April 5, 2013

Estimated ObamaCare Individual Plan Premium Increases: Ohio Is Number One

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:59 pm

And that’s no cause for joy.


This column went up under a different title at Watchdog.org after some editing on Thursday.


In Ohio, “We’re Number One.” But in this case, it stinks.

Usually, it’s really nice to be number one in something. The Ohio State Buckeyes, who lost badly to Florida in the 2007 BCS Championship Game, certainly would have preferred winning that game and ending the year as intercollegiate football’s national champions. Ditto the basketball Buckeyes of 2006-2007, who also lost to Florida in that sport’s national championship game just four months later.

But being number one in a recently released report from the Society of Actuaries about the projected impact of ObamaCare on the individual insurance market is not a good thing. That’s because the SOA’s list has Ohio, with a breathtaking 80.9 percent, leading all states in expected individual plan premium increases between now and 2017.

Only Wisconsin, at 80 percent, was close to the Buckeye State’s expected increase. While the SOA expects a few states to experience decreases, the anticipated average increase across the entire nation is 32 percent.

What was that ObamaCare’s proponents were saying about “bending the cost curve“?

The SOA’s detailed report (large PDF) shows that Ohio will move from being the second-least expensive market for individual plans, with a current average of $223 per month, to a middle of the pack $403.

Why? First, the number of those looking for individual plans will increase, partially because many employers will drop their employee coverage, and partially because many of the formerly uninsured and those currently in state and federal high-risk pools will seek out individual coverage. If Governor John Kasich gets his way and Ohio expands its Medicaid coverage to families earning up to 138% of the federal poverty line, the SOA anticipates that enrollment in individual plans will increase from its current level of 415,000 to 804,000. The actuaries estimate that if legislators resisting Kasich’s arm-twisting prevail, enrollment will instead reach 1 million.

Well, increases in enrollment won’t necessarily drive premium increases, will they? Oh yes they will, at least in most states. SOA’s report chose to present in detail what would happen in Wisconsin. It’s clear that the same factors at work in the Badger State will produce Ohio’s even more astronomical cost increases.

The Wisconsin model shows that new individual market entrants who get into the pool with those who currently have such coverage will have far greater “morbidity.” In plain English, that means they will be far more costly to cover. Those who come in from employers large and small who terminated their plans will do so because their companies’ cost experience was so high that it made more sense for those firms to abandon health care coverage and, where applicable, simply pay ObamaCare’s mandated relatively small fines for doing so. SOA’s Wisconsin model shows the average monthly cost of someone moving from an employer plan will be $846, with, perhaps surprisingly, the highest-cost new entrants, at $1,061 per month, coming from large employers. Other more costly individuals who get into the pool will come from the aforementioned individual state and federal high-risk pools, and to a lesser extent from Medicaid.

So given what most states are facing, why does SOA estimate that average costs will go down in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont? Those five states currently have the highest individual plan premium structures, ranging from $481 per month in New Jersey to a ridiculous $619 per month in New York, and have smaller portions of residents who are uninsured. The effect of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, which forces lower-cost younger people into buying inordinately expensive coverage for themselves, will be to lower overall costs to levels that will still be much higher than the estimated national average of $413 if all states choose to expand their Medicaid programs as Washington wishes.

Oh, and one more thing, lest anyone in any state get too comfortable: Those who are attempting to poke holes in SOA’s work, which only dealt with anticipated costs and justifiably ignored ObamaCare’s Rube Goldberg subsidy structure, fail to understand that it was quite conservative in its cost increase estimates, because it “does not include an increase in utilization due to pent up demand” on the part of those who leave the ranks of the uninsured, or who move from catastrophic plans to more comprehensive ones.

Based on the experience of other nations and to a lesser extent certain U.S. states which have established government-controlled, top-down health care regimes, I don’t think the question is whether or not there will be an increase in average utilization. Instead, it’s whether the increase will be dramatic, or explosive.

March Employment Situation Summary (040513): Only 88K SA Jobs Added, Jobless Rate Drops to 7.6%; Raw Job-Add Numbers Worst Since 2009; Drop-outs Accelerate

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:03 am

Econ catch-up: See Wednesday’s post containing a stream of “unexpectedly” unimpressive though still expansionary results. Plus: The unemployment claims situation has been deteriorating.


