Sauce, goose, gander

by on January 29, 2013 at 10:11 pm in Economics, Law, Medicine | Permalink

A panel appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to review taxpayer-subsidized health insurance for retired government workers suggested the city [Chicago] could drop coverage to help erase a financial shortfall…

Phasing out coverage for most retired city workers would leave the bulk of retirees dependent on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Here is more, and for the pointer I thank The Wisdom of Garett Jones.

1 Brian Donohue January 29, 2013 at 10:39 pm
2 RZ0 January 29, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Left unsaid is who underfunded the pensions in the first place. Proving of course that government is the ultimate TBTF.

3 Tom January 30, 2013 at 3:48 am

TBTF = Too Big To Fail. No idea why it’s been reduced to an acronym other than to confuse people like me.

4 Michael January 29, 2013 at 11:40 pm

In other words, some people who are “retired” and aren’t old enough for Medicare currently get their insurance subsidized by the city. They might lose this. Pre-Obamacare, that would mean they either have to go find another job to get employer-sponsored health insurance, or go on the individual market where they’ll pay, according to the article, up to $9,000 a year (or $750/mo) for health insurance. Now, because of Obamacare they can instead do….what?! I don’t think the exchanges or subsidies are set up yet….so what exactly are they now dependent on?

Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe they are now “dependent on” some aspect of Obamacare to be able to maintain health insurance coverage. But if so, isn’t that sort of the point? So that people who otherwise fell through the cracks of the system and couldn’t get coverage can now be covered?

What’s the unspoken irony here? “Former Obama staff member wants to cut benefits to union workers who likely supported Obama.” yeah, I’m sure they’re mad about that, but all it really means is that Obama allies aren’t the big gov’t union-loving liberals they’re painted to be. I think a lot of progressives who wish they were a little more like that could’ve told you that a long time ago.

5 libert January 29, 2013 at 11:51 pm


I genuinely don’t understand the irony here, other than the fact that Rahm Emmanuel is sticking it to the unions. But of course that’s no surprise either.

6 Cliff January 30, 2013 at 12:06 am

They will be dependent on the exchanges. It is sooo terrible when private firms drop their coverage and make their employees rely on Obamacare, but oh look Obama’s closest cronies in government are doing the exact same thing.

You couldn’t come up with that on your own?

7 ThomasH January 30, 2013 at 5:28 am

Weakening the link between employer “provision” and health insurance is the point of ACA.

8 JWatts January 30, 2013 at 10:58 am

The ACA was certainly never ‘sold’ as a way for local governments to shift their health care costs to the Federal government.

9 gab January 30, 2013 at 12:31 pm

I’m unclear on the whole “shift their health care costs to the Federal government” thing.

Won’t the retirees have to buy their health insurance now? What am I missing?

10 ThomasH January 30, 2013 at 2:39 pm

No, it was “sold as” a way to increase the number of people who have health insurance. Most of that comes from whose who had no employer “provided” insurance and to provide an alternative way for people to access the subsidy for purchasing health insurance, so the effect is to weaken the employment – insurance link. It is a happy consequence for employees whose employers break promises of future health insurance in return for lower cash wages.

11 Jan January 30, 2013 at 6:26 am

Conservatives should love this. The conspiracy between public sector unions and low-accountability politicians has resulted in strained public budgets and a government worker class who are living high on the hog, right? This is Obamacare doing what it is supposed to do and a politician is proposing to actually deal with budget issues.

12 Andrew' January 30, 2013 at 8:44 am

This is not what ACA was sold to do. OTOH, Rahm having to strong-arm unions is a bit of alright.

13 bjssp January 30, 2013 at 9:20 am

Why is it great he’s “strong-arm[ing]” unions?

14 Andrew' January 30, 2013 at 9:22 am

To expound- it cannot be that ACA is doing what it was sold to do if that is to worsen the Federal budget when state politicians shift their costs to it. Rahm is not really dealing with his budget issues, he’s seeking a Federal bailout and/or reneging on his promises.

15 Jan January 30, 2013 at 10:55 am

These retired people will pay a much larger share of their health care premiums, and probably buy less-fancy plans, than would be the case if their former employer were to maintain the status quo.

16 bjssp January 30, 2013 at 9:19 am

Nothing has actually happened yet, for one thing. At this point, it’s merely been suggested.

Now, as for your statement, it isn’t entirely unexpected, if true. So why was the suggestion that it might happen so filled with wisdom?

