The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘competition

Today’s the day for which we’ve been waiting — the Pootie Poot and Dolt show. It’s the day when Dolt 45 finally meets his old friend and “stable mate” Vlad for a face-to-rind howdy do. The usual cable news meth addicts are on pins and needles, but me, not so much – I’m feeling a big lotta meh.

Here’s why.

First, let’s get the disclaimers out-of-the-way. I’m not opining one way or another about Dolt’s mental health. I am going to offer a few thoughts on how he will behave during his precious Vlad time. So far the clamorous Yam’s characteristic behaviors have been five-by-five in their signal clarity. There have been no surprises.

Second, a quick refresher as to what motivates Dolt’s predominate behaviors. He operates from his ego drives of Significance and Competition. His Significance means he gets every ounce of his self-worth from the way others see him. His Competition means he’s always counting and comparing – “his huge is hugest, his awesomeness is awesomest, his intelligence is intelligenciest.”

Most importantly, Dolt is emotionally fragile. Criticism is unacceptable. He bruises easier than a 90-year old banana on blood thinners.

Next, let’s look at the architecture of the meeting. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said the agenda for the meeting is whatever the Mango-in-Chief wants to talk about. Therefore, Vlad has seen fit to set the agenda for the meeting. Mark that as a win for the Red Team.

Here’s the other pre-meeting blunder everyone seems to be overlooking. The meeting will have six attendees – Dolt, Vlad, Tillerson, Sergei Lavrov, and two interpreters. So minus the two functionary interpreters, there are four attendees – of those four, three of them know exactly what Russia and the Trump campaign did last summer.

Rexxon is going to be the fourth wheel on a double date where there’s an active three-way happening right in front of him. Dolt 45 will not raise the issue of Russia interference because: (1) His courage is so low you’d have to eat earthworms to find it; and (2) There’s no need to talk about something everyone, except poor Rexxon, already knows.

No matter what happens in the meeting between Dolt and Vlad, Vlad has already won. He wants Russia to be seen as an equal to the United States. The meeting itself is a victory. A “happy happy joy joy” joint statement of a good meeting is a win for Russia. At the very least, Vlad is going to get a joint readout saying the two had a good discussion of world issues. Such a readout translates to Russia being the equal of the United States.

If I’m able to shed any light on what happens today, it is this: Why is Dolt 45 so fascinated with Vlad? It isn’t the accepted pundit wisdom of, “Putin is a strong man leader.”  No, being driven by Competition, the Mango-in-Chief must have someone with whom to compare himself. Vlad is that comparison. In other words, if you are going to carve up the world, it is useless unless you have someone to compare yourself. Vlad serves that role in Dolt’s ever increasing amyloid riddled brain.

I’ve known dozens of people like Dolt 45. I’ve interviewed them, counseled them, and on occasion consoled them. They are some of God’s strangest creatures. Dolt 45 sees Putin as the leader of the “unfree world” to his leadership of the free world. Given that Dolt’s world view was formed in the 1970-80s this flawed elementary version is cemented in the psyche of Dolt.

Vlad is going to use this fact. He’s going to flatter Dolt and commiserate about their common enemies of the media and “deep state” institutionalists. He’s going to talk about how dismal Obama was as a leader. After the Saudis projected Dolt’s orangeness on the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh and the Poles busing adoring crowds to hear him read a speech, there is no doubt everyone now realizes the way to Dolt’s KFC-clogged heart is flattery on top of a little more flattery.

Of this we can be sure, if someone who is so motivated by Competition is not on high alert for this meeting, there is something else at play. In other words, if Dolt isn’t trying to “out-handshake” Putin from the get-go, there’s something else a’shakin’. So if the meeting is a big old nothing burger with fries, it will tell us plenty. Without a doubt, there are two people in this meeting who know to the last ruble how much Russian mafia money found its way into Trump developments. Neither of them will have to mention it because they both know the other knows they know it.

What do you know today?





One of the things the Affordable Care Act was supposed to do was to encourage “competition” among the health insurance companies.  It was believed that opening up the markets would cause more companies to enter into an area and compete for the business of (for now) individuals.  So how has that worked out?  Apparently not so well in rural or or smaller market areas.

