Monthly Archives: November 2013

Small group, employer mandate

The individual market is roiling with policy cancellations because of Obamacare.  This is because of rate repricing brought on by the PPACA.  There’s much complaining, and it’s not unwarranted, but it is nevertheless poo-poo’d by ACA supporters.  Though numbering perhaps 15 million, individual policy holders are said to be a small portion of the privately covered market.  Ostensibly they just buy a new policy to replace the old one.  Maybe it’s more expensive, but maybe (with subsidies) it’s not.  And policy shopping is a drill that individual policy holders are used to.

2014 brings the employer mandate of Obamacare.  Employers with 50 or more employees are to cover / offer their workers health insurance, or face a fine of roughly $2500 per employee.

This is a shoe yet to drop, so the disruptive effects can only be speculated.  But the prevailing thought is a $2500per worker fine is less than the cost of providing the fringe benefit of health insurance.  Thus an acute monetary incentive will motivate employers to terminate their plans and dump workers onto the Obamacare exchanges.  There’s a notion floating around that the OMB/CMS/CBO forecasts that say 75 – 100 million people on small group employer coverage will have those policies canceled.

This would be, shall we say…highly disruptive.  Inasmuch as it can be poo-poo’d and soft pedaled, there’s some happy talk that says having shed their health costs, employers will be able to gross up paychecks and mitigate workers’ high insurance costs on the exchanges.

I’m on a small group employer plan and highly motivated to discern what might be true, so let’s work through the numbers, using me as an example.  My coverage is OK.  What I pay for it is OK, not great.

My employer has over 50 employees, and they offer coverage.  They make an employer contribution to my premium that amounts to $212 a month currently (based on age).  Rates for 2014 are not yet released, but you can assume with certainty they’ll be higher.

$212 * 12 = $2514 vs a penalty of $2500.

Safe assumption is 2014rates will allow my employer’s contribution to healthily exceed $2500.  I suspect this will be the case for the average of all employees.

So for company tax accounting you take an itemized expense for premium contributions, right?  The relative numbers being what they are right now, I’m not sure under the circumstances you give away that expense itemization so that you can pay the fine.  It’s an honest and open question by me.

Assuming you do though, there’s no delta there from which you can gross up the employee’s check.  That my friends, is a fairy tale.   Worker checks are not going to ever see a dime of that company savings.  It doesn’t flesh out as a big enough savings to bother splitting with the employee.  It all goes to the employer.

But what if it did go the employee?  Would it help?  If employer contributions were $3000, and the fine was $2500, ostensibly there would be $500 in savings to gross up to the worker.

Mind you, the typical Obamacare premium increase is noted as 41% (Manhattan Institute).

My employee contribution to my health insurance is $13000 a year.  If I have to go into the exchanges for a policy 3-4-5 thousand dollars more expensive than that, $500 will be a meaningless gesture.  I’m going to feel shafted.

If I have to go into the exchanges and get a policy with higher deductibles and out of pockets, that’s not doing me any good.  Families with children use health services quite a bit.  I’m going to feel shafted.

This is the stuff that makes for electoral earthquakes, and as I said before, I can’t see it being allowed to happen.  ACA will get repealed.


Get your moderation on

I’m lining up a co-blogger.  Amazingly enough, he has views like mine!

He asked about this blog’s context and perspective.  This is a good thing to articulate, in any event, but specifically would address how the world is currently underserved by verbose advocates for our unique philosophy.

Look, we are two forties, corporate white guys, with senior technical expertise and status.  We don’t do nearly the same job, but we’re in that same milieu.  And we live in suburbs and have young families.

So we’re strident, recalcitrant right wing cranks.  Except where we’re not.  Which is important.

–          We’re pro-safety net.  We’re not Ayn Randers or social Darwinists.

–          We’re happy to pay sensible and judicious taxes that go to support the safety net.

–          If not explicit social liberals, we have no or little enthusiasm for conservative culture crusades.

–          Quite cynical of corporate, institutional and governmental power.

To the extent these planks would moderate a conservative perspective and make it… more moderate…. That’s not it.  Thing is we still feel like we’re strident, recalcitrant bastards.  And not in much ways ‘moderate’.

We do perhaps feel like men without a ship.  We don’t fit in the democrat party, and they don’t want us.  Maybe there’s a place for us in Republicanism… but we don’t want to be tainted by the goofballs.

Typical small group coverage

Learning curve stuff.  Making the opaque understandable.  I asked, and got a comprehensible answer.


BCBS rates are based on age (not pre-existing conditions).  XX pays 50% of Employee only portion of monthly premium (employee pays 100% of Spouse/Dependent coverage).  Your monthly premium currently is $1238.00.  Your payroll deductions are $527.25/pay period.  XX pays $91.75/pay period for your coverage.

Your rate increases December 1st (due to birthday/new age bracket).  New monthly premium will be $1297.00.  Your portion will be $542.00/pay period (XX will pay $106.50/pay period).

