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Chris Conover: Calculating Everyday Mortality Risks
Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:14 AM (Wednesday)

Should former Vice President Joe Biden be wearing a bike helmet? Did the risks of former President George H.W. Bush parachuting our of an airplane at age 75 vastly exceed any conceivable benefits? Should I follow Ben Stiller’s suggestion to get a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test? How should we even think about such everyday risks or ...

Chris Conover: How Economists Calculate The Costs And Benefits Of COVID-19 Lockdowns
Posted: March 27, 2020 at 05:36 PM (Friday)

There is a huge public debate whether the economic costs of actions designed to arrest the spread of COVID-19 are worth the potential health benefits achieved. Literally trillions of dollars in lost economic output and uncounted lives hang in the balance. No rational discussion of this weighty issue is possible without first having a ...

Chris Conover: How American Citizens Finance $17.0 Billion In Health Care For Unauthorized Immigrants
Posted: December 30, 2019 at 05:36 PM (Monday)

TLDR: All told, Americans cross-subsidize health care for unauthorized immigrants to the tune of $17.0 billion a year. Federal taxpayers provided $10.0 billion in subsidized care to unauthorized immigrants in 2019. The total amounts to $1,615 per unauthorized immigrant, imposing a burden of $51 per U.S. resident. Current federal policy is ...

Chris Conover: Responsible National Health Insurance Part 2: The Purple Health Plan Would Be A Solid Step Forward
Posted: July 30, 2019 at 04:21 PM (Tuesday)

In the first part of this series, I hope I convinced most readers that ifAmericans want responsible national health insurance, BernieCare--the Medicare for All plan supported by Senator Sanders--would represent a huge step in the wrong direction. Theannual hidden costs of BernieCare--includingdeadweight losses, avoidable waste, rationing ...

Chris Conover: The Path To Responsible National Health Insurance Part 1: BernieCare Is Irresponsibility On Steroids
Posted: July 30, 2019 at 09:11 AM (Tuesday)

For more than a century, health reformers have lamented the inability of American policymakers to enact what for much of this period of debate was called "national health insurance." After Hillarycare crashed and burned in 1994, the termquickly fell out of favor 1. But before it did, conservative market reformers at American Enterprise ...

Chris Conover: Watch Your Wallet: Even A Wealth Tax Of 100% Would Be Too Small To Pay For U.S. Unfunded Liabilities
Posted: January 30, 2019 at 09:22 PM (Wednesday)

As Margaret Thatcher famously said"The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." While some progressives such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are seeking punishingly high marginal tax rates (70%!) on the wealthy to bankroll their big government schemes, others such as would-be presidential candidate ...

Chris Conover: At Best, Obamacare's Lifesaving Potential Was Equivalent To Exercising Briskly For 30 Minutes A Day
Posted: January 18, 2019 at 11:43 AM (Friday)

Longtime readers know I have been deeply skeptical of widespread claims that Obamacare has saved tens of thousands of lives per year. As I previously explained here and here about Obamacare in general and here and here about Obamacare's Medicaid expansion specifically, the methodological limitations of the various studies on which such claims ...

Chris Conover: Nancy Pelosi's Golden Opportunity To Lead Again On Health Care
Posted: December 31, 2018 at 05:05 PM (Monday)

Despite rumors of a revolution among a small group of Democrats seeking to derail it, Nancy Pelosi appears to be on track to be re-elected as House Speaker when the House reconvenes in January. I am no fan of Nancy Pelosi'sin part because if there is any single individual who can be credited with the passage of Obamacare in 2010, it is she. At ...

Chris Conover: An Obamacare Tax Worth Fixing
Posted: December 21, 2018 at 02:33 PM (Friday)

A few weeks ago, Forbes Policy Editor Avik Roy proposed scrapping Obamacare's premium tax--a monstrosity expected to increase health insurance premiums by $261 billion over the next decade even while delivering only $161 billion in net revenues to the U.S. Treasury. Although it may be a delusional hope, it would be wonderful if Judge ...

Chris Conover: Strike Three Against Obamacare: A Misguided Law Is Once Again Ruled Unconstitutional
Posted: December 17, 2018 at 07:24 AM (Monday)

What does it take to rid Americans of a lemon law? For thethird time now since its passage, a central element ofObamacare has been ruled unconstitutional . In the civics texts I learned back in the 1960's, such a law would long ago have been deep-sixed, sent back to Congress to either be fixed or permanently discarded. Yet here we are--a ...

