Archive for the 'fabrications' Category

April 1?

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

The NYT actually ran this on 3/25:

I believed this legislation, signed four years ago this month, would free people to pursue their dreams, start new companies and not worry about the health insurance penalty. What I didn’t count on was that it would make things harder for me and my wife.

First, we were notified that we would be kicked out of our existing $263-a-month Anthem Blue Cross plan because it didn’t meet the minimum standards of the new law. No problem, I thought. The plans in the new Covered California exchange would most likely be better and cheaper.

But we were shocked at what we confronted. The least expensive premium for a couple like us in our 40s would be about $620 a month. And because our household adjusted gross income is likely to be over the $62,040 cutoff this year, it’s doubtful we’ll end up with a subsidy to help offset that price increase…

I have mild asthma. Normally it’s not a problem, but when I get a chest cold, it becomes severe. One recent day I found that I couldn’t breathe. My inhalers were all expired. I’d held off refilling them since my insurance would reduce the costs of the $58.99 inhalers only by a little more than $9. I knew from past experience that I probably needed a prescription for antibiotics, so I tried frantically to find a medical facility that would take our new Covered California Anthem Blue Cross bronze plan. When I did, they said it would be three weeks before I could see a doctor…

(Nelson developed a skin infection. I got an appointment at the vet’s the next day. They prescribed an antibiotic…The medication caused diarrhea so I called his internist at his vet hospital, PetCare, and she prescribed a probiotic. Nelson’s $40.42-a-month pet insurance…paid almost all of these costs…I was envious. My 11-year-old brown Labrador was getting the kind of treatment that I could only dream of. I wanted to go to PetCare. I wanted pet insurance.)…

It’s still hard to understand what coverage we have. It’s like trying to read tea leaves. Benefits descriptions can be contradictory and run nearly 200 pages long. One summary attached to my online account seems to say that if I go to the emergency room, I could potentially owe thousands of dollars. Another document suggests that I’m responsible for only $300. I’ve had two representatives give me two different explanations…the new plan has more coverage, including pediatric vision. But we don’t have children…

if you see a doctor outside your network, look out. We found this out the hard way. My wife and I both had to see a doctor in January. Our old policy and our new Covered California policy were both with Anthem Blue Cross, so a representative there told us to use our old ID cards for our visits since our new cards hadn’t arrived yet. We were covered, he assured us. At the medical center, we gave our ID cards to the receptionist, who accepted them as valid, and went in to see our regular doctors. But later we found out that they were not in our new network’s plan. The out-of-pocket cost for my simple 30-minute office visit: $303. My wife’s annual exam and a couple of minor procedures: $918.

We’re still waiting for quality health care that we can actually use, afford and understand

What a complainer this former WaPo reporter is! Doesn’t he know that if he liked his doctor, he could keep his doctor? Doesn’t he know that if he liked his plan he could keep his plan? Period! (It’s rather amazing to see a guy like this sound just like Ann Coulter.)

Liars and Idiots and Fine Gentlemen?

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Some D: “a woman still earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man does.” Some R: “It’s not government, though, that creates jobs. Small business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators are the engine of job creation.” Blah, blah blah. Question: why not just go after the lie, with the obvious point that any businessman with a million dollar payroll would fire all the guys and hire all the girls if he could pocket another $230,000 by doing so? Answer: it’s called the stupid party for a reason. Final point, a little harmony: nice to hear on KPFK today that Ralph Nader is also fed up with all the lying.

Through a glass darkly no more

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Scott Johnson has a Tough Guy vs. Wimp visual that is pretty funny but misses an important point. The so-called wimp can be a tough guy — here and here are evidence as to whom he despises and is more than willing to act against. This is consistent with the standard religion of leftism by the way, that the US is an imperialist bad actor that has created enemies abroad and repression at home. Exactly what the faculty lounge is all about, but quite a bit more intense and ruthless. (BTW, these fellows and gals are often seriously lacking in historical knowledge, but they fill in the blanks with ideology; after all, truth isn’t about truth, it’s about a technique to get power to enforce equality of outcomes.)