Looking at the raw (not seasonally adjusted) data:

Regardless of what the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us about the seasonally adjusted results today, the real clues as to what’s actually going on are in the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) data. As I explained in a recent column about housing stats:

Because of the POR economy, the influences of the recession and three straight subsequently weak “recovery summers” following on the heels of somewhat strong winters have preempted typical seasonal fluctuations.

In other words, the seasonally adjusted numbers are somewhere between misleading and meaningless.

So here are the raw and seasonally adjusted numbers for the first six months of the past 12 years, plus 2013 year thus far:


In this backdrop, considering all the people who say they want a job but can’t find one, the still historically awful time the unemployed are taking to find their next job, and the fact that more jobs are becoming part-time in nature, we need to see numbers that beat any seen in the past 10 years. That means at least 1.05 million jobs added overall, and 900,000 in the private sector. If those things happen, the figures will probably seasonally adjust to about 300K, and the press will start measuring the rocks for Barack Obama’s bust at Mt. Rushmore.

Looking out further, we’ve seen the following not seasonally adjusted job additions from Feb. – June during the past three years, none of which were acceptable:
– 2010 — 3.316 million
– 2011 — 4.149 million
– 2012 — 3.862 million

What I said a year ago about what Feb.-June 2012 needed to be is still true this year:

An authentically recovering economy making a real dent in a horribly underutilized workforce should generate six million jobs on the ground during the next five months. If it doesn’t, it won’t be genuinely recovering, no matter what the seasonally adjusted numbers say, and no matter what Team Obama and their media lapdogs want us to believe they say.

If that seems too ambitious — too bad, so sad. Adjusted for workforce size, those are the kinds of gains we saw during much of the Reagan recovery/boom — and we didn’t have to wait until four years after a recession ended to see them (more like two quarters).

The BLS report will be here at 8:30 a.m.

HERE IT IS (full HTML permalink) Wow, the pie continues to shrink —

Nonfarm payroll employment edged up in March (+88,000), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment grew in professional and business services and in health care but declined in retail trade.

Household Survey Data

Both the number of unemployed persons, at 11.7 million, and the unemployment rate, at 7.6 percent, were little changed in March.

The civilian labor force declined by 496,000 over the month, and the labor force participation rate decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 63.3 percent. The employment-population ratio, at 58.5 percent, changed little.

… Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment edged up in March (+88,000). Over the prior 12 months, employment growth had averaged 169,000 per month. In March, employment increased in professional and business services and in health care, while retail trade employment declined. (See table B-1.)

Professional and business services added 51,000 jobs in March. Over the past 12 months, employment in this industry has grown by 533,000. Within professional and business services, accounting and bookkeeping services added 11,000 jobs over the month, and employment continued to trend up in temporary help services and in several other component industries.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from +119,000 to +148,000, and the change for February was revised from +236,000 to +268,000.

Unless you have a crystal ball and expect big upward revisions to March (they seem just as likely to go down), the fact that January and February were better than originally thought merely underscores how bad the March dive to a level that’s only one-third of February really is.

Keep in mind that the numbers here are based on work performed or checks paid to workers as of the 12th of the month. I think a lot of people would agree that things have gotten worse since then.


UPDATE 1, 9 a.m.: How bad is it? This bad:


March 2013′s raw numbers, which by the way include 92,000 plugged-in “birth/death” jobs (about the same as last year’s 90,000) are worse than 2010, and way worse than 2011 and 2012. All three of those years were economically pathetic.

Here we go again.

The press will try to blame the sequester and “massive government spending cuts,” if it hasn’t started doing so already. UPDATE 1A: You can forget about that 6 million job goal for February thru June. We’ll be lucky to see 4.5 million, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we see less than 4 million — again.

UPDATE 2, 9:10 A.M.: Zero Hedge — “People Not In Labor Force Soar By 663,000 To 90 Million, Labor Force Participation Rate At 1979 Levels.”

UPDATE 3, 9:20 A.M.: From the “Something Gotta Give” Dept. — The Household Survey says seasonally adjusted full-time employment is only up by 35,000 since December, and that part-time employment is down by 60,000, netting to a -25K. The Establishment Survey has +504K during the same period. UPDATE 3A: Upon further review, it’s virtually all due to the ranks of the self-employed, who are not considered in the Estblishment Survey, shrinking by a seasonally adjusted 528,000.