We do not yet have 2014 rates available…we hope to have that in the next few weeks.

 Please let me know if you have any further questions.  

ACA anecdote: Jessica Sanford

There’s a lot of conservative commentary on the disappointment this gal is facing:

I’m going to inartfully mix some concepts here, but there’s a Democrat political theory that says if you help the middle class you help your party, and that you should try to help the middle class so as that your mission to help the disadvantaged has say the symmetrical political support of a large, influential class…. And that the middle class won’t support programs that help only the poor…yada yada.

Ms. Sanford earns say $50k a year.  She’ll get no subsidy, and is faced with an insurance premium that at a minimum is the size of a monthly payment for a modest car.

She can’t afford that.  To her, the sentiment is going to be, thanks for nothing ACA.  You know, said “ironically”.

There’s a few hundred thousand people out there who fit Ms. Sanford’s demographic priofile.  Single, 50K per annum, no health ins.   But solidly middle class.  I dare assert, almost universally people with this level income that don’t get employer coverage do not have the income to pay the premium on the new policy they are compelled to get.  Their income is spoken for.

ACA does not help these people.  And if you’re not helping these people, you got problems.


I’m very much a history and news junkie, but I am not yet particularly drawn to revisit JFK’s murder as we approach the 50th anniversary of Dallas.  If I watch a show on it, it will probably be by accident.  I think it’s just that I’ve seen all there is to see on this on cable at various times.  I read a few books on it over the years also, including Jim Garrison’s.

By my literary nature though I continue to be interested in analysis of trope and conversational touchstones.  And with JFK / Dallas / Oswald there are some common oral air biscuits that get lofted during the course of conversational banter.  These tropes typically I think allow the conspiracy minded to argue plausibly, credibly, and persuasively around the water cooler or at the bar.  But factually they turn out to be quite vapory when you sit down and do a desk check.

So first, prominent is the idea that Oswald couldn’t shoot well. And that this disqualifies him as the gunman.

Mind you, I saw Oliver Stones JFK when it came out, and I was pretty enthralled.  I recounted Stone’s laundry list to my father, who hadn’t seen JFK the movie and was fairly agnostic on the topic as a whole.

“The big thing is, Oswald wasn’t good enough to pull off the shooting task’, I recall telling my dad, that argument taken from a character who voiced it in the in the movie.

“What do you mean, not good enough?  He was a Marine,” my dad asked, puzzled, he a former Marine.

That’s about as elaborate as that conversation got at the time, but it would become profound to me in ensuing years as a tangential anecdote when I contemplated the nature of vocation, skill, and competency.

As a short answer, thing is that Oswald passed out of basic riflery in the Marine Corps without delay.  Or lets quibble, and say ‘with a little delay, maybe’, as I don’t have recall over what anecdotes there might be in the Warren report on how he tested.

The overriding observation is that, yes, he was a Marine.  Oswald’s military experience made him vocationally qualified and skilled in use of a rifle, which set him apart from perhaps 90% of the population.  If he wasn’t good enough to do precision sniping, he most certainly was familiar /comfortable enough with the weapon to get lucky using it.

Second on the list of blithe assertions is the idea the Carcano carbine (used by Oswald) was a shitty rifle.

Uh, OK….  If ya’ll say so.  Compared to what?

The Carcano was a military grade (ie, heavy and overbuilt) bolt action rifle.  It was of enough utility that millions were made and its type had a service life of over 50 years.

Now, this is my arena, and I know how these things are talked about.  The only way it’s “shitty”, if is you have a military rifle aficionado comparing it to say an American Springfield ‘03.  In which case the Carcano will be shitty by comparison, because the ’03 was the penultimate, not to be improved on bolt action military rifle.   It was the standard by which things were judged ‘shitty’.  And the expert that the Warren report or Garrison quoted was more than likely such a person.

But this is an anecdote / detail that most of your JFK conspiracy theorists, maybe even most people, are not qualified to understand or employ properly, so it gets descriptively misused.  As with Oswald’s characterization as a poor shooter.

Arne Duncan: Douche goes better with a chortle

The quote:

“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said, according to media reports. “You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”

Scoring Duncan:

  1. is yes.  Race observation assumes a moral observation rooted in the American civil rights movement.
  2. is yes.  Safe to assume this is implicit.
  3. solidly yes.  Contemptuous of white suburbia.
  4. no, not obvious
  5. no, not obvious
  6. hard to say.  One way to test this is to repeat the offending phrase, and then add ‘chortle chortle’.  If you add ‘chortle chortle’ at the end of ‘scary, then 6 is a yes, but that’s a bit devoid of some decent contextual embellishment by Duncan.  ‘chortle chortle’ at the end of ‘punch in the gut’ makes 6 a definite no.

Mitigating factors:  Duncan is not generally known as obnoxious.

Score: 3/6.  Obnoxious, mildly offensive, probably a sporadic episode from Duncan