Ah, but how did we get so far away from the America many of us know in our bones? The answers are the university and the media. 3% of Yale donations went to Romney, which is pretty good, by the way. The media are 12-1 against conservatives, which we think slightly understates the case. Still, it’s kind of shocking that things have gotten this bad this fast; yet we only have to look back to the cases of Iran and Honduras to see that the pattern was fully formed and evident years ago. But still, this far this fast? Well, citizens, pause to consider a breathtaking exercise in projection from five years ago, and consider what, unfettered, this level of narcissism has wrought. And there you have it, this far this fast…

“Foreign policy clip-joint”

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

It is almost impossible to overstate the foolishness of US foreign policy these days. Wretchard gives it the old college try, but he can’t overstate it either. How can an entire establishment be so clueless as to squander most of what was so hard won from the 1940′s onward? No wonder Moshe Ya’alon is so vocal and direct in his criticisms. This didn’t begin well, and the only question is how badly it’s going to end.

ACA = VA

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

ACA = VA, more or less. This really wasn’t all that hard to figure out. So much for the BS. They think you’re stupid, particularly the Julias, and so far they’ve been right. But things may change

Strange yet again

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Were the Italian and Austrian stolen passports of MH370 used by Asians? There’s more to learn here: Wretchard has some good links to twitter feeds and pilots that are interesting.

AA587, TWA800, ValuJet 592, Alaska 261, Swissair 111, Egyptair 990, that Air France flight from a couple of years ago: the list is so short that we know the flight numbers of many incidents. And a forgotten incident from nine years ago, when an Egyptian was arrested in Memphis with a uniform and a DVD telling airline pilots how they should act in public.

Fatal air incidents have become so rare in recent years due to technological improvements that suspicions are warranted when aircraft just disappear. We’d be very surprised if the B777-200 in the Malaysia case turns out to be anything other than foul play.

Mother Goose, etc.

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Fairy tale economics. Fairy tale legislation with an unhappy ending. On the other hand, there’s a potential happy ending far away, but it’s way too early to tell. And a wish or maybe just a dream from Roger Simon. That’s it for the day as the culture slips away quickly.

Bad, worse, worst

Monday, February 10th, 2014

George Will covers the bad. Angelo Codevilla tackles the worse. The worst is left to Alexander Solzhenitsyn. (Scott Johnson elaborates further.)

Drip, Drip, Drip

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

A genius speaks. Letters from a grammar school principal here and here, and an explanation. The end of snow. Blah blah and an interesting piece on the ACA; RIP has dual meanings. Jonah has too much time on his hands. Thoughts on the 1st amendment. A diner at Elaine’s and Primola makes his case. And a couple of additional examples of well-funded government antics. Drip, Drip, Drip.

What’s up in Sochi?

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

WSJ:

Dmitry Kozak, the deputy prime minister responsible for the Olympic preparations, seemed to reflect the view held among many Russian officials that some Western visitors are deliberately trying to sabotage Sochi’s big debut out of bias against Russia. “We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day,” he said. An aide then pulled a reporter away before Mr. Kozak could be questioned further on surveillance in hotel rooms.

Well, at least something works in the hotels.

Once again, fire all the men!

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

It’s breathtakingly obvious that women don’t get paid 77% of what men make for the same job, or most every employer would fire all the men and pocket the extra loot. Even the WaPo has figured this out. Hint: when academic “studies” are at odds with common sense, they are almost always wrong. Christina Hoff Sommers adds some interesting details to the picture. It becomes a dangerous world when fabrications are the rule. BTW, if you like your 77 cents, you can keep your 77 cents. Period.

Numbers, numbers, who’s got the numbers?

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

China Post:

In an article last Thursday titled “The enigma of China’s GDP statistics,” Xinhua said: “After the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday unveiled economic data for 2013, what grabbed the most attention was not only the 7.7-percent annual growth figure, but also a somewhat peculiar math problem.” While the country’s GDP amounted to 56.9 trillion yuan, or US $9.3 trillion dollars, Xinhua pointed out, the aggregate of the provincial GDP figures exceeded the national figures by 2 trillion yuan — with three of 31 provincial-level bodies not having reported their figures yet.

This phenomenon is not new. As Xinhua said, “the combined economic output of China’s provinces has long exceeded that of the national level compiled by the NBS.” The reasons are “overlapped calculation” and “price divergence” among different regions and “GDP obsession” of local officials.

“Due to local officials’ obsession with governing performance, the local figures will be more or less overblown,” Cong Liang, deputy head of the department of national economy of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a press conference. “The NBS is working hard to correct this.” Hitherto, each year, local officials have been assessed on the basis of the increase in GDP in their localities. Thus, there is a huge incentive for officials to focus on increasing GDP regardless of any adverse effect and, in fact, to overstate GDP growth.

WSJ, quoting Lombard: “China’s economy grew just 6.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013…That compares with the 7.7% fourth-quarter increase reported by China’s statistics bureau.” When China’s was growing 10% a year give or take, the massive cooked books issue was less of a problem. In a 6% growth environment, it’s a different story. And remember, even this lower growth rate is part fantasy.