Latest PJ Media Column (‘Gun Grabbers’ Latest Gambit’) Is Up

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Sunday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (040513)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.

Presented with (almost) no comment:


Politico, March 31:

Sequestration: Cuts’ slow rollout yields no-quester for travelers More than a month after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned of “calamity” in the skies, travelers are still flying. Airlines aren’t yet canceling flights. And there’s no sign of the long lines the Obama administration warned everyone to expect when automatic spending cuts hit March 1. What happened? The much-feared budget ax is turning out to be a slow-rolling series of snips, with effects that have been much more gradual or modest than projected.

Or non-existent, unless forced to exist by Obama apparatchiks determined to create harm and inconvenience where none would otherwise exist.


New York Post, April 1 (HT Hot Air):

Andy fracked into a corner It’s a political ‘lose-lose’

Cuomo, who has dithered for more than two years on whether to OK the drilling process, which is used safely in nearly 30 other states, fears that his planned “toughest-in-the-nation” regulations and low natural-gas prices have combined to make it unlikely major gas companies would make the investments needed to develop new wells, the source said. “His fear is that if he gives the go-ahead, nothing is going to happen, the gas companies won’t come in because of overregulation, and gas-price economics and the people [in the] Southern Tier will then say, ‘Look, Cuomo killed it another way.’

And this guy wants to be President some day.

Related, March 29:


Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell urged New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to move forward with fracking in the Empire State on Wednesday in a New York Daily News op-ed. “New York has a healthy band of vocal critics right now who continue to push a false choice: natural gas versus the environment. But as the former Democratic governor of a major natural gas-producing state, I know we can enjoy the benefits of gas production while also protecting the environment. Pennsylvania put in place strong oversight while allowing development throughout the Marcellus Shale — and the economic benefits were significant.”

Memo to Ohio Governor John Kasich: In this case, don’t be like Andy. Be like Ed.


Rick Reilly at ESPN, on Tiger Woods: “An ad doesn’t take care of everything.”


Looks like employers are getting really picky: “McDonald’s want ad demands bachelor’s degree, two years experience for cashier.”


At the Daily Beast: “Solyndra 2.0: Fisker Automotive Is Teetering.” ABC reports that Fisker “furloughed non-essential U.S. workers in March.”

In September 2009:

Energy Secretary Steven Chu … announced a $528.7 million conditional loan for Fisker Automotive for the development of two lines of plug-in hybrids that will save hundreds of millions gallons of gasoline and offset millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2016.

The project will result in approximately 5,000 jobs created or saved for domestic parts suppliers and thousands more to manufacture a plug-in hybrid in the U.S.

At the time, the Wall Street Journal described Fisker as “A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore.”

Why (besides hypocrisy, which is a given) doesn’t centimillionaire Gore step in to save the company and help save the planet? Here’s why, from August 2012: “Fisker Karma owner returns from grocery run to find hybrid EV on fire.”

Positivity: Teens in LA prison thank Pope for example of love

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Los Angeles:

Apr 2, 2013 / 02:04 am (CNA).- After hearing about Pope Francis’ Holy Thursday Mass where he washed the feet of juvenile detainees, imprisoned youth in Los Angeles wrote letters to the pontiff thanking him for giving them hope.

“Thank you for washing the feet of youth like us in Italy,” one prisoner wrote, “We are also young and made mistakes. Society has given up on us, thank you that you have not given up on us.”

Pope Francis made headlines recently after deciding to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass on March 28 at Casal del Marmo youth detention center in Rome, instead of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran.

During his leadership of the Buenos Aires archdiocese, then-Cardinal Bergoglio was known to preside over the Holy Thursday liturgy in a prison, a hospital or a hospice for the poor and marginalized people.

He offered an explanation behind the gesture, telling the youth, “This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service.”

“But it is a duty that comes from my heart and a duty I love. I love doing it because this is what the Lord has taught me,” he added.

The Pope encouraged the young people in Rome to become more self-giving and helpful. “And thus,” he added, “in helping each other we will do good for each other.”

Just before performing the ceremony of the Washing of the Feet, Pope Francis told the youths to ask themselves ‘Am I really willing to help others?’ …

Go here for the rest of the story.