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Community Clinics Push Enrollment in Covered California As Deadline Approaches

Aired 3/17/14 on KPBS News.

There are just two weeks left in this year’s open enrollment period to get health insurance through Covered California. San Diego's community clinics are pulling out all the stops.

Community clinics have taken a major role in signing people up for Covered California.

Over the next two weeks, San Diego clinics will be increasing the hours of their enrollment counselors. They’ll also hold enrollment events in Carlsbad, Encinitas and Normal Heights.

Gary Rotto, director of health policy for the Council of Community Clinics, said he’s glad the open enrollment period started back in October.

“Because we really think that from Jan. 1 through now, we’ve really gotten a lot of the kinks ironed out. And (we are) feeling very, very confident, about the ability to not only get people covered, but also get them the care that they need," Rotto said.

People who sign up in the next two weeks will see their health insurance kick in on May 1.

Those who are eligible for Medi-Cal can enroll anytime.

The latest figures show 923,832 people have signed up for a health plan through Covered California. Nearly 1.5 million people have enrolled or have been declared eligible for Medi-Cal.

Comments

Avatar for user 'amf1948'

amf1948 | March 24, 2014 at 10:26 a.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

It sounds great on radio and TV but I've been trying to sign up since December and I still have not been able to. First I tried on my own and when nothing happened after waiting for three weeks, I went to a specialized community organization with specialists on Covered CA. They signed me up and we chose the health plan. Covered CA responded I was accepted. I waited for over a month to hear from the Health Plan and nothing. When I called the health plan to at least pay my share of the cost, I was told there was no record and they could not accept my payment. I went back to the community clinic and so far, one week before the deadline we still don't know if we're in or not. Covered CA won't say anything because they are too backed up to even find out what's going on. That's the real story!

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 24, 2014 at 12:03 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

Hey I thought this was supposed to lower every family's insurance by $2,500 a year but everyone I know had a major increase in their premiums. What happened??

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Avatar for user 'TPartyHero'

TPartyHero | March 24, 2014 at 1:42 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

OCare is a disaster, hardly anyone has signed up

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 24, 2014 at 2:04 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

TParty I can tell me and you are going to get along well. Obamacare and the entire Obama administration have been utterly ineffective. The disastrous failed administration of Obama and the leftists have done more damage than any other in the history of our great nation.

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Avatar for user 'TPartyHero'

TPartyHero | March 24, 2014 at 2:07 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

Most Americans don't deserve health care anyway

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 24, 2014 at 2:54 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

I do not think anyone who chooses to eat in a manner that causes them to weigh 400 pounds and become diabetic deserves for me to pay for their healthcare. Under obamacare, somehow "fair" means that a healthy non-drinking non-smoking young man who exercises 5 days a week will pay the same for their insurance as a 300 pound diabetic smoker.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 24, 2014 at 4:34 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

TPartyHero
"Most Americans don't deserve health care anyway"

-------------------------------------------------------
And who do you think should make the determination as to who deserves it and who doesn't?

Rush Limbaugh?

Michelle Bachmann?

We are the only developed nation on the planet that doesn't offer health insurance for all our citizens.

Is the ACA perfect? No, I would much have preferred just extending Medicare to everyone, but the Repugs threw a fit over the suggestion of simply extending Medicare down to age 55.

Because politicians in this country are so in bed with corporations in general and insurance companies in particular, we had to design a system that ensures their profits.

Hopefully the ACA is just a small step in healthcare reform and eventually we will simply just have a single payer system in this country.

By the way, how many old white tea party guys holding up the "NO SOCIALIZED MEDICINE" signs use their Medicare benefits?

Ummhmm, hypocrites.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 24, 2014 at 4:35 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

Correction to the above, only developed nation that doesn't offer healthcare (be it through insurance or not) in the world.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | March 25, 2014 at 7:16 a.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

"Under obamacare, somehow 'fair' means that a healthy non-drinking non-smoking young man who exercises 5 days a week will pay the same for their insurance as a 300 pound diabetic smoker."