Understanding 1930′s England

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

America today seems to us rather similar in some ways to England in the 1930′s, where fools in positions of power spun dangerous fantasies, to the praise of the self-anointed opinion elite, fools themselves by the way. In one way it’s worse today, since the powers that be are so deeply dishonest. In a way it’s better, since it is the Julia’s who put these people in power and it is not inconceivable that one day they will grow up. That might be a cold morning.

600 million times a day

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Compare this piece in the Onion (“600 million times a day”) with this one in the NYT. Newspaper of record indeed! Take a break, relax. Heck, we have a government that engages in the worst sort of leftism while terrible tragedies go unattended. The proles are useful when needed apparently. The less education the better, the politicians say, and the media don’t call them on anything, because they are accomplices. So take a break and live in the past for a moment. They used to have an excellent veal chop at Elaine’s…..

The usual

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

Roger Simon has a chart illustrating that there has been no decrease in unemployment in the last five years. TNR has a doubleplusgood piece telling us that we never really wanted to go to Cedars Sinai, and anyway it’s really bad. The author ought to team up with this government official — oh wait, they’re already on the same team. Depressing, boring, and idiotic, all at the same time!

One cancelled plan, thousands of wasted hours

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Taranto:

Remember Edie Sundby? She is the stage 4 gallbladder-cancer survivor who wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed two months ago in which she revealed that “my affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.” While we were vacationing in chilly Southern California, we went to see her in San Diego to get an update on her insurance situation.

Atop her injury Mrs. Sundby has endured insult–imposed not by the law but by the nasty politics of a desperate administration and its supporters. It took the form of a propaganda campaign–led by the Center for American Progress and, as we noted the day her op-ed ran, cheered on by the White House–aimed at discrediting her. (Last month the president tapped John Podesta, the center’s founder, to be White House counsel. Earlier, in an interview with Politico’s Glenn Thrush, Podesta described House Republicans as “a cult worthy of Jonestown.”)

Igor Volsky, who’d launched the attack with a post on the center’s ThinkProgress.org site the day the op-ed ran, published a follow-up a few days later titled “The Cancer Patient From The Wall Street Journal Will Likely Save Thousands Under Obamacare.” This time, he claimed, he had numbers to prove it. But those numbers were only a guess, and Volsky guessed wrong.

“Relying on [her existing insurer] PacifiCare’s base rate filings with the California Department of Insurance, ThinkProgress estimated how much Sundby and her husband (who is on the same plan) could be paying,” Volsky wrote. He inflated the “base rate filing” by a “conservative” 40% “to account for underwriting–the process by which insurers increase premiums to account for beneficiaries’ health.” He came up with a figure of $2,186 for the monthly premium, or $26,241 a year. (The arithmetic was off by $9, presumably because he was rounding the published numbers but not the ones used in his calculation.) He added $11,000–a $3,000 deductible and $8,000 maximum in-network copayment–to come up with a total expense of $37,241.

Volsky then “searched the California exchange for the most expensive and expansive health care plan in San Diego and found a Platinum-level ‘Ultimate PPO’ from Blue Cross.” The monthly premium is $1,919, or $23,028 a year, for a plan with an $8,000 out-of-pocket maximum. That’s a total of $31,028. If all this had been correct, the Sundbys would stand to save more than $6,000.

In November we set out to check Volsky’s figures. Mrs. Sundby gave her insurance broker permission to speak with us about her case, and the broker was able to confirm that Volsky’s figures for the platinum plan were accurate to within a few dollars.

But as to the canceled plan, Volsky turned out to be using the Yglesias Method of making stuff up. Mrs. Sundby supplied us with statements from PacifiCare, which show that the monthly 2013 premium was just $1,107–an increase of 27%, not 40%, from 2012. The deductible was $5,000 and the individual in-network copayment $4,000. It adds up to $22,284–nearly $9,000 less than Volsky’s figure for the Blue Cross platinum plan.

Two additional caveats are necessary: First, the Sundbys’ old plan was not for the couple alone but also covered two daughters, both of whom turn 26 this year and thus will no longer be eligible for the family plan. Second, individual out-of-pocket maximums are generally half the family total, so that the comparable figure for the platinum plan would have been $4,000 less than Volsky’s estimate, or $27,028. Thus the Blue Cross plan would have cost 21% more despite covering two people instead of four.