Chris Conover: Did Obamacare Really Bend The Cost Curve? Data From The Medicare Actuaries Suggest Maybe Not
Posted: March 31, 2016 at 10:45 PM (Thursday)

Judging from all the cheering going on among Obamacare enthusiasts–including the usual suspects such as Paul Krugman as well as the president himself–you would think Obamacare had bent the cost curve. This should not be a surprise given thatPresident Obamapointed out 6 years ago,“Every single good idea to bend the cost curve and start ...

Chris Conover: Because Of Obamacare, Illegal Immigrants Get Taxpayer-Financed Care
Posted: March 25, 2016 at 11:17 AM (Friday)

The Wall Street Journal has an in-depth report that in today’s print version is titled “Despite Federal Health Law, Illegal Immigrants Get Care.” The online version makes the same point “Illegal Immigrants Get Public Health Care, Despite Federal Policy.” I’m obviously not responsible for crafting headlines at that paper, but it seems to me ...

Chris Conover: Forward Progress On Repeal Of Obamacare
Posted: January 26, 2016 at 01:45 PM (Tuesday)

Winter Storm Jonas buried chances of a House vote this week to override President Obama’s veto of a measure to repeal huge swaths of Obamacare. The House vote is now expected during the week of Feb. 1. Admittedly, no one expects the veto override effort to succeed. Regrettably, Obamacarecannot be fully replaced until its namesake is replaced, ...

Chris Conover: Health Costs Top $4.9 Trillion In 2015
Posted: December 29, 2015 at 11:31 AM (Tuesday)

Readers can decide whether this is good news or bad news: health costs likely exceeded $4.9 trillion in 2015 . Health policy wonks may scratch their heads at this figure, since the latest official figure released by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last monthpegged 2014 health spending at a nice round $3.0 trillion. However, my ...

Chris Conover: Healthcare Inflation Reaches Six Decade Low--What Caused It? Will It Continue?
Posted: November 23, 2015 at 06:21 AM (Monday)

There’s good news on the healthcare inflation front. The annual rate of healthcare inflation is at a 6 decade low .
H/t to fellow Forbes contributor, Meghan Fitzgerald for the idea behind this chart.
That’s true whether we measure it using the widely used medical CPI (put out monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) or a superior measure ...

Chris Conover: Will The Obamacare Cadillac Tax Increase Worker Wages?
Posted: November 6, 2015 at 10:04 AM (Friday)

Asking whether the Obamacare Cadillac tax will increase worker wages might seem nonsensical on its face. But wait until you hear the answer: yes AND no. Don’t worry: Schrodinger’s cat hasn’t wandered into the thicket of health policy (nor am I channeling my innertwo-handed economist).
It’s a trick question: the answer depends on whether ...

Chris Conover: Obamacare Dilemma; 1/4 Of Health Costs For Uninsured Paid Out of Pocket, Regardless Of Family Income
Posted: October 30, 2015 at 07:30 AM (Friday)

Last week I reported on a fascinating new Wharton School studyof non-poor uninsured people 1.Another revealing finding from that same study highlights a dilemma facing any would-be health reformer: even before Obamacare, less than onequarter of health costs for uninsured persons were paid for out of pocket, regardless of family income ...

Chris Conover: Obamacare Has Not Slowed Down Premium Growth Relative To Wages
Posted: September 23, 2015 at 11:40 AM (Wednesday)

he latest KFF/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey figures have arrived with yet more bad news about Obamacare. Obamacare’s fiercest advocates have been quick to trumpet a purported slowdown in health spending and way too quick to assign Obamacare the credit for this. They’ve failed to acknowledge two inconvenient truths. The slowdown began ...

Chris Conover: Census Bureau Confirms How Badly Obamacare Is Underperforming
Posted: September 16, 2015 at 04:14 PM (Wednesday)

The Census Bureau has finally released definitive statistics on the number of uninsured in 2014 and the news is not good for Obamacare (unless, of course, you have abysmally low expectations for government performance). The population-wide uninsured rate fell from 14.5% in calendar year 2013 to 11.7% in 2014. The total number of uninsured ...

Chris Conover: Deception Or Delusion? Did President Obama Believe All His False Promises About Obamacare?
Posted: September 8, 2015 at 11:00 AM (Tuesday)

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 04: U.S. President Barack Obama looks on during a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office of the White House September 4, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The President and the King were expected to discuss various issues including joint security and counter-terrorism efforts According to Roger Cohen, in a recent New York ...