If you knew what capitation pools were, you'd know that already happens. TweePartyHero, any insight besides cable news talking points? Anyone can watch TV, remember what they hear, then say it or write it later.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 25, 2014 at 9:36 a.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

DeLaRick I suspect Tpatsyhero is some kind of troll. His picture even looks like a little troll/republican garden gnome.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | March 25, 2014 at 10:16 a.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

Tea Party members walk into a bear trap whenever they start spouting off about Obamacare. One simple question for them: If you're not a regressive and racist troll, where were you during the Medicare Part D prescription drug program fiasco? That question applies to anyone who believes the problems with health care started on 1/20/2009.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | March 25, 2014 at 11:27 a.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

DLR, at least per this explanation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitation_(healthcare) it seems like the capitation differential payments are from the insurer to the provider, not from the insured to the insurer. Is there a better description of what you mean available?

Also, as a non-racist and non-regressive troll who did not support Medicare expansion I still do not support the ACA. Socialized medicine is just as bad when R's try to do it as when D's try to do it.

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Avatar for user 'TPartyHero'

TPartyHero | March 25, 2014 at 11:44 a.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

I'm not a troll or garden gnome,just an informed conservative.This is a picture of uncle Sam from the popular ad explaining what's wrong with ObamaCare it can be viewed here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FEUoNkF29o

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | March 25, 2014 at 12:03 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

Benz,

The health plan pays the same amount to the medical group/IPA/hospital "per member/per month," regardless of each member's current physical state. The amount paid by the insurer is the pool. In layman's terms, if you are a member of a fully-capitated HMO which isn't Kaiser, you are in the pool along with healthy and unhealthy people. A balanced mix of unhealthy and healthy folks in the pool keeps it viable. The system has been that way since the early 90's.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | March 25, 2014 at 2:54 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

Right, that seems like it penalizes the healthy for the benefit of the unhealthy, which I believe was the original point. Safe drivers pay less for car insurance and diabetic smokers(should) pay more for health insurance. Is it possible you and JM are arguing past each other?

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | March 25, 2014 at 3:18 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

JM and I aren't arguing, I merely pointed-out that the cost of caring for unhealthy folks is already being neutralized by healthy ones, which helps keep premiums low for everyone. He has a legitimate concern, but that ship has already sailed. Neutralizing costs between healthy and unhealthy people is not a new concept; and it's the reason for the very unpopular individual mandate. That's the only way the health insurance industry signed-off on the Affordable Care Act. (They also conceded pre-existing conditions and eligibility for adult children up to the age of 26.) The analogy about robbing Peter to pay Paul is apt.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 25, 2014 at 4:14 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

I feel like there should be some consequences for people who have poor health due to their own choices. I guess now that I think about it you are right, me and all of my coworkers pay the same for our health care even though our lifestyles and such differ greatly. This too has always bothered me. I would like a discount on my premium for living an extremely healthy lifestyle.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | March 26, 2014 at 9:24 a.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

OK, thanks DLR, what do you think would be a good way to reapportion those costs based on poor individual choices?

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | March 26, 2014 at 10:02 a.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

I think it's the same as coercing citizens to abide laws: incentives must be monetized. In the case of health care premiums, there's a fine line between incentivizing members and fat-shaming. (Some people are obese or unhealthy because of genetic factors beyond their control.) Not achieving market equilibrium in a country with this many smart people and resources is inexcusable. Obviously, the health care market is not perfect. There's plenty of room for discussion and improvement. Compartmentalizing the health care problems of the last 50-years into one of Obama's administrative failures doesn't help.

