For years now, Wall Street has cheered as Obamacare fuelled the stock prices of corporations in the healthcare industry. One of them was eHealth EHTH +0.96%, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH), an online health-insurance broker that was founded in 1997.
Obamacare – in case you need reminding – mandates the purchase of private health insurance for working-age Americans above a low income. Last April, The Motley Fool’s Keith Speights speculated that eHealth might have been “Obamacare’s biggest winner”:
Health care premiums are continuing to rise in 2015. While the pace of change has slowed since the dramatic increases of 2014, the savings promised under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have still not materialized.
Measuring changes in premiums is an important element in understanding the impact of the ACA. In previous analysis, The Heritage Foundation determined that the new regulations and benefit mandates put in place through the ACA caused premiums to increase drastically in 2014, with average premiums increasing more than 50 percent in some states. This Issue Brief examines premium changes in 2015 and finds continued but slower premium growth, indicative of a market going through a sorting process.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), like President Clinton’s health plan in the 1990s, made the mistake of trying to achieve coast-to-coast health care coverage with a system that essentially looks the same everywhere. That approach was always going to be a challenge. US health care is an enormous and complex economy in its own right. If the US health system were a separate national economy, for instance, it would be the fifth largest economy in the world – larger than the entire economy of France or of Britain. The idea that a single piece of legislation could successfully reorganize the world’s fifth largest economy was a fantasy, especially when the bill had to go through the congressional sausage-making machine.
It’s true that the ACA gave Americans a choice of plan on federal or state-run exchanges. But the ACA still sought a template for insurance rules, benefits and other structural features that would be the same from Vermont to Texas and Florida to Alaska. That was unwise. The continuous political warfare since the enactment of the legislation reflects the fact that different parts of the country have very different views of how health care should be organized.
Five years after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, the White House claims the law is working even better than imagined, but one of its leading critics says every major promise is now proven untrue and costs will keep going higher and higher unless we change course.
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, into law. It happened after a fierce debate on the House floor just a few days earlier and a controversial move by Senate Democratic leaders to pass changes by a simple majority since they did not have the votes to do it through regular order.
The law took full effect in 2014, following a disastrous roll-out of the federal health-care exchange website in October 2013. But for those who warned against the law before its passage, the contents of the law are far more troubling than the major technical problems that bogged down the exchange.
“People have learned on a very personal level how they were lied to in the passage of this law. They’ve lost their doctor. They’ve lost their health plan. Their costs are going up. Many people have lost jobs and certainly hours as a result of it. Small businesses have felt a huge impact, said Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner. “It’s been a tremendous drain on the economy, and very few if any of those original promises were met.”
Turner is a longtime veteran of Washington health-care policy debates. She was at the forefront of the effort to stop the Clinton administration’s attempt to overhaul the health-care system in 1993 and is still fighting to roll back Obamacare.
She was in the House chamber in March 2010 during the final, intense moments of the debate.
ObamaCare is celebrating its fifth anniversary, but few Americas are cheering.
The Real Clear Politics average of the latest major opinion polls about the health law shows that 52.5% oppose it and only 42% approve. The 10.5% spread is identical to the average of polls taken when the law was signed five years ago. Approval numbers never have topped disapproval numbers since the law was enacted. It is not getting more popular and it is not settled law, as President Obama claims.
President Obama is touting the increased number of people who have health insurance as a result of the law. According to Gallup, the uninsured rate among U.S. adults averaged 12.9% in the fourth quarter of last year. The uninsured rate was 14.4% the year before the health law passed, also according to Gallup.
So our health sector has been thrown into turmoil, millions of people have lost their private health plans, $1 trillion in new and higher taxes have been imposed on individuals and businesses – and the uninsured rate has dropped a net of 1.5%.
Half of the people who received ACA subsidies in 2014 will owe money to the government because they underestimated their incomes when applying for coverage and got too large a monthly premium credit, according to an analysis released by the Kaiser Family Foundation today. Nearly as many people — 45 percent of individuals with subsidies — overestimated incomes last year and received too small a tax credit every month, Kaiser found. Individuals at the lower-income end of this population will be more likely to owe money (54 percent) than to get any back (40 percent). They also will have lower repayment or refund amounts on average than subsidy-eligible people with higher incomes. Overall, the average repayment will be $794, while the average refund will be $773, Kaiser calculated. These findings spell trouble as many people who received subsidies might not know that they could end up owing back a portion. As subsidies often go to low-income people without financial flexibility, the repayments could be a nightmare. Kaiser suggests that this unpredictability could discourage people from signing up in the future.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today marks the 5-year anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare. The last five years have proven that a one-size-fits-all, top-down government healthcare system doesn’t work. Coinciding with the date President Obama signed ObamaCare into law, Independent Women’s Forum released a series of memes highlighting the devastating consequences of this failed law.
Hadley Heath, Director of Health Policy at the Independent Women’s Forum, issued the following statement:
“ObamaCare has proven in its first five years that central planning does not work, especially not for health care. Americans are fed up with the continuously rising costs and diminished choice they face in health care and insurance as a result of too much government interference. Maybe millions have gained coverage, but millions have lost coverage too. And those who have gained coverage too often have gained coverage in name only, but still have difficulty finding doctors and accessing the care they need. On net, Americans are worse off as ObamaCare continues to take its toll on the economy, on the doctor-patient relationship, and on our freedoms.”
Five years ago, President Obama and Congressional Democrats disregarded both the Constitution and the opinion of the American people when they enacted ObamaCare. Since then, Americans have seen the law transition from political to personal. Many have lost access to their longtime doctor. They lost the insurance plan they were happy with. They pay higher premiums or a higher deductible. Maybe it cost them their job, maybe it cost them hours at work, or maybe they’re suffering from all of the above.
As the legislation has been implemented over the last five years, the cracks in the final bill have expanded one by one into full scale crises. President Obama has attempted to patch these problems by writing new rules and regulations on the fly, often with questionable constitutionality. But soon his days of bypassing federal law and the Constitution may catch up to him, and to all of us.
Complying with the health care law is costing small businesses thousands of dollars that they didn’t have to spend before the new regulations went into effect.
Brad Mete estimates his staffing company, Affinity Resources, will spend $100,000 this year on record-keeping and filing documents with the government. He’s hired two extra staffers and is spending more on services from its human resources provider.
The Affordable Care Act, which as of next Jan. 1 applies to all companies with 50 or more workers, requires owners to track staffers’ hours, absences and how much they spend on health insurance. Many small businesses don’t have the human resources departments or computer systems that large companies have, making it harder to handle the paperwork. On average, complying with the law costs small businesses more than $15,000 a year, according to a survey released a year ago by the National Small Business Association.
“It’s a horrible hassle,” says Mete, managing partner of the Miami-based company.
If you like your health insurance plan, you actually might have been able to keep it this year.
Fewer than 1 million Americans had their health insurance plans canceled for 2015 for noncompliance with Obamacare rules, according to a report by the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The report, which called that number “quite small,” suggests that in the latest enrollment season there was relatively little disruption of either the individual or job-based insurance market due to plans not meeting Affordable Care Act-related regulations.
Those rules set certain minimum standards for coverage, including prescriptions, maternity care and mental health treatment, which were not required in plans prior to the ACA’s enactment.