From the beginning, we all predicted the Affordable Care Act would not prove to be “affordable,” and that patients would find a nasty surprise once they enrolled in the plan.
The general consensus today is that the cost of Obamacare will significantly rise for millions of Americans in 2016, with New Mexico’s Blue Cross Blue Shield proposing a 50 percent hike in premiums, according to Politico.
At the core of the problem is that in 2014, when Obamacare was introduced, some ill-conceived projections were floated based on an overly optimistic view about who was going to enroll and how much health care they were going to use.
In short, the risk pools were completely miscalculated.
Younger workers, who were supposed to spread the risk, did not enroll in the program. So that left a pool of older patients who would require more care than insurers had planned.
Now we have insurers that once applauded the potential of gaining millions of new insured clients, who are now drowning in red ink.
Pittsburgh-based Highmark Health lost $318 million in the first six months of 2015. Since then they have been scaling back the plans, realizing that the premiums they collected were not covering the sicker patients that came to their plan and were suffering from costly, long-term chronic conditions.
In Texas, Blue Cross and Blue Shield reported that they could no longer afford to cover some 367,000 people. They paid out $400 million more in claims than they collected.
Then there are the doctors who must treat patients carrying insurance that may or may not be viable.
A survey earlier in the year found primary-care providers are slightly more likely to view the Affordable Care Act unfavorably than favorably, but breaking the group down by political affiliation reveals a sharp divide between Republicans and Democrats.
While 52 percent of all primary-care physicians viewed the law unfavorably, the vast majority of Republicans, 87 percent, had a negative opinion of it, compared with just 12 percent of Democrats.
And let’s not forget about the awful impact Obamacare is having on small businesses, which is causing financial stress and impacting employment.
Businesses are seeing a fundamental disconnect between the premiums and deductibles under Obamacare which is forcing business owners to meet unnecessarily high standards, with benefits exceeding what many people want or need, and which carry high-deductibles and higher monthly premiums.
So the question is: If the insured, the insurers, businesses and even doctors don’t like Obamacare, then who does?
The answer has me scratching my head.
The latest Rasmussen poll finds that 67% of likely U.S. voters still rate the quality of the health care they receive as good or excellent. Still, that’s down from 70% in April and is the lowest finding in nearly two-and-a-half years of regular surveying. These positives have generally run in the high 70s and low 80s for most of this period but have been trending down since the first of the year.
My contention is that the approval is coming from the insured in states where their coverage is being subsidized to help make their plans more affordable. But these subsidies are in peril, as more and more organizations try to stop federal subsidies, which many consider unconstitutional.
Recent HHS data shows that the average Obamacare consumer who receives a tax credit would face an immediate 322 percent premium hike if they lost that credit. The shock to the insurance market, according to a RAND study, would then raise premiums by an additional 47 percent.
Obamacare is built on shifting sands that may soon collapse under its own weight, if it survives the next administration. Still ahead are more court challenges and elections that will ultimately decide the fate of this ominous, overreaching law. If we’re lucky, it will go down in history as a failed experiment that caused pain in every sector of the nation.
It needs to die so that all of us can live under an insurance plan that meets our needs without bankrupting us.
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