Obamacare: The Effects on Your Health Care Costs

This is the third part in a series of articles on the rollout of Obamacare, and how the law will change our health care system. Each week, we will publish two articles — one on the changes in medicine and medical care, and one on changes in the insurance industry. We hope this series of articles will help you make better decisions when it comes to your health care and how you buy insurance.

When fully implemented over the next few years, the Affordable Care Act promises to provide insurance for 30 million Americans currently without health insurance coverage.

Those 30 million Americans were receiving health care, though they did not have insurance. In many cases, people without coverage never used hospitals nor had any expensive diagnostic tests during a given year. When they needed to see a doctor, they paid out-of-pocket. Some of the uninsured who did make use of inpatient hospital services were admitted through the emergency room; others received outpatient services in this setting. In either case, the patient at best paid a small portion of the bill, and in some cases met the standard for free care established by the institution and was never charged. In most cases, the hospital charges were eventually written off as uncollectible bad debts.

It is inevitable that those among the uninsured who will now receive health insurance coverage under Obamacare will make greater use of health care services than they did before.

The extent of the increase in utilization — doctors visits, lab tests, outpatient surgeries, diagnostic tests, inpatient care — is difficult to predict. But there is reason to expect that average utilization levels for the previously uninsured who will now get coverage through the exchanges or the expanded Medicaid program will soon approach, if not equal, those of similar age people who have historically had health insurance coverage already.

In various studies I have performed for clients, I have conservatively estimated the increase in utilization at between 30% and 50% over previous utilization levels for the uninsured. Assuming no change in prices, the 30% to 50% increase in utilization for about 10% of the population will increase overall health care costs by a few percentage points per year.

Since this population is in most cases below the age of 65, utilization rates are generally lower than for the Medicare population (over age 65 and disabled people), which can be 3 to 4 times that of the under 65 population. Whatever else happens as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the cost of providing services to the newly insured will increase health care costs. The total cost of insurance to pay for these services will, of course, rise even more, since there was no insurance cost previously (other than the bad debt cost that providers absorbed and included in their prices to insurers). The new insurance costs will also include administrative costs and the insurers’ profit margin.

This new increment to health care utilization and expense will occur in a country where health care costs, by any comparative measure, are already far beyond those of any other developed nation. Costs are much higher here whether measured by percentage of GDP devoted to health care, or by health care costs per resident. [2] In 2010, the U.S. spent 17.6% of GDP on health care. The Netherlands was second at 12%. The average for OECD countries, including the United States, was 9.5% of GDP for health care.

DEFUND OBAMACARE!! ANDREW McCARTHY Grassroots pressure from conservatives has induced the House Republican leadership to permit a vote on a continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare. That is excellent news. For spearheading the move to defund the (Not Remotely) Affordable Care Act, intrepid Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have been scalded by the usual ruling class […]

KATIE PAVLICH:Spitting on Their Graves: Democrats Leave Benghazi Hearing Before Testimony From Families of Victims

During the second portion of a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing about Benghazi Thursday on Capitol Hill, the majority of Democrats on the Committee left the room and refused to listen to the testimony of Patricia Smith and Charles Woods. Ms. Smith is the mother of Sean Smith, an information management officer killed in the 9/11 Benghazi attack. Charles Woods is the father of Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, who was also killed.

REP. FRANK WOLF R-VA DEMANDS PUNISHMENT FOR FBI AGENTS WHO COOPERATE WITH CAIR   On a day when the Council on American-Relations (CAIR) issued a report accusing its critics of bigotry, a Justice Department investigation reminds the public why CAIR does not merit the public’s trust. Inspector General Michael Horowitz found a series of incidents in which FBI field offices knowingly engaged in outreach activity with CAIR […]


“In July, the state of New York announced the results of its first tests based on the Common Core: The region hasn’t been this battered since Superstorm Sandy. Just 26 percent of students in third through eighth grade passed the English exam, and only 30 percent passed the math test. In one Harlem school, just seven percent of students received passing scores in English, and 10 percent in math. We’ve gone from No Child Left Behind to Well-Just-About-Every-Child-Left-Behind …progress of a kind. If ‘learned helplessness’ is the Common Core’s goal, it’s a stunning success.” Businessman George Ball

Indeed, the tests based on the new Common Core (CC) curriculum horrified both parents and educators in New York State, as they are sure to do in the 45 other states that have accepted these new federal-education standards.