While we're on the subject, almost all fee-for-service Medi-Cal enrollees have been shifted into managed Medi-Cal HMO plans as a result of the ACA. They can no longer self-direct and must stay within the confines of a provider network. In theory, that helps with medical outcomes and saves money. It's a good step forward.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 26, 2014 at 10:46 a.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

*Pre-Obamacare:
Tax payers subsidize the healthcare of the poor by paying for un-paid hospital and clinic bills that, if left unpaid, would bring down the medical infrastructure in our country.

A "back-door" government-supplemented health care if you will.

But one that also ravaged families and the economy with millions of bankruptcies declared because people couldn't pay their bills.

This stems from a Reagan-era law that states hospitals have to treat patients regardless of ability to pay (seeing as how Reagan's stances would be liberal based on today's Republican standards, I'm sure many Republicans would favor repealing this and letting people dies on the streets with a bill for body removal being sent to their family).

----------------------------------------------------------------------
*Obamacare:
Allows those who can't afford medical care to purchase insurance. Yes, subsidization occurs but at least the element of rampant bankruptcies which nobody can argue are good for our economy are curbed.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
*What today's conservatives want for the healthcare system in America:

It's unclear, because they won't say.

We know what they DON'T want:

(1) NO insurance subsidies for people who can't afford healthcare (ACA)

(2) Not allowing people to "get something for nothing". I am assuming this means denying anyone from a hospital or clinic who can't afford to pay? They won't come right out and state this, but by process of elimination from the things they state they don't want this is all that is left.

(3) No "socialized medicine". Again, they don't explicitly say military healthcare and Medicare should be eliminated (likely because military families and senior citizens are their core constituent voters), but by process of elimination once again, one would assume they don’t like these programs.

It should be noted that these groups - military due to the dangers and mental health problems and seniors due to health problems as we age - cause the vast bulk of medical costs in this country.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

The point here is that no system is perfect, but why are conservatives afraid to come out and say what they really want?

I know conservatives hiding on internet message boards will, but why won't those in Congress and in the statehouses - cowards like Mr. Jindal, Ms. Bachmann, Mr. Cruz, Mr. Walker, etc., etc., etc., etc., just be man or woman enough to come out and say they don't want people who can't pay for healthcare getting it?

They dance around the issue and we all know through process of elimination this is what they want, but it's too politically unpopular to say so?

Perhaps it's because they know that the majority of the American population is intelligent enough to realize that a productive and healthy society DOES in fact require some subsidization of the poor.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 26, 2014 at 11:44 a.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

DeLaRick you said "Some people are obese or unhealthy because of genetic factors beyond their control."

I am sorry, but no matter what your genetics are, if you eat less calories than your body consumes, you will lose weight. If you eat more than your body consumes, you will gain weight.

Why aren't there loads of fat people in China, Japan, Korea? Do these genetic factors not exist in those countries?

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | March 26, 2014 at 2:29 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

JM,

Don't paint yourself into a corner with that statement. There are metabolic disorders such as Myxedema and Cushing's syndrome which must be controlled by trained professionals. Our glands can play lots of tricks on us regardless of diet and lifestyle.

"Perhaps it's because they know that the majority of the American population is intelligent enough to realize that a productive and healthy society DOES in fact require some subsidization of the poor."

You're right, Duck. That knowledge also includes accepting society's "losers" and realizing they are a fact of life in a capitalistic system. We can't have "winners" if there are no "losers." Politics is supposed to balance our imperfect markets, not exacerbate their shortfalls. There is always a better way to do just about anything, no?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 26, 2014 at 2:41 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

Exactly, DeLaRick.

Jean, going around trying to figure out which person is sick due to genetics and which is sick due to poor lifestyle choices so we can deny them government supplemented healthcare would cost more than just giving everyone healthcare outright.

With over 300 million people in this country, it doesn't, in my opinion, make sense to dwell on people who might be getting more "free" than someone else.

Instead, we need to see the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is this:

We either choose to be a country that looks at healthcare as a basic governmental responsibility because it is vital to our interests as a unified country - our productivity, our economy, the vitality of the nation.