In an article in the NY Times, evidence is coming forward showing that rural areas or smaller towns are not benefiting from the opportunity to have competition in the marketplace.

While competition is intense in many populous regions, rural areas and small towns have far fewer carriers offering plans in the law’s online exchanges. Those places, many of them poor, are being asked to choose from some of the highest-priced plans in the 34 states where the federal government is running the health insurance marketplaces…

In the counties that are using the federal exchanges, approximately 58 percent of them only offer plans from one or two insurers.  In 530 of those counties there is only one insurance company participating.  Experts say there are a number of reasons for this lack of companies participating in the exchanges:  medical costs are high, one company has “cornered” the market and hospital systems are resistant to efforts to lower prices.  John Holahan, a fellow at the Urban Institute said: “I think that all else being equal, premiums will clearly be higher when there’s not that competition.”  And that can be seen in two examples cited by the Times piece.

In Wyoming, two insurers are offering plans at prices that are higher than in neighboring Montana, where a third carrier is seen as a factor in keeping prices lower.

In an even more glaring example, the Times cites the issue in Florida:

In some cases, competition varies markedly across county lines. In Monroe County, Fla., which includes the Florida Keys, two insurers, Cigna and Florida Blue, offer plans on the federal exchanges. In neighboring Miami-Dade County, there are seven companies, including Aetna and Humana, two of the nation’s largest players.

I can also say that in the Jefferson County region of Alabama (Birmingham) there are only two companies participating in the federal exchange:  BCBS of Alabama and Humana.  Now when you go to and enter in the information for Birmingham it give you a list of twelve health plans, but they are plans offered only by the two companies mentioned and the list includes the various Bronze/Silver/Gold/Platinum varieties of the four plans, five if you count the catastrophic plans limited to those under 30.  It also includes several types of plans including PPOs and HMOs, but again only by those two companies.  If there had been a 3rd company offering policies would that have affected any downward pressure on the costs?  Going by the example of Wyoming and Montana above, there’s a good chance it would.  The Times piece also points out that most of the counties with only one insurer are mostly concentrated in the South, although other states with scarce competition include Maine, West Virginia, North Carolina and Alaska.  There is a handy-dandy graphic of the breakdown that you can see here.    The Times piece also cited an example from Georgia:

In rural Baker County, Ga., where there is only one insurer, a 50-year-old shopping for a silver plan would pay at least $644.05 before federal subsidies. (Plans range in price and levels of coverage from bronze to platinum, with silver a middle option.) A 50-year-old in Atlanta, where there are four carriers, could pay $320.06 for a comparable plan. Federal subsidies could significantly reduce monthly premiums for people with low incomes.

Another area that the A.C.A. was going to attempt to lower costs for consumers was with the “multistate plans”.   The multistate plans were basically a sop to those on the left who wanted a single-payer option.  The multistate plans would be devised by O.P.M, the Office of Personnel Management and was meant to resemble the plans offered under the Federal Employees Health Program.  Under FEHBP there are probably anywhere from ten to twenty plans a Federal employee can choose from when you include local plans, HMOs and the like.  “The law created what are called multistate plans, in which a private carrier offers insurance in the marketplaces of multiple states under contract with the federal government.”  As you can see from the link above under multistate plans, not every state decided to offer those plans and where they did offer the plans they may not have made that big of a difference:

In Orange County, Ind., the silver plan offered through Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s multistate plan is the same price — $487.11 for a 50-year-old — as another Anthem silver plan offered in the marketplace.

Now the Times piece does not mention whether both of those plans offer the exact same benefits.  Hell, the plans aren’t even the same from state to state.  Here is the offering from BCBS in Louisiana:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana $1500, a Multi-State Plan

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana $2000, a Multi-State Plan

And here are the multistate plans from Kentucky:

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Gold DirectAccess, a Multi-State Plan

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Silver DirectAccess, a Multi-State Plan

The Louisiana plans don’t even mention if they are a silver and gold plan or what.

For now, let’s call the competition aspect of the A.C.A. a work-in-progress.  We are only in the first year and after the insurance companies have a year under their belt the competition aspect of the Act may improve.

This is an open thread.

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