Chris Conover: Has Obamacare Fixed U.S. Healthcare Inflation?
Posted: March 9, 2015 at 07:25 AM (Monday)

Here we go again. What is it about Obamacare that inspires its fiercest supporters the cherry-pick evidence as proof it is "working"? The latest entrant in this never-ending contest is Matt Phillips, who trumpets the news "Obamacare fixed U.S. healthcare inflation." If true, this would be no mean feat since as we'll see, medical inflation ...

Chris Conover: 4 Simple (And Objective) Ways To Tell If Obamacare Is 'Working'
Posted: February 26, 2015 at 05:51 PM (Thursday)

Everywhere I look, it seems like someone is saying Obamacare is "working" (Steven Rattner), " working better than intended" (President Obama), " working better than any of us imagined" (Gail Collins) or even " working incredibly well" (Jonathan Chait). Given that Obamacare has failed in virtually all the major promises made for it, it ...

Chris Conover: Do Obamacare's Challengers Have A 'Nutty,' 'Stupid' Or 'Screwy' Interpretation Of The Law?
Posted: February 18, 2015 at 11:16 AM (Wednesday)

As the SCOTUS oral arguments in King v. Burwell draw near, the cacophony from liberal outlets is nearly deafening. The plaintiffs' position is "absurd ," they cry. Congress "never contemplated withholding premium subsidies" in noncooperative states. Even the Obama administration argued that "it would have been perverse for Senators concerned ...

Chris Conover: Are ACA's Free Checkups Good Public Policy?
Posted: February 16, 2015 at 02:31 PM (Monday)

Are free annual checkups for adults good public policy? Not according to Al Lewis, co-author of Cracking Health Costs and Vik Khanna (Lewis's co-author Surviving Workplace Wellness co-author. They have taken to the Huffington Post to rebuke Republicans for their failure to attack Obamacare on this ...

Chris Conover: What? President Obama Thinks Obamacare Is Working 'Better Than Intended'
Posted: February 4, 2015 at 12:55 PM (Wednesday)

President Obama's reaction to yesterday House vote to repeal Obamacare was astonishing. "This is working not just as intended, but better than intended" he declared at a White House meeting with 10 people purported to have benefited from the law. Call me gob-smacked. President Obama either has an exceedingly poor memory or is (yet again) ...

Chris Conover: Mr. President If You Believe In Fairness, Why Did You Make Medicaid Expansion So Unfair?
Posted: January 30, 2015 at 11:03 AM (Friday)

In his State of the Union message, President Obama gave a full-throated defense of what he called "middle class economics": That's what middle-class economics is — the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules." Despite this president's ...

Chris Conover: Will Obamacare Create An Entrepreneurship Boom?
Posted: January 19, 2015 at 06:59 AM (Monday)

Barely a month after Obamacare's passage, then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared "We see it as an entrepreneurial bill. A bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care ...

Chris Conover: Steven Brill On Obamacare; Right Diagnosis, Wrong Prescription
Posted: January 13, 2015 at 04:00 PM (Tuesday)

Steven Brill's 60 Minutes interview this week was a fascinating amalgam of brilliant insights and seriously flawed policy advice. His latest hefty tome, America's Bitter Pill, weighs in at 528 pages and was only released on January 5. So I will venture a guess that most readers have not (and may not ever) read it even though an Obamacare ...

Chris Conover: What Safer Cars Tell Us About Obamacare
Posted: December 22, 2014 at 02:41 PM (Monday)

"Safer Cars Lead to Drop in Fatalities" trumpets a recent Wall Street Journal headline. Not to be a curmudgeon, but whether this is good news or bad news depends on what it cost to achieve this reduction in mortality. No one disputes that saving lives is a very good thing, but even the richest nation in the world lacks infinite resources. We ...

Chris Conover: Jonathan Gruber, The $6 Million Stonewaller
Posted: December 10, 2014 at 08:51 AM (Wednesday)

C-SPAN junkies were treated to a 4-hour spectacle yesterday as MIT professor Jonathan Gruber navigated the treacherous waters of a hearing before chairman Darrell Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. According to Politico's David Nather, "Gruber survives. He squirmed. He dodged. He apologized. But Republicans barely laid a ...

