As ObamaCare’s troubles mount, I’ve heard my patients and my peers in healthcare ask: How could the law’s authors not have seen this coming?
For my part, I think a different question needs to be asked: What if they did? What if ObamaCare was purposely designed to fail?
Every day, it seems like there are a dozen new headlines about the crisis facing ObamaCare. Premiums are rising faster than ever. Meanwhile, health insurance companies are abandoning the law’s exchanges left and right, unable to compete in the top-down, regulation-driven environment created by the law. Less than three years into its implementation, the law has never looked so precarious.
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Roughly 8 million people faced ObamaCare individual mandate penalties this year totaling more than $3 billion, an analysis of the latest IRS data reveals.
Despite the controversy and high-stakes legal battle that has surrounded the individual mandate, the scope of the penalties paid this year has gone unreported by major news outlets as attention has focused on ObamaCare’s latest and most glaring problems: weak enrollment, surging premiums, and insurer losses that have provoked the exit of UnitedHealth, Aetna and Humana from most state exchanges.
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Prices for medicine, doctor appointments and health insurance rose the most last month since 1984. The price increases come amid a broader debate about climbing health care costs and high premiums for Obamacare coverage.
A recent report by Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits forecasts that the average family health care plan will cost $18,142, up 3.4% from 2015. That’s faster than wage growth in America.
Medical care costs altogether rose 1% just in August from July, according to the Consumer Price Index, a report on price inflation from the U.S. Labor Department.
Premiums on the Obamacare exchanges are expected to rise by double-digits this year.
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New York has revolted against a critical component of the Affordable Care Act: RiskAdjustment. If its revolt survives an almost certain legal challenge, a number of states are likely to double down on New York’s actions and remove one of the few remaining fingers holding Obamacare on to a cliff.
Acting under direction of its new Superintendant of Financial Services, Maria Vullo, New York has joined the chorus of those familiar with the program in contending that the federal Risk Adjustment program is backfiring. Critics say the program transfers too much money amongst insurers and is actually destabilizing the market. New York is the first state, however, to put money behind the critique.
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In new research published by the Mercatus Center, I analyze the causes and impact of the much higher-than-expected enrollment and spending associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansion. Though unpredicted by Washington experts, the results were predictable. The federal government’s 100% financing of state spending on expansion enrollees has led states to boost enrollment and create high payment rates. (See this 2-minute Mercatus video for additional information on this significant development.)
In states that have expanded, enrollment and per enrollee spending are nearly 50% higher than predicted. While interest groups within the states—particularly hospitals and insurers—benefit from the higher spending being charged to federal taxpayers, substantial evidence suggests much of this new spending is wasted or provides little value for its intended recipients.
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Deep into the final year of his presidency, Barack Obama is working behind the scenes to secure Obamacare’s legacy, struggling to bolster a program whose ultimate success or failure will likely be determined by his successor.
With no lifeline coming from the divided Congress, Obama and his administration are redoubling their pleas for insurers to shore up the federal health care law and pushing uninsured Americans — especially younger ones — to sign up for coverage. The administration is nervously preparing for its final Obamacare open-enrollment season just a week before Election Day, amid a cascade of headlines about rising premiums, fleeing insurers and narrowing insurance options.
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A post-election fight about giving extra money to Obamacare insurance plans is brewing on Capitol Hill, following a summer of bad news for insurers. The conservative group Freedom Partners launched a campaign Thursday aimed at blocking an “insurer bailout,” which some fear is poised to occur in the final months of the Obama administration. The group is launching a website, BustTheBailouts.com, which it says will provide information to taxpayers and lawmakers about how insurers are lobbying for a bailout. They will also launch a series of videos and meet with lawmakers to advocate their cause.
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Progressive senators and activists are launching a campaign Thursday calling for every American to have the choice of a public health insurance option.
They aim to build on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s support for a public option with what they hope will be the biggest health care push by Democrats since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
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The premium-stabilization programs of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will expire this year, and even insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield — once considered the companies of last resort — are considering leaving the exchanges.
While many Blues plans continue to assert their commitment to the ACA market, successive rate hikes and insurer withdrawals from the exchanges temper their assurances.
“These Blue Cross plans will stay longer, but they can’t stay forever,” said Robert -Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates and former insurance executive. Laszewski, a consultant for the plans, added that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas lost 40 percent of its reserves in the first two years of ObamaCare. “They can’t continue losing surplus forever.”
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House Republicans on Wednesday jumped on rising premium rates and co-op closures to slam the Affordable Care Act, while Democrats lamented another hearing not focused on fixes to the Affordable Care Act.
At a joint Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing, Republicans raised concerns about how rising premiums have affected their constituents, as well as the potential for fraud under the Obamacare exchanges. The subcommittee released a slate of reports earlier this week that slammed the future sustainability of the federal and state-based exchanges.
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