17 Guest January 30, 2013 at 1:30 am

Tyler is mandated by his Koch funding to post some kind of vague anti-Democrat thing that somehow makes either Obama or healthcare look bad. Gotta do what you gotta do to keep the lights on, centers of libertarian thought that cant function outside of the free market dont just pay for themselves.

18 Rich Berger January 30, 2013 at 1:35 am

I thought at first your comment was parody, but I read it again and changed my mind.

19 Andrew' January 30, 2013 at 5:24 am

So, the Kochs made these democats assholes? How did they do that?

20 JWatts January 30, 2013 at 10:59 am


21 Josh January 30, 2013 at 4:16 am

I believe the irony is that ACA advocates like Rahm assured us that employers would not drop health insurance in response to the ACA. Now that he’s not making policy anymore, but living with it, he appears to have done the arithmetic and noticed that as for many employers the ACA provides a way to shift costs to the government.

This should suggest that the CBO indeed erred when it assumed negligible shift from employer-subsidized coverage to government-subsidized coverage, and thus will have underestimated the costs of the ACA in its projections.

In the same vein, I read that health insurers are now lobbying hard for increased penalties for not buying coverage, as well as waiting periods to prevent someone from signing up for coverage and immediately getting treated. Neither of these provisions were politically feasible at the time the ACA was passed. The insurers accurately calculate that the penalty in the law is a pittance compared to the cost of health insurance, and if one can enroll (and drop) coverage at will, there’s a strong financial incentive for many people to discard insurance and only sign up for it when they need treatment. The CBO’s cost projections, again, would be substantially understated if this is the case.

22 Andrew January 30, 2013 at 7:52 am

No, that’s not it. What it is is Rahm is not an asshole because the Kochs told me that. Otherwise I wouldn’t know that. But I know Rahm is not an asshole because the Kochs told me he was an asshole.

23 Chief Justice John Roberts January 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm

“…read that health insurers are now lobbying hard for increased penalties taxesfor not buying coverage…”

24 ThomasH January 30, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Employers have never subsidized health insurance. It is a tax-favored form of wage payment. ACA shifts the incentives toward people buying explicitly government subsiized insurance and away from accessing the subsidy only through employment.

25 Josh January 30, 2013 at 6:34 pm

It changes the nature and effect of the ‘subsidy’ in myriad ways as well. But that aside, I’m all for getting employers out of the game of selecting health insurance for their employees. (I say that as both an employer and an employee.) I just wish the alternative weren’t putting government into the same game. Putting large institutions who have little understanding of my medical needs and preferences and essentially no control over quality and cost of care in between me and my care seems unsatisfactory in so many dimensions – and seems likely to drive continued rapid expansion of health care costs relative to outcomes, as well.

26 RPLong January 30, 2013 at 7:32 am

It’s sort of like Gresham’s Law, but in health care.

27 Rich Berger January 30, 2013 at 5:47 am

I think that Barry and Rahm should hold a joint press conference to publicize this feature of Obamacare. Jerry Brown should know about this.

28 David January 30, 2013 at 10:17 am

I get the “goose, gander” reference in the title of this post. What does “sauce” reference?

29 connor January 30, 2013 at 11:58 am

what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander…

30 IVV January 30, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Except the phrase is “good,” not “sauce.” I’ve never heard it the other way. Where is it from?

Or, in internet parlance, sauce?

31 Brian Donohue January 30, 2013 at 12:42 pm

creeping Anglicization. I blame the Economist. I find myself falling into this in many ways: “rally round”, “half again as much” “whinge” are three current examples that jump to the top of my mind. Maybe blame isn’t the right word.

Brilliant, wot?

32 Mark Thorson January 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Are “rally round” and “half again as much” really Anglicisms? They seem like perfectly good American to me. Definitely, “whinge” is an Anglicism. Is it pronounced like “whine” or rhyming with “hinge”?

I surprised some chemists in the sci.chem newsgroup when I mentioned that the common radicals “methyl” and “ethyl” are pronounced “mee-thigh-el” and “ee-thigh-el” in the UK. Very few American chemists are aware of that.

33 dearieme January 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm

You’ll have got it right when you talk about shutting the stable door rather than the barn door.

34 Mark Thorson January 30, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Today Chicago, tomorrow the U.S. Department of Defense.

35 ad nauseum January 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Department of Unintended Consequences?

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