Chris Conover: Obamacare's Three-Legged Stool Of Deception Regarding Employer Health Plans
Posted: November 24, 2014 at 06:00 AM (Monday)

Anyone who has listened to the Gruber tapes has heard Prof. Gruber's repeated references to the "three-legged stool" that forms the core of Obamacare.1 However, those who pay close attention to his remarks–variously characterized as "arrogant" (Charles Krauthammer), " careless" (New York Times), "dumb" (Ezra Klein) " ill-advised and ...

Chris Conover: Now Can We Finally "Wave" Goodbye To Obamacare?
Posted: November 11, 2014 at 10:24 AM (Tuesday)

Democrats took a serious one-two punch last week. First, they suffered their second consecutive mid-term "wave" election on Tuesday, losing the Senate in the process. Then on Friday, the Supreme Court announced it would review yet another Obamacare case that Obamacare champion Ron Pollack of Families USA said represented "the most ...

Chris Conover: Now There Can Be No Doubt, Obamacare Has Increased Non-Group Premiums In Nearly All States
Posted: October 23, 2014 at 07:53 AM (Thursday)

Remember this categorical assurance from President Obama?
"We'll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year. . . . We'll do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States"
OK, it's probably a little unfair to take some June 2008 campaign "puffery" literally–even though it was reiterated by candidate ...

Chris Conover: Now There Can Be No Doubt, Obamacare Will Increase The Deficit
Posted: October 17, 2014 at 10:09 AM (Friday)

Remember this categorical assurance from President Obama?
"I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits."
This was no casual, throw-away campaign promise. The pledge was made on September 9, 2009 in his health speech before a joint session of Congress. In reality, we have known for years that Obamacare would violate this promise. ...

Chris Conover: Supreme Court Poised For A Do-Over On Obamacare
Posted: September 30, 2014 at 11:59 PM (Tuesday)

The majority of Americans who continue to oppose Obamacare should be greatly pleased to learn that the Supreme Court is likely to get a do-over on this misguided and too-often-lawlessly-implemented law. Ours is a nation of fresh starts and second chances: it is only fitting that SCOTUS be handed an opportunity to undo the convoluted, ...

Chris Conover: Growing Burden of Employer-Provider Health Care Has Accelerated Under Obamacare
Posted: September 15, 2014 at 06:54 AM (Monday)

There's been a fierce debate over whether Obamacare has increased health insurance premiums. Progressives have argued Obamacare is working due to modest projected premium increases on the Exchanges for 2015. Conservatives have retorted that "there can be no doubt that health care today is more costly than it would have been without Obamacare." ...

Chris Conover: How Obamacare Will Fuel Economic Inequality In The U.S.
Posted: September 11, 2014 at 09:20 PM (Thursday)

Researchers at the Commonwealth Fund recently asked "have escalating health care costs contributed to the huge economic gap between America's rich and the rest?" Their conclusion? "The evidence, it turns out, is suggestive, but not definitive."
In actuality, I believe a far more definitive conclusion is possible. The best available ...

Chris Conover: The New York Times Is Wrong, Medicare Is Still A Budget Buster
Posted: August 31, 2014 at 11:59 PM (Sunday)

The New York Times put out a major piece last week claiming that Medicare was no longer such a budget-buster. Would that this were true. A little perspective is in order since there are a few things the Times reporters left out of their account. The reality is that the entitlements problem–which was a crisis before President Obama took ...

Chris Conover: Obama's Veto Pen Makes Him Most Influential Person In Healthcare? Sad And Scary
Posted: August 27, 2014 at 11:49 AM (Wednesday)

Modern Healthcare has put President Obama at the top of its annual list of the 100 most influential people in healthcare. This ranking is based on the opinions of 31,000 readers who submitted ballots (weighted 50%) and the magazine's senior editors (weighted 50%). The magazine recognized that "Obama is poised to lose influence in Washington" ...

Chris Conover: Deadweight Losses Really Do Matter In Determining If Medicaid Is More Cost-Effective Than Employer Plans
Posted: August 11, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Monday)

I appreciate Prof. Reinhardt’s thoughtful and civil response1 to my postsuggesting that Sally Pipes may be right in her claim that employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) being less expensive than Medicaid. My argument is that accounting for deadweight losses tips the scales back in favor of ESI. Prof. Reinhardt concedes that deadweight ...