Yet in the very definition of a clueless response to the disastrous test results, NY State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said that “these proficiency scores do not reflect a drop in performance, but rather a raising of standards to reflect college and career readiness in the 21st century.” Nice try, Mr. King. Go back to sleep.

How did this happen? Here’s a little history. When President George W. Bush introduced No Child Left Behind, liberals and teachers’ unions went crazy. How dare any program actually measure the effectiveness of classroom teachers or, worse, hold them accountable for decade after decade of failure? How dare that same program document the great number of students allowed to progress through grade after grade in spite of jaw-dropping deficits in math and literacy? Isn’t it wrongheaded, critics asked, to ‘teach to the test’ instead of giving students better skills and deeper knowledge? As if testing skills and knowledge is a bad thing!

Of course the “evolved” progressives and educrats among us decided to contrive a better mousetrap for improving the devolving state of American public-school education and they called their brainchild Common Core, a program that was formally adopted by the federal government in 2010 and by NY State in 2011. Other contributors to this dumbed-down excuse for education included members of the leftist Aspen Institute which was founded in 1950 to, among other things, “define a good society.”

Common Core has a nice ring, doesn’t it, suggesting that we’re all in this together and we all believe in education that includes America’s “core” values?

Don’t be fooled. As author and journalist Dean Kalahar writes, “Common Core…may look delicious, but before you take a bite out of the apple, it might be a good idea to know a razor is inside.”

As Kalahar explains, “President Obama and Education Secretary [Arne] Duncan falsely said the Common Core standards were developed by the states and voluntarily adopted. CC was actually developed by an organization called Achieve, approved by the National Governors Association and funded by the Gates Foundation by at least $173 million dollars. The [cash-starved] states were bribed by $4.35 billion ‘Race to the Top’ dollars if they adopted the standards. Federal laws prohibit the U.S. Department of Education from prescribing any curriculum, but four billion is a big carrot – or is it a stick? Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have sold out… I mean ‘signed on.'”

According to journalist Nick Wills, the Common Core curriculum was implemented with virtually no empirical evidence of its value, and it was rushed into school systems without consulting – drum roll here – students, teachers and parents! Education-reformer Diane Ravitch says that the standards have been adopted “without any field test … imposed on the children of this nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers, or schools.”

This takes on a certain grotesque logic when, according to businessman George Ball, you realize that in “the 60-person work group that developed the curriculum, there was not one practicing teacher! David Coleman, chief architect of the Common Core curriculum, now heads the College Board. That’s worrisome, and so is Coleman’s background as a consultant at McKinsey & Co., the firm that so ably advised Kmart, Enron, Swissair and Global Crossing.”

But so irresponsible were our educators and so avaricious to feed at the federal trough that they bought the whole package without even a sneak-peek at its contents.

What did they buy? Kalahar states that “for all intents and purposes, Common Core is nationalized education. History has shown that state-run information control, which begins with education, has always led to disastrous results, [for example] the USSR, Germany, and Cuba.

“The foundational philosophy of Common Core,” Kalahar adds, “is to create students ready for social action so they can force a social-justice agenda.”

According to Wall St. Journal writer David Feith: “Common Core is about an obsession with race, class, gender, and sexuality as the forces of history and political identity…nationalizing education via Common Core is about promoting an agenda of anti-capitalism, sustainability, white guilt, global citizenship, self-esteem, affective math, and culture-sensitive spelling and language. This is done in the name of consciousness raising, moral relativity, fairness, diversity, and multiculturalism.”

Again, with zero input from students, teachers and parents – and zero knowledge by any parents about what is going on in their children’s classrooms!

