Uncle George, You’re Disappointing Me

George Takei, who makes me laugh uproariously every day with his hilarious facebook posts, has just joined the ranks of the misinformed activists. The Supreme Court recently ruled that employers should not be required by law to pay for birth control. The case, involving Hobby Lobby, had been argued because the new Affordable Care Act (which, by the way, has raised my premiums and stunted my benefits quite drastically) required all employers to offer health insurance that also covered all types of birth control 100%. Hobby Lobby had argued that because of the religious beliefs of the owners, they shouldn’t be required to pay for certain types of birth control.

Everyone is losing their minds over this. Today, Uncle George (as so many affectionately call him) took to his blog to condemn the decision. He wrote, “Hobby Lobby is not a church. It’s a business — and a big one at that. Businesses must and should be required to comply with neutrally crafted laws of general applicability. Your boss should not have a say over your healthcare. Once the law starts permitting exceptions based on ‘sincerely held religious beliefs’ there’s no end to the mischief and discrimination that will ensue.”

Oh my. That’s strong verbiage indeed. It’s also a little over the top.

What nobody is reporting is that the SCOTUS ruling only affects morning-after pills and IUDs, the latter of which tends to cause pulmonary embolism and stroke. Hobby Lobby is still offering insurance that covers 16 different types of birth control. Rather than talk about the specifics of the case, though, everyone would rather act as if it was a crushing blow that meant any employer could opt out of BC coverage and women will never be able to obtain it. Oh, the horror!

Calm down, kids. You’re basing your entire argument on a lie that has turned into hysteria. Discrimination? Please. Some forms of birth control are already incredibly cheap. I have diabetes. I have to take medication and check my blood sugar multiple times a day. My insurance covers birth control of all kinds, including the morning-after pill, at 100% – drugs that I will never use. I can’t opt out of it by saying, “hey, I’m a gold-star lesbian, I don’t need this stuff.” It only covers about half the cost of my diabetes medications, glucometer, and test strips, which I need to stay healthy and alive. THIS is what I call discrimination: not being allowed to opt out of birth control coverage because I am a woman, yet not getting the same kind of coverage for life-saving meds.

Where the hell are our priorities? Birth control is so important that the government wants to require insurance companies to cover it completely, but the drugs that help keep me alive have to be paid for out of my own pocket at rates that far outstrip the cost of BC before insurance pays a dime.

Whiskey tango foxtrot…?

To be fair, Uncle George is correct on a couple of things. Hobby Lobby does have 401(k) retirement plans that are invested in pharmaceutical companies that produce the morning-after pills. They also have a lot of products that are made in China, a country that places a strict cap on the number of children a family can have and forces abortions and sterilization once that limit is met. Is that hypocritical? Absolutely. Not exactly the best thought plan in the world.

The SCOTUS decision is hardly discriminatory, and to call it such is just this side of being a base lie. Nobody is saying that these companies can fire someone for taking BC. Nobody is saying that these companies can pry into an employee’s medical records to see if they are using BC. Nobody is saying that they can opt out of insurance that covers any and all forms of BC at all. There is absolutely nothing about the ruling that allows any business to impose the owners’ religious views on employees. What they are saying is that companies should not be required to provide insurance that covers abortifacient drugs. If I can afford my diabetes meds on my salary, you can afford the less expensive Plan B pills on yours (which I promise is higher – public safety doesn’t pay as much as you think).

I still haven’t figured out when our society decided that private businesses are subject to the government’s every wish and whim. I’m struggling to understand why people think the government should have such control over businesses that the people who own and manage them have absolutely no say in what the company will offer their employees or invest in. A free market does not take such rights away. This kind of attitude is exactly what is driving business to move overseas in the first place.

Uncle George, I still love you. I just wish you would have thought about this before you went off the deep end about it. I am a woman and I see absolutely nothing discriminatory about the decision. What I DO see is a society bent on chipping away at basic rights and freedoms. That needs to stop.

Whatever

It continually amazes me just how many people are willing to keep defending Obamacare and all of the problems it is causing.

President Obama promised us before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law that “if you like your insurance plan, you can keep your insurance plan. I guarantee it.” We are rapidly finding, however, that many of us can’t keep our health insurance plans. An insurance plan can’t simply change; if the cost or the benefits go over a certain threshold (and that threshold is not very high), the plan is cancelled and a new one is rolled out in its place. Thanks to Obamacare, a lot of people who had only bought enough insurance to cover catastrophic injuries or illnesses have lost their plans. It is now estimated that over two million Americans have lost the insurance plans that they liked – all because Obamacare required that insurance cover everything and the kitchen sink. I have friends who deliberately bought that kind of insurance. They had enough money to pay for basic doctor visits and they intended to use their insurance for exactly what it was meant to cover: high-cost emergencies. They liked their plans, and Obamacare is the sole reason they’re unable to keep their plans.