Chris Conover: How Employer-Based Health Insurance Actually Is Cheaper Than Government-Sponsored Insurance
Posted: August 5, 2014 at 09:59 PM (Tuesday)

Princeton health economist Uwe Reinhardt this week posteda very informative andentertaining (no surprise there) response to Sally Pipes’ claim that Employer Health Insurance: A Bargain Compared to Government-Sponsored Coverage(read: Medicare and Medicaid). It’s hard to disagree with most of what Prof. Reinhardt has offered in his rebuttal. But ...

Chris Conover: How Obamacare Encourages Some Millennials To Become Uninsured
Posted: July 31, 2014 at 08:13 AM (Thursday)

If being uninsured were no big deal, presumably Obamacare never would have been enacted. The whole premise of the law is that being uninsured is a bad thing, so it’s well worth wielding a few carrots and sticks to get people into coverage. Unfortunately, Obamacare has had to break more than a few eggs along the way. One of the ...

Chris Conover: Obamacare, The Bait-And-Switch Double Whammy
Posted: July 27, 2014 at 12:56 PM (Sunday)

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. Obamacare has become the poster child for bait-and-switch (no matter how much administration spokespeople might deny it). The evidence is piling up so thick and fast I don’t see how any honest American could deny this ugly truth. Here’s just three of the latest examples1:

Illegal Subsidies on ...

Chris Conover: What Do We Really Know About Obamacare's Impact On The Number Of Uninsured?
Posted: July 14, 2014 at 06:45 AM (Monday)

There’s been quite a bit of bad news about Obamacare in recent weeks:

a SCOTUS smackdown on the contraception mandate overreach,
the possibility of an even more momentous court decision being handed down next week,
worrying signs of more rate shock to face Exchange plan buyers next fall,with many states seeing double-digit ...

Chris Conover: Paul Krugman's Truth-Twisting on Obamacare, A Neverending Story
Posted: June 27, 2014 at 03:52 PM (Friday)

If there were a Nobel Prize for truth-twisting, Paul Krugman surely would be heavily favored to win. His most recent blog post offers ample supporting evidence for this proposition. He claims that critics of Obamacare are zero for six in their “predictions of Obamacare doom.” But the reality is that Prof. Krugman himself is at best batting 2 for ...

Chris Conover: How Well Is Obamacare Covering The Uninsured? A Glass Half Empty Moment
Posted: April 1, 2014 at 06:30 AM (Tuesday)

The enrollment period for Obamacare Exchange sign-ups has officially ended–unless, of course, you are one of many given a reprieve in the last furious round of unilateral (arguably illegal) administrative changes to the law (as fellow Forbes contributor Scott Gottlieb has pointed out, ObamaCare enrollment never truly closes). The LA Times, ...

Chris Conover: State Winners And Losers In The Race To Sign Up Obamacare Exchange Plan Members
Posted: March 21, 2014 at 08:54 AM (Friday)

March Madness has begun as states embark on the final two weeks to enroll people on the Obamacare Exchanges before the March 31 deadline. Notwithstanding the nearly two dozen administrative delays and changes to the law made to date, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress on March 12 that the Obama administration ...

Chris Conover: Progressive Fascism, Obamacare's Lawless Rollout Cements Case Against Single Payer Health Care
Posted: March 6, 2014 at 01:20 PM (Thursday)

Another day, another delay. Not content with nearly two dozen unilateral changes to the health care law–many of quite dubious legality–the administration yesterday announced yet another delay to Obamacare.1This newest delay will permit members of non-qualified health plans in the non-group market to keep them for another two years (through ...

Chris Conover: Is Outrage Over Generational Theft In Obamacare Much Ado About Nothing?
Posted: January 20, 2014 at 06:38 AM (Monday)

In this week’s Economix column, Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt suggests that the real health care ‘war’ on the young is being waged by employers. This echoes a rhetorical query voiced atAustin Frakt’s The Incidental Economist blog last November: Where is the outrage over employer-sponsored coverage in the ‘rate shock’ debate? As Prof. ...

Chris Conover: Milliman Report Underscores Flaw In Obamacare Financing
Posted: January 13, 2014 at 09:05 AM (Monday)

For many months we have known that Obamacare’s modified community rating rules will unfairly tax young males at far higher rates than everyone else in order to subsidize older people who generally have higher incomes than the young males expected to provide these cross-subsidies. My Forbes colleague Avik Roy has aptly described this as a “war ...

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