A Former Prisoner of Zion Describes His “Wandering in the Desert” of the Soviet Union: Yosef Begun ****
The pilgrimage of Succot commemorates an important event in ancient Jewish history – the wandering of the Jews in the Sinai Desert after they escaped from Egypt. The former Egyptian slaves found themselves in the wilderness and were very frightened by the challenge of freedom. Some even wanted to return to the fleshpots of Egypt. God’s punishment of 40 years of wandering in the desert was actually a lesson in Jewish education for the horde of former slaves. They had to learn to be Jewish people.

In October 1917, when the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia, everything changed in the lives of the Jews. In keeping with their ideological dogma, the totalitarian rulers denied Jews the right of cultural autonomy and destroyed the institutions of Jewish education.

When I was a schoolboy growing up in Moscow before World War II, there was no means of Jewish education. Under the Soviet regime, millions of Russian Jews were estranged from any national connection after the liquidation of social institutions of Jewish life, and they were prevented from having any connection with Jews beyond the Soviet borders.

If the Egyptian Jews wandering in the Sinai Desert under Moses’s guidance experienced spiritual elevation, the Soviet Jews some 3,500 years later went through steady national degradation. To make a kind of historical analogy, the Jews were “wandering” in a spiritual “desert” in the Soviet Union.

However, although they were deprived of national development, Jews in the USSR had equal rights when it came to civil affairs and education.

Many well-educated Jews played an active part in the development of the Soviet Union’s culture and economy. For example, I worked as a PhD specialist at the Moscow Radio Institute. The Soviet regime used this double-edged policy to conceal the spiritual genocide of its millions of Jews. As Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion said, “The danger of the extermination of the Jewish people is not to have them disappear. A people can be exterminated not only in gas chambers but also by killing their soul. The mass of Jewish people is being exterminated in such a way.”

Clearly, he was referring to the Jews in the Soviet Union. Spiritual genocide, like all other types of mass persecution for ethnic reasons, has the same result – extermination of an ethnic group. As American author Herman Wouk wrote in This Is My God, “These people are lost from Judaism; lost down the road that has swallowed many more Jews than the Hitler terror ever did. Of course, they survive as individuals, but from the viewpoint of the army, it makes little difference whether a division is exterminated or disperses into the hills and shucks off its uniforms.”

The Bible says that according to God’s sentence, our Jewish ancestors had to wander in the desert until the generation of former slaves died, but the new generation could enter the Promised Land.

Contrary to that, the Soviet Jews were doomed to wander in that invisible Jewish desert of the USSR forever.

The dictatorship decreed that all generations of Russian Jews – parents and grandparents, as well as children and grandchildren– would never leave it. As the Ten Lost Tribes of ancient Jewish history, the Soviet Jews ultimately had to vanish but remain alive as individuals.

The anti-Jewish policy reached its peak in the “black years” of Russian Jewish history, the final years of Stalin’s life, 1948-1953. The Soviet dictator was going to realize his version of the “final solution of the Jewish question.” The last remaining people who dealt with Yiddish culture in the USSR were arrested and killed after a secret trial. As in medieval Europe, a group of Jewish doctors were accused of trying to kill the government leaders. Jews were under threat of mass deportation to the coldest areas of the north. Stalin’s sudden death during Purim of 1953 brought a miraculous salvation. The Jews were saved, but again as individuals. Under the same totalitarian regime, Jews remained the victims of the same policy of spiritual genocide and continued to wander in the Soviet desert. I spent almost 40 years of my life in that desert – from my birth in 1932 until 1971, when I submitted my request to leave for Israel.

After Stalin’s death, more and more Jews tried to escape. Not out of the country, as it was under lock and key, surrounded by the Iron Curtain, but out of that spiritual desert where we Jewish people lived. The main problem was to realize an initial idea, to get your own wish – to be a Jew. Not according to any official registration but in terms of belonging to the Jewish people and its destiny. It seems too simple, just to wish. For today’s readers, yes. But for the Jews of that time, no! They were wandering in a spiritual desert, totally ignorant as Jews, without any knowledge of the history and culture of their people. How could such a Jew get such an idea? It wasn’t simple to realize the idea. Indeed it was the first and most difficult obstacle on the way. I will try to explain how it happened with me.