Or, we choose to be a country who decides to veer from the rest of the world's wealthy countries and say we would rather sacrifice our own economy and our own health and vitality as a nation to ensure "freeloaders" don't get something they aren't paying for.

To me the answer is clear.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 26, 2014 at 3:31 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

DeLaRick I am just asking why China, Japan, Korea, and India have such a low occurrence of these genetic factors that cause people to be fat. I think the percentage of people that are fat because of a genetic issue in America is probably under 0.01%

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Avatar for user 'Boots'

Boots | March 26, 2014 at 4:04 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

Ha!Conservatives are losing the Obamacare battle. Off topic point about China,Japan etc. where obesity is now a huge health problem exported by us Obviously health problems are not only due to obesity There are plenty of sick skinny people

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Avatar for user 'Boots'

Boots | March 26, 2014 at 4:08 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

Population in countries with "Socialised" medicine are healthier,happier and less stressed

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | March 26, 2014 at 4:15 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

JM,

Epidemiology is not my area, so I can't say which societies are prone to metabolic disorders and which ones aren't. With 1.6 billion folks, I'm sure the total number of people in China w/metabolic disorders outnumbers ours. You should have a little bit of fun with this and do some research on the countries you listed. However, I agree with Duck about that being a slippery slope if you're trying to differentiate genetically superior folks from the inferior ones. It's much, much more practical to treat everyone while rewarding proactively healthy people with rebates and/or premium reductions.

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Avatar for user 'RegularChristian'

RegularChristian | March 27, 2014 at 9:44 a.m. ― 4 months ago

AMF1948: I suggest you keep copies of everything you submit. It sounds like you're doing everything correctly but the insurance company is dropping the ball. Get used to it. They do that a lot. I'm sure if you have a paper trail of what you doing in the end it will be good. So sorry you're having head aches.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 27, 2014 at 10 a.m. ― 4 months ago

My entire point is that people here are fat because they eat like pigs. It is not genetic. I have been to Japan and China, I did not see any fat people. I can't remember seeing even one.

People need to stop stuffing their face and chugging down sodas. If your body uses 1800 calories a day and you eat 1800 calories a day, you will not gain weight. The laws of conservation of mass make it impossible.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 27, 2014 at 10:37 a.m. ― 4 months ago

JM, I think public health measures should be put into place to educate people on healthy diet/portion control. Especially in schools because these bad habits often start then. This is why I admire Ms. Obama's efforts to bring healthy eating to schools, I would assume with your concern of the issue you would also applaud the First Lady in making the problem of obesity this her highest priority?

Furthermore, I agree with DLR that the question regarding insurance is better handled through rebates and premium reductions for those who don't choose unhealthy lifestyles (like smoking) instead of simply cutting them out entirely from getting medical care.

Have you ever thought that maybe some of these obese people who are poor and can't afford health insurance might actually improve their diet on advice of doctors they can actually now have access to under the ACA??

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 27, 2014 at 11:13 a.m. ― 4 months ago

While I do believe children need to be taught healthy eating habits, I do not think this is the job of the state. Parents are supposed to teach their children how to live. How to be a husband, how to be a wife, how to be a father or mother. Little by little, the leftist government is taking on more of the traditional roles of parents.

When I was in school I remember being taught about healthy eating and exercising but I don't know how effective this is if the parents are not on board. Kids can learn all they want but when they go home, they eat what mom gives them.

I do not believe people will eat healthy for the sake of being healthy, no matter how much education we give them. I think, as you and Mr Rick said, a financial motivation will work best.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | March 27, 2014 at 11:55 a.m. ― 4 months ago

I agree that some limited access improves overall health of the society. Immunization in particular is important even for those unwilling to pay for it. However, when we start talking about hundred thousand dollar procedures and lifetime prescriptions the question of return on investment must be reexamined.
'As much as you want for free' is certainly not a sustainable model.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | March 27, 2014 at 1:40 p.m. ― 4 months ago

TeebircherHero says'
"hardly anyone has signed up."

