Stock advice in actual English.
Joined Sep 2, 2009
1,224 Blog Posts

Furiously Scribbling, Blood Boiling

I made a small spread today, with AEC, BAS, and MAA up and everything else down.

MAA hiked their dividend yesterday but a couple tenths of a percent.

We are well into the banal month, so I don’t know why I’m bothering to write. I suppose I want to give the shadows something to read. The 9th floor is deserted, but my work somehow remains busy.

The healthcare situation is a fiasco. Little shits on the internet, working for pasty ThinkProgress-type blogs, are heralding the triumphant relaunch of the HealthCare.gov website. Meanwhile, we’re still basically 7 million people shy of where we thought the enrollment process would be right now. And there are <28 (27 now??) days now on the clock.

I want to make this very clear to you right now – this is not some technical difficulty. This is a big fucking deal.

Suppose you got kicked off your plan. You go to the website and can't enroll. At this point, you don't have health insurance any more.

"But Cain, they can just enroll with the insurance companies directly now."

Except they can't, no, not really. The HealthCare.gov website is the primary mechanism for pushing the subsidies that are supposed to help make this law affordable. Those subsidies come in two flavors: benefits enhancements and cost reductions. And without the fancy linking that's supposed to occur through the website, you are left looking at the non-subsidized cost of coverage.

That means signing up through any place other than the website will be very expensive relative to what you were paying before. How many people do you know that will be able to readily absorb a several hundred dollar a month hit to their budgets? I'm guessing not many. The other option is to slash your coverage away to nil. Which isn't much of a choice if you're sick.

Of course, lots of schmucks are trying to say the subsidy issue isn't an issue, by pushing subsidy calculators from secondary sources and suggesting the uninsured just roll with it. Just how bad are these secondary sources? I know of one instance already with a six figure income showing subsidy eligibility.

So I'm gonna say pretty damn bad…

And that's not even talking about the garbled nonsense being reported getting delivered to carriers. Let me just lay out a few very real situations that are likely to crop up over the next six to twelve months.

There will be people who cannot sign up in time.

There will be people who think they've signed up only to discover (God willing not in a life threatening situation, but yes, probably) that they were never processed.

There will be people who sign up for coverage that has become unaffordable to them, only to be forced insolvent.

There will be people who took benefits reductions to keep their premium in line, to avoid insolvency, only to become sick, be unable to meet the higher cost sharing, and become insolvent anyway.

There will be people who think they know what they're paying, only to have subsidy restatements issued that render them with unaffordable, unchangeable insurance coverage.

There will be people with terminal illness who learn after the fact that their network no longer includes their providers.

There will be insurance companies that experience major system failures, dropping God knows what, where. (Rumors are a quarter of Blue Cross of Michigan's system already crashed in October)

You are in for a year of horror stories slowly seeping to the surface, like a tar pond.

And of course, there will be winners. There will be people who make out like bandits because of this law. There will be people who are so much better off, while it slowly dawns on the 80%+ of Americans that were just fine with their healthcare that the reason their neighbors are being raked across the coals is to provide those winners with better coverage than any of them could buy in the same circumstance.

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  1. from gorby

    Me thinks the Boomers-
    and since they still run the show- as they age are not willing to accept the risk of being bankrupted because of a pre-existing condition. A lousy website
    and some dumb policy is not enough to deter those signing up. The promise of solvency in the event of ill health is
    too strong a pull.


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  2. El Ditto

    Hmmm, looking for I Bank Coin but seems I’ve stumbled across Fox news…..

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    • Mr. Cain Thaler

      You’ll get over it, I work in this industry I can bitch if I want

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  3. Maracka Flacka Flame
    Maracka Flacka Flame

    The question is, would you rather tighten your belt and get better coverage…or go bankrupt when something bad happens?


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  4. Maracka Flacka Flame
    Maracka Flacka Flame

    The thing is, I was an upper middle class child and am now poor, and I must say, the upper 10% never sees and refuses to understand the plight of the lower class. Healthcare.gov is a clusterfuck, no doubt. But the point of the law was to avoid having catastrophic medical bills passed onto those with insurance. Naturally, one would expect premiums to go up in the short term because of things like improved coverage and moving costs from more risky people to less risky people. The point of the law is to make sure people aren’t forced into bankruptcy because of fly-by-night insurance or because of being uninsured. Obama (who may be the 2nd worst president ever, and also in the last 10 years) was able to do something even Clinton couldn’t do and, ideally, it will rein in costs long-term. This is a bailout for the old and poor. Poor people have long used the emergency room as their only form of healthcare. I’ve seen it. The companies pay workers terrible wages and then expect them to do unrealistic things with the money like buy health care and eat well. I’m sorry your neighbor’s premium is going up 50% even though he worked hard his whole life and wasn’t given anything ever and walked 14 miles uphill in the snow both ways just to get a slice of bread for his family everyday as a child. The world is different today than when you were growing up, Mr. Thaler. Today the middle class are expected to keep up the tradition on less and less opportunities and the poor are kept that way to aid the rich. Growing up in the post WWII era involved a tight living that improved greatly because America actually had middle class jobs and rich people made more jobs instead of putting their wealth in the Bernake fed markets. These truly poor people who have to pay higher premiums that they “can’t afford” have no idea how good they’ll have it when they do go to the hospital from their daily McDonald’s and actually get to leave without taking out a second mortgage. They don’t know it yet but they were done a favor. Maybe the minimum wage will be raised someday too, but I guess the working poor can’t catch that much of a break yet.

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  5. TheHarper

    “stumbled upon Fox News..” hahah something I would say.

    “A little shit” and proud of it!

    As always, Mr. Thaler, well thought out and eloquent write up on the topic. I appreciate your candor and knowledge on the subject.

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