At the beginning of the 1960s, when Khrushchev’s “thaw,” a more liberal policy that shifted Stalin’s severe winter, I was in my 30s and had a prestigious, well-paid job at the Institute of Radar Systems. Moscow was a great center of Russian culture, which I enjoyed. My Jewish friends and I used to talk about many things, including forbidden subjects such as human rights and democracy, but never Jewish topics. Why? Our collective Jewish memory was wiped clean. We didn’t know anything about our Jewish past or present. We were cut off from all Jewish connections. Being totally alienated and afraid of being accused of Zionism or nationalism, we were silent. As Elie Wiesel so aptly titled his book about us, we were “The Jews of Silence.”

But then something happened to me at the cinema. In the new, more liberal era, we were permitted to see more foreign films. Among them were those related to the war, and we sometimes saw footage of the Holocaust: deportations and the murder of Jews. The subject of the Holocaust was forbidden in the USSR, and watching those horrific episodes, I experienced a strange thought: “I am a Jew like them, and I could be among those miserable people.”

My friends did not share this interest; it was too painful.

But I couldn’t shake off those horrifying images. Each time I thought of them, they strengthened my newfound feelings.

Together with the shocking impression of the fate of those unfortunate men and women and children,I realized that I was a Jew and was seeing my Jewish people.

For many years, my Jewish origin had been rather confusing and uncomfortable for me. I wanted to be like all the people I lived with – Russians – but I knew that I was in some way not like them, somehow strange. Now everything changed. Of course, this change took place in my own mind. I continued to live as usual – I was still wandering in the desert like the majority of Jews in the USSR. But as I said, after Stalin’s death individuals and small groups of Jews began to look for a way out of the desert. They didn’t know each other; everyone looked for his or her own way out. Sometimes those people were arrested and punished for “nationalistic activities.”

After the “discovery” of my own people, I became interested in finding out who they were. At that time there was no Internet – people read books in libraries. To my great surprise, there were no books about Jews in the massive Lenin State Library in Moscow. (The majority of Russian language books on Jewish subjects were published before 1917.) Well, if they didn’t want me to read about Jews in Russian, I would read in Yiddish, the official language of Jews in the USSR. Yiddish wasn’t known to the young generation but was used by the older people. Contrary to Hebrew, which was a forbidden “counter-revolutionary language,” Yiddish was taught in schools after the Revolution. I hoped that with Yiddish I could communicate with the older, less assimilated Jews. With Yiddish I could read the Yiddish newspaper Sovetishe Heimland (Soviet Homeland) or to listen to Evreiskiye Pesni (Yiddish Songs) on the radio. But my naïve hope to find some means – textbooks a dictionary – to learn Yiddish and approach these rare manifestations of Soviet Jewish culture failed. Again! There was nothing anywhere, not in the libraries nor in bookstores. Like in a real desert! It is worth mentioning that I am talking about the “best time” of Jewish culture in the USSR, after Stalin’s time and before the 1967 Six Day War, which was followed by massive anti-Zionist propaganda.

It was my experience, further evidence, that the desert in which I lived, with some three million other Jews, was made to prevent an attempt to leave.

The majority of the inhabitants remained there until the collapse of the communist regime, decades after the time I am talking about. There was, of course, resistance against this spiritual imprisonment, but those people acted on their own, each in his or her own way. I met many of them in the Jewish movement in the 1970s. Many of them went through arrest and imprisonment for their nationalistic activities such as teaching Hebrew or talking about Israel.

In my case, it was by chance that I met a man who led me out of the desert.

He was well-educated Jew of the pre-revolutionary epoch. He became my Hebrew teacher, or my first guide to the Jewish world that was hidden for Soviet Jews. From him I learned about Torah and Jewish history, Zionism and the State of Israel. In Moscow at that time there were, of course, other people like my teacher, as well as people like me, their potential pupils. But these two generations of Jews couldn’t meet. Everything was done to prevent their meeting each other. The Soviet regime had severed the connectionbetween the two generations of Jews to prevent the transfer of the national memory.