The Sundbys ended up purchasing a “silver” plan from Blue Shield with a monthly premium of $1,438 and an individual out-of-pocket maximum of $6,350. That’s an annual total of $23,606, not counting any out-of-pocket expenses Mr. Sundby (who is in excellent health) might incur–or a modest 6% increase over the equivalent 2013 PacifiCare costs.

To be sure, even if PacifiCare hadn’t canceled the Sundbys’ policy, it likely would have hiked their premiums. Given that the increase between 2012 and 2013 was 27%, the new plan sounds like an improvement. But remember that their adult daughters are no longer on the plan. If they take out insurance, the premiums are likely to be considerably higher than they would be absent ObamaCare price controls, which soak the young in order to benefit the middle-aged.

More important, the analysis of costs alone misses the central point. While Blue Shield is not charging a great deal more than PacifiCare would have under their old plan, it is for a vastly inferior product. As Mrs. Sundby wrote in her op-ed, she has received care from three hospitals. Her primary oncologist is at Stanford University’s Cancer Institute. She got less specialized treatment such as chemotherapy locally, at Moores Cancer Center, part of the University of California, San Diego. She has also been treated at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

No plan available in San Diego includes both UCSD and Stanford in its network, so the Sundbys were forced to choose between them. The Blue Shield plan covers care at Stanford, so that she will now have to get local care elsewhere.

Volsky did acknowledge in his penultimate paragraph that Mrs. Sundby “may need to find a different health care provider…If Sundby continues to see the non-participating doctors, she will incur additional out-of-pocket health care costs.” That is, he treated as an afterthought the actual injury ObamaCare inflicts on her. She was victimized twice by the president’s consumer fraud. She lost the plan she liked and doctors she liked.

We didn’t write about this in November because our conversation with the Sundbys’ broker left us confused. The broker believed that ObamaCare plans would cover out-of-network treatments, with higher copayments but the same limit on total out-of-pocket expenses. That called into question the premise of Mrs. Sundby’s op-ed: Had the broker been right, Mrs. Sundby would have been able to get the same care at only somewhat higher cost.

But the broker was misinformed. Mrs. Sundby confirmed with an administrator at UCSD that none of the plans that included Stanford in their networks would cover the full cost of treatment at Moores. Mrs. Sundby told us that her new plan covers out-of-network care only up to the (far lower) negotiated fees for equivalent treatment within the network; the difference must be paid out of pocket and does not count toward the annual limit on out-of-pocket expenses.

That makes the cost of care at UCSD prohibitive and forces Mrs. Sundby to go to a lower-quality facility. (The Moores website boasts that it “is one of just 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States, and the only one in the San Diego region.”) Mrs. Sundby told this columnist she is uncertain whether she will be able to return to M.D. Anderson should she need care there.

As Investor’s Business Daily noted in an editorial last month, the potential consequences of the narrow networks are profound and widespread: “A prominent New York insurance broker pointed out that most of the policies offered on the ObamaCare exchanges are not national networks, so ‘if you need routine medical services, they will not be covered when you leave your local area,’ as they were before.”

Travel health insurance, unfortunately, only covers emergencies. So, the broker told [The American Thinker's Stella] Paul, “a large portion of the population will have their insurance as a consideration for their mobility, which they never had before.” Imagine having to take all this into account in making decisions about where in America you want to live.

That the Sundbys’ broker, a seasoned insurance professional, was unaware of all this more than a month after the ObamaCare exchanges opened for business (and more than 3½ years after the law was enacted) suggests yet another serious systemic problem with ObamaCare: The government appears to have done a woefully inadequate job of educating even professionals in the field, much less ordinary consumers, about the law’s complicated and often destructive provisions. And this is in California, the state ObamaCare apologists have touted as the great success story.

“The health exchanges are so confusing, and the policy provider network details are not available,” Mrs. Sundby wrote us in an email the day after we met. “None of us who lost our insurance plans really know what we have bought on the exchange until after Jan. 1, 2014, when we start finding new doctors or making appointments with our established doctors.”

Mrs. Sundby knows better than most. An intelligent woman with a longstanding and complicated medical condition, she is about as savvy, motivated and well-informed as a health-insurance customer can get. Most Americans who get sick in the future will be far less well-prepared

Mr. and Mrs. Sundby, the broker or brokers, the hospitals and doctors, the insurance companies and the endless line of ill-informed government bureaucrats (not to mention the commentariat’s time) — thousands of hours have been spent in the last 3 or 4 months on one cancelled policy. Admittedly it is for an unusual case. But consider that this might take additional months to sort out, and who knows what other problems might be unearthed?