Obamacare enrollment at 6 million, hits goal: White House
www.cnbc.com/id/101532103‎
CNBC
2 hours ago - Obamacare sign-ups have topped 6 million people, with just days to go ... several state-run exchange unable to sign up significant numbers of .

I guess TeebircherHero means, hardly any Jews were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 27, 2014 at 3:25 p.m. ― 4 months ago

Missionaccomplished have you heard of Mr. Godwin?

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Avatar for user 'RegularChristian'

RegularChristian | March 31, 2014 at 7:09 a.m. ― 4 months ago

Very cool law all the ay around.

The ACA is already reducing government spending by lowering costs of health care spending. That's the macro level. On the micro level, it's lowering premiums because insured people are not paying for the indigent people crashing emergency rooms where care is most expensive. Very cool program all the way around.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | March 31, 2014 at 7:22 a.m. ― 4 months ago

RC, empirically it is only lowering some premiums while raising others. Additionally would you please cite your source for this claim " it's lowering premiums because insured people are not paying for the indigent people crashing emergency rooms" as it seems incredibly early for an effect like that to be measured.

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Avatar for user 'RegularChristian'

RegularChristian | April 1, 2014 at 6:22 a.m. ― 4 months ago

The source is this: as an individual plan member, I've been subsidizing indigent people's health care through my premiums which are priced to cover the cost of their health cares (i.e., the monetary loss hospitals, doctors and labs take by performing services for free, or a deep, deep discount ). In other words, these health care providers hike their prices to the insurance companies to make up for their losses and that is why my premiums rise every year about 30%. Every year!

Perhaps it's too early to tell because it hasn't been tabulated yet. But that is just being nit-pickey. Thank goodness the government has intervened to do something to control these out of control costs.

No matter your politics, it is a major step towards controlling costs.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | April 1, 2014 at 7:38 a.m. ― 4 months ago

RC,

I agree that it's time the government actually tried something. However, the ACA doesn't address medical costs, which are more responsible for the problems with our health care delivery system than the uninsured. In my opinion, the biggest boost to our society from the ACA is the simple fact that we're actually discussing health care. If people would unhinge themselves from cable news talking points, we'd progress even further.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 1, 2014 at 9:58 a.m. ― 4 months ago

RC, those services are still being provided and subsidized. We have not shifted the burden of payment back to the consumer of the service but rather to a different set of subsidizers. How is that progress?

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Avatar for user 'RegularChristian'

RegularChristian | April 2, 2014 at 8:16 a.m. ― 4 months ago

Benz, progress is almost always incremental. This was a big step in the right direction.

First, the savings come from millions of people using doctor's offices for preventive care and other services rather hospital emergency rooms where costs are highest. So right there taxpayers will be paying less to pay for those millions of people's medical bills.

Secondly, insurance rates go down when the insurance pool is larger.

I do think more needs to be done. We need to control spiraling medical costs. But this can be addressed better under the ACA framework than the old business model which was in effect for over fifty years with nothing to show except annual double digit increases.

Now it's time to get hospitals to publish their prices so people know what fees are. I hope the days of $200 aspirins appearing on your hospital bill are numbered.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 2, 2014 at 9:06 a.m. ― 4 months ago

I do believe we will see some of those effects, but there are some additional ones we have not discussed.
1) More aggregate consumption raises demand and equilibrium price
2) Empirically, there are consumers whose premiums increased. This does not agree with the model you propose above, so I must conclude it is, at best, incomplete.
3) Inability to charge consumers in proportion to what they consume will remove disincentives against overconsumption in the sense of 'defensive medicine'. I very much share your concern about rising cost, but disconnecting the bill payer form the service receiver is not a good way to control costs.

The big questions have yet to be answered. What are we progressing towards? How many people do we need? How will the system stabilize and when?

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