Lucid Links (100509, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:45 am

As Team Obama dithersour position in Afghanistan withers. While Chicago Olympic bidders cried, more U.S. troops died.

Monthly coalition deaths in Afghanistan in the past 3-plus months have averaged 78 (243 total since July 1, including 20 already in October at the time of this post, divided by 3.13 months). That annualizes to 932, which is a higher number than in any year in Iraq except 2007. The Afghanistan deaths are on a troop level of about 85,000, while total coalition troop strength in Iraq in 2007 was about 170,000.

Soldiers in Afghanistan are dying at roughly twice 1-1/2 to two times the per capita rate compared to the worst periods in Iraq. Yet the U.S. press is mostly quiet, and our president is coming off as indifferent.

(Update: The numbers are different, but the math is similar. According to this UK Telegraph article, there are “68,000 US troops in Afghanistan as well as the 100,000 Nato forces.” Since American soldiers are doing the vast majority of the dirty work, their per-capita death rate is still 1-1/2 to two times that of their counterparts in Iraq.)

President Obama had better learn that being allergic to the word “victory” has serious consequences — and quickly.

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Joseph Curl at the Washington Times recites some of the “distractions” that are apparently keeping Obama from paying proper attention to Afghanistan and carrying out his primary role as Commander in Chief:

In the past month, the president has found the time to play golf – four times. He’s had links legend Arnold Palmer and other top golfers over to the White House. He’s shot some hoops with friends and yukked it up with hockey’s Pittsburgh Penguins.

He’s celebrated Ramadan at the White House, eulogized newsman Walter Cronkite in New York City, attended several fundraisers (including Thursday afternoon’s luncheon), appeared on David Letterman’s late-night show (one of eight interviews), delivered two speeches to AFL-CIO rallies and dropped by the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial for a visit with his wife and daughters.

And the brief jaunt to Copenhagen to buttonhole members of the International Olympic Committee on behalf of Chicago’s 2016 Olympics bid was Mr. Obama’s seventh trip out of town since Sept. 1.

Yet still no decision on strategy for the war in Afghanistan.

The rest of the establishment press constantly bellyached about George W. Bush’s “vacations” in Crawford. No such general noise is present now.

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Continuing the immaturity and incivility exemplified by Rep. Alan Grayson’sRepublicans Want You To Die Quickly” riff (no, all of this didn’t begin with Sarah Palin’s invocation of “death panels,” because unlike Grayson, who is wrong, Palin was and is right; just ask Newsweek’s Even Thomas, or more to the point, Zeke the Bleak Emanuel), Zachary Roth at Talking Points Memo wants us to think that House Republican Leader John Boehner “may” have been responsible for the death of an Oxford, Ohio woman who “appeared” to have the H1N1 virus because “people who knew her are saying she resisted treatment that could have saved her life — because she didn’t have health insurance.”

It is terrible that this woman died. I hope her friends pointed out early on that there are two treatment options listed here, neither of which include the word “hospital,” and neither of which are particularly expensive. If they didn’t, maybe it’s their fault that she died. Of course I don’t believe what I just crossed out, which is why it is crossed out, but you see where thinly-disguised innuendo-laced rants like Roth’s could take us.

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The real “Sicko” part of the previous item is that many of the same people who will cheer Zach Roth on also try to claim that Cuba’s state-run system is a wonderful thing to emulate. Uh, no — courtesy of the Miami Herald’s Myriam Marquez, who has facts about real treatment refusal instead of speculation on her side:

Maria Teresa Marcos had died, as so many Cubans do, because the communist island’s much-lauded healthcare system is an evil hoax.

For years she had been complaining to doctors about her digestive problems. For years they told her to try to get antacids from family or friends abroad. No scans were done. No blood tests were taken — until her liver was so dysfunctional it became her death sentence.

A transplant? For Fidel, sure. Maybe for a hard-core member of the Communist Party. But for my cousin, a typical Cuban who lived in a ramshackle building, where the top floor had crumbled and the water likely had amoebas, nada. At least she was able to bring new bed sheets to the hospital — the ones I had bought her and my cousins.

Teresita became another statistic, collateral damage in a revolution that promised elections and prosperity and delivered dictatorship and desperation.

The real domestic “hoax” is that the people who praise Cuba’s system want to bring its “wonders” to us.

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Anyone who watches this president and this administration knows not to take anything for granted. Accordingly, this should surprise no one:

Health care reform: Privately, Barack Obama strongly backs public option
White House discreetly labors to weave coalition on health care

Despite months of seeming ambivalence about creating a government health insurance plan, the Obama White House has launched an intensifying behind-the-scenes campaign to get divided Senate Democrats to take up some version of the idea in the weeks just ahead.

President Barack Obama has long advocated a so-called public option, while at the same time repeatedly expressing openness to other ways to offer consumers a potentially more affordable alternative to health plans sold by private insurers.

But now, senior administration officials are holding private meetings almost daily at the Capitol with senior Democratic staff to discuss ways to include a version of the public plan in the health care bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to bring to the Senate floor later this month, according to senior Democratic congressional aides.

It’s still a moral clunker, and must be stopped.

ID Thief to Victim: Thanks for Catching Me

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Seattle:

A 29-year old identity thief is headed to federal prison today, in a case in which the victim helped federal agents crack a crime ring.

Stephanie Locke was sentenced to 18 months after pleading guilty to bank fraud and misuse of a social security number.

In court, she actually thanked her victim for turning her in and called her an “angel.”

Locke was one of several suspects that federal agents were tracking late last year as the ring opened credit accounts using stolen identities at various retail stores. Agents had photos and video of the suspects, but couldn’t identify them.

One of the victims to whom agents showed the photos was Michelle McCambridge of West Seattle, who was also a JC Penney’s cashier at the time. In a remarkable coincidence, a few days later McCambridge saw one of the thieves in her line at JC Penney. She contacted authorities who were able to identify Locke.

At sentencing today, McCambridge said she felt “remorse” for Locke and that she understood the drug-addicted single mother had been through difficult times.

Locke, in turn, told the court and McCambridge “I’d rather be standing here than in a box somewhere,” and that drugs would have likely taken her life if McCambridge hadn’t turned her in.

Go here for the rest of the story.