What multiple of these thousands of senselessly wasted hours should be applied to this nightmare from on high? Times 1,000,000 Americans? Times 10,000,000 Americans? Massive lost productivity and possibly lost lives from our centralizing utopians. A (deeply flawed) market has been thrown into chaos. The sensible approach would have been to begin with allowing insurance carriers to compete across state lines, and to eliminate, as far as possible, all the things that put insurers in the middle of mundane consumer-producer transactions, like office visits and routine drugs (handling the latter is a huge task in itself). Alas, that moment has passed. Humpty Dumpty is teetering.

Good riddance

Monday, December 30th, 2013

VDH takes a wrecking ball to 2013. Other large parts of the PJ crew do the same to the corrupt and poorly educated media. Meanwhile, Steyn demonstrates that we haven’t learned anything in the last dozen years. And, late breaking news: the Antarctic is really cold. Good riddance to 2013. Funny thing, 2014 doesn’t look any better in some respects.

Catastrophic plans

Friday, December 20th, 2013

The Oregonian reports a bit on the differences between propaganda and reality:

Nearly three months after the federal deadline for a functional health exchange website, Oregon’s exchange has emerged as a technological train wreck and a PR nightmare. The state has paid more than $160 million and a fully functional site remains weeks — perhaps months — away. State officials have been forced to spend even more money gearing up a massive system of temporary employees and contractors to manually process paper applications for health insurance.

Meanwhile, it is reported that many people with cancelled policies will not be subject to statutory ACA penalties and can now just buy stripped-down catastrophic coverage. But weren’t most such policies outlawed by the ACA and its regulations, particularly for people over 30? (And the so-called catastrophic plans that yet remain aren’t much like the old ones.) The very existence of the ACA gives the term “catastrophic plan” a new meaning.

Final point: the Byzantine construction of the ACA has created opportunities for some creative companies looking for ways to avoid the catastrophic regulatory labyrinth. Short-term health insurance, never before an attractive product, suddenly is, for both seller and buyer. RTWT.

What’s happening in Iran?

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Amir Taheri:

Originally, Iran’s official media had presented the accord as a treaty (qarardad) but it now refers to a “letter of agreement” (tavafoq nameh). The initial narrative claimed that the P5+1 group of nations that negotiated the deal with Iran had recognized the Islamic Republic’s right to enrich uranium and agreed to start lifting sanctions over a six-month period. In exchange, Iran would slow its uranium enrichment and postpone for six months the installation of equipment for producing plutonium, an alternate route to making a bomb. A later narrative claimed that the accord wasn’t automatic and that the two sides had appointed experts to decide the details (“modalities”) and fix a timetable.

On Sunday, an editorial in the daily Kayhan, published by the office of “Supreme Guide” Ali Khameini, claimed that the “six month” period of the accord was meaningless and that a final agreement might “even take 20 years to negotiate.” It was, therefore, no surprise that Iran decided to withdraw its experts from talks in Geneva to establish exactly how to implement the accord. “Now we have to talk about reviving the talks on modalities,” says Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi…

Tehran has been in negotiations with Russia and three other littoral states over sharing the resources of the Caspian Sea since 1992. Talks with Iraq over implementing Resolution 598 of the UN Security Council and reopening the Shatt al-Arab border estuary have been going on since 2004. Other talks over sharing water resources have been going on with Afghanistan since 2003; talks over joint exploitation of gas resources with Qatar have been going on for 25 years…

“Our centrifuges are working full capacity,” Salehi said last Thursday…Khamenei’s daily mouthpiece put it Sunday: “If our centrifuges do not continue to turn, no other wheel shall turn for our dignity, independence, power and security.”

And yet our side insists that the agreement is comprehensive and permanent. We live in unhinged times. Worse, really. We have studied these alien cultures for over a decade, and the truth is plain to see. Yet somehow the faculty lounge still can’t understand Taqiyya and Jihad.

Post Traumatic Spending Disorder

Monday, December 16th, 2013

AP:

From an American gunboat decades ago, John Kerry patrolled for communist insurgents along the winding muddy waters of the Mekong Delta. From those familiar waterways that eventually turned the young lieutenant against the war, the top U.S. diplomat confronted a modern enemy Sunday — climate change…That future, especially for the water-dependent economy of the millions who live in the Mekong Delta, is in jeopardy, he said. Kerry pledged $17 million to a program that will help the region’s rice producers, shrimp and crab farmers and fisherman adapt to potential changes caused by higher sea levels

Wouldn’t want the hat to get wet.