Don’t tell the Democrats, though. They don’t care. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Mr. “I will not yield to this monkey court”, went on Megyn Kelly’s show and claimed that the policies are being cancelled because the insurance companies are somehow seeing the light. He said, “the bottom line is, if you’re selling a lousy policy at a price that’s too high, nobody’s going to buy it. And so they’re cancelling these policies because they know people won’t buy them.” Megyn pointed out that people WERE buying them and they were happy with them. Pallone replied, “they’re not going to buy them anymore when they have a better alternative!” (Really? You call shotgunning someone into buying a policy that has to cover everything “willingly buying a better alternative”?) Incredibly, when Megyn asked, “why do you get to decide what’s lousy?” Pallone responded, “it’s capitalism!”

Quite literally all Pallone could say was that nobody is going to buy “lousy” plans when there’s a better alternative. What he’s willfully ignored is the fact that there has ALWAYS been a better alternative, and people still opted to buy these supposedly lousy plans because they liked them. The ACA had nothing to do with “providing a better alternative.” Even the Democrats who are admitting that plans are being cancelled because of Obamacare requirements are being completely flippant about the situation – all the way up to the President.

President Obama, rather than answer for his lie, had the audacity to tell people yesterday at Boston’s Faneuil Hall to shop for a better plan. He said, “if you’re getting one of these letters, just shop around in the new marketplace. That’s what it’s for. Because of the tax credits that we are offering, and the competition between insurers, most people are going to be able to get better, comprehensive healthcare plans for the same price or even cheaper than projected.”

First of all, you have done nothing to create competition between insurers. You have mandated that everyone buy insurance, so the companies know that they have a guaranteed customer base. Second, your tax credits aren’t going to come close to covering the out-of-pocket increases that I’m now paying. Third, my employer only offers insurance from one company; if I buy my own, including in the government marketplace, it’s going to cost exponentially more. None of this nonsense has made anything more affordable for me. Originally, the claim was that the ACA was supposed to eliminate the people who use the ER as their primary source of health care. Instead, it has only subsidized those people to continue doing that by forcing people like me to pay more up front. I’m not impressed.

It is not up to you to determine what is good enough for my coverage. It’s not up to you to tell me that I don’t have enough coverage or that my plan is “lousy”. It’s none of your business whether I’m insured and you have no right to tell me that I have to have coverage and that the coverage I have is required to cover maternity care, birth control, and OB/GYN. You are not here to rule me and you are not here to decide what is best for me. If you are capable of taking on the power to tell me what’s good for me, then you are one short step away from taking on the power to determine whether I’m worth spending healthcare resources on, and I have a very serious problem with that.

Kathleen Sibelius made an embarrassingly poor appearance before Congress yesterday. After taking full responsibility for the utter failure that is Healthcare.gov, Representatives grilled her on several aspects of the ACA. When asked if she would sign up for Obamacare, Sibelius first tried to skirt the question by claiming it was somehow “illegal” for her to sign up for it. Then, when pressed on whether she would if she were able, she refused to answer. During that testimony she was caught on a hot mic saying, “don’t do this to me!” As if that wasn’t bad enough, when asked whether President Obama bore any responsibility for this incredible failure, Sibelius only said, “you clearly…whatever.” Of course, we all know that Sibelius likely wasn’t the person responsible for deciding who would build and run the website, so one must ask what she’s going to get for falling on her sword in front of Congress over this behemoth of a Greek tragedy.

For the $634 million the Obama administration has poured into the mockery of a website that hasn’t worked for more than twenty people this month, they could have set up a $1 million account for every man, woman, and child in America and earmarked it specifically for their healthcare, and they would have had more than $300 million to spare. They wouldn’t have even needed a crappy website to keep track of it all.

The license being taken by this administration is breathtaking. How are they combating their poor image? They do an end run around those of us who aren’t willing to live with the imposition of these decrees by labeling us as extremists, terrorists, and racists. The media that is supposed to keep us informed is, instead, complicit. Pay no attention to that Tea Party behind the curtain, though. They’re irrelevant.

Whatever.