Lev Grigorjevich Gurvich was educated in a modern Zionist type of Lithuanian yeshiva. His mission was to teach Jews, but all his life he worked as an accountant in a Moscow factory.

Close to 70, he was a Soviet pensioner, and our meeting was a great event for both of us. At a time of nationwide fear, it was a very bold action for him to take me on as a student. I would go to his small, shabby apartment where several other families lived, each in their own unit, with a common bathroom. In his 10-square-meter room there was a bed, half a table and a chair.

When I arrived, he would close the door and lock it and turn on the radio, explaining that it would be better if the neighbors didn’t hear our conversation. Such were my first Hebrew lessons, followed by Torah reading lessons, talks about Jewish history and, incredible for that time, stories about the State of Israel. I found out later that he had connections with people from the Israeli Embassy. For me, it was a completely clandestine affair, as my whole career could be destroyed if the authorities knew about my “anti-Soviet” meetings with my Jewish teacher.

The Six Day War of June 1967 changed a lot in the lives of many Soviet Jews, who recognized that they had a state and an army their own Jewish ones. It was inspiring. They were proud, but the Jews of Russia were silent and separated in the Jewish desert. They couldn’t openly express their joy.

SARAH HONIG: HEED THE BROKEN MIRROR What’s the likely outcome of the US-Russia accord on Syria’s chemical arsenal? Look no further than what happened to UN Resolution 1701 of seven years ago. That resolution, which ended the Second Lebanon War and which purportedly eliminated Hezbollah’s missile armories, is a mirror image of the non-disarmament-to-come. It is also Tzipi Livni’s self-proclaimed […]

CAL THOMAS: CLIMATE CHANGE ICE-CAPPED There is a tradition in politics that is similar to one in the legal profession: When evidence supports your position, make your argument based on the evidence, but when it argues against your position, ignore the evidence and appeal to emotion. The evidence is piling up that “climate change,” formerly known as “global warming,” […]

Soeren Kern: Europe: Anti-Israel or Anti-Semitic? “It [EU] has not placed similar criteria on Turkey, Morocco, China or any other nation involved in a territorial dispute… What makes the situation far worse is that that the European Union is abrogating agreements that it signed and witnessed… If Europe thinks Jews will return to the days when we were forced to […]

The CIA: Funder of Trash and Terrorists by EDWARD CLINE ****

Imagine my surprise when a British friend sent me the link to a 1995 Independent newspaper article about the Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement in fostering bad “art” (to loosely employ the term art) as a means of proving to the Soviets and to the world that the America wasn’t a cultural Death Valley. While I had always suspected that the CIA was involved in many questionable and highly dubious covert activities, ostensively in defense of national interests (e.g., President John F. Kennedy sanctioning the CIA’s wiretapping of the Washington press corps), this news helped to fit two or three handfuls of jigsaw puzzle pieces into a much broader picture.

Francis Stonor Saunders, writing for the Independent, and who later wrote a book about the CIA’s role in promoting not just abstract art, but “anti-communist” writers and journalists, opened with:

For decades in art circles it was either a rumor or a joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art – including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko – as a weapon in the Cold War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince – except that it acted secretly – the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years….

Why did the CIA support them? Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.

What startled me even more was the date of the article, October 22nd, 1995. Why hadn’t I heard of this scoop before? How did it slip under my radar? The news ought to have rocked the foundations of modern art, and sent the practitioners, purveyors and rich connoisseurs of “Abstract Expressionism” screaming “We’ve been had! We’ve been tools of the capitalist lackeys! Duped by imperialist warmongers!” as they cascaded in lemming droves over the railings of the Brooklyn Bridge. It ought to have knocked the bottom out of the demand for the drips, drops and splashes that have passed for “high art” for so many decades and dropped the appraised worth of private and institutional collections by about 99.9%.

But, nothing like that happened. The practitioners, purveyors and connoisseurs are still with us, and foisting on the country “art” that is even worse than Abstract Expressionism,” “art” that can’t even be defined as “abstract.” Or psychotic. Or disturbed. Or “art.”