Opinion: Obamacare: Costs Go Up, Insurers Drop Out and Consumers Get Screwed

Panther

Forum Staff
Jul 2013
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North Texas
#1
Obamacare: Costs Go Up, Insurers Drop Out and Consumers Get Screwed | The Fiscal Times

Remember the now-infamous promise made by President Barack Obama when pushing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare? “If you like your plan,” the president repeated on dozens of occasions, “you can keep your plan.”

When millions of Americans got thrown off of their existing health-insurance plans in the fall of 2013, PolitiFact called it the Lie of the Year. Obama ended up apologizing for the lie in an interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd in November 2013, even if he couldn’t quite bring himself to admit that it was a lie. “We weren’t as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were taking place,” was as far as Obama’s contrition went.


Almost three years later, there is little evidence of any more contrition on that failure, or others in Obamacare for that matter. Earlier this week , Charlie Rose interviewed three former Obama speechwriters on a variety of topics. After discussing their work on lighter-topic speeches, Rose asked whether they felt they had an impact on Obama’s more serious addresses. Jon Lovett replied that he felt most proud of his impact on “the most serious speeches – health care, economic speeches.”

That prompted his colleague, Jon Favreau, to interject. “Lovett wrote the line about ‘if you like your insurance, you can keep it,” he said, as the panel erupted in laughter. “How dare you!” Lovett shot back in mock indignation. “And you know what?” he asked as the laughter continued. “It’s still true … no.”

Are incompetence and deceit humorous? Perhaps in the Obama administration, the answer might be yes. For the rest of us, especially those who find themselves stuck between a federal tax mandate and an insurance market that has narrowed as significantly as its costs have skyrocketed, no is the correct answer.

In fact, those two dynamics continue to this day, despite promises that the ACA markets would stabilize after the first two or three years and would eventually “bend the cost curve downward.” Consumers have their plans cut out from underneath them each year as insurers have either pared back plans or exited exchanges altogether as Obamacare’s economic model continues to fail. At the same time, premiums and deductibles have continued to skyrocket, and tax subsidies cannot hide the impact on families.

What was promised as more “choice” is becoming fewer choices as UnitedHealthcare and now Humana begin to pull out of certain regions. An AP story in 2014 reported that of the 19 nationally recognized cancer centers that responded to a survey, only 4 reported access through all Obamacare insurers. Last month, Blue Cross Blue Shield released a report warning that costs under the president’s plan are unsustainable – fully 22 percent higher than people covered by employers. And The Hill reported that Obamacare insurers lost money in 41 states in 2014, which could determine whether big companies like Aetna stick with it.


As the fourth year of Obamacare approaches, Politico’s Paul Demko reports that consumers can expect more of the same price hikes and narrowed choices as they have seen the first three years. The Obama administration insists that prices only rose eight percent for 2016 over the previous year – even though that itself is still more than three times the rate of inflation, and ignores states like Minnesota where the average premium increase was over 30 percent.

“There are reasons to think the next round may be different,” Demko warns. He quotes a Deloitte executive who agrees. “A number of carriers need double-digit increases” for 2017. Those price increases will hit the Obamacare exchanges on November 1st, one week before voters elect a new President and Congress.

Kaiser Health News reports that 2017, far from being the year that stabilizes the Obamacare exchanges, will be another “adjustment year” for the risk pools. Even the director of Covered California expects to see higher rate increases in the fourth year of Obamacare than previously seen, although Peter Lee shrugs off the risk for his own exchange. “There are a number of reasons 2017 will have higher rate increases than the last few years,” Lee tells KHN. “But we believe in California we won’t see the significant headwinds many other states are experiencing.” However, Lee would not answer when KHN asked if UnitedHealth Group had applied to participate in Covered California for 2017.

This brings us back to the ability to keep one’s plan. UnitedHealth has made clear its intentions to exit most of the state Obamacare markets next year, and California may well be one of them. A more troubling exit looms on the horizon – the exit of all insurers from the lowest-cost bronze plans.

One BlueCross BlueShield subsidiary in Virginia has already filed plans to get out of the bronze plan, according to Inside Health Policy, and other insurers will follow suit if BCBS succeeds. That will destabilize the markets further, as one analyst told Leslie Small at Fierce Health Payer, because most of the younger and healthier participants in these risk pools have chosen bronze plans – and would likely bail out rather than pay higher premiums for insurance that they hardly ever use. However, that will force others who wish to comply with the mandate to once again lose their plans, and force them into finding other, more expensive coverage.

In other words, if consumers like their third different plan in three years, many of them won’t be able to keep that one, either. Needless to say, they won’t be laughing. Perhaps they will be voting instead.
 
Likes: 3 people
Dec 2013
30,309
18,405
Beware of watermelons
#2
yup...we should give the federal government more control of things like higher learning they are great at this stuff.
 
Likes: 4 people
Feb 2014
12,580
7,843
nunya
#3
Oh wow. I am shocked. Who did not see this coming. Wowzers. Look its a real shock. You mean the ACA is going to actually RAISE the cost of health care. Who would have thought it
 
Likes: 1 person
Dec 2013
30,309
18,405
Beware of watermelons
#4
what we really need is single payer mandatory healthcare.

it will be awesome

along w/ free college for everyone

can we toss in icecream and blow jobs too?
 
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Likes: 2 people
Apr 2013
34,251
23,141
Left coast
#5
what we really need is single payer mandatory healthcare.

it will be awesome

along w/ free collage for everyone

ban we toss in icecream and blow jobs too?
The free collage, is it we just have to give them the old magazines to cut the pictures out of or do we have to glue them up too?:)
 
Likes: 1 person
Dec 2012
19,423
8,313
California
#6
The next ACA shoe drops about a week before the election. When premiums will rise significantly, and more importantly, the deductibles will all but insure that your going to be self-insuring.
 
Likes: 2 people
Dec 2013
30,309
18,405
Beware of watermelons
#7
The free collage, is it we just have to give them the old magazines to cut the pictures out of or do we have to glue them up too?:)
it will have the same value and be more cost effective B)

what about the ban/can editor?





(thanks)
 
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Likes: 1 person
Feb 2014
12,580
7,843
nunya
#8
it will have the same value and be more cost effective B)



(thanks)
I was just going to say that once we get free college as a right. They will dumb down the grad requirements to the point the collage might be worth more than what you get from the college