It’s The Economy, Stupid! (Part I)

We all remember when Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign came out with that ridiculous line, but liberals are having some serious issues grasping rudimentary economic principles these days. Economics can grow into a complex subject, for sure, but there are some rules that remain very simple. The simplest of them all:

People go into business to turn a good profit.

I’m not talking pennies-on-the-dollar kind of profit. The type of person who goes into business for themselves spends a lot of time, money and effort on their education. They put substantial investments into their companies. Every entrepreneur takes a huge risk by starting a business, because they stand to lose quite a bit in the process. Most business owners do experience some failure before they become successful. Some owners lose everything and never find success. Those who do create jobs and pump money into the economy.

With that in mind, I’m struggling to understand how liberals are coming to the conclusion that major restaurant chains are cutting employee hours and other big businesses are starting mass layoffs solely to get revenge on Barack Obama.

I’m reading so many opinions about this thing that I’ve gotten lost in the madness. There are a wide range of expressions, ranging from the well-intentioned (“I can’t spend money with a company that would cut back on employee hours to avoid paying more”) to the breathtakingly stupid (“he’d only have to pay 14 cents per employee for their health insurance!”). I’m afraid I’m all out of patience for the misinformed.

What on Earth did any of you expect? You just had to pass that healthcare monstrosity. It was the most important thing in the world to you. Did you stop to think before pushing and then passing that legislation that there may be consequences? Did you not think that by forcing businesses to provide health insurance to all employees working 30 hours or more per week you might be increasing their cost of operating and, in turn, force them to find savings somewhere? It really is a simple concept, and you not only miss it, you assign blame to the most whimsical thing you can come up with.

I have the exact same health policy that I had in 2005. It’s the best policy my employer offers. In 2005, though, it literally cost me less than half what it costs now. As much as it costs me, my employer pays three times what I do for the policy – that’s on top of my salary. I used to pay $19 a paycheck. NOW I pay $52 a paycheck after three years of steep hikes. The health insurance bill you insisted must be foisted upon all of us is the reason.

Liberals had decided that health care costs were out of control and that something had to be done. Their brilliant idea was to force everyone to get health insurance, force insurers to cover all kinds of things that weren’t required before, eliminate annual spending caps and offer the Jersey salute to anyone even breathing the words “tort reform”. How is this supposed to help us? I still haven’t figured it out.

You said it was unfair for insurers to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, so now the law bars all of them from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. The college kids who studied underwater basket weaving and couldn’t find decent jobs, along with the ones who didn’t go to college at all (particularly those who didn’t even finish high school), wanted to be able to stay on their parents’ insurance until at least age 26. Now the law requires that all insurers offer coverage to “dependents” up to that age, even if they don’t live with their parents. The hippies wanted their insurance to cover alternative therapies, including spiritual healing and acupuncture – things we’ve paid for out of our own pocket for eons. The feminists wanted their birth control for free because they forget to take the pill half the time, so they insisted on forcing coverage for much riskier forms of birth control (ever hear of pulmonary embolism?). And just to make sure we’re all being responsible citizens, you’ve banned insurers from charging co-pays for services that fall under the “preventive care” category.

You weren’t willing to enact tort reform to dramatically scale back the constant abuses on medical malpractice suits, but you just had to have all this other crap in the bill. The federal government is supposed to subsidize some 30-odd million people getting health insurance now, too – and it’s supposed to be paid for by massive cuts to medicare (that aren’t supposed to exist) and higher taxes on the very same business owners we’re forcing new costs on in the first place.

It’s no wonder our costs have gone up. Ostensibly, this was dreamed up for two reasons: first, making sure health care coverage is affordable. Because you insisted on forcing insurers to cover everything but a trip to the moon, fat chance of it ever being affordable again. Second, you wanted to control the price of healthcare due to those who are uninsured. The uninsured go to the ER for everything under the sun, from hangnails to the sniffles (thereby negating the purpose of an EMERGENCY Room), and when they stiff the hospital on the bill the costs supposedly get passed on to patients who ARE insured, right? So this new bill is supposed to cure that – the problem is that it drives up the cost of my premiums and gives more incentive for my employer to tweak my plan to include deductibles (meaning I pay more out-of-pocket – I didn’t have a deductible back in 2005). I’m now paying a lot more than I was paying before.

Anyone who really thought this would not be the end result of enacting the steaming pile of excrement that is the health insurance bill was either lied to or willfully ignorant. The worst part about the whole thing is that they did it “because it’s the right thing to do”, implying a moral need – the very same thing they castigate conservatives for.

Next, in Part II – how it all affects businesses