ObamaCare Costs Rising for Employers and Workers

 

ObamaCare popularity has gradually risen since implementation in 2014. I wrote about this nearly three months ago in a post called Popularity of ObamaCare Shifts. At that time polls showed approval of ObamaCare had reached 50% with 39% opposition.

Some of the reasons for this growth in popularity were media bias, Democratic demagoguery and Republican failures to communicate. But mostly it had to do with the fact that Americans most often get their healthcare from their employers so changes in prices don’t seem to affect them much. About 180 million Americans fall into this category.

But that popularity is about to change. A recent poll of employers by The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that the annual premiums for an employer-provided family plan rose another 5%, now topping the $20,000 per year threshold. The average plan costs your employer $20,576. Employers bore 71% of that cost while employees paid the rest.

Anna Wilde Mathews, writing in The Wall Street Journal, calls this “a landmark that will likely resonate politically as health care has become an early focus of the presidential campaign.” Drew Altman, chief executive of KFF says, “It’s a milestone. It’s the cost of buying an economy car, just buying it every year.”

Sooner or later the rising cost of employer-provided health insurance had to impact employees. Up until now it has mostly impacted them in the form of delayed wage increases but now it’s actually affecting out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare. The average annual amount workers paid toward premiums for the family plans grew 8% to $6,015 this year. The average deductible for single coverage, which employees pay out of their pockets before insurance kicks in, went up as well, to $1,655.

This means the popularity of even employer-provided healthcare is going to decline soon as workers realize the rising cost of healthcare insurance is really impacting their paychecks. This will mean an opportunity for politicians to promote their new ideas about healthcare.

For Democrats this will mean single-payer healthcare currently being promoted under the guise of Medicare For All. For Republicans it will mean a return to market-driven reforms they tried to pass last Congress and would have succeeded but for a few renegades like Senators John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Rand Paul. Healthcare is sure to be a big topic in the presidential campaign and both sides need to sharpen their arguments.

Political Correctness Outweighs Science

 

Political correctness is getting in the way of science – and medical education. This unpleasant truth was revealed in two recent articles in The Wall Street Journal.

The first was written by Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, former associate dean of curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Goldfarb laments that the medical school curriculum is being challenged by those with political agendas. He notes criticism he has received for not including a program on climate change, while others want the school to teach gun control.

Goldfarb says the stated purpose of medical education since Hippocrates has been to develop individuals who know how to cure patients. Yet a new wave of educational specialists is increasingly influencing medical education. They emphasize “social justice” that relates to health care only tangentially. This approach he believes is the result of a progressive mind-set that abhors hierarchy of any kind and the social elitism associated with the medical profession in particular.

The traditional American model of medical training, which has been emulated around the world, emphasizes a scientific approach to treatment and subjects students to rigorous classroom instruction. Students don’t encounter patients until they have some fundamental knowledge of disease processes and know how to interpret symptoms. They are expected to appreciate medical advances and be able to incorporate them into their eventual fields of practice.

Progressive sociologists first began their attack on the American medical education system in the 1960s and 1970s because increased spending failed to lead to breakthroughs in cancer treatment and other fields. They sought to reorder the field toward their social agenda. Recent interest in “social justice” has sparked renewed interest in altering medical education. Goldfarb fears these attacks will lead to alterations in curriculum focusing on climate change, social inequities, gun violence, bias and other progressive causes only remotely related to treating medical illness. In the meantime, physician shortages in the fields of oncology, cardiology, surgery, and other specialties will worsen.

On the same day, The Wall Street Journal published another article attacking the scientific basis of energy policies promoted by the environmental left. Robert Hargraves, Dartmouth University professor, says no one seriously concerned about the environment can oppose nuclear energy. Yet this is precisely the campaign rhetoric coming from the Democrats running for president.

Hargraves says, “Nuclear is America’s largest source of emission-free electricity. The candidates are anxious to stop using fossil fuels but offer no viable replacement. Wind and solar are intermittent and require supplemental power, normally from burning natural gas, which emits as much as half the CO2 of coal. Batteries to store intermittent electricity are too expensive by a factor of 10.”

Environmentalists are fearful of nuclear energy but scientists are not. The United Nations reported in 2013 that the 2011 Fukushima accident caused no immediate health effects and probably will have no detectable effects. Cancer rates did not rise notably after Chernobyl. No one has been harmed by used fuel. There is no good reason to avoid nuclear energy production in any well-thought plan to produce sufficient energy for the economic needs of civilization while protecting the environment.

Both articles highlight the evils of getting politics ahead of science. Medical education and energy production that protects the environment should be based on science – not on the political agendas of those who want to bully scientists into their way of thinking.

Thousands of Schools Failing Adequate Vaccination Rates

 

Is your child vaccinated against measles? If not, your child is very vulnerable. Thousands of schools have failed to achieve recommended vaccination rates therefore failing to develop “herd immunity” for those who can’t or refuse to be vaccinated.

Brianna Abbott, Taylor Umlauf and Dylan Moriarty write in The Wall Street Journal of the astounding failure of thousands of schools to achieve expected vaccination rates, despite recent widely publicized recent measles outbreaks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 95% or better vaccination rates for all schools but thousands have failed to meet these standards.

While the majority of schools have relatively high measles-mumps-rubella vaccination rates of 90% or above, many schools have rates in the 70% to 80% range, and some small, private schools have rates hovering around 50%. “If you have children clustered together that are unvaccinated, that’s why measles outbreaks are happening,” said Carla Black, an epidemiologist in the Immunization Services Division at the CDC who tracks kindergarten immunization rates. “The real usefulness of the data is to look at your local coverage.” 

TheWSJ obtained data from 48,246 schools in 32 states out of 132,734 total U.S. schools, both public and private. Of the 30,615 schools with MMR-specific data, nearly 30%of schools had an immunization rate less than 95%. For the 31,422 schools with overall immunization data available, roughly 44% of schools fell below the 95% threshold, though those numbers do not directly correlate to MMR vaccination status because the students may be missing a different vaccine.

For the states with MMR-specific school data, 85.3% of schools had an MMR immunization rate of 90% or above. Roughly 1,800 schools, or 6.0%, fell below an 80% vaccination rate. For states with overall immunization data, 77.8% of schools had an immunization rate of 90% or better, and roughly 2,700 schools were below the 80% rate. In other words, any child in those 2,700 schools is at great risk of contracting one or more of these diseases if not immunized.

This is a serious situation. There have been 1,200 confirmed measles cases across 31 states, making 2019 the worst year on record for measles in the U.S. in 25 years.

Measles is not an innocuous disease. Before 1963, when the measles vaccine became available in the U. S., there were more than 500,000 reported measles cases every year, according to the CDC. On average, 432 cases a year resulted in death. By the year 2000 the number of cases had dwindled to 86 and the number of deaths zero. But approximately one child will die in every 1,000 infected so it is not a disease to be taken lightly.

Below is a map depicting the vaccination rates by county according to the data available. If you would like to know the vaccination rate for your child’s school, you can click on the following link school vaccination rates to connect to an interactive site.

Vaccinations for your child are important. Don’t delay. Your child’s health is at risk!