Hillary Clinton admits she’s running to extend the Obama legacy, and so far she’s had a free ride in defending it. She hasn’t even had to explain the increasingly obvious failures of ObamaCare to deliver the affordable insurance that Democrats promised.

The Affordable Care Act is now rolling into its fourth year, and even liberals are starting to concede that the insurance exchanges are in distress and Congress may have to reopen the law. Premiums are high and soaring; insurers have booked multimillion-dollar losses and are terminating plans; and the customer pool is smaller, older and less healthy than the official projections.

. . .

The health insurance exchanges that are the beating heart of Obamacare are on the edge of collapse, with premiums rising sharply for ever narrower provider networks, non-profit health co-ops shuttering their doors, and even the biggest insurance companies heading for the exits amid mounting losses.  Even the liberal Capitol Hill newspaper is warning of a possible “Obamacare meltdown” this fall.

Three states – Alaska, Alabama, and Wyoming – are already down to just a single insurance company, as are large parts of several other states, totaling at least 664 counties.

. . .

In an effort to prevent more insurers from abandoning the Obamacare exchange in Tennessee, the state’s insurance regulator is allowing health insurers refile 2017 rate requests by Aug. 12 after Cigna and Humana said their previously requested premium hikes were too low.

Cigna and Humana filed to increase last year’s premiums an average of 23 and 29 percent, respectively, on June 10. But in the interim, both insurance companies have told state regulators that the requests would not cover the expected claims, said Kevin Walters, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

. . .

The next president could be dealing with an ObamaCare insurer meltdown in his or her very first month.

The incoming administration will take office just as the latest ObamaCare enrollment tally comes in, delivering a potentially crucial verdict about the still-shaky healthcare marketplaces.

The fourth ObamaCare signup period begins about one week before Election Day, and it will end about one week before inauguration on Jan. 20. After mounting complaints from big insurers about losing money this year, the results could serve as a kind of judgment day for ObamaCare, experts say.

. . .

The push is on in Colorado for a universal health care system. But can the state afford it?

Amendment 69, which will be on the Nov. 8 ballot this fall, would “replace most private health insurance in the state — including Colorado’s Obamacare exchange — with universal coverage overseen by an elected 21-member board,” according to a report in The Denver Post.

Sure sounds like sunshine and roses, and there are a lot of people fighting for it. But a new analysis shows the system would be in the red to the tune of as much as $8 billion — by the 10th year of the program.

. . .

Six years after ObamaCare was signed into law – and countless assurances later that the law is “working” – America’s major insurance companies are facing mounting losses and threatening to pull out of the exchanges, leaving customers facing higher costs and fewer options.

In the most recent example, Tennessee regulators are bowing to pressure to let insurers refile their 2017 rate requests, which could lead to steep hikes for customers. A state official acknowledged to The Tennessean they are “not alone” in letting companies seek bigger increases — as some insurers head for the exits.

. . .

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama is seeking an average rate increase of 39 percent on individual plans offered through the Obamacare marketplace, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The proposed rate hikes will affect more than 160,000 people in Alabama who purchase insurance through the federal exchange, or about 5 percent of Blue Cross membership.

Rate increases range from 26 to 41 percent, depending on the type of plan. Proposed increases are lowest for bronze plans, which offer the least amount of coverage, and greatest for the most popular silver plans.

. . .

Projected employer benefit costs are a stark contrast to the expected premium increases and out-of-pocket costs on the Obamacare exchanges next year. Employer-sponsored premium increases are expected to be about half of what has been proposed on individual exchanges for next year. Net deductibles are expected to be, on average, about one-third of those on exchange plans.

The difference could be explained in part by the relative age of the different marketplaces. While insurers are still adjusting to the relatively new Obamacare exchanges, the employer-based marketplace has many more years of experience to help keep costs stable. The employer market also likely has a better mix of sick and healthy people, helping keep costs down, on average.

. . .

Weeks after announcing a new “relationship-based” health insurance plan that would provide patients unlimited access to health coaches and primary doctors with no co-pay, Harken Health Insurance withdrew its application to open in South Florida in 2017.

Harken’s withdrawal further narrows the number of health insurance choices for customers who qualify for federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Just seven companies or their affiliates have plans pending state approval, according to the federal site healthcare.gov. The nation’s largest health insurer, Harken parent company UnitedHealth, has pulled out of ACA exchanges in 31 states, including Florida.

. . .

“If Hillary Clinton were able to institute a public option, I anticipate it would accelerate insurers’ exit from Obamacare exchanges, making it unlikely that exchanges would ever become profitable, as Medicare Advantage and Medicaid managed-care are. While those programs have bipartisan political support, Republican politicians are fully committed to opposing Obamacare exchanges.

However, a public option administered by the same contractors (subsidiaries of health insurers) which process Medicare claims would be a good business opportunity for insurers. So they should be quite happy to allow Obamacare beneficiaries to shift from risk-bearing plans to a government plan.”

. . .